Amidst a rather busy week of the doc circuit, DOC NYC revealed its Oscar predicting 2016 Short List, naming 15 films to screen at the festival with the director or other special guests present. As Anne Thompson noted in her coverage of the announcement at IndieWire, last year the DOC NYC Short List had ten titles overlapping the subsequent Oscar Documentary Short List. Among this year’s selection was Ava DuVernay’s incisive Netflix prison doc 13TH, which opened the New York Film Festival on Friday night to a standing ovation and a shower of glowing reviews. At IndieWire, Eric Kohn called the film “the most relevant movie of the year.” The Guardian’s Jordan Hoffman wrote that its “an articulate, no-nonsense cup of iced water splashed in my face telling me to wake the f-ck up.” Even Manohla Dargis of The New York Times fully endorsed DuVernay’s film, calling it “powerful, infuriating and at times overwhelming…(while it) challenges your ideas about the intersection of race, justice and mass incarceration in the United States.” Similarly rhapsodic reviews were logged by Vikram Murthi at Movie Mezzanine, Odie Henderson at RogerEbert.com, Richard Brody of The New Yorker, and Steven Zeitchik of The Los Angeles Times. You can watch the press conference with DuVernay herself over at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s website.
Of course, there are other docs on offer this year at NYFF, as Basil Tsiokos made abundantly clear in his overview of the nonfiction offerings at What (not) To Doc. Likewise, the staff at IndieWire listed seven docs to catch at the fest if you’re able, including Kasper Collin’s I CALLED HIM MORGAN, which Richard Brody, a jazz diehard, seems to have loved. Also kicking off on Friday was the International Documentary Association’s three day Getting Real conference, which a handful of diligent members of The D-Word live blogged (in three separate categories – sustainability, diversity, other conference happenings). Leading up to the conference, Realscreen published a piece by the founding members of the NYC Doc Producer’s Alliance on issues surrounding industry and career sustainability. Meanwhile across the pond, Christine Bardsley recommended a trio of docs to watch at the upcoming London Film Festival via BFI.
Our fall season of Stranger Than Fiction celebrating the documentary work of Jonathan Demme continues tomorrow at IFC Center with SWIMMING TO CAMBODIA. Director Jonathan Demme, as well as producer Renée Shafransky, will be on hand to discuss the film in a post-screening Q&A. Tickets for the screening are still available here.
Here at Stranger Than Fiction, the big news of the past week happened to be that we’ve announced our Winter Season series line-up! Running from February 3 to March 24, the IFC Center will be playing host to screenings of THE HAND THAT FEEDS, BEST OF EGG THE ARTS SHOW, SEYMOUR: AN INTRODUCTION and many other great documentaries and the filmmakers who saw brought them to the screen. Season passes, which include a variety of perks including free popcorn at all STF shows and a free DVD courtesy of Docurama, can be purchased here.
Surely the most talked about story elsewhere was that on Thursday the Academy finally announced their official nominations, including CITIZENFOUR, FINDING VIVIAN MAIER, LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM, THE SALT OF THE EARTH, and VIRUNGA for best documentary feature, as well as CRISIS HOTLINE: VETERANS PRESS 1, JOANNA, OUR CURSE, THE REAPER (LA PARKA), and WHITE EARTH for best documentary short. Writing for NonFics, Christopher Campbell covered the announcements, as did Basil Tsiokos at What (not) To Doc and Adam Benzine for Realscreen.
Peter Knegt and Ben Beaumont-Thomas, writing for Indiewire and The Guardian respectively, took a moment to reflect on the nominations, while at the POV Blog, Tom Roston reached out to filmmakers Orlando von Einsiedel and Charlie Siskel to get their reactions to the news. Eric Kohn on the other hand took time to call attention to the fact that LIFE ITSELF is sorely missing from the list over at Indiewire. As both Laura Poitras and Rory Kennedy expressed concern about in Mark Olsen‘s report of the nominations in the LA Times, I’m personally still a bit shocked that Jesse Moss’ THE OVERNIGHTERS didn’t make the list.
This week the Steve James-helmed film LIFE ITSELF about the late film critic Roger Ebert reached theaters.
This week the Steve James-directed doc LIFE ITSELF about the late film critic Roger Ebert hit theaters. In a post for the Chicago Reader, Ben Sachs interviewed Steve James; Eric Kohn of Indiewire did the same. At the Chicago Sun-Times, Mike Thomas also spoke with James. Adam Schartoff dedicated an entire episode of his Filmwax Radio podcast to speaking with James. Writing for Nonfics.com, Christopher Campbell gave the film five stars and called it “a perfect biography of Roger Ebert.” Back at Indiewire, Sam Adams rounded up some highlights from a Reddit AMA held by James and Ebert’s partner Chaz Ebert. At RogerEbert.com, Odie Henderson had another interview with James, as did Brandon Harris of Filmmaker Magazine. At the Sundance Institute’s website, James spoke with Nate von Zumwalt about the importance of film preservation. And at Ascap.com, Etan Rosenbloom spoke with LIFE ITSELF composer Joshua Abrams.
Premium cable network HBO announced that it would set aside Monday nights for doc airings. At Realscreen, Kevin Ritchie covered the news, as did Jessica Rawden of CinemaBlend. Rick Kissel at Variety also covered the development.
For Indiewire, Paula Bernstein spoke with documentary filmmaker Doug Block about why he was not as insistent on theatrical distribution for his latest film 112 WEDDINGS. Block also sat down for an interview with Jordan M. Smith of Ion Cinema.
The film FOREST OF THE DANCING SPIRITS was among the films named as part of the True/False Fest's lineup this year.
The True/False Film Festival this week announced its program for its Feb. 27 – Mar. 2 run in Columbia, Missouri. At Indiewire, Nigel M. Smith covered the announcement, as did Nick Dawson of Filmmaker Magazine. The True/False Fest also announced a new initiative under which it would pay artists showing work at the festival; Peter Knegt of Indiewire covered the details.
At the What (Not) to Doc blog, Basil Tsiokos provided an overview of the docs screening at the Berlin International Film Festival. Over at the DocGeeks blog, Alexandra Zeevalkink also provided coverage of the Berlinale docs.
The Film Society of Lincoln Center this week announced the lineup for a new incarnation of it’s Art of the Real film showcase, which is set to take place April 11-26.
This week Stranger Than Fiction is hosting a screening of BROTHERS HYPNOTIC from director Reuben Atlas on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. at the IFC Center in Manhattan. The film follows the eight members of the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, siblings who came out of Chicago’s South Side to create a unique brand of music. Atlas will be in attendance at a Q&A following the screening. For more information on the screening please go here.
This week Lotfy Nathan's film 12 O'CLOCK BOYS entered theaters.
This week the film 12 O’CLOCK BOYS from director Lotfy Nathan hit theaters. In his Filmwax podcast, Adam Schartoff spoke with Nathan, while NPR featured a piece on Nathan and his film. Mekado Murphy of the New York Times wrote up the film, and Eric Kohn of Indiewire reviewed it, giving it an A minus. In his weekly Docutopia post at the SundanceNOW blog, Anthony Kaufman considered both 12 O’CLOCK BOYS and RICH HILL, and Andrew Parker of Dorkshelf interviewed Nathan. Also, Josh Slates profiled the film in a piece for the International Documentary Association (IDA) website.
At Nonfics.com, Christopher Campbell issued a list of the best docs out of the Sundance Film Festival, as well as the Slamdance Film Festival. Campbell and Daniel Walber also dedicated the latest episode of their The Realness podcast to Sundance. Ondi Timoner released the first part of a long Bring Your Own Doc episode about Sundance this week, along with a second report from the festival. Writing for Ion Cinema, Jordan M. Smith turned out a few reviews, one for THE NOTORIOUS MR. BOUT and another for THE OVERNIGHTERS. And Sean Flynn wrote a piece for Indiewire on the interactive projects featured in Sundance’s New Frontier section.
This week Stranger Than Fiction is hosting a screening of LOU REED: ROCK AND ROLL HEART about the late rock legend Lou Reed on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 8pm at the IFC Center in Manhattan. Following the screening, director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders will be in attendance for a Q&A. For more information or to purchase tickets please go here.