November 16, 2018

Essential Doc Reads: Week of November 12

From "Amazing Grace." Courtesy of Al’s Records and Tapes
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!


DOC NYC premiered the much-anticipated Aretha Franklin doc Amazing Grace this past Monday, and The New York Times’ Wesley Morris was there.

We’d gathered Monday, with the Franklin family’s blessing, to behold a trove of all kinds of genius — physical, musical, oratorical, sartorial, tonsorial, metaphysical — the most staggering genius, of course, being Franklin’s. 

From American Cinematographer, Daniel Eagen interviews legendary DP Joan Churchill.

D.A. Pennebaker has a wonderful way of expressing it. He says the most important thing is to be there as a friend in the room. Which I think is a perfect description of what I’m aspiring to be when I’m shooting. I’m a sympathetic person, I want to be accepted by people so that I can follow along in the journey that they’re going on.”

Filmmaker Almudena Carracedo writes in The Guardian about the victims and survivors of the 40-year Franco regime and their quest for justice--the subject of her and Robert Bahar’s award-winning film The Silence of Others.

Newborn babies were taken from mothers deemed undesirable and placed with pro-regime families. The initial targets were left-wing mothers imprisoned after the Spanish civil war. Over decades, the practice is thought to have evolved to target poor families, single mothers and others considered to be “morally unfit”. The kidnappings required the complicity of doctors, nuns, priests and government officials, and are suspected to have continued long after Franco died and democracy came to Spain.

Film Comment’s Ela Bittencourt reports from DocLisboa 2018. 

“Can we have truth with images?” James Benning asked this to his audience at the 16th edition of the DocLisboa documentary film festival...Benning’s question conveys his profound skepticism about the status of image and sound, signaling their innate potential to deceive. And yet, ultimately, Benning also rings a relatively hopeful note: “We have a stronger contract with looking in cinema than we have in real life. Hopefully, cinema can teach us how to have a more critical eye. It’s an intellectual experience rather than a purely physical one.”

Variety’s Peter DeBruge ponders the ramifications of the loss of the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Still, the larger question looms: What does it meant that Los Angeles, home to Hollywood and the American film industry itself, has lost what was once its most important festival? And what is it about the city that proves so inhospitable to such events?

From the Archive--Summer 2017: "Inside Out: Joan Churchill"

I tend to work very close to people.  I like them to be able to see my face which is why I will never go back to the shoulder mounted cameras.  It provides me with an opportunity to relate to people.  They can see my reactions and know that the power I wield by pointing a camera at them is nonthreatening.

In the News

2019 Independent Spirit Award Nominees Announced


Won't You Be My Neighbor? Takes Home the Critics' Choice Documentary Award


This Year, Trying to Predict the Top Contenders in the Best Documentary Race is a Challenge


European Film Awards Nominations:


DOC NYC Awards Announced


Denver Film Festival Announces its Award Winners


Tribeca and Gucci Reveal Doc Fund Grantees, Highlighting Stories of Women in Politics


Impact Partners Seeking New Nonfiction Projects to Back


Cynthia Lopéz Named New Executive Director of New York Women in Film & Television


Kathleen Lingo Named New Editorial Head for Film and TV at The New York Times


TV Academy Names Frank Scherma New Chairman and CEO


Asad Saed Muhammad to lead impact, engagement at AmDoc


Criterion Collection to Launch Streaming Service in Spring 2019