November 22, 2019

Essential Doc Reads: Week of November 18

From Agnes Varda's 'Varda by Agnes.' Courtesy of mk2 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!

Writing for Mubi Notebook, Sofia Bohdanowicz reflects on Agnès Varda's final film, Varda by Agnès

In Varda by Agnès, Varda’s last film, the director states that beaches are a paysage mentale (a landscape of mind). For her, they were a place of inspiration. With Varda, things come in threes. Beaches are composed of the following elements: sky, sand, and sea. Similarly, her filmmaking practice is fueled by three important components: inspiration (the desire to make a film), creation (what the film means, the structure), and sharing (the communion of her work with a larger audience). With these concepts in mind, I began to think further on the function of image books—the gesture of collecting images and structuring them in a particular way in order to project, share, or materialize what dwells in the recesses of our minds.  

Eleanor Stanford of The New York Times talks to IDA Courage Under Fire Award honoree Waad al-Kateab about life as a refugee in London and her hopes for her film For Sama.

There's a fear in the whole world about refugees and people who are the other. The film is just fighting this in a very simple way, in that you feel that you know these people, and you care about them. You need them to be like part of your life, or you need to be part of their life.

Justine Smith of Little White Lies critiques Mark Cousins' latest cinematic road trip, Women Make Film.

Even before Cousins' epic has reached mainstream audiences, some critics have questioned the validity of a man presenting this “alternative” history of women in film. But Cousins brings invaluable knowledge to the table and should be applauded for championing so many underrepresented filmmakers. As in his earlier The Story of Film: An Odyssey, he subverts the predominantly white, Western-centric canon.

On his monthly blog for Film Independent, The Doc Life, Anthony Ferranti speaks with producer Amanda Shelby about the craft of VR documentary filmmaking.

"Basically, the experience is telling the brain, 'this is real.' As a documentary filmmaker, your job is to open people up, to bring people into the world. Documentary filmmakers can make really great VR people because they get that. They understand how to immerse an audience." However, Shelby cautions, filmmakers need to understand the dramatic difference between 2-D and immersive VR, which is that you can’t rely on shock value to bring audiences into the space—It can be too shocking.

Maxine Trump (no relation), writing for Filmmaker, shares her thoughts about repurposing her feature doc To Kid or Not To Kid into a web series, Should We Kid or Not?.

The film and series are different stories, one intimate, one more broad, serving different audiences, that tell their stories through different paths. Even more, the film and series can combine to enrich each other, presenting a deeper, more complex and nuanced view of the subject. Whether you’re actively struggling with the decision to have children, are curious to hear other people’s feelings about it, those happily childfree or are anywhere on that scale, you’ll see your story reflected. And that feels great.

IndieWire Editor-in-Chief Dana Harris-Bridson speculates on the theatrical exhibition space, following the Department of Justice's lifting of the Paramount Consent Decree from 1948.

The Department of Justice announced November 18 that it's begun the process to end the Paramount Consent Decrees, the 1948 agreement that blocked monopolistic studio practices, including owning theaters. In some regards, it’s a move that could amount to a shrug; all studios want the option of shorter theatrical windows, but enough to spend hundreds of millions buying, and operating, an aging business model? No.



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Grammy Award Nominees (scroll down for Best Music Film Category)


Netflix Agrees to Make Changes in The Devil Next Door Docuseries after Complaint from Polish Prime Minister


National Film School of Denmark Director Steps Down Following Student Strike


Sheffield Doc/Fest Rounds Out Programming Team


MTV Documentary Films Sets Future Doc Projects


Shepard Smith Address Committee to Protect Journalists Event


Austin Film Society Announces Opening of New Creative Media Center at Austin Studios


IndieWire Shares Wish List for 2020 Sundance Film Festival