Despite the holiday weekend, there were plenty of exciting nonfiction announcements early in the week to keep us busy. Between the Peabody Awards, Film Independent's Documentary Lab Fellows, Doc Society and Exposure Labs' new Climate Story Lab, POV's interactive media venture POV Spark and the unveiling of the 2019 Cannes program, there is plenty of catching up to do. And that's not even close to everything. Read on, and be sure to check this week's Seed & Spark project and Field of Vision's latest short from Charlie Lyne while you're at it.
"Four exceptional women—including NYC’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—mount grassroots campaigns against powerful incumbents in KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE, a galvanizing and inspiring look at the 2018 midterm elections that tipped the balance of power. Winner of the Audience Award: U.S. Documentary and the Festival Favorite Award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE joins these extraordinary women on the campaign trail as they mobilize their bases, engage voters, and build a movement during a time of historic volatility in American politics."
Kronos Quartet performs live for the documentary A THOUSAND THOUGHTS about the group’s history. The film is directed by Sam Green, who narrates the live performances, and Joe Bini. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews Green and Kronos founder David Harrington about this unique act of live cinema.
Peabody Recognizes Powerful Documentaries The Peabody Awards Board of Jurors revealed on Tuesday "eight winners in the Documentary category for programs released in 2018. The honorees, part of the annual Peabody 30, include profiles of unsung activists like Dolores Huerta, Lorraine Hansberry, and the “comfort woman” of World War II; insight into the challenges faced by parents of children living with mental health issues; the healing skateboarding provides for three young men transitioning into adulthood, and the powerful, unregulated influence of social media on democracy. The board also named Kartemquin Films winner of an Institutional Award for its commitment to unflinching documentary filmmaking and telling an American history rooted in social justice and the stories of the marginalized."
Film Independent Selects 13 Fellows for 2019 Documentary Lab Jennifer Kushner, Director of Artist Development at Film Independent, commented on the announcement, "The 13 Fellows in this year’s Documentary Lab bring us singular visions and unique vantage points, from Alexandria, Egypt to the US/Mexico border and many places in between, sharing nuanced stories about the most critical issues of our time. Each project takes us on a different journey in the most creative and innovative ways. We couldn’t be happier to support these filmmakers in the program and through their careers."
Climate Story Lab Call for Entries Doc Society and Exposure Labs have joined forces for a new venture, the Climate Story Lab, which is now accepting applicants. "Climate communication is more critical than ever before: we need the best storytelling to reach its full potential and hit the audiences that matter. Born of this conviction, The Climate Story Lab will catalyze the most urgent and compelling media projects being made in America right now...Over five days in New York City in July, we will bring together nine of the best creative climate projects and surround them by the kinetic energy of experts - lawyers & political strategists, indigenous & faith leaders, branding experts & campaign organizers."
Hulu Buys AT&T’s Minority Stake In Streaming Service For $1.43 Billion Nellie Andreeva and Erik Pedersen broke the news last week at Deadline, "And then there were two. Hulu, which only a month ago was owned by four big media companies — Disney, 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal and AT&T/Warner Media — now will be co-owned by Disney and NBCU. AT&T and Hulu have struck a deal for AT&T to sell its minority stake in Hulu back to the video streaming joint venture. The transaction valued Hulu at $15 billion, with AT&T’s 9.5% interest worth $1.43 billion."
Introducing POV Spark, A New Interactive Media Venture
Last Tuesday, POV revealed it is dipping its toes in the world of interactive media with the launch of POV Spark. "Making emerging technologies and interactive projects accessible to audiences beyond expensive headsets and exclusive festivals, POV Spark will produce and fund interactive projects for public media, kicking off its inaugural year with three interactive productions and two field-building initiatives. POV's first three interactive productions which will feature a wide range of storytelling utilizing cutting-edge technologies. These projects include CHANGING SAME, created by Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster, and Yasmin Elayat; QUEEN VS. GODFRED, created by Marc Serpa Francoeur, Robinder Uppal; and ATOMU, created by Shariffa Ali, Yetunde Dada."
The 2019-2020 Film Awards Calendar Is Shorter, Tighter, and Stressful
With the 2018-2019 still fresh in the mind, Anne Thompson looks forward to next year's jam packed award season for IndieWire, "When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences threw down the gauntlet with a new show date of February 9, 2020, a full two weeks earlier than this year, they hoped to improve ratings and to shorten what has become a very long road to the Oscars. The ratings will remain to be seen, but already we know that the new date is creating a red-carpet traffic jam worthy of the 405. The schedule is now so short that the Academy pushed the Scientific and Technical Awards out of the awards season altogether, to June 2020."
Festival de Cannes Official 2019 Lineup
Though there is plenty of cinema to be excited about with the announcement of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival official selections, there is unsurprisingly a lack of nonfiction in this year's lineup. That said, there are three documentary outliers: Asif Kapadia's DIEGO MARADONA, Juan Solanas's QUE SEA LEY, and Alain Cavalier's ÊTRE VIVANT ET LE SAVIOR.
Art of the Real Returns for Sixth Edition
We are in the midst of Art of the Real 2019, which runs April 18-28. At Criterion Cast, Joshua Brunsting previewed the festival, "Lincoln Center sees the sixth edition of this incredible series launch this week, and with two world premieres, 10 North American premieres, six US premieres and two incredible retrospective series, Art of the Real 2019 is one of the very best slates yet in this illustrious series. But with so many films, where does one start, especially when these are of a lesser-known strain of filmmaking, even for the most studied cineaste." Additionally, Devika Girish reported for Film Comment on Anand Patwardhan's REASON, which was included in the program, as David Hudson put together a comprehensive roundup of the lineup at Criterion Daily.
Two radically different docs hit Netflix, Beyoncé's monumental, deeply personal concert doc HOMECOMING, and Fab 5 Freddy's look at marijuana's influence on hip-hop culture in GRASS IS GREENER, while three festival hits find their way to theaters in limited release in Penny Lane's funny and fascinating HAIL SATAN?, Willem Baptist's look at Polaroid film culture in INSTANT DREAMS, and Pamela B. Green revealing feminist film history doc BE NATURAL opens at IFC Center in NYC on Friday.
The 50 Best Music Documentaries of All Time
Following the release of HOMECOMING, Noel Murray updated his list of the Best Music Documentaries of All Time at Vulture: "Netflix has done so well with music-themed films that it commissioned some of its own, such as WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? and this week’s big Beyoncé drop; and thanks in part to art-house patrons, Blu-ray buyers, and premium-cable subscribers, the market for movies about musicians has become lucrative enough that even long-shelved projects like THE WRECKING CREW and the arty Leon Russell sketch A POEM IS A NAKED PERSON have seen the light of day. It’s a marvelous time to be a music buff."
On Solitary Companionship: A WILD STREAM by Nuria Ibáñez Castañeda Kendra McLaughlin covered Ibánez Castañeda's most recent film in Another Gaze: "For her latest film, she spent a month living on the beach with Chilo and Omar before beginning to film them. The time spent shooting, she explains, respected a set of constraints meant to reinforce the film’s focus on the men’s interdependence and self-imposed isolation: no filming beyond the beach, no filming tourists passing by, no filming any women the men go to see, etc. Wishing to create a sense that Omar and Chilo are the only two left alive without falling into voyeurism, she focused on the sensuality of their activities (fishing, collecting resources, burning away their trash) and its echo in their private introspection."
Apple Poaches A&E Veteran Molly Thompson in Pursuit of Documentary Dominance
IndieWire's Anne Thompson broke the news: "Apple snagged a big fish to run their documentary content division. New York-based A&E Networks documentary veteran Molly Thompson will bring her expertise in supervising documentary films and TV series to Apple, which has recently ramped up its content production, mostly on the television side. As demand for documentaries grows, A&E is losing a valuable player."
Why Airbnb Produced Documentary GAY CHORUS DEEP SOUTH, Its First-Ever Film Todd Spangler of Variety investigated, "Why did the Silicon Valley commerce company decide to dive into film production? James Goode, Airbnb’s head of creative, explained that the film aligns with its corporate values that all people should not only be treated with dignity and respect but should be welcomed and celebrated."
James Jones and Olivier Sarbil: How We Made ON THE PRESIDENT’S ORDERS Carol Nahra of Docs On Screen interviewed the filmmaking duo James Jones and Olivier Sarbil about their new film set to debut at Hot Docs next week: "They didn’t fully wrap their heads around what a documentary is, and I think were probably surprised we kept coming back and back and back. They thought we were more of a news crew but we kept coming back and we’d want to film stuff that to them felt quite inconsequential, which is often the way with documentaries."
Fog of Truth Bonus Episode on Field of Vision
In the latest episode of the documentary centered podcast, Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Summre Garber and Bart Weiss, "Look at an online collective of short documentaries, this time with Field of Vision. Founded by Laura Poitras, AJ Schnak and Charlotte Cook, the site showcases insightful films from insider perspectives on various areas of the world, with a focus on political and social inequalities."
Subject to Reality: Women and Documentary Film
by Shilyh Warren
"Revolutionary thinking around gender and race merged with new film technologies to usher in a wave of women's documentaries in the 1970s. Driven by the various promises of second-wave feminism, activist filmmakers believed authentic stories about women would bring more people into an imminent revolution. Yet their films soon faded into obscurity."
Lisa F. Jackson & Sarah Teale's PATRIMONIO 2018 DOC NYC Fight The Power
Will be released on iTunes tomorrow, April 23rd.
FEATURED STREAMING DOC SHORT
Directed by Charlie Lyne
In 1987, police in England acquired a video of a group of men participating in consensual sadomasochistic sex acts. The tape launched one of the largest vice investigations in British history, code-named Operation Spanner.
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.
"In conversation with the 90% of women who experience sexual harassment in the food & hospitality industry. Through these conversations, we tackle the pervasive gender disparity evident within this industry, its profound effect on women, and what we're doing about it."
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.