I'll be brief this week, as I'm in Nashville trying to soak up as much of Music City as I can while here. That said, I haven't skimped on this week's nonfiction related goodies to share. IndieWire's Tom Brueggenmann's recent box office reports have brought him to the obvious conclusion: Docs have become an art house box office lifeline. DCTV has unveiled its fall lineup, Filmmaker Magazine shared their 25 New Faces of Independent Film, Art House Theater Day is on its way with Brett Story's THE HOTTEST AUGUST in tow, Telluride's lineup gives hints on this year's award season and that's really just the beginning. Next week I'll be at the Toronto International Film Festival, so I'll see you all back here in two weeks. Happy Labor Day!
-Jordan M. Smith
CRAFT ED. SEMINARS
Wednesday September 4, 2019, 10:00 AM
Dive into the intricacies of using B-roll and archival footage, adding animation and VFX, and what you should expect out of a post house and how to score your film, with insights from Jamillah Varias (Vox Media), Prudence Arndt (I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO) and others.
Discount code for Craft Ed. Seminars (for 20% general admission pricing) is: CRAFTED_DOCS
Doc Are Now the Art-House Lifeline, But Even the Best See Limited Results When I started mainly covering documentaries nearly a decade ago, I didn’t see this coming. Tom Brueggemann reports for IndieWire: “Covering specialized box office has largely come to mean covering documentaries. They’re no longer a subset; these films are the top performers for art-house theaters. But as distributors begin the fall-festival prowl for new titles, the nonfiction market isn’t as strong as it might appear. Documentaries — the ones that play festivals, not the concert films, special events, Disney nature films, and right-wing polemics — dominate art houses. Using the most recent week as an example, there were 23 specialized titles. Of these, 12 were documentaries. A year ago, there were 24 titles and six were docs. The year prior, 18 titles and three documentaries.”
Downtown Community Television Center (DCTV) Presents Fall 2019 Screening weekly on Monday nights from September through November, DCTV has revealed its 2019 fall screening series lineup: “Screening some of the most anticipated new documentary films, including Hassan Fazili’s MIDNIGHT TRAVELER and Brett Story’s THE HOTTEST AUGUST, DCTV Presents Fall 2019 illuminates first-hand accounts of great issues plaguing our time – climate change, refugee migration, the enduring legacy of racism – forging new perspectives, a sense of direction and hope...DCTV Presents will take place on weekly Monday nights at 7pm plus as select noontime matinees. Many events are free this Fall, with ticketed events starting at only $5, and a Season Pass to attend it all for only $25. Each evening event includes a discussion with filmmakers or special guests, including filmmakers Brett Story, Su Kim, Sarah Christman, and Mark Street.”
MK2 Rolls Out Documentary Slate Elsa Keslassy had the exclusive at Variety: “Paris-based mk2 films, which is in Venice with three films including Robert Guédiguian’s competition entry GLORIA MUNDI, is bowing sales on a raft of prestige documentaries, notably Jia Zhang-ke’s SO CLOSE TO MY LAND and Jacques Loeuille’s BIRDS OF AMERICA...The company’s documentary slate also includes Jean-Stéphane Bron’s THE BRAIN, about artificial intelligence, and Mariana Otero’s LOOKING FOR GILLES CARON.”
Filmmaker Magazine Drops its Annual 25 New Faces of Independent Film Posted without comment, the Filmmaker Magazine staff shared their list of 25 New Faces of Independent Film. From their 25 New Faces page: “The summer used to be a slow period for independent film, so what better time to focus our readers’ attention on the up-and-coming artists who’d be shaping the next generation? That’s what we were thinking back in 1998, when we decided to devote our Summer issue to what has become our most celebrated feature of the year, the ‘25 New Faces of Independent Film’ We looked at a lot of work, canvassed our colleagues, and tasked ourselves with finding not the obvious names, the ones already bold-faced in the trades, but up-and-comers whose early work impressed and excited us.”
Kartemquin to Honor Julia Reichert at Empowering Truth Benefit Luncheon Announced via Reel Chicago: “Kartemquin Films, the award-winning Chicago-based documentary not-for-profit behind films such as HOOP DREAMS and MINDING THE GAP, announced today it will honor documentary legend and three-time Academy Award nominee Julia Reichert at the organization’s 2019 Empowering Truth Benefit Luncheon on October 29th at Chicago’s The Standard Club.” Tickets to the event can be purchased here.
Celebrate Art House Theater Day on September 18th Coming soon to an art house near you: “The 4th Annual Art House Theater Day is coming to 150+ theaters nationwide on Wednesday, September 18th. Thrilled to announce that the programming features a female-majority this year among the filmmakers with films from Brett Story (THE HOTTEST AUGUST), Ildikó Enjedi (30th anniversary screenings of MY TWENTIETH CENTURY), and Deborah Stratman's 2019 Berlinale premiering short, VEVER (FOR BARBARA) featuring cinematography by Barbara Hammer and texts by Maya Deren. Rounding out the programming are 50th anniversary 4K Academy restored screenings of Robert Downey Sr.'s PUTNEY SWOPE and Peter Strickland's IN FABRIC sneak previewing before the Dec. 6th theatrical release by A24.”
FILMS FOR THE COLONIES: CINEMA AND THE PRESERVATION OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE
By Tom Rice
"Films for the Colonies examines the British Government’s use of film across its vast Empire from the 1920s until widespread independence in the 1960s. Central to this work was the Colonial Film Unit, which produced, distributed, and, through its network of mobile cinemas, exhibited instructional and educational films throughout the British colonies. Using extensive archival research and rarely seen films, Films for the Colonies provides a new historical perspective on the last decades of the British Empire. It also offers a fresh exploration of British and global cinema, charting the emergence and endurance of new forms of cinema culture from Ghana to Jamaica, Malta to Malaysia. In highlighting the integral role of film in managing and maintaining a rapidly changing Empire, Tom Rice offers a compelling and far-reaching account of the media, propaganda, and the legacies of colonialism."
DOC NYC PRO Announces Initial Roster of Speakers While DOC NYC is set to kick off on November 6th, the DOC NYC PRO speaker lineup is already taking shape: “Our DOC NYC PRO Conference Producer, Amy Jelenko, has been busy building an impressive lineup of speakers for DOC NYC PRO 2019. Our confirmed speakers include Elise McCave (Kickstarter), Alison Klayman (THE BRINK), Julie Goldman (ONE CHILD NATION), Matthew Galkin and Josh Levine (MURDER IN THE BAYOU), Jenny Raskin (Impact Partners) & Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnick (KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE). DOC NYC PRO Passes are currently available for the Early Bird price of $99 per day through to September 27.”
Locarno Curator Calls Out the Politics of Film Festival Programming Sean Nam of Hyperallergic spoke to Belgrade-based independent curator Greg de Cuir Jr., who helped put together Locarno’s 2019 Black Light program: “There were a lot of different boundaries that I wanted to set for this ‘creative intervention.’ Most important for me was to be strongly international, and it’s really important for me to show movements and common struggles across borders. So I think that was the first important thing, to have a broad selection that had a strong international stance, from South to North America, the Caribbean, the European continent … I wanted to deal with what happened to Africa’s children, when they’re moved and forced to survive in different contexts, different cultures, and different countries. Exploring that means exploring where black people have gone in the world.”
Points North Forum 2019 Revealed The Camden International Film Festival announced its industry program via press release: “The Points North Institute has announced the lineup for its 11th annual Points North Forum, which runs concurrent with the 15th edition of the Camden International Film Festival (CIFF), September 13 - 15, at the historic Camden Opera House in Camden, Maine. PNI has also today revealed the 57 documentary filmmakers selected for its 2019 Artist Programs. In addition to a full slate of masterclasses and panels on the creative processes and practices of nonfiction filmmaking, this year’s Points North Forum will advance industry-wide conversations about Story & Power-- asking critical questions about how the documentary film and media community reflects existing power structures, including questions of racial equity, access, funding, and which stories are being told, how, for whom, and by whom.”
With just one new release this week, its clearly the calm before the festival storm. Ursula Macfarlane's BBC produced, Sundance debuted UNTOUCHABLE: THE RISE AND FALL OF HARVEY WEINSTEIN has arrived on Hulu.
UNTOUCHABLE: THE RISE AND FALL OF HARVEY WEINSTEIN
An Oral History of cléo Barry Hertz pieced together a thorough historical overview of the landmark feminist film journal for The Globe and Mail: “Over six years, from 2013 to 2019, the Toronto-based online film magazine cléo (cleojournal.com) published 19 issues featuring 180 articles, of which 130 pieces were by women and non-binary folks. Named for the protagonist of Agnès Varda’s CLÉO FROM 5 to 7 (1962), who comes to self-realization through the observation and mastering of her space, cléo was formed as a space for emerging and established writers to address issues of film and feminisms. Due to provincewide budget cuts, the Ontario Arts Council grant that funded cléo for three years was recently suspended indefinitely. With this major loss of support the editors of cléo decided to call the latest issue their last. The magazine’s archives will remain online, and the editors will soon be publishing a best-of print issue made possible thanks to a generous donation from director Barry Jenkins (MOONLIGHT, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK). To mark the publication’s closing, and its critical impact on film discourse in Canada and beyond, The Globe and Mail presents an abridged oral history of cléo, in the words of the writers and editors who brought it to life.”
POV is Hiring Manager of Community Engagement & Education Manager
American Documentary, Inc. (AmDoc) has listed two open positions as part of its critically acclaimed documentary series POV - Manager of Community Engagement and Education Manager. For those interested, apply at the links.
AQUARELA is the Most Metal Documentary About Water You Will Ever See Alissa Wilkinson of Vox spoke with AQUARELA director Victor Kossakovsky about the danger involved in making his latest film:“Watching AQUARELA is less like watching a traditional nature documentary and more like a feature-length music video that roams the globe, without many people onscreen, and no talking heads or explanatory text. Water, in its many forms, is the protagonist, rather than the subject. It’s the sort of film that leaves you in awe. The unpredictable natural environments that appear in the film made shooting it a dangerous challenge, meaning AQUARELA is likely one of the riskiest documentaries ever made. And in case its implications aren’t obvious, Kossakovsky tapped the Finnish symphonic metal band Apocalyptica to compose the film’s score.”
DOC NYC ALUMNI
Lindsey Cordero and Armando Croda’s I'M LEAVING NOW 2018 DOC NYC Portraits
Will open in limited theatrical release on September 6th at Maysles Documentary Center thanks to Cinema Guild.
Michelle Esrick’s CRACKED UP 2018 DOC NYC Behind the Scenes
Will be released theatrically on September 13th via Abramorama.
Rob Garver’s WHAT SHE SAID: THE ART OF PAULINE KAEL 2018 DOC NYC Behind the Scenes
Will premiere theatrically at Landmark's Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles on Decemebr 13th followed by Film Forum for two weeks opening December 25th in NYC.
FEATURED STREAMING DOC SHORT
NI UNO MÁS | NOT ONE MORE DEATH
Directed by Meerkat Media Collective
Provides intimate and moving documentation of an action led by immigrant construction workers to memorialize their fellow laborers who were killed on the job.
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