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I am currently holed up at home here in Buffalo, which is currently buried under several feet of snow—the perfect environ to catch up on DOC NYC selections which are still available to watch online! We've announced our 2022 award winners, as has the Critics Choice Documentary Awards and the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam. What better time than now to catch up with those you've missed?
– Jordan M. Smith

DOC NYC 2022

DOC NYC Announces 2022 Jury & Audience Award Winners
Announced via press release: “DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, revealed the 2022 award winners for its juried U.S. Competition, International Competition, Metropolis, Kaleidoscope, Shorts, Short List: Features, and Short List: Shorts sections, as well as the #MyJustice Film Award. The Festival’s Audience Award winner was also announced. A complete list is below. The awards announcement comes after the conclusion of the in-person portion of the festival’s hybrid 13th edition. DOC NYC’s online screenings run through November 27, with some 90 features available to stream across the United States, including 7 award-winning features; more than 100 of the festival’s short films, including all 5 shorts award winners, are also available online.”
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Good Night OppyGet Back Dominate Critics Choice Documentary Awards
Christian Zilko reports at IndieWire: “All eyes were on nonfiction films tonight when the Critics Choice Documentary Awards took place in New York City. The ceremony highlights the best feature, short, and television documentaries, pitting blockbusters like The Beatles: Get Back and Moonage Daydream against smaller Oscar contenders like Descendant and Fire of Love. The ceremony serves as an early battleground in the Best Documentary Feature race, so it’s a can’t-miss event for Oscar watchers. One clear winner emerged throughout the night: Good Night Oppy. Ryan White’s documentary about NASA’s groundbreaking Opportunity rover won five of the top prizes: Best Documentary Feature, Best Director, Best Score, Best Science/Nature Documentary, and Best Narration. Given that the Amazon-backed documentary was competing against the likes of Judd Apatow and Brett Morgen, the sweep made a bold statement as the Oscar race heats up.”

Courtney Sexton Returns to Participant as EVP, Documentary Film and TV
Matt Donnelly reports at Variety: “Courtney Sexton will return to her longtime former home Participant, where she’s been named executive vice president of documentary film and television. Overseeing all unscripted content at the do-good studio, she will take her office at the top of 2023. She departs CNN Films after a decade, where she most recently served as senior vice president of film. At Participant, she will report to CEO David Linde. Sexton takes over the role previously held by venerated exec and attorney Diane Weyermann. ‘Courtney is an exceptionally talented, compassionate executive with a track record of top-quality, purpose-driven content that connects with audiences around the world. We will forever be indebted to Diane for her tremendous films and impact. Courtney’s return to oversee our documentary team ensures our commitment to continue that work,’ Linde said in a statement.”

The Gotham, HBO Doc Films Set Inaugural Cohort & Mentors For Doc Dev Initiative
Matt Grobar reports for Deadline: "The Gotham Film and Media Institute and HBO Documentary Films have set the inaugural cohort and mentors for their Documentary Development Initiative, first announced in June. Those selected as participants are Zeshawn Ali, Brit Fryer, Juan Pablo González, Melanie Ho, Crystal Kayiza, Jasmín Mara López, Amber Love, Khaula Malik, Habiba Nosheen and Mobolaji Olambiwonnu. Creatives serving as mentors include Cecilia Aldarondo, Geeta Gandbhir, TJ Martin, Smriti Mundhra, Matt O’Neill, Sam Pollard, Alex Stapleton, Jennifer Tiexiera, Rudy Valdez and Matt Wolf. The Documentary Development Initiative was designed to bolster storytellers who identify as BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and/or storytellers with disabilities, by providing them with the resources necessary to develop thought-provoking, character-driven, contemporary ideas for documentary films and limited series.”

Show&Tell Launches Acquisition & Distribution Service for Independent Docs
Announced via press release: “Since 2020, Show&Tell has trained over 500 filmmakers on how to secure national television broadcasts, raise over $5 million in non-traditional funding, and get paid for the films they produce. Today, they announce the launch of their acquisition and distribution service. The Show&Tell team is made up of filmmakers that have experienced first-hand the disappointing financial results of conventional distribution. In response, Show&Tell has pioneered a new and profitable approach to independent documentary distribution. While flashy multi-million-dollar acquisitions have been the big news in recent years, the unreported story is that 99% of filmmakers will never have a deal like that. The reality is, big streamers have shifted away from acquiring independent documentaries and toward commissioning their own. Conventional indie documentary distributors have yet to adapt to this new reality.”

IDFA Reveals Prize Winners At 2022 Edition Of World’s Biggest Doc Film Festival
Matthew Carey reports for Deadline: “Lea Glob’s documentary Apolonia, Apolonia, about the Paris-born painter Apolonia Sokol, earned Best Film in international competition as the IDFA awards ceremony unfolded in Amsterdam tonight. The prestigious honor comes with a €15,000 cash prize. Announcing the award, the five-member jury noted, ‘This film has characters who breathe life and take us on a journey, opening us up to the worlds of culture and art, of business and politics, of the mechanics of a success story. It is infused with love.’ Glob has been following Soko’s career for well over a decade. According to the Villa Medici website, the figurative painter is ‘known for her political stance on the art of portraiture, claiming the need to use it as a tool of empowerment and deconstruction of marginalization or domination. That is why she addresses multiple issues such as feminisms, queerness, women’s representation throughout art history and body politics in general.’”

DOK Leipzig Takes on the Climate Crisis with Time To Act! Our House Is on Fire
Sevara Pan reports in Documentary Magazine: “Media attention is short-lived and fickle, with incessant news waves and tweets washing over us every day, perpetually snatching away our focus from the most pressing issue of our time—climate change. The year 2019 was a hopeful one for climate activism, and it was a big one for environmental reporting on massive protests around the world. But the critical focus on the climate crisis would soon be overshadowed by the COVID-19 global health emergency. Yet, as many scientists and activists have concurred, the climate crisis is not going away; it’s taking on a new urgency, especially in light of a rapidly closing window to turn the tide. Having come to know Germany’s DOK Leipzig as a socially and politically aware film festival, I appreciated the focus of this year’s thematic program on climate activism as well as global and local protest movements that have been instrumental in bringing this critical issue to the forefront of public debate.”

Nan Goldin and Laura Poitras: Two Artists, One Devastating Film
Esther Zuckerman writes in The New York Times: “The artist Nan Goldin didn’t think she was worthy enough for the director Laura Poitras to make a documentary about her. Poitras had won an Academy Award in 2015 for Citizenfour, about Edward Snowden, and had been placed on a federal watch list after her 2006 Iraq war film My Country, My Country. Goldin recalled thinking, ‘I don’t have any state secrets’ and ‘I’m not fighting against the machine in the same way as everyone else that she’s worked on.’ Poitras was equally intimidated by Goldin. The photographer, who published her first radical collection, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, in 1986, has been chronicling her own life for decades in daringly intimate portraits of her friends, her lovers and herself. ‘I was kind of like, I don’t know if I’m cut out,’ Poitras said. ‘What can I contribute here?’ Together, however, they have emerged with All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, which won the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in September. The top festival prize is a rarity for a documentary that itself exists outside the conventions of its genre.”

He Skewered Trump in a Documentary. Then the FBI Came.
Lukas Harnisch writes at The Daily Beast: “In 2020, Rod Webber and his team of performance artists and filmmakers found themselves as the targets of what Webber calls an unwarranted FBI and Boston Police Department investigation. Webber, who is the writer and director of the documentary 2020: The Dumpster Fire, says that investigators are falsely using footage from a trailer of the movie—in which Webber and his team burn an effigy of Donald Trump, and blow up a mannequin with the word 'truth' written on it that agents mistook for the word Trump—as evidence of an assassination plot. The FBI and BPD have made multiple visits to Webber and his friends, and have served them with grand-jury subpoenas. A subpoena from January 2021 addressed to Webber that has been reviewed by The Daily Beast references an 'official investigation… of suspected violations of federal criminal law.' They haven’t been formally charged with anything, but Webber says investigators told him they were looking into a plot to assassinate Trump. Webber’s wife, co-producer, and activist Lauren Pespisa says the accusation and law enforcement attention is unjustifiable. ‘It’s just art,’ she says. ‘Confrontational art.’”

Nan Goldin on Her Career & All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
Jasmine Abbasov writes at Film at Lincoln Center: “This week on the Film at Lincoln Center podcast, we’re featuring a talk from the 60th New York Film Festival with photographer, artist, and activist Nan Goldin, moderated by NYFF programmer Rachael Rakes. In the NYFF60 Centerpiece selection All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (opens Nov. 23!), documentarian Laura Poitras takes as her subject Nan Goldin. An era-defining artist who rose from the New York 'No Wave' underground to become one of the great photographers of the late 20th century, Goldin put herself at the forefront of the battle against the Sackler family and their pharmaceutical empire, both as an activist at art institutions around the world that had accepted millions from the Sacklers and as an advocate for the destigmatization of drug addiction. This intimate, career-spanning conversation with Goldin dove into the personal and political roots of her creative practice, the radical humanism of her photography, and the defiant intertwinings of her art and activism.”

Watch and Listen: Charlie Shackleton's As Mine Exactly
Simran Hans writes in MUBI’s Notebook: “Deep in the bowels of London’s BFI Southbank, Charlie Shackleton is recounting a story about his mother. We’re sitting opposite one another in someone else’s office, separated by a desk; I am wearing a virtual-reality headset and cannot see him. For the next 30 minutes, he will read a script and control the wraparound screen I see in the headset. My role is to simply watch, and listen. As Mine Exactly, which won the Immersive Art and XR Award at the 2022 London Film Festival, is part one-to-one performance, part desktop documentary, using the contemporary technology of VR to build the kind of intimacy that such technology seems to deny. I am his second performance of the day. 'Don’t feel you have to perform your reaction,' he tells me. In doing so, Shackleton embraces the inherent awkwardness and artificiality of VR. The effect is startlingly intimate.”
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 week's project:

When We Dance Alone
Directed by
Dilia Alshina

Goal: $55,000
The articles linked to in Monday Memo do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DOC NYC.
They are provided as a round up of current discussions in the documentary field.
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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