October 13, 2017

Essential Doc Reads: Week of October 9

Detail of Ed Ruscha's 'Hollywood,' 1968. (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco)

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!

A Note From the IDA:

This week in Essential Doc Reads, we focus on the impact of the disturbing revelations about Harvey Weinstein, and the many testimonials written by women who have suffered sexual misconduct, violence, and abuse of power by men in the entertainment industry. 
IDA denounces Weinstein's unacceptable conduct. We also recognize that his particular behavior shows only the tip of the iceberg, that sexual harassment and abuse by the powerful is commonplace and has been experienced by many.

IDA recognizes that the documentary world is not exempt from the power imbalances, labor injustices, and lack of diversity that plague the entertainment industry, and we commit ourselves to addressing this climate of exploitation and abuse.
We stand in solidarity with the courageous women who were brave enough to speak out, and the fearless reporters who helped break this story.

At Vanity Fair, filmmaker Amy Ziering, who made the Weinstein-distributed doc The Hunting Ground, discusses the sex-abuse allegations.

"We live in a culture that can be exceptionally cruel to women—particularly women who in any way seek to challenge unbridled male power," she said. "I hope that people are kind and compassionate towards her. . . . In fact, 92 to 97 percent of the time when women report a sexual assault they are telling the truth. This is statistically consistent with every other serious felony in our society. And yet this is the only crime, that when women report, they are viciously blamed and challenged."

At KPCC, Ziering spoke to the possibility of pursuing a documentary about sexual abuse in Hollywood.

"We're considering it, obviously. We've done a lot of work on it. We'll see. One of the interesting barriers we encountered was that a lot of people didn't feel like it could get distribution, that there was a lot of fear around this issue. So, that was interesting. We talk about the media's collusion and enabling. So, we'd be very interested in re-approaching some of the funders and seeing if they’re now interested. I mean, people are scared."

At The Daily Beast, filmmaker Alex Gibney suggests that the Weinstein revelations are just one throughline of a bigger story.

"It's not just Hollywood, I think it's power in general. There's a reason why the powerful escape scrutiny for so long—it's because people want something from them. If you're an actress, you want to get a role, if you're a producer, you want a deal, and along the way people start making little compromises that end up being one big compromise. I don't think it's limited to Hollywood. We're talking about Scientology, we're talking about the Catholic Church. Wherever there's power, there's abuse of power, and there's a kind of collective responsibility for allowing those abuses to continue."

At Mother Jones, Jamilah King outlines the accusations against David France for the uncredited use of another filmmaker's archive for his new doc The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson.

David France's award-winning documentary, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, has ignited a firestorm of controversy since it debuted on Netflix on October 6. Allegations have surfaced that the film includes uncredited work from Reina Gossett, a transgender woman of color, filmmaker, and activist who has spent years archiving the life of Johnson, a LGBT-rights advocate who died under mysterious circumstances in 1992. The debate, as we reported Tuesday, has provoked questions over who owns the history of marginalized communities and the power in storytelling. Now, a former archival assistant who worked on France’s film over the summer of 2016 has publicly released a statement in support of Gossett's allegations of theft. 

At LA Weekly, Kelly MacLean reports on the successful push to get more women into podcasting.

Manoush Zomorodi, one of Walker's first female podcast recruits and host of the tech lifestyle podcast Note to Self, thinks podcasting is particularly attractive to women. "It's hard to find podcasts. They're not easily shared. It's a place where we've kind of been left alone to have this type of vulnerable conversation and not be trolled," she says. And it's true, somehow the iTunes comments on podcasts read a whole lot friendlier than those on YouTube. "When you listen to a woman's podcast, it’s a feminist act," Zomorodi adds. "You're listening to a woman express herself." A woman can speak her mind knowing she is being listened to, not leered at.

From the archives, Summer 2012, "Military Malfeasance: Exposing 'The Invisible War'"

"So I started calling them one by one and asking them a bunch of questions, and I think what made them comfortable was saying that this was all going to be off the record: Anything you don't want to talk about is totally fine, anything you do is fine, and if I ask anything and you just don't want to go there, that's fine too. I guess the other thing that made them comfortable was that I was very nonjudgmental and I believed them, which was somewhat revelatory because they were used to being disbelieved; usually the line of questioning was antagonistic or hostile or suspicious. And I totally did believe them. Having talked to one after another with identical stories, there was no way you could deny or even question their credibility." 


In the News:

Critics' Choice Documentary Awards Announces Nominations
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IDFA 2017 Selections Announced
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Doc NYC Announces Full Lineup
read more