June 23, 2019

Essential Doc Reads: Week of June 17

From Brian Ivie’s ‘Emanuel.’  Courtesy of Cornelius Films.

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 RealScreen, Daniele Alcinii navigates the fatigue and frustration many consumers feel in a crowded subscription video streaming market and how a shift to ad-supported video on demand might be the way of the future.

"We’ve reached the point where consumers are making it very clear what they want," Kevin Westcott, vice chairman and lead for the US telecom, media and entertainment practice at Deloitte, tells Realscreen. "They’re telling us that they’ve got too many subscriptions, that traditional pay television has too many ads and they want content that’s easier to find and easier to access. We in the industry need to respond to those customer demands."

Christine Schmidt from Nieman Lab shares the story of Brian Collister, a reporter who obtained and released shocking cell phone footage from Sandra Bland’s arrest. It was part of Collister’s investigative journalism nonprofit, Investigation Network, that aims to bring more collaboration with local TV station.

"Not every station outlet has the ability to go out and put together a really compelling documentary video story," Matt Goldberg, NBC’s vice president of content strategy and former assistant news director at KNBC, said. He’s on the board of Investigative Network and also Investigative Reporters and Editors. "It doesn’t matter how many people — I could build the biggest investigative team in the country, but I still want more content. If I take the approach of putting anything on, it’s going to be anything. If I put a premium on what Brian is trying to do, if it’s of substance and works with the brand I have, that’s a really win."

Columbia Journalism Review writer Eileen Guo discusses how a new podcast, Self Evident, from documentary filmmaker James Boo, captures the Asian American experience through reported narratives that explore themes associated with this underrepresented community.

While the specificity of each episode should make the show relatable for its target audience of Asian American professionals, Self Evident’s creators hope it is also universal enough to be relevant to a wider, non-Asian audience. But in doing so, the show tries to avoid the trope of "Here’s an Asian thing that you should know about," Boo says, in favor of, "Here’s a human being who is Filipino-American," citing an upcoming episode as an example.

Mica Green of AFRO shares how the Episcopal Diocese of Washington gathered to screen Emanuel, a documentary about the 2015 shooting at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that killed nine people. Emanuel is directed by Brian Ivie and produced by celebrities including Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, and actresses Viola Davis and Mariska Hargitay.

"The people in the story, and as Christians we learn about forgiveness, and so we were able to give that same forgiveness, to the man Mr. Roof. But it’s a two-edged sword, you have to be in the state of mind to receive it,” a filmgoer told the AFRO.  "The movie taught us to continue to pray for those who can’t understand the power of forgiveness, which is taught from the Lord."

Vladan Petkovic from Cineuropa interviews IDFA artistic director Orwa Nyrabia about  new changes to the festival and IDFA Forum, and how their pledge to increase diversity will affect financing, exhibiting and distributing documentaries.

"It's not just about our image of the world; it's about people's own image of themselves as well. We are not doing anyone a favour by keeping up with that. When we give a platform to people so that they can tell us what we don’t like to hear, this is not us being nice, smart and progressive; this is us surviving. The world really is that bad, and anybody who doesn't want to say that may very well win an election, but this is not the core of documentary cinema."

CBC News reporter Alice Hopton explores how nature documentaries are taking new approaches to educate people about the negative impacts of climate change. Through humorous music videos or disturbing footage of animal in peril, these films seek to garner support for wildlife funds and environmental policy worldwide.

"The impacts of our growing population and our consumption now directly threaten our own future," David Attenborough told the audience at Our Planet's premiere in London on April 4, a day ahead of its worldwide Netflix launch. "What we do in the next 20 years will determine the future."

From the Archives: Winter 2019 issue, "Where Shakespeare Meets Scheherazade: Towards a North-South Camaraderie in Documentary"

It might be risky to say, but the camaraderie of filmmakers, North and South, is the key. Maybe Northern filmmakers need to take a break from making films in the South and take an active role in supporting their Southern colleagues to tell their own stories with their own original voices, expressions and languages. This could disrupt the system and propose a new paradigm. It can be a form of alternative interventionism. What is happening in the South is shaping the North, and vice versa. We cannot accept nationalistic claims of the irrelevance of the narrative, language, opinions and creative expression of the other. We need to acknowledge the failure of the status quo. It is also important to mention that we “need” all the pluralism we can get. It is essential that we do not bluff ourselves and others by making our own interest seem to be our good deed. It is not charity and not even good will; it is actually not an option. We just need more voices in order to survive the coming era.


In the News

RYOT Films & HuffPost Partner For Short Stories Doc Initiative


FRONTLINE, PBS’s Acclaimed Investigative Documentary Series, Launches New Local Journalism Project


Documentarians Dan Cogan and Liz Garbus Launch New Production Company


Susan Ruskin Appointed AFI Conservatory Dean


Banff ’19: Live PDOne Strange Rock Rack up Rockies

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HBO Leads 2019 TCA Awards Nominations

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CBS, HBO, ESPN, and More Take Home Documentary Telly Awards

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Working Films Calls for Films for Just Recovery

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Camden/TFI Retreat kicks off with “American Stories” theme

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Japanese-American director of "comfort women" documentary sued by interviewees

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