The nominees for the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards were revealed last Thursday. Bryan Fogel (ICARUS), Brett Morgen (JANE), Ken Burns and Lynn Novick (THE VIETNAM WAR), Judd Apatow (THE ZEN DIARIES OF GARRY SHANDLING), and Chapman Way and Maclain Way (WILD WILD COUNTRY) are up for Outstanding Directing for a Documentary, while CITY OF GHOSTS, JANE, STRONG ISLAND, and WHAT HAUNTS US were nominated for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking. The full list of nominees can be found here.
Outfest, Los Angeles’ annual LGBT festival, runs July 12-22 and features nearly 30 documentaries. At What (not) To Doc, Basil Tsiokos gave rundown of the festival’s non-fiction offerings, “Nearly half of the Special Events are nonfiction presentations, including Dante Alencastre’s AIDS DIVA: THE LEGEND OF CONNIE NORMAN, about a key figure in 1990s LA AIDS activism; and William Clift’s A LONG ROAD TO FREEDOM: THE ADVOCATE CELEBRATES 50 YEARS, an expansive overview of LGBT history.”
Since the release of Kevin Macdonald’s WHITNEY there has been much debate about the film’s merits and its comparison to last year’s WHITNEY: CAN I BE ME by Nick Broomfield and Rudi Dolezal. While Alan Light‘s recent piece in The New York Times looked at the film’s production background, two other pieces examined if either film understood its subject. At MUBI’s Notebook, Simran Hans examines why “Kevin Macdonald’s WHITNEY and Nick Broomfield’s WHITNEY: CAN I BE ME fail to capture the legendary vocalist as a musician or woman,” as Manuela Lazic attempts to unravel “the quagmire of two Whitney Houston movies” at The Ringer. While folks continue to debate about Whitney, Corbin Reiff has listed his favorite music documentaries currently available on Netflix over at UPROXX and the IndieWire staff polled critics on their favorite biographical docs.
You may have noticed the lack of last week’s holiday styled memo, but this week we’ve returned with plenty of nonfiction news to get you up to speed. Up top we’ve got IndieWire’s Anne Thompson making her early predictions for what docs will be in the running for the 2018 Oscar for Best Documentary. Unsurprisingly, Matthew Heineman’s CITY OF GHOSTS (see this week’s slew of coverage on the film below), Agnès Varda’s FACES, PLACES, and Laura Poitras’ RISK are among the forerunners thus far.
In festival happenings, Ben Nicholson reported for Sight & Sound on this year’s edition of the Sheffield Doc/Fest, the first under its new chief programmer Luke Moody. At What (not) To Doc, Basil Tsiokos put forth his usual thorough overview of new nonfiction for the 35th edition of LA’s Outfest, noting a pair of centerpiece selections in Lori Kaye’s KEVIN AUCOIN: BEAUTY & THE BEAST IN ME and Katherine Fairfax Wright’s BEHIND THE CURTAIN: TODRICK HALL. Doc filmmakers should also take note that this coming Friday is DOC NYC‘s Extended Deadline for submissions for its 2017 edition.
This past week has put me, and likely many of you, through the emotional ringer. With multiple police shootings of unarmed black Americans (be sure to read Jude Dry‘s IndieWire piece on “How Black Lives Matter Created The Accidental Documentarians” and Sam Adams‘ follow-up “These Are the Documentaries We Need to See”), the atrocities of police assassinations, and Abbas Kiarostami’s untimely death at the uncaring hands of cancer, it’s been a pretty horrendous week. So, let’s begin with a lineup of therapeutic, moving memorial pieces to the Iranian master, beginning with a pair of remembrances at IndieWire from fellow filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Ramin Bahrani, as well as admiring Sight & Sound critics Geoff Andrews and Ehsan Khoshbakht. The New Yorker’s Richard Brody contributed to the chorus of praise and respect, as did Tina Hassannia at The Globe and Mail, and Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian.
Even outside the context of the greater cultural situation, race and sex surfaced as a hot topic this week, headlined by a piece that appeared in the Los Angeles Times by Rebecca Keegan on “Why the second movie is the biggest hurdle to becoming a filmmaker — especially for women and minorities.” On the brighter side of things, IndieWire’s Michael Nordine reported that London’s National Film and Television School has launched a series of new initiatives to foster female directors, while Screen Daily’s Michael Rosser broke the news that female directors sweep the East End Film Festival awards, including Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami who won the award for Best Documentary for SONITA.
In other festival news, Basil Tsiokos laid out the doc offerings of both LA’s Outfest and the 33rd Jerusalem Film Festival at What (not) To Doc, while Stephen A. Russell selected his top picks of the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival at SBS. Looking back at the Sheffield Doc/Fest, Ben Nicholson wrote at length in Sight & Sound about the wide variety of films to be found this year. And also in Sight & Sound, filmmakers Penny Woolcock and Ross McElwee discussed their distaste for film festival going. And for doc filmmakers, this week is the final week DOC NYC is accepting submissions for this year’s edition – due date is Friday, July 15th.