In these times, Martin Luther King Jr. Day continues to serve as both a day of hopeful celebration and deep introspection. A visit to PBS's special collection of docs and programming "about MLK and his legacy on civil rights and equality in the U.S." might serve you well as a catalyst of remembrance and instigator of meditation on the state of our nation in its current moment. There is plenty of nonfiction content to be found just within that one link to keep you busy this week, but a lot has happened in the week leading up to today that's still worth making note of: the 2020 Oscar nominees were announced, a new documentary association for Europe is soon to launch, Latino Public Broadcasting announced its 2019 funding recipients, SXSW revealed its 2020 film lineup, and CITIZEN K has finally reached theaters. And as usual, that is not all. Read on!
THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY
HONEYLAND (also nominated for Best International Film)
All five nominees screened in DOC NYC 2019’s Short List: Features Section.
Documentary Short Subjects:
IN THE ABSENCE* (World Premiere & Jury Prize winner at DOC NYC 2018)
LEARNING TO SKATEBOARD IN A WARZONE (IF YOU’RE A GIRL)*
LIFE OVERTAKES ME
ST. LOUIS SUPERMAN*
WALK RUN CHA-CHA
*Screened in DOC NYC’s 2019 Short List: Shorts Section
Doc Association of Europe Launches Manori Ravindran reported at Variety: “A new documentary association for Europe is looking to serve as a political lobby group and support network for the next generation of filmmakers and non-fiction communities across the continent. Based out of Berlin, the Documentary Association of Europe (DAE) hopes to complement the work of the L.A.-based International Documentary Association (IDA), which recently filed a lawsuit against the U.S. State Department over the government’s social media vetting policies for visa applicants. The organization is led by Brigid O’Shea, who serves as head of industry for German documentary festival DOK Leipzig, and an official launch is set for the European Film Market’s Doc Salon in Berlin on Feb. 22.”
Latino Public Broadcasting Announced 2019 Funding Recipients Announced via press release: “Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) today announced its 2019 funding recipients. A record fifteen new projects received funding including four funded through the Current Issues Fund, made possible by a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. This year’s awardees include twelve documentary projects and three digital shorts; ten of the funded projects are produced and/or directed by women. From three very unique films that shed light on the tenuous situation at our southern border (Exodus Stories: Voices from the Caravan, Borderlands and On the Divide) to documentaries that take on issues including health care in Puerto Rico, the rise of women of color in politics, the environmental crisis in Latin America and more, this year’s awardees reflect the richness and breadth of the Latino experience.”
ON THE FESTIVAL CIRCUIT
Pure Nonfiction #112: Sundance 2020 Preview Thom Powers' doc-centric podcast is back for a preview of this year's Sundance highlights: "Hear insider tips and exclusive clips on documentaries at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers got an early look at over 25 films premiering at the festival. In this annual preview episode he discusses his favorites that will be looking to secure distribution deals. Last year, our Sundance Preview gave listeners early exposure to films like KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE and AMERICAN FACTORY that went on to Sundance acclaim. This year, Powers’ picks include: THE FIGHT, BOYS STATE, THE DISSIDENT, WHIRLYBIRD, TIME, GIVING VOICE, THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS, and THE MOLE AGENT."
SXSW Film Festival Announces 2020 Lineup Announced via press release: “We are so excited to announce the features, episodic premieres, and Opening Night Film for the 27th edition of the SXSW Film Festival, running March 13-21, 2020 in Austin, Texas. Every year, this acclaimed program draws thousands of fans, filmmakers, press, and industry leaders to immerse themselves in the most innovative, smart, and entertaining new films of the year.” The Documentary Feature Competition features “Ten world premieres: ten real world stories that demonstrate innovation, energy and bold voices. Selected from 1,011 feature documentary submissions in 2020.”
Three Additional Docs To Premiere in Berlinale Special Announced via press release: “‘Agnieszka Holland and Johnny Depp – two cinema models meet, and not only tell of the past, but also create an interpretation of the present. This is also the case with Jia Zhang-ke and his dialogues with various generations of Chinese writers, and it is similarly so with Hillary Clinton, protagonist of the series of the same name, as is the case with the visionary elegy by Jóhann Jóhannsson,’ comments Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian on the newly invited works in the Berlinale Special. The Berlinale Special is the most multifaceted section of the festival, a space for reflection on what film encompasses. The variety of forms finds its home in different venues of the festival. Additional films will be added to the films already announced (see press release from December 17, 2019) until the end of January.”
Sheffield Doc/Fest's MeetMarket & Alternate Realities Talent Market 2020 Announced via press release: “The MeetMarket is one of the world’s largest pitching forums for documentary films. Selected projects will have the opportunity to meet with top Decision Makers among 300+ international funders, broadcasters, distributors and exhibitors. The MeetMarket offers a unique way to pitch your project through carefully matchmade meetings between filmmakers and industry Decision Makers, for creative and financial discussions. The MeetMarket is open to all documentary makers, local and international, and we welcome submissions from established, emerging as well as first-time filmmakers. Projects can be in any stage ranging from early development through to rough-cut and the formats we accept are documentary features and series.” Deadline to apply to the MeetMarket and Alternate Realities Talent Market: Friday, February14, 2020, 12:00 (midnight) GMT.
Full Frame Now Accepting Apps for 2020 Garrett Scott Doc Development Grant Announced via press release: “The Garrett Scott Documentary Development Grant funds first-time documentary directors for travel and accommodations to attend the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, April 2-5, 2020. For four days, grant recipients will be given access to films, discussions, and mentorship by experienced filmmakers. Recipients will also present short excerpts from their works-in-progress at the festival. Two filmmakers will be chosen for the grant in its fourteenth year. Deadline: The deadline to apply is Monday, February 3, 2020. Applications must be received before 11pm PST. Applicants will be notified by email no later than Wednesday, March 4.”
CRAFT ED. SEMINARS
Making a living as an independent filmmaker—or any kind of artist—has never been easy, but CraftEd has assembled a group of pros to help you chart out a course for a sustainable career. From learning how to juggle a flexible day job that lets you develop new skills and also get paid; to finding groups that offer professional, funding and creative support; to learning how to market yourself to employers and audiences, this all-day event gives you tools to smooth your path, whether you’re working in film or in another creative art. The day includes a coffee & bagel breakfast, as well as a post-seminar happy hour for networking with presenters and attendees.
Just one theatrical doc release this week, but its a big one: Alex Gibney's CITIZEN K is now showing at Film Forum. Meanwhile, Geno McDermott's three part miniseries KILLER INSIDE: THE MIND OF AARON HERNANDEZ, which screened as a feature at DOC NYC before being picked up for further development by Netflix, is now streaming.
2020 Impact Partners Documentary Producers Fellowship Open Call Announced via press release: “The Impact Partners Documentary Producers Fellows will participate in three development workshops to be held in New York City, guided by guest luminaries — eminent documentary producers and industry experts with distinct areas of knowledge. Each session explores a different aspect of film production facing producers today. The workshops cover film finance, festival and sales strategy, the distribution landscape, legal workshops and other critical topics. During each session, luminaries work closely with each fellow to choose topics and issues with immediate relevancy to their current work, offering hands-on advice, strategies and best practices. This year’s fellowship will include two 3.5-hour session and one all-day intensive workshop, all held in New York City. Each fellow is awarded $1,000.” Application window will close on Wednesday, February 5th, 2020.
Nonfics’ 25 Most Anticipated Documentaries of 2020 Looking forward to the doc goodness coming down the pipeline later this year, Christopher Campbell writes at Nonfics: “Will Werner Herzog‘s space documentary, FIREBALL, arrive in 2020? That’s the biggest question I have about this year in film and regarding what to do with a guide to the most anticipated nonfiction works of these next 12 months. Documentary releases are difficult to foresee because documentary production is so different from narrative film production. Also, release dates are rarely known in advance while most notable docs debut at film festivals. That’s why it was best to hold this year’s list until the SXSW program was announced, confirming that another of last year’s list entries that didn’t come out in 2019, Alex Winter‘s ZAPPA, was indeed arriving in 2020. Perhaps we’ll hear about FIREBALL come TIFF time, but for now, I’m leaving it alone. We’ll likely hear of other surprises in later months, too (we didn’t even know about THE CAVE, ROLLING THUNDER REVUE, or THE KINGMAKER this time a year ago). The following titles, including features, shorts, and series, come only from what we’re sure is at least premiering at Sundance and SXSW. Hopefully, they all see distribution in 2020 as well. And hopefully, all of them live up to my expectations.”
HONEYLAND: A Mesmerizing Film on Humans, Nature and Bees Darianna Cardilli spoke with filmmakers Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska about their newly Oscar nominated (both for Best Documentary & Best International Film) 2019 hit for Documentary: “Asked how they encountered such a unique and fascinating character, Stefanov explains, ‘This is our second film with the same crew. We had made a 30-minute film called LAKE OF APPLES. And while we were finishing that film, we started exploring the area to find a good topic for an environmental short film for the Nature Conservation Project [NCP] in Macedonia. And we found the holes in the rocks with the bees, and soon after we found that abandoned village with Hatidze.’ But Kotevska hastens to add, ‘The only journalist who had the chance to interview her in person so far is a Korean journalist, who after the London screening flew to Macedonia to meet her. And when he asked Hatidze, 'How did they find you?' she responded, 'They didn't find me, I found them.'”
A Conversation with Thomas Heise (HEIMAT IS A SPACE IN TIME) Christopher Llewellyn Reed interviewed the filmmaker for Hammer to Nail: “I met with German director Thomas Heise (Condition) on Saturday, September 7, 2019, at the Toronto International Film Festival, to discuss his new documentary, HEIMAT IS A SPACE IN TIME (which I also reviewed). The film will be opening theatrically via Icarus Films in New York and Los Angeles on March 13th. A powerful meditation on family and country, and how oppressive systems of government affect both, the movie seems, at first, given it’s 218-minute length, like a daunting beast, but reveals itself, time and again, as a masterful treatment of its gripping treatment. Featuring documents, letters and photographs from Heise’s familial vault, coupled with expressive shots of locations mentioned as they look today, HEIMAT IS A SPACE IN TIME redefines the art of the slow, metaphysical thriller. What follows is a condensed digest of our conversation, edited for length and clarity. Assisting with translation was Toronto-based journalist Naomi Buck.”
DOC NYC ALUMNI
Denali Tiller's TRE MAISON DASAN 2018 DOC NYC Modern Family
Will be released on DVD via Passion River on January 20th.
Eddie Rosenstein's THE FREEDOM TO MARRY 2016 DOC NYC Fight The Power
Will be released on DVD via Dreamscape on January 21st.
Ofra Bloch's AFTERWARD 2018 DOC NYC International Perspectives
Will have have its VOD release on January 28th.
Shamira Raphaëla & Clarice Gargard's DADDY AND THE WARLORD 2019 DOC NYC Modern Family
Will have its primetime premiere on AfroPoP on February 3rd.
Judith A. Helfand's COOKED: SURVIVAL BY ZIP CODE 2018 DOC NYC Viewfinders
Will have its primetime premiere on Independent Lens on February 3rd.
FEATURED STREAMING DOC SHORT
Directed by Guille Isa & Angello Faccini
Eight-year-old Dulce is afraid of the water. But she has to get over it, her mother insists—it’s time to learn how to swim. In their coastal Colombian village, this is an essential rite of passage; Iscuandé is dependent on harvesting piangua shellfish, a type of edible mussel that’s a delicacy in nearby Ecuador. The village’s cockle harvest has traditionally been the province of women, and it’s time for Dulce to contribute. Besides, says her mother, what will happen to Dulce when the ever-rising seawater drowns the village?
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.