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Essential Doc Reads: Week of April 30

By Akiva Gottlieb

From Maurice Sweeney's  'I, Dolours.' Courtesy New Decade TV.

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!

At Filmmaker, Sergio Andrés Lobo-Navia shares the nuts and bolts of delivering your film to a festival.

Format. Codec. Audio. DCP. You've worked on your movie now for some time and have been eagerly waiting for acceptance emails from festivals. One lands in your inbox, and you excitedly read through the letter until, when you get to the festival's technical requirements, you develop a sense of dread. The tersely worded communication from the technical director would put you to sleep if it didn't terrify you. But don't panic. Instead, phone your editor, and read this guide. 

At Digiday, Sahil Patel explains why Netflix and Amazon are experimenting with short-form storytelling.

It's a breath of fresh air for an industry where multiple players have come in, hoping to create a platform for premium short-form programming, only to find no audience interest in such a product. Now, video makers ranging from digital studios to publishers see an opportunity to sell and create short-form shows for the big streaming giants. But that doesn't mean Netflix, Amazon and Hulu will start buying high-end short-form video programming left and right, and some producers caution to treat these experiments as just that: experiments. 

At Realscreen, Selina Chignall reports on the 2018 Hot Docs Forum.

Projects discussed in this installment include The Last Year of Congo Mirador by Venezuelan director Anabel Rodriguez, which looks at a small village in her home country, and the impact of oil extraction on the community; Uluru & the Magician, Anna Broinowski's examination of cultural differences; Sissel Morell Dargis' Balloon Wars, an intimate portrait of balloon-building gangs in Brazil; Cuban Dancer, in which Roberto Salinas follows a young ballet dancer caught in two worlds; and Richard Poplak and Diana Neille's look at the shady world of PR and politics in Agents of Influence

At Moviemaker, Jessica Brillhart and Gabo Arora's five tips for working in VR.

Brillhart and Arora spoke last fall at the launch of a new VR program at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The graduate-level program, Immersive Storytelling and Emerging Technologies (ISET), began this January as a concentration within Master of Arts in Film and Media program, of which Arora serves as the Assistant Director. He also leads the ISET concentration. Steal their five tips below as you venture on your own VR journey.

At The New Yorker, a documentary sheds new light on a notorious murder in Northern Ireland.

In December, 1972, a woman named Jean McConville was taken from her home, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by a gang of masked intruders, and never seen again. McConville was a widow, and a mother of ten; her children were home when she was abducted, and they screamed and clung to her legs. Her disappearance became known as one of the most notorious atrocities of the Troubles, the bloody, three-decade conflict that ravaged Northern Ireland. It was also, on a more basic level, a murder mystery. The McConville children were distributed to orphanages, and, growing up, they never knew what had happened to their mother. But it was long rumored that she had been killed by the Irish Republican Army, and, in 1999, the I.R.A. acknowledged that this was true. In a new documentary film, I, Dolours, which will be shown for the first time this weekend, at the Hot Docs festival, in Toronto, a former I.R.A. member, Dolours Price, describes in unprecedented detail the operation to kidnap, murder, and secretly bury McConville.

From the archives, March 2010, "Festival Express: Can the Fest Circuit Empower Your Film's Distribution Strategy?"

The considerations and deliberations can be endless, aggravating, bewildering--and not just for the novice filmmaker. But as Jim Browne, Tribeca Film Festival programmer and principal of Argot Pictures, a New York-based independent distribution and production company, says, "Your festival run is part of your film's release strategy--essentially the launch of your film out into the marketplace. So, have a strategy!"

In the News:

IFF Boston Award Winners
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Sundance Announces New Frontier Story Lab Fellows
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NEA Chairman Jane Chu to Step Down in June
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Netflix, Hot Docs Team Up for Funding Initiative
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Eliza Licht to Exit 'POV'
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