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Essential Doc Reads: Week of May 13

By Tom White

From Jason DaSilva's "When We Walk," which shared the Documentary Award at CAAMFest. Courtesy of Jason DaSilva

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!

Judith Heumann, Senior Fellow at the Ford Foundation and internationally renowned disability rights advocate, talks to the Foundation about changing the face of disability in the media.

"With films like Unrest, by Jen Brea, which is about people who have hidden disabilities, more people are beginning to identify as having a disability. And as more people identify in a way that allows us to say, 'I have a disability' and not be ashamed of it, it can have an impact."

Writing for CALMatters, Bruce D. Brown, executive director of Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and IDA’s own Simon Kilmurry comment on the increasing incidents of harassment of journalists and documentarians covering stories at the US-Mexico border.

As our border becomes more of a battleground, it is high time for a set of Justice Department-style news media guidelines for Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to give journalists the protection they need to keep the public informed.

VOX’s Alexia Fernández Campbell reports on filmmaker/philanthropist/IDA Documentary Award honoree Abigail Disney’s withering testimony about income inequality before the House Financial Services Committee this week.

“It is time to say, ‘enough is enough.’ It is time to bring a moral and ethical framework back to the way we discuss business. It is time for business leaders to recognize that they have altered the nature of this communal project we call the United States of America, and that now they must hold themselves accountable to their fellow citizens. And if not, then we must hold managements to account on citizens’ behalf.

No Film School’s Craig Mieritz speculates on the impact of the current trade war and increased tariffs on indie filmmaking.

The trade war that has been simmering between the US and China is about to expand significantly if the recently announced US tariffs go into effect next month. Of interest to filmmakers are the new 25% tariffs announced by the US government this week that apply to a broad range of imported products. These new tariffs are in addition to raising the rate for products currently under tariff from 10% to 25%. The new tariffs apply to a broad range of products imported from China, including photographic equipment and other electronics.

Filmmakers John and Molly Chester talk to IndieWire’s Anne Thompson about the making of their new film, The Biggest Little Farm.

When he realized that “a wide grouping of audience was interested in these animal stories,” the filmmaker decided to expand them into a broader feature that became The Biggest Little Farm. “I got eight years to figure how to tell the story and anthropomorphize the animals in ways that didn’t discredit the great biological story,” he said. “There is a real farm here.”

Writing for cléo, Jannette Angelle Bivona compares and contrasts how the respective makers of Roma and Finding Vivian Maier depict the value of women’s work in their films.

In both Roma and Finding Vivian Maier we are reminded that in life as in death we are all free game in a race to profit from culture. Cuarón and Maloof seemingly did not intend for their films to betray their protagonists nor to incur such strong reactions in the #MeToo era. However, we must ask ourselves where the filmmakers’ inherent limitations and unwillingness to sacrifice ego meet in attempting to portray the experiences of working-class women.

From the Archive, April 2018: “Center for Media at Risk Launches as Bulwark for Journalism against Global Political Intimidation”

"First of all, when things go bad in politics, things go bad in the media as well because they're intricately connected. But second of all, I think that we have for so long held on to this pristine notion that somehow in the United States we're above all of this, that it takes a major reset to go back to the beginning. And so it's a failure of imagination. It's a failure to consider what might be the least comfortable, but possibly the most necessary, way to offer a reset."

In the News

Jacqueline Lyanga Joins Film Independent as Artistic Director


Kartemquin Films Welcomes Jolene Pinder as New Executive Director


NEA Announces Second Round of FY 2019 Art Works Grants


CAAMFest37 Filmmaker Award Winners


LA Asian Pacific Film Festival Award Winners


Sheffield Doc/Fest Announces 2019 Program


AFI Docs 2019 Unveils Female-Heavy Slate


Sundance Institute Announces 2019 New Frontier Story Lab Fellows


Grierson Trust Announces DocLab 2019 Participants


Disney Assumes Full Control of Hulu


Todd Haynes to Direct Documentary on Velvet Underground