December 1, 2017

Essential Doc Reads: Week of November 27

From Sundance Film Festival selection 'MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A.'

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 Sundance Institute, Festival Director John Cooper and Director of Programming Trevor Groth break down the just-announced Sundance lineup.

"In a year that has rejuvenated the idea of television journalism covering every scandal and every political detail, documentaries are the last bastion of uncovering the truth. Many of the films in these documentary categories serve to provide a deeper dive into these stories – they slow things down so that we can understand the ramifications in our world. Films like Dark Money or The Devil We Know are great examples."

At The Atlantic, Derek Thompson argues that we're in the midst of a "media apocalypse," and urges the media business to "pivot to readers."

The near future of digital news may be as tumultuous as the near past. But it's tough to imagine that readers and viewers will be ill-served by news organizations exchanging a fixation with breadth of scale with a renewed devotion to making a product worth more than $0.00 to its audience. In its inexhaustible capacity for experimentation, digital media has pivoted to programmatic advertising, pivoted to native advertising, pivoted to venture capital, pivoted to Facebook, pivoted to distributed, and pivoted to video. Here is a better experiment: Pivot to readers.

At USA Today, documentary filmmaker (and Walt Disney grandniece) Abigail Disney asks Congress not to cut taxes for "rich people like me."

Although I was raised amid privilege and good fortune, I have always been cognizant of income and wealth inequality. It has never sat well with me. Since the election of Ronald Reagan, the gap between rich and poor has grown dramatically and "trickle down" economics has turned out to cause more of a trickle up. But nothing has brought the problem of inequality into sharper focus for me than the current proposals by Republicans to overhaul the tax system.

Shelly Palmer contends that the end of net neutrality would be good for marketers - and bad for everyone else.

You. If you're a normal person and you want access to the Internet, get ready for all kinds of airline industry-style charges. You'll either accept a slower connection or pay extra for going over a threshold on your unlimited data plan. In practice, you're likely to get amazing speed and service for video content you don't care about and terrible service while trying to use the things you really want. The solution … pay more.

At The New York Review of Books, J. Hoberman considers Film Society of Lincoln Center's "The Non-Actor" series.

Each in his way, Flaherty and Rouch were devoted to enlarging the cast of filmable humanity by concentrating on non-Western individuals. It might have been more honest for them to present their subjects as actors, which is in a sense what Rouch did. The nonprofessionals in his work give coached performances that effectively reframe the films as narrative fictions. On the other hand, non-actors were among the signifiers of authenticity—along with location photography and open-ended narratives—in the most influential of cinema movements, Italian neo-realism. 

From the archives, August 2016, "Act Naturally: The Real and Unreal of 'Kate Plays Christine'"

The director deftly tosses aside all our expectations, ingeniously using fiction as a mere pretext not only to investigate how actors do their job, but also to gather real clues. Like an empathic detective, Greene attempts to piece together evidence of the very existence of this Sarasota, Florida television personality who’s been practically erased from history. (As a friend and co-worker of the real-life Christine notes in the film, the only reason we’re interested in her is because of how she died.) Greene makes the case that all of us - including the filmmaker himself - are complicit, are actors shaping the media narrative.

In the News:

Gotham Awards Announces Winners
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National Board of Review Announces Winners
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New York Film Critics Circle Announces Winners
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ITVS Adds Production Exec David Casey, Promotes Noland Walker
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