July 19, 2020

Essential Doc Reads: Week of July 13, 2020

Golfer Tiger Woods. Photo: myophoto, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Essential Doc Reads is our curated selection of recent features and important news items about the documentary form and its processes, from around the internet, as well as from the Documentary magazine archive. We hope you enjoy!

Filmmaker Matt Heineman's announcement on Facebook that he and Matt Hamachek would be directing a documentary series on golfer Tiger Woods for HBO triggered a lengthy discussion from the documentary community about how the industry continues to fall short, even amid a global reckoning on racial justice, when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion—especially when it comes to a series about a high-profile figure of Black and Asian descent. Deadline's Tom Grater examines the backlash.

Filmmaker Marjan Safinia said, "I'm also curious to hear if HBO ever raised questions with your team about the choice to not include Black or Asian filmmakers in the core creative team? Or the reps at UTA who packaged the project? Or the folks at Jigsaw who built the team, and also just landed major investments with Imagine. Questions like this from gatekeepers can also help propagate a shift in practice very effectively."

Amid everything else that has defined 2020, PBS is celebrating its 50th anniversary of making its debut, following the passage of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, which created the Corporate for Public Broadcasting, and, subsequently PBS and NPR. Variety's Daniel Holloway talks to PBS CEO Paula Kerger about the role the public service has played for 50 years, and in 2020.

"People contribute to their public television stations locally because they trust them," says Kerger. "They trust them, that they're going to provide accurate information, that they're going to play an important role in the life of their community. And so for us, trust has been very much at the heart of how we've stayed rooted all these years. Really, trust is something that is very carefully earned over time and can and can be lost in a moment if one isn’t vigilant."

Across the pond, Sheffield Doc/Fest hosted a Zoom session for UK commissioning editors and filmmakers to discuss the COVID impact. Realscreen's Jillian Morgan reports.

"Where does this leave us as documentary filmmakers? Where should we be pointing our cameras? What do we want to say? How do we effect change? How do we nurture talent? And how do we tackle structural racism head on? How do we ensure unheard voices are heard? Or are only privileged filmmakers going to make films this year? How do we reach big audiences? And what is the role of broadcasters in these times?"

Writing for Hammer to Nail, Lauren Wissot catches up with Hot Docs' Elizabeth Radshaw and Dorota Lech about how they created their Industry All Access program for an online context and audience.

The Hot Docs Industry All Access online pivot was kind of like trying to build an airplane in mid-flight with your entire documentary community onboard. I feel like we are all experiencing this reality in one way or another. As an industry and community of filmmakers and decision-makers, we need to experiment, use our ingenuity, and try different things to see what works. We are very proud that what we were able to do has been so fulfilling to the needs of our community at this time. And we know that the Hot Docs online festival will certainly feed the needs of our audiences, too.

Writing for Filmmaker, DP/director Ellen Kuras talks about the projects she has embarked on during quarantine.

I wasn't interested in just shooting empty streets; we could see those wide-angled shots everywhere in the news. How to re-envision the streets in a meaningful way—through art and visual metaphor—to tell part of this story? What about the people who couldn't #stayathome? What is the individual and collective psyche of the world during this shared experience? What if I invited DPs in the ASC and IMAGO to film what's happening around them—even just capturing a child looking out the window, pondering the future? Not documentaries of the pandemic, but rather a curated collection of art films, films that looked at the planet and our existence in a philosophically and metaphorically different way. A prism through which to look back at this time, and perhaps seize an opportunity to change for more sustainable life.


From the Archive, April 2020: "CPH:DOX's Directors on Reinventing the Film Festival During the COVID-19 Chaos"

"What the digital festival has taught us is the huge potential for global interaction, for reaching out far beyond the usual suspects and creating new and lasting communities. I believe we will see new strong festival alliances with a deep interconnection between the digital and physical dimension."


In the News

Brenda Robinson Named as IDA Board President

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Netflix Ups Ted Sarandos to Co-CEO

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Telluride Film Festival Cancels over Coronavirus Concerns

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BlackStar Film Festival Lineup Includes Work from over 20 Countries

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American Film Market Moves Online for 2020

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World Congress of Science and Factual Producers Moving Online

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Nashville Film Festival Announces Move to Virtual Format 

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Southern Documentary Fund Announces Emergency Research Development Grantees

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Grierson Trust Unveils DocLab Trainees

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Sundance Institute Announces 2020 Ignite X Adobe Fellows

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IDFA Sets Up New Filmmaker Support Department

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Imagining the Indian Filmmakers Issue Statement on Washington Football Team Name Change

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IDFA Calls for Immediate Release of Egyptian Film Producer Moataz Abdelwahab

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HBO Max Sets Premiere Date for Ravi Patel's Pursuit of Happiness

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Miller-Gregson Productions Announces Death of Co-Founder and President Joseph E. Miller

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