July 20, 2018

Essential Doc Reads: Week of July 16

From Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi's hit series "Making a Murderer.' Courtesy of Netflix

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 TVreal, Sara Alessi talks to gatekeepers about the true crime genre phenomenon.

Audiences find true-crime so gripping because the traditional whodunits and longer explorations tap into "universal themes of betrayal, lust, greed, revenge and overcoming adversity," says Laura Fleury, A+E Networks' senior VP, head of programming for international. “"There is something uplifting—especially for women, who are more often at the wrong end of a crime story—to hear stories about how people overcame those situations, how justice was finally [served]. There’s certainly a thrill to crime content too. There’s a thrill of feeling suspense and of wanting to try to figure out human behavior."

Realscreen's Barry Walsh interviews filmmakers Joke Fincioen and Biagio Messina about how they've made their indie production company thrive.

"From a survival standpoint, it's crucial to have the ability to execute a range of genres, so that you don’t disappear when those genres fall out of favor. So you can never rest on your laurels — as genres change and evolve, you continue to watch, study, learn and experiment. Hopefully you add something worthwhile to that evolution."

Fandor talks to filmmaker Penny Lane about her latest doc, The Pain of Others.

"One of the reasons I like archival is that I like having this artistic process where I'm negotiating my subject's pre-existing self-representation. It becomes a very interesting dance of authorship…there's kind of a double authorship that I think is pretty interesting, and I think it's intellectually stimulating and artistically fun."

From National Post, filmmaker Adam Benzine reflects on the late Claude Lanzmann, the subject of Benzine's Oscar-nominated short, Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah.

With his passing this month, we bid farewell to the last of the great French existentialist thinkers. It's tempting to also suggest that Lanzmann's death marks the loss of the last great, and confidently uninhibited, documentarians, but in his place there are signs of hope.

Writing for Film Comment, Michael Koresky, in his ongoing series of analyses of past films for "traces of queerness, whether in plain sight or under the surface," takes on William Greaves' classic hybrid doc symbiobiotaxiplasm take one.

As Amy Taubin writes in her Criterion essay on the film, "One of the most interesting aspects of the film’s focus on sexuality is that, at this point in 1968, the political discourses around feminism and homosexuality were only beginning to be articulated." But by the time of the film’s final assemblage and first screenings in 1971, Stonewall would have already happened, and likely mainstream viewers might find Fellows’ rant less exotic.

Writing for the Oovra Music blog, documentary composer Miriam Cutler talks about the joy of teaching music and collaborating with filmmakers.

I am not what most people think of when they envision a music teacher. I don’t train anyone on any instrument or talk about music theory. I focus on musical storytelling; that is, how to underscore story arc and narrative, and how to navigate all of the other things you might not think about that are a part of that process.

From the Archive, December 2015: "Netflix's 'Making a Murderer' Tracks a True Crime in Ten-Part Series"

"In a way, that was one of our biggest challenges, knowing that we needed the serialized format in order to tell this story and to tell it right. In our efforts to find a home for this, we had people offering us a two-hour slot, or talking about maybe a four-part series. We just had to have faith that it would find a home."


In the News

IndieWire Shares its Top Podcasts of 2018.


House of Representatives Rejects Bid to Slash NEA and NEH Funding


DOK Leipzeig and Current Time Partner on Co-Production Award


Three Identical Strangers to Get Feature Adaptation


Stanley Nelson to Direct Miles Davis Documentary


Independent Lens Announces Fall Season


Authentic Entertainment CEO Lauren Lexton Exits


Netflix Poaches Leading Awards Strategist Lisa Taback


LA Film Festival Preps for Fall Debut with Guest Director Jacqueline Lyanga, Diversity Push and Partnership with IDA


The New York Times Introduces Team Behind its Upcoming TV news show, The Weekly