Happy Halloween! It’s odd, one would think Halloween weekend would be primed for horror releases, but it seems an unusual amount of well regarded documentaries found their way into theaters this past week. Chief among these was Werner Herzog’s INTO THE INFERNO, which found its way into homes around the world via Netflix and also opened at the IFC Center. The volcanic film was named WNYC‘s Documentary of the week, was Film Comment‘s Film of the Week, and was selected by Manohla Dargis as a NYT Critics’ Pick. Though I’m fond of the film myself in my review at IONCINEMA, I am in full agreement with Matt Zoller Seitz when he says in his review at RogerEbert.com that many viewers detect that “all the adulation has made him cuddly, and his films warmer, more accessible, and perhaps in some ways more superficial.” We’ll return to theatrical releases a bit later.
As we near the start of DOC NYC (less than two week away now), the festival’s Director of Programming, Basil Tsiokos, has been running through a series of previews of each of the festival’s sections over at What (not) To Doc. Tsiokos also looked at the Jihlava International Documentary Festival, the Czech Republic’s widely known nonfiction fest, having ran Tuesday through Sunday, as did Vladan Petkovic for Cineuropa. Cineuropa also had David González on hand to report on the festival’s industry conference happenings in a pair of pieces on documentary making process and funding. Yesterday, the festival announced its award winners, with Maria Kourkouta and Niki Giannari’s SPECTRES ARE HAUNTING EUROPE named as the Best World Documentary, Salomé Jashi’s THE DAZZLING LIGHT OF SUNSET taking the award for Best Central and Eastern European Documentary, and Tomáš Bojar and Rozálie Kohoutová’s FC ROMA named as the Best Czech Documentary.
Tomorrow, We conclude our fall season with one final doc by the great Jonathan Demme, his 2007 film about the former U.S. president, JIMMY CARTER MAN FROM PLAINS. For this special screening director Jonathan Demme, Producer Ron Bozman and President Carter’s Literary Publicist Elizabeth Hayes will all be on hand for a post-screening Q&A. Tickets for this closing night screening are available here.
Generally speaking, all was fairly quiet on the home front as far as documentary news was concerned this past week, though that’s not to say that there wasn’t some exciting moving and shaking to report. This weekend marked the start of Munich’s DOK.fest where films like Pawel Siczek’s HALF THE TOWN and Jens Schanze’s LA BUENA VIDA will screen as part of the DOK.international competition. At What (not) To Doc, Basil Tsiokos wrote an extensive overview of the offerings at this year’s festival, while Giorgia Del Don pointed out the incredible number of Swiss productions included in this year’s program (18!) at Cineuropa.
Just prior to the start of DOK.fest, another major European doc mainstay in the Sheffield Doc/Fest announced their 2015 line-up. Stacked with 150 films and scheduled to kick off on June 5th with Joshua Oppenheimer’s THE LOOK OF SILENCE, the festival will also pay tribute to Albert Maysles, as well as feature the world premiere of director Benedikt Erlingsson’s THE GREATEST SHOWS ON EARTH: A CENTURY OF FUNFAIRS, CIRCUSES AND CARNIVALS, with a score by Georg Hólm and Orri Páll Dýrason of Sigur Rós, reports Elle Leonsis of Indiewire and The Guardian’s Benjamin Lee. At the BFI, Georgia Korossi posted a preview of the festival’s offerings, as well as a trailer for the fest itself.
Tomorrow at 8pm, we here at Stranger Than Fiction will welcome directors Alan and Susan Raymond to the IFC Center for a screening of THE POLICE TAPES, their groundbreaking, experimental video documentary that revealed the life of a South Bronx police precinct in 1977, one of the most tumultuous years in the history of New York City. This past week in The L Magazine, Mark Asch called the film “a more emotionally involved heir to Wiseman’s Direct Cinema masterwork LAW AND ORDER”, while in The New Yorker, Richard Brody celebrates the filmmakers’ participation in the intense situations on screen and an especially impassioned monologue by borough commander Anthony Bouza “regarding the inherent resentment of the presence of the police and the trauma and rage of poverty—that should be engraved on the halls of justice. “should be engraved on the halls of justice”. What tickets still available for the screening can be found here.