June 15, 2018

Essential Doc Reads: Week of June 11

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!


IndieWire's Michael Schneider assesses the Time Warner/AT&T merger.

At one level, US District Court Judge Richard Leon's ruling on Tuesday didn't tell us anything we didn't know: Bigger is better. The AT&T and Time Warner merger only reflects digital-behemoth disruptors like Netflix, Apple, Google and Amazon, which telegraphed long ago that traditional media companies need to bulk up.

However, Leon's decision is also the equivalent of frantically waving a green flag to start a media arms race, one that will radically change the face of entertainment.

From The New York Times, Keith Collins gives the lowdown on the FCC's repeal of net neutrality rules and what we might expect.

"Internet service providers now have the power to block websites, throttle services and censor online content," Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic member of the commission who voted against the repeal, said in an emailed statement Monday. "They will have the right to discriminate and favor the internet traffic of those companies with whom they have pay-for-play arrangements and the right to consign all others to a slow and bumpy road."

Realscreen's Selina Chignall reports from Sheffield Doc/Fest on a panel addressing the challenge of class diversity.

With the rising costs of living and television wages remaining stagnant, [BBC commissioner Tom] McDonald noted that even if television execs wanted more social diversity amongst the ranks, the often precarious nature of the industry and its economic outlook might seem like an unattractive field for those who don’t have a safety net to fall back on.

As one of The Independent's 10 Filmmakers to Watch, VR/AR artist Asad Malik shares his insights on his latest work, Terminal 3.

Interrogations are interesting moments of an institutional power dynamic at play. However, if you strip the moment off, it's dehumanized context—you're really just left with a human trying to engage with another human's life story. We just let the viewer take the chance and lead the conversation as they explore the stories of someone who would come across as a "Muslim." We couldn’t have told this story in any other medium than AR. If you’re going to sit and talk to another human while you hear their story, it makes sense that you should feel their presence in real space.

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay talks to IndieWire's Zack Sharf about the criticism levied at Netflix about its titles getting buried.

"When you talk about getting lost, [it] prioritizes a certain privilege that women filmmakers, filmmakers of color, and certainly women filmmakers of color — specifically black women — don’t have,” DuVernay said. “My concern isn’t being lost, my concern is being somewhere, period.”

Adam Liptak of The New York Times reports that a confession seen in Making a Murderer will be considered by the US Supreme Court.

In 2015, millions of people watched Making a Murderer, a Netflix documentary series about the murder prosecutions of two Wisconsin men. Opinions varied on the guilt of the program’s central figure, Steven Avery, who was convicted of killing Teresa Halbach, a 25-year-old photographer.

But many people were made powerfully uneasy by the treatment of Mr. Avery's nephew, Brendan Dassey, whose videotaped interrogation was among the most gripping parts of the series.

Silent film historian/preservationist/documentarian Kevin Brownlow turned 80 this month, and celebrated the occasion at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Film Comment's Michael Sragow talked to Brownlow about his illustrious career.

The Unknown Chaplin began purely by accident. When we began to examine the rushes from his Mutual days, we had no idea whatever how Chaplin really worked. Chaplin didn’t want to tell anybody because the worst thing you could say about people in the film industry is, "He doesn’t know what he’s doing."

From Filmmaker Magazine, programmer Eric Allan Hatch contemplates the future of arthouse programming.

Let's stop listening to yesteryear’s gatekeepers and stop worrying about the small screens. Instead, let's push for a future of film that's built on a network of festivals, venues and film communities whose primary concern is a cinema that's unapologetically diverse, expansive and ready to take risks. Film culture depends on it: We've been selling a watered-down product for too long, and the word is out. 


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

"In terms of similarities, both Serial and The Jinx are stories about one individual. The idea of a long-form parsing out of one person's story—it's wonderful to think there's an appetite for that, and viewers want to engage. I think it just bodes well for storytelling, and is really exciting.

In terms of differences, we as filmmakers are not part of Making a Murderer. There's no narration in this story, at least that comes from the filmmakers. We are very focused on showing and not telling.


In the News

The Silence of Others Takes Top Sheffield Doc/Fest Prize


Seattle International Film Festival Announces Award Winners


Michael Lumpkin Replaces Jacqueline Lyanga as AFI Fest Director


Banff World Media Festival Rockie Awards


TIFF and Sundance Will Boost Underrepresented Journalists


HBO and IFP Team on Funding Initiative