Monday Memo: UNDER THE GUN Defamation Charges Dismissed as LETTERS FROM BAGHDAD Hit Theaters

It seems that the industry is still recouping from its Cannes getaway, as this week was unsettlingly quiet on the news front. New York’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival is set to begin this Friday, as Andy Webster noted in his preview of the programming on offer in The New York Times. Meanwhile, two other enticing documentary film festivals are currently in motion. At What (not) To Doc, Basil Tsiokos looked at the new nonfiction on offer in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa at the Encounters Documentary Festival, as well as those being screened at SF DocFest in San Francisco, both of which run through mid-June.

It is with great pride that tomorrow we close out our 2017 Spring Season at the IFC Center with Jeff Orlowski’s breathtaking CHASING CORAL with the director himself in attendance to present the film. The screening is sold out, but a limited number of tickets may be released to the rush-line, 15 minutes before showtime.

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Monday Memo: Memorial Day Edition

On this most lovely Memorial Day, I’m sitting in my local coffee shop here in Buffalo, the windows open, sun beaming in, thankful for the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful morning. As THE JOURNEY, Matthew Cassel’s new six-part series detailing the European refugee crisis, reminds with crystalline clarity, not everyone has the freedom to enjoy this simple pleasure. Cassel’s series had its first public screening as part of Stranger Than Fiction last week and was subsequently released as six short episodes over at The New Yorker in collaboration with Field of Vision. As Chris O’Falt has noted in a report on how Field of Vision is changing the way docs are made and seen for indieWIRE, THE JOURNEY, perfectly fits Field of Vision’s mission to bring cinematic journalism to important news stories as they unfold. And while not a Field of Vision project, the first episode of AJ Schnack‘s First Look Media series NOMINATION (or NomiNation) was also released this week via Vanity Fair, where Schnack was interviewed about his new ten episode series that follows in the footsteps of his previous campaign projects, CAUCUS and MIDTERMS.

When it comes to film festivals, this week was pretty quiet outside of Docaviv 2016‘s announcement of their competition winners. In the International competition, Karolina Bielawska’s CALL ME MARIANNA took home the Best International Film Award, while the IDFA award winner DON JUAN directed by Jerzy Sladkowski received a Special Jury Mention. The Israeli Competition was topped by Tali Shemesh and Asaf Sudry’s DEATH IN THE TERMINAL, while Yael Kipper and Ronen Zaretzky’s CHILD MOTHER received a Special Jury Mention and Shimon Dotan’s THE SETTLERS, featured in The New York Times this week by James Glanz, picked up a Special Honorable Mention.

Our 2016 Spring Season, co-presented by New York Film Academy, will close out with a screening of James Solomon’s THE WITNESS, tomorrow at 7:30 pm at IFC Center. The film follows Bill Genovese as he investigates the 1964 murder of his sister Kitty Genovese, a New York woman who was attacked while 38 people allegedly did nothing to help her. Director James Solomon will be on hand for a post-screening Q&A. Tickets for closing night can be purchased here.

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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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