Director/Producers S. Leo Chiang and Mercedes Coats' new documentary film To You Sweetheart, Aloha, about 94-year-old legendary ukulele player Bill Tapia, had its world premiere at the October 2004 Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival. The film was featured at the festival's most popular venue, "Sunset on the Beach," where nearly 10,000 people watched the film on Waikiki beach. www.SweetheartAloha.com.
Sydney-based filmmaker Ian Darling recently produced and directed Alone Across Australia, a film about Australian adventurer Jon Muir's solo and unsupported walk across Australia. Muir was also producer and director, and LA-based Mitchell Block was an executive producer. The film has been well received on the film festival circuit this year and just won the People's Choice Award and also the jury's Best Film on Mountain Environment award at the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Other awards it has garnered since its world premiere at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in April 2004 include the Camera Alpine in Gold for Best Adventure Film at the 16th International Mountain and Adventure Filmfestival in Graz, Austria; the Best Film on Mountain Environment at the 22nd International Festival of Mountain & Adventure Films in Torello, Spain; Audience Award for Best Feature Documentary at the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival; the Silver Gentian Award at Italy's Trento International Mountain Film Festival; the Crystal Heart Award at the Heartland Film Festival; the Chris Awards' Chris Statuette at the 52nd Columbus International Film and Video Festival; the Grand Jury Prize at the XII International Festival of Mountain Films in Poprad, Slovakia; and also the Jury's Choice Award at the Taos Mountain Film Festival. Darling's first film was the award-winning documentary Woodstock for Capitalists, about Warren Buffett's shareholder weekend in Omaha, Nebraska.
Lorenzo DeStefano's Los Zafiros-Music From the Edge of Time won the Best Documentary "Vallonea" Award at the 2004 Salento Film Festival in Tricase, Italy.
Producer/director Alexia Haidos began production in summer 2004 on A Taxi Odyssey, a feature length documentary about the infamous taxi drivers of Athens, Greece, as they explore contemporary Greece on their terms, live under the new Euro, take the Olympics in stride and try to find time for coffee with friends. Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) is executive-producing.
Planet Pictures' Jenny Hayden reports that Mystic Iran-The Unseen World had its US broadcast premiere this past November on KCET. The film was directed by Aryana Farshad.
LaserPacific Media Corporation, a Kodak company, announced at the annual ShowEast conference that it has opened a digital cinema content mastering, packaging and distribution support facility within its Hollywood-based operations.
Former IDA Executive Director Betsy McClane hosted two Direct Cinema Presentations at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) this past November. The program topic was "Classic US Cinema Vérité Documentaries" and included three components: a "Master Class" for invited guests and panel discussion; an open public presentation; and a television show made by Dutch television about the presentations. Participants in the program included such trailblazers as Albert Maysles, Frederick Wiseman, Richard Leacock and Robert Drew.
Ron Osgood recently won a Regional Emmy as producer/director of Trouble No More: The Making of a John Mellencamp Album. In addition, his documentary Shirts & Skins has been picked up for distribution by Films for the Humanities.
ADVENTURES IN DOCLAND
HOT SPRINGS FILM FESTIVAL
IDA Programming and Events Manager Tracie Lewis attended the 13th Annual Hot Springs Festival in Hot Springs, Arkansas, this past October. Said Lewis, "The biggest highlight was an all-day series called "Cinema Vérité-The Creators." Films from St. Clair Bourne, Nell Cox, Richard Wormser, Richard Leacock, Albert Maysles and Robert Richter were screened all day, followed by a Q&A after each filmmaker's film. At the end of the evening, there was a panel discussion with all of the filmmakers present on stage. Bill Jersey moderated the day."
Another highlight of Hot Springs was the Cirque du Film Gala, which celebrated the work of the festival's documentarians. Taking place at the Convention Center, the event featured a circus-like performance, along with magic acts integrated into the evening. The majority of the audience donned black tie and evening gown for the sit-down dinner, which was hosted by Designing Women's Harry Thomason.
Also present at the festival were filmmakers from IDA's 2003 InFACT Theatrical Documentary Showcase, including Ken Mandel (America's Deadliest Storm: Galveston Island 1900), Katja Esson (Ferry Tales) and Gina Levy (Foo Foo Dust).