Monday Memo: True/False Film Fest Lineup Announced

Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel, directors of the film LEVIATHAN, are set to be honored at True/False this year.

This week the True/False Film Fest, set to run Feb. 28 – March 3 in Columbia, Missouri, announced the lineup for this year’s incarnation of the festival. Adam Benzine of Realscreen reported the news. The festival this week also announced that directors Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel would receive the True Vision Award for their body of work. The festival also said its True Life Fund would recognize Sebastian Junger’s doc WHICH WAY IS THE FRONT LINE FROM HERE? THE LIFE & TIME OF TIM HETHERINGTON.

Across the Atlantic, the Berlin International Film Festival kicked off on Feb. 7 and is slated to conclude on Feb. 17. On his What (Not) to Doc blog, Basil Tsiokos provided an overview of the docs screening at the Berlinale this year. Adam Dawtrey of Variety took a look at the business side of the festival. And Tom Christie, writing for Indiewire, had a review of THE ACT OF KILLING from director Joshua Oppenheimer.

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Monday Memo: South By Southwest Features Announced

THESE BIRDS WALK from filmmakers Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq was one of the feature docs selected to screen at SXSW this year.

The South by Southwest Film Festival this week announced the lineup of its feature films, both documentary and narrative. At Realscreen, Kelly Anderson took a look at some of the docs that made the cut, as did Basil Tsiokos on his What (Not) to Doc blog.

Sundance news continued to make its way out of Park City this week as well. Writing for Indiewire, Jon Fougner examined the Sundance Institute’s Artists Services Program, which provides filmmakers with different means of getting their work to audiences. The hive mind of Indiewire’s Criticwire Network anointed AFTER TILLER by Lana Wilson and Martha Shane as the most highly rated feature doc to come out of Sundance. And Julie Fischer of MIT’s Open Doc Lab reviewed GOOGLE AND THE WORLD BRAIN by Ben Lewis.

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Monday Memo: Blood Brother Wins Top Sundance Prize

BLOOD BROTHER by Steve Hoover was the big winner at this year's Sundance festival.

Steve Hoover’s film BLOOD BROTHER, about American Rocky Braat who dedicates his life to working with HIV positive children living in an orphanage in India, was the big award winner at Sundance this year, taking home both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award Prize for a U.S. documentary. The Grand Jury Prize for world cinema went to Kalyanee Mam for her film A RIVER CHANGES COURSE, about several families in Cambodia. You can find a full list of Sundance award winners here. Adam Benzine of Realscreen also had an awards recap, as did Bryan Alexander of USA Today. Benzine also provided a comprehensive recap of documentary news that came out of the festival.

Perhaps the biggest news to come out of the festival was that docs were selling well. The folks at Indiewire took on the task of rounding up all the acquisitions deals that were inked during Sundance (the list includes both docs and narratives). Daniel Miller and Tatiana Siegel of The Hollywood Reporter reported that a minimum of four docs sold for at least $1 million: PUSSY RIOT–A PUNK PRAYER by directors Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin; THE SUMMIT by Nick Ryan, TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM by Morgan Neville; and BLACKFISH by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. Josh L. Dickey and Jeff Sneider of Variety also reported that the high price tags commanded by many films may have frozen out smaller indie distributors.

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Monday Memo: Sundance Starts With Doc Sales

The film DIRTY WARS by director Richard Rowley was one of several docs to screen at Sundance thus far.

The week documentary news was dominated by the start of the Sundance Film Festival, which began Thursday, Jan. 17. On Sundance’s blog, Eric Hynes and other writers recapped Day Two of the festival, with a strong focus on docs. On the POV blog, Tom Roston interviewed two of the festival’s senior programmers, David Courier and Caroline Libresco. Roston also highlighted a few films screening at the festival, FIRE IN THE BLOOD by Dylan Mohan Gray; THE WORLD ACCORDING TO DICK CHENEY by R.J. Cutler; and WHICH WAY TO THE FRONT LINE FROM HERE? THE LIFE AND TIME OF TIM HETHERINGTON by Sebastian Junger. The Hetherington doc was also profiled by Stuart Hughes of the BBC.

Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan also provided his own overview of the docs set to screen at Sundance, while Karen Kemmerle of the Tribeca Future of Film blog highlighted some Twitter feeds worth following during the festival. Mark Olsen had coverage of the film AFTER TILLER by Martha Shane and Lana Wilson, while Eric Kohn wrote up BLACKFISH for Indiewire. At The Hollywood Reporter,  John DeFore reviewed Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill’s film DIRTY WARS. Shiela Nevins of HBO spoke with Brooks Barnes of the New York Times about the film LIFE ACCORDING TO SAM.

There was also an abundance of interviews with Sundance filmmakers being churned out this week. The Filmmaker Magazine blog had one with CRASH REEL director Lucy Walker, while Jim Allen of the website talked with musician Dave Grohl, director of the doc SOUND CITY. At Realscreen, Adam Benzine had an interview with director R.J. Cutler, while Kelly Anderson chatted with Morgan Neville, director of TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM. And Slovej Schou spoke with STORIES WE TELL director Sarah Polley for Entertainment Weekly.

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Monday Memo: Cinema Eye Honors Awarded in NYC

Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s 5 BROKEN CAMERAS won the Oustanding Feature award at the Cinema Eye Honors this year.

This week the Cinema Eye Honors were held at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, with Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s 5 BROKEN CAMERAS taking home top honors with the Outstanding Feature award. DETROPIA by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing took home two awards, one for outstanding direction and another for original score. Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims snagged the outstanding debut award for their festival darling ONLY THE YOUNG. Adam Benzine had the wrap-up of all the awards for Realscreen, while Christopher Campbell did the same at the Documentary Channel blog. Peter Knegt covered the awards for Indiewire, while Wendy Mitchell on the beat for ScreenDaily.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) released its list of Oscar nominees this week, with the honors going to 5 BROKEN CAMERAS; SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN by Malik Bendjelloul; HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE by David France; THE GATEKEEPERS by Dror Moreh; and THE INViSIBLE WAR by Kirby Dick. Nods for short-form docs went to INOCENTE by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine; KINGS POINT by Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider; MONDAYS AT RACINE by Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan; OPEN HEART by Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern; and REDEMPTION by Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill.

Mark Olsen of the Los Angeles Times had a rundown of the Oscar nominees, while Laura J. Nelson had a piece on how the nominated shorts directors got the news. Alexandra Zeevalkink of DocGeeks rounded up trailers for the nominated films. Writing for Slate, Eric Hynes noted that the Academy had continued a tradition of nominating “newsy” docs in the face of recent rules changes regarding the Oscars. Christopher Campbell noted that an original song from the doc CHASING ICE and a remake of the film KON-TIKI had also received nods from the Academy. And Eric Kohn had a piece at Indiewire on how Kathryn Bigelow’s supposed snub had masked a greater one–the failure of Jafar Panahi to get a nomination for his film THIS IS NOT A FILM.

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