After two weeks on the road in Nashville and then TIFF, I'm back home and desperately trying to catch up with not only all the doc news I was putting off, but all the normal life happenings that I've been putting off in my absence. It seems this past week was a busy one, with the Creative Arts Emmy Awards taking place, ARRAY’s newly completed theater, the great documentary photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank died at 94, a new book from Angela J. Aguayo on how documentary production practices possess great potential for social change is out, new reports and awards are coming out of TIFF and Camden and a whole lot more. I want to give special mention to the passing of Daniel Johnston, who died last week at 58. Without Jeff Feuerzeig's wondrous documentary THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON, which I randomly discovered while I was in college shortly after its release, I would certainly not be doing this job today. At the time, I was yet to be fully entrenched in cinema and upon seeing it the film radically altered my perception of what documentary cinema could encompass and how one might go about doing so in the formal sense. There are no documentary subjects I've spent more time with than Daniel Johnston over the years and I truly hope he's finally found some peace.
-Jordan M. Smith
The 2019 Creative Arts Emmy Awards The 2019 Creative Arts Emmy Awards were presented over the weekend. Christopher Campbell reported on the evening’s documentary awards at Nonfics: “While LEAVING NEVERLAND was named Outstanding Documentary, FREE SOLO (which won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature) managed to pick up a whopping seven Emmys, including those for directing, cinematography, and editing. Other winning docs include RBG, THE SENTENCE, and SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY. OUR PLANET was named Outstanding Documentary Series, and its narrator, 93-year-old Sir David Attenborough won the award for Outstanding Narrator (and he wasn’t even the oldest winner of the night; that’d be 97-year-old Norman Lear).”
Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY Opens New Theater with Curated Series “ARRAY 360” Tambay Obenson noted the announcement at IndieWire: “Nearly a decade since Ava DuVernay launched ARRAY, what was initially a small distribution company has grown to become a multimedia empire that now sits on a sprawling Los Angeles campus. The gated property in Historic Filipinotown contains, among several things, post-production facilities and a recently completed state-of-the-art, 50-seat theater that will screen ARRAY titles, work by local artists, and an annual film series, which was announced today, curated and funded by DuVernay’s non-profit ARRAY Alliance. Titled ARRAY 360, the program will bring together award-winning filmmakers and emerging artists for six weekends of cinema, community, and conversation. ARRAY 360 will run from September 27 – November 2 at the all-new Amanda Theater, as the new screening space will be called. The inaugural slate features a celebration of women filmmakers including Agnès Varda, Euzhan Palcy, Barbara Loden, Suzana Amaral, Kathleen Collins, Shirin Neshat, Garrett Bradley, and Mati Diop, among others”
Filmmaker Jeff Feuerzeig Remembers Daniel Johnston Jude Dry of IndieWire reached out to Jeff Feuerzeig to capture his thoughts on Daniel Johnston, who died at age 58 on September 11th and was the subject of Feuerzeig's critically lauded film THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON: “To say that I was obsessed would be an understatement, but what a pleasurable obsession! There was so much joy he was giving me. There were songs that I literally cried to, songs like ‘True Love Will Find You in the End,’ which has become one of his biggest songs. I’m the biggest Dylan fan on earth, but I’ve never cried to a Dylan song. I don’t want to undercut the incredible humor that he had. Like his heroes The Beatles, he had so many incredible, hilarious turns of phrase in his songs. He was the whole package. I started tracking his life. He was a myth and an enigma, because he didn’t tour like a regular artist or musician or band. You couldn’t see him because unfortunately he was committed to mental hospitals and didn’t travel and didn’t tour. That helped his myth grow, and he also fed that myth. He was quoted in The Guardian this morning, with a brilliant quote — ‘there’s the genius of Daniel Johnston and there’s also the genius of his myth’ — and he really was a master at that.”
Robert Frank, American Artist Dies at 94 David Hudson collected a well rounded portrait of the artist upon his death over at Criterion's The Daily: “In a profile that ran in the New York Times Magazine in 2015, Robert Frank, the profoundly influential photographer and filmmaker who passed away on Monday at the age of ninety-four, tried to convey to Nicholas Dawidoff what it was about America that had enthralled him when he arrived from Europe in 1947. ‘In Paris, you’d see African people on the subway, and they were African,’ he said. ‘Here in America, they are Americans. There is no other place like this.’ This sense of being invited from the very moment one has set foot on American soil to take part in a grand, ongoing experiment is captured in a letter Frank sent to his family back in Switzerland during his first year in New York. ‘Only the moment counts, nobody seems to care about what he’ll do tomorrow,’ he wrote. ‘Whether you’ve been here for eight days or eight years, you are always treated like an American! There is only one thing you should never do, criticize anything.’”
DOCUMENTARY RESISTANCE: SOCIAL CHANGE AND PARTICIPATORY MEDIA
By Angela J. Aguayo
"Documentary is adept at collecting frames of human experience, challenging those insights, and turning these stories into public knowledge that is palpable for audiences. Generating pathways of exchange between unlikely interlocutors, collective identification forged with documentary discourse constitutes a mode of political agency directing energy towards acting in the world. Reflecting experiences of life unfolding before the camera, documentary representations help order social relationships that deepen our public connections and generate collective roots. As digital culture creates new pathways for information to flow, the connections generated from social change documentary constitute an emerging public commons. Considering the deep ideological divisions that sit at the foundation of a fracturing US democracy, it is of critical significance to understanding how communities negotiate power and difference by way of an expanding documentary commons. Investment in the force of documentary resistance helps cultivate an understanding of political life from the margins, where documentary production practices are a form of survival."
DOC NYC Announces 2019 Visionaries Tribute DOC NYC announced via press release: "Our sixth annual Visionaries Tribute will take place on November 7 at Manhattan’s Gotham Hall. Veteran filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Michael Apted will receive Lifetime Achievement recognition. The Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence will go to Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert (AMERICAN FACTORY; A LION IN THE HOUSE) and the Leading Light Award will go to Cynthia Lopez, Executive Director of New York Women in Film & Television."
A Film Festival Increases Press Diversity, But Challenges Remain At Columbia Journalism Review, Karen K. Ho looks into how TIFF's new diversity programs have altered the critical landscape: “Last year, the Toronto International Film Festival made a pledge that at least 20 percent of its media passes would go to under-represented journalists—women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ writers, and people with disabilities. It also created a media mentorship program, aimed at increasing access for critics and reporters who fall under that umbrella. But to walk the red carpet at TIFF with critics of color is to see how, even with new diversity programs in place, there are still gates closed.”
The 15th Annual Camden International Film Festival Kick-Off Joseph Pomp previewed the Camden International Film Festival doc offerings at Hammer to Nail: “Few of the countless documentary festivals in the U.S. strike as perfect a balance between challenging “avant-docs” (to borrow Scott Macdonald’s term) and crowd-pleasing award-chasers as the Camden International Film Festival, entering its fifteenth edition this Thursday, September 12 through Sunday, Sept. 15. Organized by the Points North Institute, a year-round resource for non-fiction artists in a coastal Maine town, it brings together the brightest of new films and emerging filmmakers alike.”
MIA Market Reveals 2019 Platform and Partnership with Hot Docs Camillo De Marco covered the news for Cineuropa: “Italy’s MIA – Audiovisual International Market presented its 2019 platform at ITALY@TIFF 2019 in the grounds of Campbell House, in collaboration with Hot Docs. Present were MIA director Lucia Milazzotto, head of the Doc Division at MIA Marco Spagnoli, Hot Docs programming director Shane Smith and Primitive Entertainment’s Michael McMahon. For its 2019 edition, MIA Market, running from 16-20 October in Rome, announced a partnership with Hot Docs, on which Lucia Milazzotto commented: ‘MIA serves as the platform for Italian industry professionals and talents to access new international co-operations and partnerships, and it plays a role in the global framework of international co-productions. With funding incentives within and through the Italian market, MIA seeks to develop new Italian content with global appeal and talent. We are building strong partnerships around the globe and are delighted to announce our partnership with Hot Docs. It will fulfil the strong demand for Italian documentaries on the global market - and build interest in co-producing and widening business landscapes.’"
A quintet of releases this week: Michelle Esrick's CRACKED UP opened at IFC Center, Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside's tender family portrait AMÉRICA is screening at Museum of the Moving Image, Ken Burns' new epic COUNTRY MUSIC began its primetime run on PBS last night (see schedule here), Raúl de la Fuente and Damian Nenow's Cannes debuted ANOTHER DAY OF LIFE is running at IFC Center, and Irene Taylor Brodsky's MOONLIGHT SONATA: DEAFNESS IN THREE MOVEMENTS is playing at the The Landmark at 57 West.
Turner Classic Movies’ First Black Host on Keeping Old Films Alive Writing for The New York Times, Aisha Harris reports: “Beginning Sunday, the film historian and preservationist Jacqueline Stewart will step in to introduce the long-running weekly programming series Silent Sunday Nights. While in the past prominent figures such as Ava DuVernay and Spike Lee have served as guest programmers, Stewart will be the network’s first black host. (From 2016 to 2018, Tiffany Vazquez appeared on TCM as the channel’s first woman and person of color to host.) Stewart, a professor at the University of Chicago specializing in black cinema and silent film history, might already be a familiar name (and face) to some hard-core TCM enthusiasts: In 2016 she appeared alongside the longtime host Ben Mankiewicz to introduce the companion series to “Pioneers of African-American Cinema,” a box set of short and feature films from the early 20th century that she helped curate. She was also a panelist at the TCM Film Festival in 2018 and 2019.”
Andrew Berends Film Fellowship is Currently Accepting Submissions Andrew Berends Film Fellowship is currently accepting submissions and the Round 1 Application Deadline is Dec 1, 2019: “Andrew Berends was a courageous and talented filmmaker who sought out stories in places which the mainstream media ignored. He shone a light on communities, people, and children facing unimaginable hardships. He traveled, shot, edited, and promoted his work with intense fervor and dedication. The Andrew Berends Film Fellowship was born out of the desire of Andy’s family, friends, and colleagues to keep his memory alive and active in the world of documentary where he himself thrived. The mission of this fellowship is to support emerging filmmakers from all walks of life that embody Andy’s spirit and determination, with a focus on sharing unheard stories. We hope that the Fellowship experience will help Fellows make a shift in their careers to the next level of success and artistic fulfillment.”
MoviePass Shut Down for Good on Sept. 14 According to Annie Palmer at CNBC: “MoviePass announced on Friday it’s shutting down the discount ticketing service on Sept. 14. Shares of MoviePass parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics dropped 10% Friday afternoon, though the stock trades for a fraction of a penny. MoviePass notified subscribers that it plans to close down the service because its ‘efforts to recapitalize MoviePass have not been successful to date.’ It has formed a strategic review committee, made up of the company’s independent directors, to explore ‘strategic and financial alternatives’ for the company.”
DOC NYC ALUMNI
Jessica Leski's I USED TO BE NORMAL 2018 DOC NYC Sonic Cinema
Will receive a VOD release on September 17th.
Andrew Shea's BUZZ 2018 DOC NYC Portraits
Will have its theatrical release on September 20th.
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
Directed by Charles Frank
Deep within Navajo Nation, scattered across a dusty, sagebrush-filled desert, three relatives share their homemade golf course with the community.
FUND THIS PROJECT
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