May 26, 2017

Essential Doc Reads: Week of May 22

Director Barbet Schroeder. Photo: M Petit / Festival de Cannes.


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!


At Deadline, Michael Cieply reports that the Academy's documentary branch is poised to expand next month.

The documentary tribe is surging. Actors are slipping back. This might represent a bow toward digital filmmaking, fresh interest in the documentary form, or make-good for severe under-representation in the past. Or it may be that documentarians - who include many around the world with small crews, tiny budgets and big ideas - are a ready pool for the sort of diverse talent the Academy needs to fulfill those diversity goals.

At Screen Daily, Wendy Mitchell reports from Cannes on a Doc Day panel focused on filmmaking in the "post-truth" era.

She also stressed that the audience has to be more savvy than ever about what content they are watching and believing. "How is it being paid for? Who wants me to see this? How did it get to me? Who distributed it to me, did I go somewhere to find it or was it pushed to me? It's complicated but we all need to ask ourselves these questions."

At Cineuropa, Fabien Lemercier interviews filmmaker Barbet Schroeder about his new portrait of a Burmese Buddhist nationalist.

"I'm not fascinated by evil, but I was interested in the act of understanding it and making people see that very often evil is concealed beneath good-natured exteriors, behind masks. I made a trilogy on evil because I wanted to show different aspects of it, as I think it's been a subject of paramount importance to humanity throughout the ages, and we have therefore not finished discussing it yet. And for me, a non-black-or-white approach is the best one to adopt – an ambiguous approach is what gives you the best results."

At Docs On Screens, Carol Nahra speaks to Luke Moody, the new film programmer of Sheffield Doc/Fest.

"I come from a background of funding documentaries, funding from development to post production film. So for that reason I'm very much across global production – what's out there, what's being made at the moment. But that relationship to films, where you're looking at them as a funder as opposed to a programmer is very different because it operates between different criteria of what you want to support. So it's been a challenge doing it in such a short space of time. But what I hope I've managed to do is change the structure in which I operate to allow the programme to flourish in future years."

At Storyhunter, representatives of top digital media companies explain how to get the most out of livestreams.

According to Facebook's own statistics, videos that are live are watched three times more than videos that are no longer live. Some events will remain relevant long after their over. Videos that prove to be evergreen can continue to be promoted long after they're over and will continue to attract viewers to your site.

At Realscreen, Michael Cascio argues that we are currently saying goodbye to the current system and TV and saying hello to something much more uncertain.

The growth phase of our business is over. In the last 30 years, the cable model was built on the notion that smaller networks will ultimately get bigger and give birth to more programming and even newer networks (see ESPNU, MTV Classic, Discovery Life). At one time, they were all small – AMC ran old movies, TLC was an educational channel, History was a niche spin-off. They built themselves by investing in original programming that helped define their brands, attract viewers and grow profits. Distribution increased, and America went from being dominated by broadcast to being dominated by cable. Now digital streaming is threatening that dominance.

From the archives, May 2016, "Cannes Shows Signs of Doc Love"

The Cannes Film Festival isn't particularly known for its devotion to the documentary form. Only twice in the festival's history has the Palme d'Or gone to a nonfiction film: in 1956 for The Silent World, directed by Jacques Cousteau and Louis Malle, and in 2004 for Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911. This year, not a single documentary appeared among the 21 films selected for "main competition" - i.e. those with a shot at winning the Palme d'Or. However, that doesn't mean there isn't space for documentaries in Cannes, although they tend to remain on the periphery, sheltered from the glare of the paparazzi and the glamour of the tapis rouge.


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