April 14, 2017

Essential Doc Reads: Week of April 10

From Firas Fayyad's <em>Last Men in Aleppo</em>. Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Essential Doc Reads is a weekly feature in which the IDA staff recommends recent pieces about the documentary form and its processes. Here we feature think pieces and important news items from around the Internet, and articles from the Documentary magazine archive. We hope you enjoy!


From IndieWire, three filmmakers of docs about the crisis in Syria weigh in about the recent bombings and attacks.

"In Last Men in Aleppo, I documented the Assad attack on civilians in Aleppo from 2013 through 2016. Most of the victims were children and there were no serious actions to stop this. One of the reasons behind the film is to show how humanity fell down in front of children's eyes, and to get the awareness how much the Syrian people need responsible action with a plan to end the war.

-Firas Fayad, Director, Last Men in Aleppo

John Darling of the Ashland Daily Tidings reports on a panel at the Ashland Independent Film Festival on Indie Documentary Journalism, moderated by IDA's own Carrie Lozano.

"Fake news" is nothing new, said [Brian] Knappenberger… "The beast is a multi-headed monster. We're being fed it by a dark group, outside of political groups and we don't know anything about them. Not enough people are talking yet. The Citizens United decision threw open the floodgates for dark money. It's gone from limited to unlimited cash ... We believe in transparency but we can't have it without controls on campaign finance."

From The Guardian, Ted Braun takes on Herbalife and its business practices, in both his film Betting on Zero and his struggle to get the film into theaters

When a documentary film questioning Herbalife's business practices hit the festival circuit last year, the global nutrition giant launched a swift, devastating counterattack. The stakes, after all, were high. The film, Betting on Zero, asked if the company was a vast pyramid scheme that bilked hundreds of thousands of poor, vulnerable people in the US and across the world. The company maintains its direct sales model has been misunderstood.

From Hyperallergic, if you're a white artist in America, Ryan Wong offers a syllabus for making work about race.

This course offers a starting point: assignments for the white artist to understand their own racial position. This is a subject that I've rarely seen addressed, perhaps because keeping the silence around it is in fact instrumental to whiteness. Your ability to do this work, inside or outside of the studio, could not only help alleviate the suffering of people of color, but also repair your own mental and emotional lives.

IndieWire's Graham Winfrey examines what turned Raoul Peck's I Am Not Your Negro into a box office success.

"In spite of its almost experimental form, it really still is an incredibly powerful emotional experience for people," said Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles. "It's almost like a dream state where James Baldwin is taking you through history."


From the archives, January-February 2008, "Documentarian as Humanitarian: Ted Braun"

Awards, festivals, and even articles aside, Darfur Now is an urgent call for Americans to become involved and contribute to ending the genocide in Sudan. … Braun's first theatrical documentary is a message of hope that it is possible to make a difference, but that it takes hard work and utilizing all of one's skills and talents to do so. "Take stock of who you are and what you have to offer," he advises. "Learn what you can about the conflict and come to your own conclusions. If you're a talker, talk to people about Darfur. If you're a money person, do something with money… Start small and realistic and just take one step. That alone can make a huge difference."


In the News:

Laura Poitras' Julian Assange Documentary 'Risk' Changes Tone As It Lands at Showtime
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FilmRise, PBS Acquire Nanfu Wang's 'I Am Another You'
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Magnolia Nabs Andy Goldsworthy Documentary 'Leaning Into the Wind'
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'POV' Announces 30th Season on PBS
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Bipartisan Letter from Over 150 Members of Congress Urges More Money for the NEA
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US FCC chairman Plans Fast-Track Repeal of Net Neutrality
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