April 1, 2002

Short Takes, April 2002


SILVER: AFI/Discovery Doc Fest Appoints Braitman Director

The SILVER: AFI/Discovery Documentary Festival recently appointed Wendy Braitman as Festival Director. The festival, which is a collaboration between the American Film Institute and Discovery Communications, Inc., is set to launch in June 2003, at the new AFI Silver in Silver Spring, MD.

Braitman comes to the Festival from IFFCON, North America's premier forum for the financing of independent film, which she founded in 1994. She served as creative consultant for Eveo, a digital entertainment company, and has produced several documentaries that have played the festival circuit. "Documentaries often allow for the most original visions in film and have the potential to impact our world,” said Braitman in a prepared statement. "I see THE SILVER: AFI/Discovery Documentary Festival as a great opportunity to bring filmmakers and executives together in a productive environment, while heightening audience appreciation of the art form."

BBC Worldwide in Ground-Breaking Deal with CBS

BBC Worldwide is bringing together two major forces in the stock footage market, following a landmark deal with CBS News. BBC Worldwide will commercially exploit stock footage from CBS News’ extensive archive holdings as part of its current global library sales business. The new initiative will create the definitive stock footage resource and provide a hithero unprecedented perspective on major world events.

In the agreement, which was announced in February, BBC Worldwide will become the exclusive global sales agent for all CBS News Footage and will market the CBS News archive alongside the BBC’s, through the BBC Library Sales division.

Rupert Gavin, Chief Executive of BBC Worldwide said in a prepared statement, “This agreement is a defining moment for the international stock footage industry and illustrates the importance BBC Worldwide places on this business and its future development”

“We are extremely pleased to have BBC Worldwide, a renowned and respected organization, representing CBS News’ legendary archive around the world,” said Andrew Hayward, President of CBS News, in a prepared statement. “We know the material we’ve been producing for over 50 years will not only be in very capable hands, but will be shared with the world via state-of-the-art technology and delivery systems.”

The CBS News archive includes coverage of events over the past 50 years, with a comprehensive record of over 700,000 hours of content. The Deal with BBC Worldwide also includes the CBS News Audio Archive, a comprehensive library of radio news dating from 1933 to the present day.

Redford Presented with Honorary Oscar®

Actor and director Robert Redford was presented with an Honorary Academy Award last month. The presentation of the Award coincides with the Sundance Institute’s 20th anniversary. In a prepared statement, Academy President Frank Pierson said, "Bob's dedication to independent filmmaking has had an enormously positive impact on the motion picture industry since he created Sundance 20 years ago, and young filmmakers for years to come will continue to benefit from the training that his institute provides and the world-class showcase that his festival offers."

Discovery Revs Up Latin American Production Slate

Discovery Networks Latin America/Iberia, the Miami-based arm of Discovery Communications, Inc., has announced that it will commission and co-produce more than 50 hours of original content in 2002 from local producers, representing 17 specials and series and making up 20 percent of the overall schedule.

According to Ryan Shiotani, Vice President of Programming for Discovery Networks Latin America/Iberia, Discovery’s partnerships with regional production companies will allow the channel to offer viewers in the Latin American market relevant and topical programming tailored to their viewing preferences.

ASC Publishes 8th Edition of Film Manual

The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) recently published the much-anticipated eighth edition of the ASC Film Manual. The manual is the authoritative source of technical information, and is a widely used reference around the world. According to ASC President Steven Poster, the goal of the manual is to provide a single source of information on which current and future cinematographers and other filmmakers can rely.

The 929-page 8th edition, the first new version since 1993, has 40 chapters and more than 100 tables and charts. It was edited by ASC associate member Rob Hummel, a senior vice president at Warner Brothers Studios.

Echo Park Film Center opens in Los Angeles

The Echo Park Film Center, a media access center, has opened in Los Angeles. Founded by Paolo Davanzo, the center includes a cinema, a film store specializing in used equipment and a school for children and events. According to Davanzo, any child aged 17 or younger will free access to film and video classes and equipment. The program will teach valuable skills to many children in the neighborhood and also act as alternative to many who are “at risk.” The idea for the center came to Davanzo last year after the death of his mother, who devoted her life to public service and worked for such organizations as UNICEF and the United Nations.


Encore Original Productions begins John Ford at War

Encore Original Productions is in production on John Ford at War, an original documentary on the famed director’s films, The Battle of Midway (1942), and December 7 (1943), both produced for the Armed Forces during World War II. Both documentaries won Best Documentary Academy Awards®for their respective years. The one-hour special, narrated by Kris Kristofferson, will be shown in late 2002.

John Ford at War will examine the timely issue of the power of film as a weapon during war. It was during World War II that film first came to play a large role in the propaganda efforts of all the major world powers, a crucial tool to help leaders sway public sentiment and rally public support for the war.

The film is being produced and directed by Tom Thurman, whose other films include Ben Johnson: Third Cowboy on the Right, and Warren Oates: Across the Border.

Stone Travels to Cuba for Castro Doc

Oliver Stone is in production on a documentary about Cuba and Cuban President, Fidel Castro. He traveled to Cuba in February to meet with Castro for the film.

HBO Signs Deal for September 11 Doc Telling Nicholas

Filmmaker James Ronald Whitney and HBO signed a deal for Whitney’s feature-length documentary Telling Nicholas, which will premiere as part of American Undercover Sundays. The film tells the story of seven-year old Nicholas and his father, and their search for Nicholas’ mother after the collapse of the Twin Towers.

In a prepared statement, HBO's Executive Vice President of Original Programming Sheila Nevins said, “The film reveals in intimate detail the suffering of one family and one can only image the reverberation and effect it may have on the thousands of American families affected by September 11.”

Passage to Juneau Takes a Trip with KCTS

KCTS/Seattle Public Television has optioned the documentary rights to the nonfiction bestseller Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings, by Seattle-based author Jonathan Raban. The book chronicles the author’s solo voyage aboard a 35-foot sailboat along the Inside Passage, a magnificent, often treacherous thousand-mile sea route between Seattle and Juneau. In the book, Raban interweaves his story with tales of those who came before him – the Indians of the Northwest Coast and Captain George Vancouver, who explored the Inside Passage aboard the Discovery in 1792-1794.

Film Forum Releases A Grin without a Cat

Next month, Film Forum will release Chris Marker’s A Grin without a Cat. The film chronicles the success and failure of the left during the 1960s and ‘70s, interweaving footage from the Vietnam War, May ’68 in Paris, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, the Shah of Iran, Regis Debray, Salvador Allende and others.


Seven films from the 2001 IFP Market, including three documentaries, screened during the European Film Market at the Berlin Film Festival this past February. Docs screened in the IFP Berlin showcase included: America So Beautiful by Babak Shokrian, about Iranian immigrants in L.A; Sundance 2002 film That's My Face by Thomas Allen Harris; Mark Moskowitz's Slamdance award-winning doc Stone Reader and Whitney Dow and Marco Williams' Sundance competition entry Two Towns of Jasper.

The Teddy Award for best documentary at the Berlin Film Festival went to Even Benestad for Alt Om Min Far (All About My Father).

The 19th-annual Miami Film Festival awarded The Golden Light for Best Documentary to La Tropical, director David Turnley's look at the Havana nightspot of the same name. Special Jury Awards went to Raw Deal, Miami-based filmmakers Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman's documentary about an alleged sexual assault, and to director Tom Curran for his documentary Adrift.

South-by-Southwest Film Festival kicked off last month with an informal, day-long, free Doc Conference held at the University of Texas. Topics included a general roundtable about the current state of doc filmmaking; presentations comparing what some of the innovative university documentary programs (Stanford, Berkeley, the University of Texas) are currently engaging in and teaching; and a discussion about what a documentary program might/could/should do, teach, etc., in order to prepare the next generation of documentary filmmakers. Participants included representatives of various film schools, funders, programmers and filmmakers.


Linda Ohama’s Obaachan’s Garden (produced by Ohama and Selwyn Jacob) and Paul Cowan’s Westray (produced by Kent Martin) were nominated for Genie Awards in the Best Documentary category. Both are NFB productions.


Changes at Sundance

Nicole Guillemet, Co-Director of the Sundance Film Festival and Director of the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Program, left the organization in February. Geoff Gilmore was named Director of the Sundance Film Festival. Previously, he shared the Co-Director title with Guillemet.

In unrelated moves, two other Sundance staffers announced their departures. R.J. Millard, Sundance Film Festival Press Officer, and Development Associate Jennifer Hathorne both left the organization in February.

Perlmutter Joins National Film Board

Tom Perlmutter has taken on the position of Director General of English Program at the National Film Board of Canada. He has worked in a variety of capacities relating to film production, including producing award-winning films, serving as the Executive Director of the Alliance for Children and Television, and work in the private sector with a variety of broadcasters. He replaces Barbara Janes, who retired last August.


AFI Launches Online Course

The American Film Institute (AFI), Columbia Digital Knowledge Ventures and digital filmmaking expert Michael Rubin have created AFI’s first online course to teach students how to shoot and edit their own digital projects. The course, entitled “Digital Video: An Introduction with Michael Rubin,” is now available through Fathom, an online learning company, at www.fathom.com/afi