August 25, 2017

Essential Doc Reads: Week of August 21

From left, co-founders Chris Altchek and Jake Horowitz at the Mic50 Awards in June 2015. Neilson Barnard / Getty Images for Grey Goose.

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 The Outline, Adrianne Jeffries reports on how the media platform Mic exploited social justice for clicks.

In retrospect, it looks like Mic's commitment to social justice was never that deep — which surprised and disappointed many of the young ideologues who went to work there. (The Outline spoke to 17 current and former staffers who requested anonymity due to nondisclosure agreements.) Mic chanced upon the social justice narrative, discovered it was Facebook gold, and mined away. Now the quarry is nearly dry.

At MovieMaker, Max Weinstein profiles three prison inmates looking to kickstart a career in film. 

Servidio claims to have owned 20 different businesses—among them major real estate developments in Mexico and various detail shops. He also claims that producing a movie has been more challenging than running them all. "There are so many different roles you have to play, especially when you're an independent guy," he says. "I'm in charge of marketing, I'm in charge of securing talent, co-writing the screenplay [with Downey], coming up with the money, being involved with editing, I picked out the music… I didn't go to film school. I didn't have anyone to show me how we were gonna start this thing and where we were gonna finish."

The blog Nonprofit: Absolutely Fabulous argues that progressive nonprofit funders are being too conservative.

Look, it’s understandable that you do due diligence. You can’t just throw money at everyone who asks for it. But the balance is off. Way off. In the effort to be fair and to not make mistakes, many progressive funders have given up speed, agility, responsiveness to current dynamics, and the ability to accept risk and failure. The incredible irony is that liberal funders are more conservative in their funding strategies, and conservative funders are being bolder and less risk-averse.

At IndieWire, Laya Maheshwari argues that there's more work to be done in India's 65 year battle against film censorship.

Perhaps the most well-known decision of Nihalani's term as CBFC chairperson was the body's refusal to grant approval to feminist sex comedy Lipstick Under My Burkha. In their letter to the film's producer, they claimed that "the story is lady-oriented, their fantasy above life" and that "there are contanious [sic] sexual scenes." (Whether they meant "continuous" or "contagious" has never been addressed.) The letter and CBFC's antics attracted worldwide attention, the criticism of artists and film festivals; in a beautiful example of the Streisand Effect, not only did Lipstick Under My Burkha eventually win certification but also punched above its weight at the box-office.

At The New York Times, Cara Buckley profiles doc filmmakers covering the lasting impacts of racism on everyday lives.

"It sometimes seems like all of our political actions are exhausted or have been compromised, and there's a real pressing sense of the magnitude of the issues, with no clear path forward," said Ms. Folayan, whose film is in theaters. "I think the way out of that is for us to look around, and in our backyard, and tackle problems in front of us, rather than being consumed in this massive huge story."

From the archives, September 2015, "A Conversation With AJ Schnack about 'Field of Vision'"

"We're not seeking to replace what people do so well in deep-dive, long-form, long-duration work; it's a crucial part of what makes documentary so special. The reality, though, is that documentary is many things, many different kinds of filmmaking work that fall under this broad topic that we use. I think it's the ability of people to take an approach that is fast-responding to an individual's story or a different look at a story that might be in the news, but coming at it from a different perspective."

In the News:

Hadrian Belove Leaves Cinefamily After Sexual Harassment Allegations
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Gay Talese's 'Voyeur,' Joan Didion Doc Set at Netflix
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New York Film Festival Sets Documentary Lineup
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Camden International Film Festival Announces 2017 Slate
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Kejriwal Documentary 'An Insignificant Man' Passed Uncut Without NOC from Modi
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