Outside of IFC Center's announcement of Craft Ed. Seminars, its exciting new education program for filmmakers, and the unveiling of the Toronto International Film Festival's 2019 TIFF Docs slate, it was a relatively slow doc news week. That said, there are four excellent festival hits now in limited release, a heartbreaking new short over at The Atlantic and an exciting new project from Rome Kyn Neal that's hoping to catch your attention via Kickstarter. Plenty to keep you busy for the week after all. Until next time...
-Jordan M. Smith
IFC Center Announces Craft Ed. Seminars
Announced via press release, the IFC Center revealed an exciting new education program for fledgling filmmakers: “IFC Center is proud to introduce Craft Ed. Seminars, a new, year-round educational program that will explore the craft and business of storytelling through masterclasses, case studies, and industry panels, alongside networking opportunities. The series of intensive full-day and half-day events grew out of the success of earlier one-off boot camps for filmmakers at the IFC Center, along with overwhelming demand from aspiring and established creative professionals to offer in-depth examinations of various aspects of the storytelling process, from inception to production to distribution and more. Programs will be devoted to a variety of topics in fiction filmmaking, documentary, television, podcasting and other fields...The first batch of programming, running August 19, August 26 and September 4, will focus on the various stages of documentary filmmaking and take place at IFC Center (323 Sixth Ave at West 3rd Street, NYC). Panels will run 10am - 4pm, followed by a nearby happy hour for informal networking 4 - 5pm.”
iPic Entertainment Files for Chapter 11, Will Pursue Sale Brent Lang broke the news at Variety: “iPic Entertainment, the luxury theater chain that helped popularize the concept of dine-in moviegoing, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It hopes to restructure its debt and has engaged investment banker PJ Solomon to pursue a possible sale. Last month, the company warned investors that it might be filing for bankruptcy after it missed a $10.1 million interest payment to the Employees Retirement System of Alabama (ERSA) and the Teachers Retirement System of Alabama. At the time, the theater circuit said it had cash-on-hand of $2.2 million.”
SAY WHAT HAPPENED: A STORY
By Nick Fraser
"Documentary films are the rock and roll of our times. Why are they made? Who are in the tribe of documentary film-makers? Do their films really change the world? Eighteen years ago, Nick Fraser created BBC Storyville, producing films that won Oscars, BAFTAs, and Peabody Awards. He found film-makers from all across the world covering important subjects in documentaries. In Say What Happened he describes the frenzied, intense world of documentary film-making, tracing its history back to the early pioneers, such as Dziga Vertov and his ground-breaking MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA."
Locarno 2019: Documentary Overview As always, Basil Tsiokos whipped together an overview of Locarno’s doc offerings at What (not) To Doc: “This long-running Swiss A-list fest presents 30 documentaries among its line-up of approximately 90 new and recent features. Nonfiction or hybrid work accounts for nearly a third of Locarno’s official competitive sections, though but one doc appears in the main Concorso internazionale, Maya Khoury’s DURING REVOLUTION, which documents activists during the Syrian civil war over six years. Representation is better in the Concorso Cineasti del presente, with a quarter of that section: Elsa Kremser and Levin Peter’s hybrid SPACE DOGS, an exploration of Moscow’s street dogs and the canine cosmonaut Laika; Yoon Sung-a’s OVERSEAS, which follows the training of Filipino domestic workers before they head abroad; Maya Kosa and Sergio da Costa’s BIRD ISLAND, about a young man who participates in a rehabilitation program caring for injured birds; and Andrea Luka Zimmerman and Adrian Jackson’s hybrid HERE FOR LIFE, in which Londoners share stories about gentrification. Finally, all of the features in Moving Ahead, the re-named Signs of Life competition, are docs or hybrids, including Ben Rivers and Anocha Suwichakornpong’s KRABI, 2562, which explores storytelling among the inhabitants of the titular Thai town; Lukas Marxt’s RALF’S COLORS, about the inner life of a schizophrenic; and Éric Baudelaire’s UN FILM DRAMATIQUE, a collaboration with and about French suburban middle schoolers.”
Locarno’s First Look Highlights Growing Strength of Serbian Cinema Variety's Christopher Vourlias reports: “History, memory, and female-driven stories mark some of the main themes in the six Serbian films selected for Locarno’s First Look, a pix-in-post strand that represents one of the high points of the mid-summer festival on the shores of Lake Maggiore...As part of its partnership with Locarno, Film Center Serbia selected six projects – including five documentary features – with all but one in post-production. Four of the six films are helmed by female directors. As in years past, the First Look spotlight offers an important springboard into the international market: sales agents, distributors and festival programmers flock to this scenic Swiss town every summer.”
We've got a quartet of well regarded festival hits going into theatrical release this week with Tom Donahue's look at gender discrimination in the entertainment industry in THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING playing at IFC Center, Nanfu Wang & Lynn Zhang's personal examination of China's one child policy in ONE CHILD NATION playing at Film Forum, Rodney Evans' profile on visually impaired artists in VISION PORTRAITS screening at The Metrograph and Garret Price's doc on the late actor Anton Yelchin LOVE, ANTOSHA playing at Quad Cinema.
“Penny” in Our Thoughts: Doc Industry Reacts to DA Pennebaker’s Passing Realscreen’s Barry Walsh contacted DOC NYC Artistic Director Thom Powers to get his thoughts on the passing of D.A. Pennebaker: “When contacted by Realscreen for his thoughts and memories of DA Pennebaker, he shared the following via email, edited for length and clarity: ‘When D.A. Pennebaker was capturing the rising 1960s rock and roll youth movement in DONT LOOK BACK and MONTEREY POP, he was already in his late 30s. For the 50th anniversary of MONTEREY POP, I asked him if, back then, he felt conscious of being older. He replied, ‘I always felt like the youngest person in the room.’ And that was the impression I always had of him, even in his 90s.’”
D.A. Pennebaker: Five Essential Films David Parkinson selected five essential D.A. Pennebaker films for BFI: “The modern documentary largely looks the way it does because of Donn Alan Pennebaker. As a key member of the Drew Associates team that pioneered the candid fly-on-the-wall style known as Direct Cinema, Pennebaker realised that he needed to be an observer rather than a director, as he had a better chance of capturing something significant if he merged into the background and waited rather than try to prompt or provoke. The son of a photographer, Pennebaker followed wartime naval service by forming a company that devised the first computerised airline reservation system. He started filmmaking with DAYBREAK EXPRESS (1953), a five-minute study of the New York subway cut to a Duke Ellington track that taught Pennebaker that ‘the very nature of film is musical, because it uses time as a basis for its energy.’”
LEAVING NEVERLAND: Inside the Production Anne Thompson spoke with director Dan Reed about how he came onto LEAVING NEVERLAND and more for IndieWire: “Film Four executive Daniel Pell first approached Reed, who at first wasn’t that interested in the Jackson controversy, but reluctantly took some development money to start researching. That’s when he noticed that Wade Robson had sued the estate in 2013 – which meant ‘he might stand up in court, and conceivably go on camera,’ he said in a phone interview. ‘The more I found out, the more interested I became. I didn’t care about exposing bad things about Michael Jackson. It was about getting the real people to tell details. It became an in-depth story about two individuals and their families, encountering such a famous man and falling under his spell. This terrible thing happened that the children kept secret, and only revealed to their parents years later. Child sexual abuse is a phenomenon nobody understands and nobody likes to talk about.’”
Controversial Steve Bannon Doc Finally Scores Theatrical Release Reporting for The Hollywood Reporter, Tatiana Siegel let's loose the news: “A year after making its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and subsequently being snubbed by distributors, Errol Morris' Steve Bannon doc AMERICAN DHARMA finally will see the light of day. Utopia, co-founded in February by musician and director Robert Schwartzman (nephew of Francis Ford Coppola), has acquired U.S. rights to the film from the Oscar winner behind THE FOG OF WAR. After Venice, AMERICAN DHARMA screened at the Toronto and New York film festivals and picked up strong reviews. But the idea of Bannon getting a platform at all ignited a backlash (he was dropped from toplining the New Yorker Festival after Jim Carrey and Judd Apatow threatened to pull out) that made the film radioactive for buyers.”
DOC NYC ALUMNI
Mila Turajlic's THE OTHER SIDE OF EVERYTHING 2017 DOC NYC Fight the Power
Will be released on DVD tomorrow via Icarus Films.
Emily Harrold's WHILE I BREATHE, I HOPE 2018 DOC NYC American Perspectives
Will receive a limited theatrical release on Friday.
John Chester's THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM 2018 DOC NYC Special Events
Will be released on DVD/Blu-ray on August 20th via Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
Chico Pereira's DONKEYOTE 2017 DOC NYC Wild Life
Will be released on VOD on August 20th.
FEATURED STREAMING DOC SHORT
Directed by Nicholas Pollock
Snails in Hawaii are disappearing faster than any animal on the planet. “This is happening so fast, it’s as if something really catastrophic is happening in the world right now," says scientist Dave Sischo, who is fighting to save Hawaii's snail populations.
FUND THIS PROJECT
Crowdfunding has become an integral means of raising capital for documentary filmmakers around the globe. Each week we feature a promising new project that needs your help to cross that critical crowdfunding finish line.
“Half a century ago, a movement used Black Theatre to tell stories that were nonconforming and unapologetically Black. The documentary A MOVEMENT: THE BLACK THEATRE PROJECT examines Black Theatre as a political tool for creating community and identity that influence culture today."
As always, if you have any tips or recommendations for next week's Memo, please contact me via email here or on Twitter at @Rectangular_Eye.