Though it was a long holiday weekend for many (myself included), the nonfiction film news moved quick this past week. Among the long list of news bites was the fact that many deserving folks were invited to join The Academy, debates about how more diversity in cultural criticism is necessary hit The New York Times, box office numbers continue to show docs to be financially successful this year, DOC NYC is expanding for its 10th anniversary and all sorts of other doc related goodies. My favorite piece this week? - a brief New Yorker cartoon from Nathan Gelgud about his time visiting the Gramercy when MoMA was under construction. Enjoy!
-Jordan M. Smith
Academy Invites 842 to Membership
“The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extending invitations to join the organization to 842 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures. The 2019 class is 50% women, 29% people of color, and represents 59 countries. Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy’s membership in 2019.” Invited documentary filmmakers include Karim Amer, Doug Block, Steven Bognar, Jessica Devaney, Josh Fox, Vanessa Roth, and Matt Tyrnauer, among a long list of others.
The Dominance of the White Male Critic Elizabeth Méndez Berry and Chi-hui Yang take on the subject in an opinion piece for The New York Times: “Those who have for decades been given the biggest platforms to interpret culture are white men. This means that the spaces in media where national mythologies are articulated, debated and affirmed are still largely segregated. The conversation about our collective imagination has the same blind spots as our political discourse. The six most influential art critics in the country, as selected by their peers, are all white, the writer Mary Louise Schumacher found in a recent survey of more than 300 working visual arts critics. Almost all of them are men who have written for legacy publications for at least 20 years. That’s true of other genres, like film reviews, where there are 27 white male film critics for each woman of color, a study from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found.”
Yet Another Documentary Tops Arthouse Openers Tom Brueggemann reports for IndieWire: “This weekend, MARIANNE & LEONARD: WORDS OF LOVE (Roadside Attractions), veteran documentarian Nick Bloomfield’s retelling of the intense relationship between an iconic folk artist and the woman who inspired him, was the only notable specialized opener. It joined the list of recent documentaries that are saving the specialized box office.”
ON THE FESTIVAL CIRCUIT
DOC NYC Expands For 10th Anniversary Edition Frederick Blichert broke the news at Realscreen that, “American documentary film festival DOC NYC is expanding from eight to 10 days for its 10th anniversary event. The festival has also hired Amy Jelenko as the DOC NYC PRO Conference director. She will work with artistic director Thom Powers to oversee the programming of industry talks and panels, along with the ‘Only in New York’ meetings arranged between filmmakers and industry players from fields of financing, production and distribution.”
Doclisboa Directors Cíntia Gil and Davide Oberto Leaving Festival in October Doclisboa revealed via press release: “The Board of Apordoc – Portuguese Documentary Association announces that Doclisboa directors Cíntia Gil and Davide Oberto are leaving the Festival in October, following its 17th edition. Cíntia Gil will leave the direction of Doclisboa International Film Festival after this year’s edition (17 to 27 October 2019) and will start as the new director of Sheffield Doc/Fest in November 2019. Cíntia Gil will continue as a member of the Board of Apordoc. Furthermore, Davide Oberto, co-director of Doclisboa since 2015 until last year, left the board to focus on his functions at the Torino Film Festival. During this transition period, the Board of Apordoc is preparing a new direction for the Festival. Under the sign of continuity, Apordoc wishes to bring new voices to define the future of Doclisboa. The new direction will be announced on the closing of the Festival.”
Sheffield Doc/Fest’s Incoming Festival Director
Following Doclisboa's announcement, Sheffield Doc/Fest had their own exciting news to share: “We are pleased to announce today that Cíntia Gil has been appointed Festival Director at Sheffield Doc/Fest. Cíntia joins from DocLisboa where she has served as Festival Director since 2012; she will take up the Doc/Fest position in November, following the October edition of DocLisboa. Says Alexander Graham, Sheffield Doc/Fest Chair: ‘We are thrilled to announce Cíntia as the new Festival Director for Sheffield Doc/Fest. She has a deep knowledge of, and passion for, documentaries together with a wealth of international connections to bring to Sheffield. What’s more she has the vision and the leadership to build on the Festival’s success and take it into a new decade.’”
2019 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Award Winners Karlovy Vary shared their 2019 award winners via press release: “The Grand Prix for Best Documentary Film went to Ksenia Okhapkina's essay IMMORTAL, portraying the life in a small Russian industrial town governed by strict rules. The Documentary Special Jury Prize was awarded to CONFUCIAN DREAM, a story of a Chinese mother looking for the right kind of alternative upbringing for her son. Another documentary film, Olga Sommerová's portrait JIŘÍ SUCHÝ: TACKLING LIFE WITH EASE, won the Právo Audience Award.”
Open City Documentary Festival Announced Assembly 2019 Participants Open City revealed its first group of Assembly participants: “We are happy to announce the participants for Assembly, a new development lab for creative documentaries taking place in London in September 2019. The lab is a project-based intensive workshop for international filmmakers working on their first or second feature. Participants from seven selected projects will attend a four-day programme (31st August – 3rd September 2019) in London that will include talks, workshops and one-to-one mentoring. During the programme, one of the seven projects selected for Assembly will be awarded £10,000 in development funding for their feature film, following a closed pitch.”
Full Frame Looking For Programming Assistant Looking for an introductory programming gig? Full Frame is also looking: “The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, a program of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University (CDS), is accepting applications for a part time, paid programming position that will begin in October 2019 and end in mid-April 2020. The assistant will gain broad experience in various functions of the festival programming department and obtain an overall view of how festival content is determined, organized, and exhibited. The assistant will be based at the Full Frame offices in Durham, North Carolina, for the duration of the position. The 23rd annual festival takes place Thursday, April 2, through Sunday, April 5, 2020.”
MARIANNE & LEONARD: WORDS OF LOVE, Nick Broomfield's latest dip into music lore is reaching audiences in limited theatrical release, as is Rob Fruchtman and Steve Lawrence's THE CAT RESCUERS, now playing at IFC Center. This week also sees Tom Jennings' APOLLO: MISSIONS TO THE MOON reaching audiences via National Geographic as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
NO STONE UNTURNED Case Underscores Cross-Border Threat To Press Rights Bruce D. Brown and Simon Kilmurry revisit the case against filmmakers Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey at IDA: “The decision to quash the warrants comes as a relief to Birney and McCaffrey, but the underlying threat posed by laws like the Official Secrets Act persists. Weak protections for journalists in one country can increasingly creep across borders and risk silencing journalism like NO STONE UNTURNED. This reporting plays a pivotal role in uncovering official misconduct and holding those in power accountable. As more journalism transcends borders, the need to fix the ‘weakest links’ in press rights, like the Official Secrets Act, takes on an ever-growing urgency.”
The 5 Best Soccer Documentaries
Just in time for the Women’s World Cup final, K. Airy put together a list of their favorite soccer docs for Nonfics: “If there is one thing that sports fans crave over anything else, it is to see the real stories behind their teams, players, and officials. Behind-the-scenes documentaries give viewers the chance to see the personalities behind their heroes and the truth behind the controversies while also adding flesh to the bones created by mainstream media. How an athlete or team is portrayed by the media is often not a fair reflection of what they’re really like. Likewise, a moment in time can be captured in a newspaper very differently than how it is captured on camera as it unfolds. That’s why we have such a thirst for documentaries and tell-all programs giving us the true stories behind some of the greatest figures in sports.”
The 10 Best Documentaries of 2019 (So Far) Tim Grierson and the Paste Movies Staff put together a list of their top 10 favorite nonfiction films of the year thus far: “As is the case most years, the best documentaries of 2019 reach back into 2018, maybe forward into 2020, US release dates sometimes more than a year out from festival premieres. Trapping such sprawl within a tidy six months is messy at best, futile at worst. How this translates to the following 10 films is, at least, hopeful: Most of these, if not found easily on Netflix or similar streaming network, have had theatrical releases—typically in bigger markets, granted—or should be available on VOD by the end of the year. Regardless, these movies record the particular timbre of our loud and anxious lives in 2019, from three concert docs of three era-defining performers, to lyrical portraits of home, to hyper-personal glimpses of political firebrands.”
DOC NYC ALUMNI
Sam Hobkinson & Havana Marking's THE KLEPTOCRATS 2018 DOC NYC Viewfinders
Will be released on DVD tomorrow via Passion River.
FEATURED STREAMING DOC SHORT
GROWING UP ETHAN
Directed by Josephine Sittenfeld
When you’re growing up with autism, how much independence can you expect for your adulthood? Josephine Sittenfeld explores the complexities of that question in GROWING UP ETHAN, her new Op-Doc about the Floquet family, of Amherst, Mass. The result is a lively group portrait of a family over the course of 10 years, as their and Ethan’s hopes for the future evolve.
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.
THIS MIGHT HURT is an intimate vérité film that follows three chronic pain patients who have spent years trying to cure their illness through modern medicine without success. Desperate for relief, they enter a mind-body medicine program — run by Dr. Howard Schubiner — that focuses on uncovering buried trauma at the root of their suffering, and retraining their brains to turn off pain.
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.