May 11, 2020

Essential Doc Reads: Week of May 4

From Mark Cousins' 'Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema," which premieres May 18 on BFI Player.

Essential Doc Reads is our curated selection of recent features and important news items about the documentary form and its processes, from around the internet, as well as from the Documentary magazine archive. We hope you enjoy!

Writing for IndieWire, producer/consultant Brian Newman considers the prospects of premiering a film online.

But if you are trying to premiere a feature film, and you don't yet have distribution, then as of now you can't consider these online festivals because buyers consider them a conflict with their distribution of your film. They do NOT see it as word-of-mouth building, or good PR, or a way to test/prove audience demand. They see it as a distraction at best, and lost income, or a loss of control or a loss of premiere status at worst.

In his blog Films Gone Wild, film festival consultant and journalist John Wildman delivers a pointed response to Brian Newman's essay.

The answer in many cases, is no, they are not offering all that much. So, then you should take control of your film and your path. Use, utilize, and exploit the regional film festival tour (even a virtual one) like Bathtubs over Broadway did to seed audiences throughout the country that then supported the film through its release, bolstering it, and promoting it based on their numerous screenings and appearances over the country before it did its domestic dance and VOD splash. Filmmakers need to channel the same inspiration and innovation that went into making the film into making sure people actually see the film.

IndieWire's Chris Lindhal examines the fallout from Planet of the Humans, a documentary produced by Michael Moore that has raised the hackles of the environmental activist community.

The documentary, directed and produced by Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine collaborator Jeff Gibbs and executive produced by Moore, offers a blistering critique of the modern environmental movement and its promotion of wind, solar, and biomass energy. But some filmmakers, activists, and scientists are pushing back against what they say is a film that relies on cherry-picked facts, gotcha interviews, and outdated information to paint a bleak, misleading portrait of the state of renewable energy.

The New York Times' Nicole Sperling checks in with a number of docmakers who are moving forward with their work--COVID-19-related or not.

As they work toward completing their latest projects, documentarians are wondering what's next for them and nonfiction film in general. "I think the most fascinating thing is, we don’t really know where it ends,” Karim Amer said. "Does this change the way we make films for right now? Or does this change the way we make films forever?"

Writing for the POV magazine blog, Canadian filmmaker Barri Cohen contemplates life during and beyond the COVID-19 era.

But if PM Trudeau only opens up "some" of the economy on July 1, what will that look like? What is "some" of the economy? Will that mean we can convene in our small crews of four and shoot with one subject, at least, at a time? And crucially, will our participant release forms need revision to contain a new Health Waiver clause, holding all parties blameless in the event of inadvertent infection? Or would we have to warrant that we are COVID-19-safe or -free?

The Guardian's Katie Muir discusses Mark Cousins' latest docu-epic, Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema, which premieres May 18 through BFI Player.

The film does not waste time wondering why women have been sidelined by mainstream cinema—we knew the answers to that long before #MeToo. This is not about slamming the patriarchy, but a joyous trip through women’s work on screen, puckishly curated into 40 chapters on different themes including openings, interiority, meet-cutes, sci-fi, tone, love, death, editing and musicals.

Hyperallergic's Sierra Pettengill talks to filmmaker Matt Wolf about his new film Spaceship Earth, which tracks the 1990s Biosphere 2 experiment and the people who undertook it.

My ultimate goal is to get people to have an emotional relationship to ideas. I think I usually make stories that are portraits, centered around individuals who become vectors for these bigger cultural histories and conceptual ideas. And this film was particularly challenging because it is a huge tapestry of characters; there isn't a singular focus to it, and so it was important to be conscious of the particularities of those individuals. But the thing that was easier about this than most of the films I’ve made is that it had a Byzantine plot and a dramatic story with all these twists and turns.

From the Archive, February 2012: "A Century of Cinema: Mark Cousins Tells The Story of Film"

"I tried, where possible, to find where ideas came from," Cousins explains. "I tried to show what might never have been seen--not that it's new, but not seen." Among his own innovations are his all-inclusive observations:  His story of film features not only women filmmakers but also work from outside the Western world and from six continents. Africa, Iran, Korea and Japan all get their due in this sweeping documentary, which flows from early nickelodeons and cinema's discovery in the late 1880s to today's global industry of digitally made blockbusters.


In the News

 

COVID-19 News

 

AFI DOCS 2020 Announces Plans for Online Film Festival

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Virtual Realscreen Live Set for Early June

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Cannes Rules Out Physical Festival; Will Host Screenings at Fall Festivals

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CPB Requests Additional $175M in Emergency Funds from Congress

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XTR, Wavelength Productions To Launch Documentary Support Fund

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Tribeca, AT&T, IMAX Team for Summer Drive-in Movie Theater Series

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British Film Commission Drafts Coronavirus Safety Protocols

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Trump Death Clock by Filmmaker Eugene Jarecki Counts COVID-19 Deaths

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Other News


Programs Nominated for Oscars Can No Longer Compete for Emmys

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Peabody Awards Nominees Announced

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Impact Partners Announces 2020 Documentary Producers Fellowship Recipients

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POV Spark Launches Interactive Digital Platform Public Update

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New Hot Docs-Slaight Family Fund Supports Canadian Music Docs

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Hulu and Kartemquin Announce Accelerator Program Projects

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Hot Docs Names Eyesteel Film's Bob Moore Recipient of 2020 Don Haig Award

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Visions du Reel Names Industry Awards

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Time Studios Selects Alexandra Johnes as Executive Producer, Documentary Division

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New York Film Festival Announces New Programming Structure and Additions to Curatorial Teams

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Docudays Announces Award Winners

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Argentine Filmmaker Marcelo Cespedes, Co-Founder of Doc Buenos Aires, Dies at 65

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