Are you ready for this year's DOC NYC? We're less than 2 days away! To help celebrate we're kicking off the memo with our fourth annual 40 Under 40 list, the second annual Documentary New Leaders program, the DOC NYC x Video Consortium Storytelling Incubator, and our sixth annual Only In New York program. Meanwhile, Cinema Eye Honors revealed its Audience Choice nominees and Unforgettables list, IDFA and Port/Post/Doc unveiled portions of their programs, Arun A.K. wrote an excellent primer on the Indian documentarian Adoor Gopalakrishnan for MUBI's Notebook, and that's not all. Read on and enjoy DOC NYC 2021!
– Jordan M. Smith
DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, announced the honorees and projects across four initiatives intended to foster new talent. The fourth annual 40 Under 40 list puts a spotlight on young talent and offers unique networking opportunities at the festival. The second annual Documentary New Leaders program selects a group of individuals whose efforts in distribution, sales, festivals, and marketing bring greater inclusion and equity to the field.
New this year, the festival is launching the DOC NYC x Video Consortium Storytelling Incubator, which pairs emerging documentary filmmakers with underrepresented perspectives with hands-on creative consultation and professional guidance from industry veterans.
Finally, the festival revealed the line-up for its sixth annual Only In New York program, which pairs filmmakers of works-in-progress with leading industry decision-makers for roundtable meetings.
Cinema Eye Announces 15 for 15 - Audience Choice Noms & Unforgettables Announced via press release: “With one week to go before we announce our full slate of nominations, we’re excited to reveal two of our favorite categories and announce something brand new for 2022. Our Audience Choice Prize and our list of The Unforgettables, the year’s notable nonfiction subjects, are two categories that are near and dear to us at Cinema Eye. Our Audience Choice award highlights those films that have made a big connection with audiences - something that is even more important in these times when so many of us are looking for genuine connection. And our list of The Unforgettables highlights that special role that our documentary film subject play in creating nonfiction art. Our Unforgettables list has always been a list that honors subjects from 15 films. And this year, for our 15th anniversary, we’re expanding our Audience Choice nominees from 10 films to 15! 15 for 15 as they say! Each year, tens of thousands of documentary fans from all around the world vote for our Audience Choice Prize and we’re so excited to give those viewers even more films to vote for.”
Flee wins Nordic Council Film Prize 2021 Nick Cunningham reports at Business Doc Europe: “The Nordic Council Film Prize 2021 was awarded November 2 to Flee by director/screenwriter Jonas Poher Rasmussen, screenwriter Amin and producers Monica Hellström, Charlotte de la Gournerie and Signe Byrge Sørensen. The award was announced during the Nordic Council’s Autumn Session in Copenhagen. The award comes hot on the heels of the film’s selection as Denmark’s official Oscar candidate and nomination for the IDA Documentary Award. The Nordic Council Film Prize also comes with DKK 300,000 (approx. €40,000), which is shared between the director, screenwriter and producer, to express how film as an art form is the result of collaboration between these three main functions. Flee joins past Nordic winners such as Antichrist (Lars von Trier, 2009), Play (Ruben Östlund, 2011 and The Hunt (Thomas Vinterberg, 2012). More recently, the Nordic Council Film Prize has been awarded to Beware of Children (2020) by Norwegian Dag Johan Haugerud, Queen of Hearts (2019) by Danish May el-Toukhy and Woman at War by Icelandic Benedikt Erlingsson (2018).”
Making Connections in a Disconnected World A letter from the AlumNest by Rintu Thomas was published at Chicken & Egg Pictures: "The thing that excites me most about the process of documentary filmmaking is the way I’m always taking parts of me into places never planned. When my co-director Sushmit Ghosh and I saw a photo story about a woman journalist walking through a 'media dark' region in India, distributing a newspaper that she herself had reported and produced, our first instinct was intrigue. In a region notorious for its endemic violence against women and the Dalit (‘low caste’) community, how does their Dalit women-run newspaper Khabar Lahariya survive and thrive?...We were embarking on the film’s final edit while the world was shutting down and uncertainty was taking over all our collective lives. Writing With Fire premiered at the first-ever fully virtual Sundance Film Festival, and we didn’t know what to expect. For the “world premiere,” we sat on our living room sofa in front of the TV screen with our family, friends, and their dog and cat. Yet it felt so lonely...In the eleventh month since the birth of Writing With Fire at Sundance, we will be watching the film with a US audience in-person for the first time at DOC NYC. In both making the film and putting it into the world, we have indeed travelled to places we never planned and just like the women in our film, flirted with the unknown!"
An Open Letter in Support of Abortion Access From the Film Industry The open letter was co-authored by prominent documentary film industry figures and companies: “Abortion access is in crisis. This is a human rights issue none of us can afford to be silent on. The ability to control our reproductive health decisions is essential to every person’s personal, political, and economic freedom. We are coming together as individuals and organizations working in the film industry, we know how profoundly stories shape the world we live in. While many film exhibitors and organizations have done meaningful work to highlight stories centering reproductive rights and the destigmatization of abortion, we’re deeply concerned by the lack of public comment on this issue, during such ominous times for reproductive justice and abortion access. We must take action now to support the filmmakers and subjects of those and future stories by being in solidarity with all who are and will be impacted by these restrictive laws. There are steps all of us can take in the scope of our individual work to support abortion access in the United States and around the globe. As signers of this letter, we have highlighted what that commitment looks like. Join us in using our collective power to protect abortion access. We invite you to sign and share what commitment looks like in the scope of your work. Together we can make a difference.”
ON THE FESTIVAL CIRCUIT
IDFA Unveils Opening Film and Main Competition Selections Announced via press release: “With the 34th edition of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) just over two weeks away, the festival unveiled its highly anticipated opening film during today’s press conference: Four Journeys by Louis Hothothot (Louis Yi Liu). Ushering in its revamped program structure, IDFA also announced the films selected for the newly minted International Competition, Envision Competition, and cross-section awards. Finally, the festival presented the immersive and interactive artworks selected for the IDFA DocLab Competition for Immersive Non-Fiction and the IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Storytelling. As of today, the festival lineup of 264 titles is now complete. IDFA 2021 runs from November 17 to 28 in Amsterdam.”
Port/Post/Doc 2021 Program is Complete Announced via press release: “It’s announced the full program for this year’s edition of Porto/Post/Doc. More than 99 films will be screened in Porto, between the 20th and 30th of November. In the year the festival returns to its normal format, with sessions in six venues of Porto, there is space for cinema, performance, parties and an extension to online that expands the presence of the event's contents throughout the country. Today we announce the 10 films that draw one of the most interesting international competitions of recent years, the inclusion of Moby Doc in the competitive lineup of Transmission, as well as the participants in the two cycles of conversations that the festival proposes: the Fórum do Real, which responds to the central theme of PPD'21 - Ideas to Postpone the End of the World, and the Call to Action, a conversation-action program that aims to involve the cinematographic and civil community around ideas and concrete actions to combat the urgent needs of our time.”
SCAD Savannah Film Festival presents the 8th Annual Docs to Watch Roundtable Lauren Wissot reports for Filmmaker Magazine: “This year’s SCAD Savannah Film Festival – the “largest university-run film festival in the world,” which ran from October 23-30 – was a conveniently hybrid event that also marked my own return to the in-person festival circuit. Admittedly, as someone residing in a blue state with a strict mask mandate in place, traveling to the Deep South was a somewhat disorienting experience. And a stark reminder that the U.S.’s politicization of a global pandemic really is a war within – and specifically within the states themselves. On the one hand, Georgia’s Republican Governor Kemp issued an executive order back in August that banned local jurisdictions from imposing mask mandates. On the other hand, the liberal college city of Savannah has a mandatory mask mandate. Which, like elsewhere in our exasperatingly dysfunctional country, seemed to result in a disturbing hodgepodge of mask-less red tourists mixing it up both indoors and out with the masked up blue locals. Fortunately, this southern fest doesn’t play when it comes to health protocols (as at the Savannah College of Art and Design itself, proof of vaccination and masks were both required and strictly enforced), giving the 24th edition the air of an all-inclusive Covid bubble.”
Notebook Primer: Adoor Gopalakrishnan Arun A.K. writes at MUBI’s Notebook: “In 1982, Elippathayam (Rat-Trap) was introduced at the National Film Theatre, London, and won the Sutherland Trophy for the 'most original and imaginative film' of the year. The Malayalam-language film succeeded in catapulting its director, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, to widespread international acclaim. Until then, the rare British Film Institute (BFI) honor had been bestowed upon only one filmmaker from India: Satyajit Ray. Along with Ray and Mrinal Sen, Gopalakrishnan is one of the most recognized and admired Indian filmmakers in world cinema. The International Film Critics Prize (FIPRESCI) has gone to him six times successively. Decorated with honors such as the French Government's Commander of the Order of Arts & Letters, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award—India's highest award in cinema—and winner of several international awards, his films have been shown in nearly every important festival around the world, including Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Toronto, London, and Rotterdam. Regarded as the greatest living Indian filmmaker and a spiritual heir to Ray's tradition of filmmaking, Gopalakrishnan's austere works are marked by the power of silence, aesthetic charm, deep-space compositions, and the Brechtian ‘distancing’ approach.”
Talking About Attica, the Newest Documentary on the Prison Uprising Nicolas Rapold reports for The New York Times: “On Sept. 9, 1971, hundreds of inmates took over the Attica Correctional Facility near Buffalo to demand better conditions. Attica, a new documentary directed by Stanley Nelson and co-directed by Traci A. Curry, recounts the occupation and the massacre that followed on Sept. 13 when armed law enforcement officers stormed the prison and 39 inmates and hostages were killed under sustained police gunfire and tear-gassing...For the anniversary film, now on Showtime, Nelson and Curry dug deep, speaking to former prisoners and figures who had been on the scene, such as the TV journalist John Johnson and the negotiation intermediary Herman Schwartz, a law professor. (Former guards had initially agreed to participate, Curry said, but later declined.) I spoke by phone with Curry and Nelson individually about recapturing the lived reality of Attica and its enduring importance. These are edited excerpts from those conversations.”
Firelight Media Announces Open Call for Spark Fund Announced via press release: “The application for Firelight Media's Spark Fund is now open! Applications will be accepted today, Monday, November 1, through Wednesday, December 29, 2021. The Spark Fund offers support to established independent documentary filmmakers who self-identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color (BIPOC) and whose work on humanities-themed projects was disrupted by the COVID-19 public health emergency. This one-time opportunity, which is underwritten by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (#SHARP) Grantmaking initiative, will provide stipends rather than project support to selected filmmakers. The Spark Fund will provide 36 stipends of $50,000 to selected filmmakers over the period of one year, for their use in alleviating financial hardship and work disruptions endured from the COVID-19 pandemic. Selected filmmakers must be working on a humanities-themed project. The Spark Fund is particularly interested in supporting filmmakers whose projects are aligned with the NEH’s ‘A More Perfect Union’ initiative. For more information, including eligibility requirements, application instructions, and selection criteria, please view the application page.”
MFA Social Documentary Film at SVA – Apply Now for Fall Announced via press release: “Elevate your craft with SVA’s graduate documentary program. Sharpen your artistic voice, and amplify bold, visual stories to make an impact. SocDoc's award-winning faculty mentor students through production of several films over two years, seeding them in NYC’s prolific documentary community. Alumni find great success, with their award-winning films in major festivals and streaming around the world. Find out how SVA SocDoc will further your documentary career. Info sessions: In NYC: Sat. Nov. 13, 11am; Online: Mon. December 6, at 6:30pmET. Or get in touch for a personal virtual tour of the department.”
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