Essential Doc Reads: Week of October 12, 2020
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!
The Center for Media and Social Impact (CMSI) released a new study this past week: “Breaking the Silence: How Documentaries Can Shape the Conversation on Racial Violence in America and Create New Communities.” The study raises questions about how social issues documentaries can address the ideological divide fueled by a polarized news media—and a polarized nation. Centering this study is an examination of a year of community outreach screenings of Jacqueline Olive’s Always in Season, which examines the history and contemporary reality of lynchings and racial violence in America. Olive wrote the introduction to the study.
In addition to using the film to help communities make these connections, I see Always in Season as a vital tool for the process of reimagining the future. It is important to openly and comprehensively explore what justice and reconciliation can look like for the future in ways that let the past inform us and a deeper understanding of the present inspire radical institutional change moving forward.
Jillian Morgan of Realscreen reports on DOC NYC’s recent panel on the rising demand for and costs of archival footage.
“One of the challenges of telling full stories about people of color is that archive often doesn’t exist,” Shola Lynch said. “That emotional range, that broader sense of humanity gets left out and it becomes much more of a challenge as filmmakers, when we’re telling stories about people of color, to make sure it is there so that we’re not perpetuating stereotypes.”
As PBS commemorates its 50th anniversary this year, The New York Times television critic Mike Hale assesses the impact of the service.
As a more-than-full-time TV watcher I have a tremendous fondness and respect for the Public Broadcasting Service—and for the public-TV ecosystem that surrounds it—that aren’t based on grumpy butlers or colorful puppets. They’re based on something PBS and its member stations do more thoroughly than anyone else in TV: educate us to be better citizens.
The New Yorker’s Richard Brody shares with us his list of 62 films that shaped the art of documentary filmmaking.
The artistic preoccupations of the new generation of documentary filmmakers don’t break with those of earlier generations; rather, they have their roots in decades-old films, in which the same ideas and practices sometimes turn up in forms—embodying the filmmakers’ relationship to their subjects—that seem daringly original even now. The most artistically advanced documentaries are those in which the participants are engaging conspicuously with the filmmakers; in their most radical forms, they show the influences, inspirations, or perturbations that the people onscreen experience from the filmmakers’ presence. Which is another way of saying that, although documentaries follow real people, their crucial material and subject is nonetheless performance.
Vladan Petkovic of Cineuropa talks to Christoph Terhechte, artistic director of DOK Leipzeig, about his plans for a hybrid version of the upcoming festival.
The interesting thing for me is that we have learned so much, and we will learn even more during the festival, about how to combine online and physical elements. I'm sure we'll retain some of it in the future. It does make sense. Before the pandemic, we'd been discussing global warming, and the way that we, festival people, travel is sometimes almost obscene. And it is possible to participate in festivals online. You can't do it all the time, as it becomes annoying not to be able to really interact with people, but you can be more selective about where you will actually go, and then you will have more time, so you can take a train instead of a flight, and you stay five or seven days, rather than three. That's what I think many people will decide to do in the future.
From the Archives, September 2019 online: “Doc Star of the Month: Claudia Lacy, Always in Season”
Because Jackie had talked to my son [Pierre] prior. When I agreed to speak to her, she let me know that her son was 17, and the type of work that she was doing. She said that she wanted to connect with a story that would allow her to see a closer-up, more modern way than people had looked at it [lynching] in the past—how it would affect someone. Her documentaries had been about people who were descendants—not someone who immediately had had it happen to them. That was a way for my son's story to get told.
In the News
Points North Institute and CNN Films Announce Grants for Inaugural American Stories Documentary Fund
American Masters and Firelight Media Launch BIPOC Short Film Series, In the Making
World of Wonder Launches Documentary Division
Hot Docs Ted Rogers Fund Selects Five Canadian Projects for Funding
Pose and Mucho Mucho Amor Win Top Prizes at the Latino Media Fest Awards
Ford Foundation Announces Disability Futures Fellows
American Pavilion Honors Diversity with 2020 Virtual Emerging Filmmaker Showcase Films
Wavelength Teams with Black TV & Film Collective to Launch Black Producers Fellowship
Jihlava International Documentary Festival Unveils 2020 Lineup
DOC NYC Announces Full Lineup
IDFA Reveals Projects for 2020 Forum
Knitting Factory Entertainment and Kino Lorber Partner for Fall Film Festival
MTV Documentary Films Acquires 76 Days
WNET Employees Call for Resignation of CEO Neal Shapiro
San Francisco Will Pay Artists $1,000 per Month in Universal Basic Income