Monday Memo: Cannes Kicks Off While Reverse Shot Launches New Non-fiction Symposium

One day, I intend to walk the Croisette in Cannes in a euphoric haze of cinema heaven, but until that day, I’ll admire from afar, eagerly awaiting the release of each of the honored selections. Giving an overview of this year’s meager selection of non-fiction fare at the festival at What (not) To Doc, Basil Tsiokos noted the complete lack of documentaries in the most publicized sections, writing, “None of the 21 feature films in the Official Selection’s Competition or of the 18 features in Un Certain Regard is a documentary. One appears screening in the Out of Competition strand: Jim Jarmusch’s exploration of The Stooges, GIMME DANGER.” As one of the first docs to screen this year, Fisher Stevens and Alexis Bloom’s BRIGHT LIGHTS: STARRING CARRIE FISHER AND DEBBIE REYNOLDS received a warm welcome from indieWIRE’s David Ehrlich, The Wrap’s Steve Pond and Screen Daily’s Fionnuala Halligan, while a positive review of Rithy Panh’s EXILE turned up at MUBI’s Notebook thanks to Daniel Kasman and Frederick Wiseman’s newly restored HOSPITAL was written about at length by Matt Morrison at Film Comment.

In other festival news, the Film Society of Lincoln Center announced the lineup for the upcoming Human Rights Watch Film Festival, schedule to run June 10-19. Following directly in its wake, AFI Docs begins June 22 with Alex Gibney’s ZERO DAYS. The full lineup was announced on Tuesday. Before both, the 2016 Docaviv International Documentary Film Festival will take place May 19-28 in Tel Aviv and screen 110 films. At indieWIRE, Sydney Levine previewed the festival’s films and themes, noting that “the program does not only include documentaries about terror and refugees, but also about a fragmented society which is losing its solidarity. Both in Israel and elsewhere the gap between the haves and the have-nots is widening, and so are the frustrations and the unrest. Israeli and international titles correlating to these themes can be found throughout the entire festival program.” And some of us are still processing Hot Docs, including Jason Gorber, who published a lengthy interview with D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus on UNLOCKING THE CAGE at POV Magazine, and I, having posted reviews of THE ISLANDS AND THE WHALES and HOW TO LET GO OF THE WORLD… at IONCINEMA.

Here at Stranger Than Fiction, our Spring Season continues tomorrow with a screening of Holly Morris and Anne Bogart’s THE BABUSHKAS OF CHERNOBYL at IFC Center, co-presented New York Film Academy. Co-director Holly Morris will be present to take part in a post-screening Q&A. Tickets for the event can be purchased here.

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Monday Memo: Crystal Moselle Unleashes THE WOLFPACK

Photo by Larry Busacca / Getty Images

Crystal Moselle’s unbelievable Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner THE WOLFPACK is undeniably the most talked about doc of the year thus far. Hitting theaters this past weekend, the film was not only selected by our own Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen as WNYC’s Documentary of the Week, but featured in the LA Times by Steven Zeitchik, Huffington Post by Matthew Jacobs, the Wall Street Journal by Caryn James, Salon thanks to Lauren Wissot and The New York Times by Cara BuckleyManohla Dargis also reviewed Moselle’s film for The Times, as did NPR’s Ella Taylor, NY Daily News’ Joe Neumaier,’s Brian Tallerico, The Dissolve’s Tasha Robinson and Ned Benson at The Talkhouse. At Indiewire, Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio posted a new video of the film’s subjects, the Angulo Brothers, remaking classic DeNiro scenes, while Simon Houpt spoke with two of the boys for The Globe and Mail. With all the attention, it’s unsurprising to find Moselle has been doing interviews with everyone, including Jenelle Riley of Variety, Jamie Maleszka at Nonfics, The Dissolve’s Tasha Robinson and Vice.

This last week also saw two substantial new entries into the doc world. The Wrap’s Itay Hod and Bent’s Jamie Gates both reported that Logo TV is launching an LGBT documentary division with a slate films that include Michele Josue’s MATT SHEPARD IS A FRIEND OF MINE and Deborah Riley Draper’s VERSAILLES ’73: AN AMERICAN REVOLUTION. Likewise, Economist Magazine has kicked off a new documentary unit, Economist Films, according to Variety’s David S. Cohen. Starting big, they’ve already posted a pair of films for viewing in DRONE RANGERS and DRUGS: WAR OR STORE?.

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The film ATTACKING THE DEVIL from directors Jacqui Morris and David Morris took home the jury prize from this year's Sheffield Doc/Fest.

This year the Sheffield Doc/Fest Special Jury Award went to ATTACKING THE DEVIL: HAROLD EVANS AND THE LAST NAZI WAR CRIME from directors Jacqui Morris and David Morris. Writing for Indiewire, Casey Cipriani had coverage of all of the awards, as did Manori Ravindran at Realscreen. Christopher Campbell of broke up his coverage of the festival into five parts, which you can find here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5. Filmmaker Laura Poitras also issued a statement after accepting the festival’s Inspiration Award in absentia. At Realscreen, Adam Benzine spoke with THE OVERNIGHTERS director Jesse Moss. Writing for Indiewire, Paula Bernstein broke down a potential formula for winning an Oscar for best doc.

The folks at Televisual wrote a post laying out some of the themes they found in the the Sheffield Doc/Fest commissioning panels. Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Stephen Dalton reviewed THE LAST MAN ON THE MOON from director Mark Craig. At the DocGeeks blog, Ben Unwin reviewed REGARDING SUSAN SONTAG from director Nancy Kates. Adam Benzine of Realscreen also spoke with Alex Gibney regarding his film FINDING FELA. Paula Bernstein of Indiewire covered a master class at the festival from director Joe Berlinger. Bernstein also wrote a piece on the increasing difficulty of making a living as a documentary filmmaker.

Writing for Leveled Magazine, Jamie Maleszka previewed the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. At, Daniel Walber made a list of the five best films screening at the fest. And Basil Tsiokos provided an overview at his What (Not) to Doc blog.

This week Stranger Than Fiction is hosting a screening of ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED from director Marina Zenovich on Tuesday June 17 at 8 p.m. at the IFC Center in Manhattan. The film investigates the sexual assault case that embroiled the filmmaker decades ago. Following the screening film critic Scott Foundas will be in attendance for a Q&A. For more information or to purchase tickets please go here.

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