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For much of my cinema going life I've considered my personal cinephilia an inseparable two part endeavor, watching and reading. So it comes with much pleasure that I have added a book section to the memo that will likely dip in and out as new notable and relevant books appear. As a librarian, I feel like I should have a pretty good handle on how to keep track of new documentary related book releases, but often I find out about film books by accident online or in review long after release in one of the various film publications I regularly read. Short of checking every academic publisher on a regular basis or constantly searching Amazon for new releases, I'm not sure what the best course of action might be to keep up as much as I'd like. So, if you have a line on new doc related books coming down the pipeline, I would appreciate a heads up, as I'm always making note of new releases once they're on my radar.

Outside of the new book section there is plenty of nonfiction news to peruse, from the award winners at Full Frame and the new season of Pure Nonfiction at IFC Center, to possible antitrust issues with the purposed Oscar rule changes and the 25th anniversary of HOOP DREAMS. Drink deep and don't forget to catch the re-release of Doug Block's remarkable debut HOME PAGE while it's streaming over at The D-Word!
-Jordan M. Smith

Friday, April 12th at Freep Film Festival in Detroit
Sunday, April 14th at DOC10 in Chicago

DOC NYC's Make Your Documentary Workshop
Do you have an idea for a documentary but don’t know how to move forward? In this four-hour workshop, Thom Powers brings his 20 years of experience – as a filmmaker, festival programmer and teacher – to guide attendees through all the steps for a successful project.


Pure Nonfiction at IFC Center Spring 2019 Lineup Revealed
In a quick turnaround from its Winter Season wrap-up, the recently rechristened Pure Nonfiction at IFC Center announced its Spring 2019 lineup with Penny Lane's Sundance debuted HAIL SATAN? kicking off the season's festivities as the opening night film. The film screens tomorrow, Tuesday April 9, 7:30pm at IFC Center. The full season schedule can be found here. And let's not forget that the latest episode of the Pure Nonfiction podcast features director Alison Klayman on Steve Bannon in THE BRINK.

AMAZING GRACE Producer Says She Was Not Paid for Years of Work
Reporting at Variety, Gene Maddaus chronicles how producer Chiemi Karasawa "alleges that she played a critical role in bringing the film [AMAZING GRACE] to screen and has not been paid for her work. Karasawa recently filed an arbitration case against [producer Alan] Elliott, alleging that she is owed a producer fee and other compensation for years of work on the project. Among other things, she says she arranged to retrieve the footage and process it, oversaw the editing of the film, and set up screenings for industry figures that ultimately led to its theatrical release."

Justice Department Warns Academy Over Potential Oscar Rule Changes Threatening Netflix
Ted Johnson reports, "According to a letter obtained by Variety, the chief of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, Makan Delrahim, wrote to AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson on March 21 to express concerns that new rules would be written 'in a way that tends to suppress competition.' 'In the event that the Academy — an association that includes multiple competitors in its membership — establishes certain eligibility requirements for the Oscars that eliminate competition without procompetitive justification, such conduct may raise antitrust concerns,' Delrahim wrote."

Doug Block's HOME PAGE To Stream Free at The D-Word April 8th & 9th
Posting at The D-Word, filmmaker Doug Block shares the good news, "On Monday and Tuesday, April 8th and 9th, in advance of its 20th anniversary re-release on April 16, The D-Word will host a free online screening of my film HOME PAGE. A link to the full film will be posted in this topic late Sunday [now live] so that you can access it at any time during those two days no matter where you are or what time it is. It is not a live screening. I'll be checking in frequently over the course of the two days to describe my filmmaking process and answer any and all questions you might post. The films' main subject Justin Hall will be traveling in Europe on those days but has promised to check in when he can. After seeing the film, believe me, you'll want to hear from Justin! If you can't make the time on the 8th and 9th, no worries. Members from North America can get HOME PAGE on iTunes here (pre-orders available now). Those from outside North America can order it on your local iTunes, Google Play and Amazon platforms starting April 16th." Additionally, Monica Altmayer covered the film's re-release over at Nonfics, as Doug Block appeared on the new episode of the Internet History Podcast to discuss the film.

90th Issue of Senses of Cinema Released
Featuring a plethora of festival reports from Sundance, Berlin, Rotterdam, Thessaloniki and beyond, as well as two documentary focused pieces in Jonathan Petrychyn and Claudia Sicondolfo's "Archived Passions, Censored Bodies: PASSIFLORA and the Regulation of Sexuality at the NFB" and Joy Castro's "'The People Are Missing': New Refugee Documentaries and Carceral Humanitarianism", the 90th Issue of Senses of Cinema is now live.


Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2019 Award Winners Announced
On Sunday afternoon, the 2019 Full Frame award winners were revealed. The Reva and David Logan Grand Jury Award went to ONE CHILD NATION, directed by Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang, the Full Frame Jury Award for Best Short was a tie between GIVE, directed by David de Rozas, and OBON, directed by André Hörmann and Anna Samo, while the Audience Award was presented to KIFARU, directed by David Hambridge in the Feature category, and LIFE OVERTAKES ME, directed by John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson in the Short category.

Rotterdam 2019: Livestreaming the Ephemeral in PRESENT.PERFECT.
Kiva Reardon, Lead Programmer of Contemporary World Cinema at TIFF, reported for Filmmaker Magazine on the winner of this year's Tiger Award: Zhu Shengze’s PRESENT.PERFECT.: "While this digital reality is increasingly discussed in terms of rights to privacy, PRESENT. PERFECT. also raises questions around what directing means in a digital age. PRESENT.PERFECT. posits not, “How did Zhu get this shot?,” but instead, “How did she find this in the volume of videos that exist online?” It recalls what I wrote about last year from Rotterdam regarding Penny Lane’s THE PAIN OF OTHERS, another found footage experiment based in internet forms of self-documentation. Both Lane and Zhu’s films upset a fundamental core of the online viewing experience: the ability to click away, be it to the next YouTube video or the next stream."

An Interview with Hot Docs Forum Producer Dorota Lech
Cathleen Even, the web editor of cléo, spoke with Hot Docs Forum Producer Dorota Lech about this year's upcoming pitch forum: "The impact of pitching can be huge and cause ripple effects throughout a filmmaker’s career. Documentary filmmaking is a business of trust and relationships, and pitching events are essential networking opportunities to forge and solidify partnerships. They’re also marketing opportunities and a space for filmmakers to present themselves to the partners they may have throughout their entire careers."


Stephanie Wang-Breal’s vérité courtroom drama BLOWIN' UP screening in limited release, David Attenborough's new Netflix nature series OUR PLANET, and the much anticipated wide release of the long gestating Aretha Franklin concert doc AMAZING GRACE have arrived.

Vote for The Webby's People's Voice Awards
Voting is now open for the 23rd Annual Webby Awards' People's Voice, including both the Longform and Shortform Documentary categories. If you haven't seen all the nominations, make sure to catch up by following the Webby links. Voting is open until Thursday, April 18th.

A Different Perspective: Reviews About Empathy, Compassion and Kindness
In remembrance of Roger Ebert on the sixth anniversary of his passing, Brian Tallerico wrote, "We have turned the site [] over to 13 reviews that reflect the concepts of this day and Roger’s belief in cinema as an empathy machine. For several years now, we have turned the site back over to Roger today, using it to celebrate his writing by republishing 13 of his reviews. This year, we’re doing it a little differently, illustrating how much Roger’s influence still impacts the way we review films by including a few pieces that reflect how those concepts have influenced what has been published in the years since his passing. Documentaries are often a direct portal into lives other than our own. So it’s not surprising that four of today’s reviews are of non-fiction films, including works by three of Roger’s favorite filmmakers: Werner Herzog, Errol Morris, and Steve James. The fourth has a subject who actively worked toward a more empathetic world: Fred Rogers."

It’s Been 25 Years Since HOOP DREAMS Debuted. Here’s How It Changed the Game for Documentaries
While on the topic of Roger Ebert, it's no secret that he was one of the major reasons why Steve James's HOOP DREAMS became such a success story. Looking back for Time, Andrew R. Chow examines how the film changed the course of nonfiction filmmaking: "Twenty-five years later, it is widely considered one of the best documentaries ever made. Roger Ebert—who was one of the film’s early champions and helped it gain momentum at the Sundance Film Festival—called it 'the great American documentary.' The International Documentary Association named it the best documentary of all time in a 2007 poll. The three-hour film, which follows two black teenagers in their wearied quest to make it to the NBA, sits in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry alongside CITIZEN KANE and THE GODFATHER. Perhaps more importantly, the film ushered in a new wave in which documentarians, buoyed by newly interested financiers and the opportunity to screen in national theaters, imbued difficult topics with personal warmth, rigorous patience and narrative force."

How I Survived Cancer and Finishing a 15-Year Documentary
Filmmaker Michelle Memran ruminated at The Talkhouse on the 15 year process to complete THE REST I MAKE UP, her film about playwright María Irene Fornés: "When you work on a documentary film for 15 years, a certain kind of resignation sets in. A more hopeful word for it might be surrender. When people would ask how the film turned out, I’d say it was still turning. I joked to those who inquired that the project I began in 2003 would premiere in 2025. But as time went on, and bulky hard drives piled up and the editing software I started on became obsolete, the 'joke' felt more and more like it was on me. So you can imagine the sheer amount of delight and relief I felt when, in 2017, I finally finished THE REST I MAKE UP, my film collaboration with María Irene Fornés – a visionary Cuban-American playwright who was losing her memories, but not her creativity, to dementia."

Blackness, Gayness, Representation: Marlon Riggs Unpacks It All in His Films
In celebration of TONGUES UNTIED and other works by Marlon Riggs being shown as part of the series “Race, Sex & Cinema: The World of Marlon Riggs” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Welsey Morris revisited his work for The New York Times: "Who would have thought to fuse a documentary about colorism, homophobia and misogyny among black people with a documentary about his deteriorating health? That’s what Riggs did with BLACK IS...BLACK AIN'T, a bluesy intellectual achievement but, also, given Riggs’s appearance from his sick bed, a poignantly crepuscular one. There’s no reason all of this work should still work, that it should still hypnotize, upset, delight and astound. But genius has a way of arguing for its permanence. And Riggs was someone who could see in multiples. He interrogated the many parts that make the whole. He could see the past, present and future at once. He knew the historical terrain would stay rocky, and that the ride would, indeed, be rough."

DRUNK HISTORY Has Become a Major Influence on Documentaries
Writing at Nonfics, Christopher Campbell makes the argument that many recent nonfiction films taking a humorous approach in their storytelling are mimicking the Comedy Central series' lip-synced reenactment technique: "Occasionally dramatizations or reenactments or enactments or whatever you want to label them have featured actors speaking dialogue in these scenes. But there seems to be a rising trend now to have the performers lip-sync the words of the interviewees. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence that two new documentaries released the same week, SCREWBALL and THE LEGEND OF COCAINE ISLAND, utilize this trick. And as such, both of them have been likened to the gimmick behind the comedy series DRUNK HISTORY."

RaMell Ross’ Oscar Nomination Hasn’t Stopped His Experimental Career Plans
In the the first installment of “Breaking Black,” a new weekly column by Tambay Obenson at IndieWire focused on emerging black talent, the writer speaks with RaMell Ross about his whirlwind festival and award show tour, as well as his future plans: "Next, Ross said he had plans for a “monumental” solo show at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, which launches in 2020. He expected the show to include a mix of installations, photography, sculpture and other media. But he wasn’t done with filmmaking, and said he had begun considering the prospects of directing his first narrative feature. 'I definitely intend to work in that realm,' he said, but added that he had no specifics to offer."


The Age of Disenchantments: The Epic Story of Spain’s Most Notorious Literary Family and the Long Shadow of the Spanish Civil War
by Aaron Shulman

"A gripping narrative history of Spain’s most brilliant and troubled literary family—a tale about the making of art, myth, and legacy—set against the upheaval of the Spanish Civil War and beyond."

Author Aaron Shulman will introduce the 1976 documentary EL DESENCANTO at Film Forum on Saturday, April 13 with a book signing following the screening.

Anna Moot-Levin and Laura Green's THE PROVIDERS
2018 DOC NYC American Perspectives
Premieres tonight on Independent Lens at 10 pm.

Kavery Kaul's CUBAN CANVAS
2018 DOC NYC Shorts
Screens at Havana Film Festival New York on April 13.
Directed by E.J. McLeavey-Fisher

Stuntman. Actor. UPS employee. Former WWF wrestler, Disney World performer, and NFL nose tackle. Brian Donahue has seemingly done it all. The Guy chronicles Mr. Donahue's surreal story as he tries to strike a balance between paying the rent and seeking out the elusive Hollywood spotlight.


Crowdfunding has become an integral means of raising capital for documentary filmmakers around the globe. Each week we will feature an interesting new project that needs your help to cross that critical crowdfunding finish line.

This week's project:

Directed By
Marc Smolowitz

Funding Goal: $60,000
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.
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