December 1, 1998

Short Takes, December 1998


November seemed a month of calm, compared to the hectic and joyous celebrations of the month before. It was then that the docu­faithful came to Pasadena for DOCtober, where Apple Via presided over burgeoning throngs, twice as many attendees as in 1997. They came to The Museum of Tolerance for events on two evenings: a screening of HBO's The Death Train, Tom Roberts's chilling film about the Great Stalin Railway in Siberia; and a premiere screening, in the presence of four docu-titans—Robert Drew, Richard Leacock, Albeit Maysles, D.A. Pennebaker—of AMPAS® restored prints of Drew Associates' "Kennedy Trilogy": Primary, Crisis and Faces of November. They came to Beverly Hills, for three days of high octane pre-millennial frolic at the IDC3. They came to Marina del Rey for the annual Awards Gala and the culminating event of Sheila Nevins appreciation week. They came to Hollywood for DocuFest'". So, in November, as many sat to give thanks toward the end of the month, our thanks go out to the following intrepid Docu-teers who toiled day in/day out in their bursting-at-the-seams office to bring the October that shook the world to you: Traci Austin Brown, the IDA Awards Gala Consigliere; Nancy Mysel, the IDA Awards Coordinator; Kim Tamny, IDC3 Coordinator; Phil Matthews, the Assistant IDC3 Coordinator; Dale Zackary, the Membership Coordinator; and, of course, Betsy McLane, the Diva of the Docs, and her Second-in-Command, Grace Ouchida. Many thanks also to the folks at the Academy of Motion Pix, especially Mikel Kaufman, Tracy Fowler, Leslie Unger, Ellen Harrington and Deborah Cahn.

Sundance Channel Launches Major Programming Initiative; Docs Get Prime Slot

Sundance Channel, the foremost TV outlet for contemporary independent film, launched four new primetime program destinations in November. The documentary showcase, "Matter of Fact: The Best of Non-Fiction Filmmaking," airs Mondays at 9:00 p.m. Among the docs to air in December are Mandela (December 7), the IDA Award winner by Jo Menell and Angus Gibson, about the heroic South African leader; Brothers Keeper (December 1 4), by IDA members Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, about the travails of dairy farmer Delbert Ward, who was tried for the murder of his sickly older brother; and Microcosmos (December 28), directed by Claude Nurid sany and Marie Perennou, the pioneering nature film that takes you up close and personal into the private lives of insects.

In another new Sundance showcase, "Something New: Sundance Channel Premieres," Nico Icon, Susanne Ofteringer's portrait of Velvet Underground chanteuse and Warhol "superstar" Nico, airs on December 11 . The other new ventures on Sundance include "Shorts Stop: An Hour of Short Films," which will air Sunday nights at 8:00 p.m., and "Saturday Night Special: Movies We Love," a selection of favorite and watershed films that will air Saturday nights at 9:00 p.m.

The Short List Begins New Season on PBS; Looks Ahead to '99

The Short List, the San Diego-based showcase for international short films, began airing 13 half-hour programs on PBS stations nationwide in October. The series is produced in the Production Center for Documentary and Drama at San Diego State University. IDA member Jack Ofield is executive producer. Recipient of a 1998 regional Emmy® in the Visual and Performing Arts category, the series will present four dozen works in all genres from nineteen countries.

Among the documentaries are Part of Your Loving, by Tony De Nonno; Terenchio Pat Pat, by Jorge Vallejo; Isle of Flowers, by Jorge Furtado; Swap Meat, by Matthew Kaufman; The Dogs of Paris, by Christophe Hume; Scraps, by Yvonne Hanneman; and Squirrel and Undenvear, by lDA member Mike Grundmann .

For the 1999 season, The Short List has acquired exclusive rights to 45 films from 13 countries. "We'll present the North American television premieres of outstanding short films from Eastern Europe, Russia and the former Yugoslavia," said Ofield. "Our goal is to keep expanding the series so that gifted artists­ many of whom work in tough political and economic conditions—can show their work in the West on our showcase."

Looking ahead to next year, programming includes a quaitet of war-related documentaries from the Balkans: Island and Home, by Zoran Popovic; and Columbia Urbica and I Don't Know When or Where or How, by IDA member Zelimir Gvardiol. Rounding out the documen­taries are Underground Rhapsody, by Manuel Malle; Pysanka, by Slavko Nowyski ; and Kitchen and Sound Man, by Mike Grundm ann.

Image Bank to Offer Images from Cousteau Collection

The Image Bank, subsidiary of the Entertainment Imaging Division of Eastman Kodak, has been named the exclusive licensing agent for The Cousteau Society's photography and film collections, which have never before been available for commercial use. Images from the collection will be available later this year for u se in advertising, promotion s and editorial projects.

The Cousteau Society was founded by the late underwater explorer and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau, who earned renown not only for his films, but also for the equipment he developed to make the films.


Vilmos Zsigmond, who shot the rock-doc The Last Waltz for director Martin Scorsese, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC). The formal presentation will be made at the Award ceremonies in February. Zsigmond received an Academy Award® for his work on the landmark film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, as well as Academy Award nomi­nations for The Deer Hunter and The River. He received an Emmy® and an ASC Award in 1992 for his visualization of the mini-series Stalin.

Bravo Arts Break, a television feature story produced by Denver Center Media, won the 1998 Heartland Emmy for Best Entertainment Short. The documentary illustrates how metro Denver's many cultural and scientific organizations contribute to the area's quality of life through outreach and education, accessibility and economic impact. Bravo Arts Break was directed by David Zambrano, produced by Jeanne Olguin, shot by Max Watkins and edited by Dave Krahling.

The Gemini Awards are Canada's version of the Emmy's. The winners in the documentary and nonfiction categories were as follows: Documentary Series: The Nature of Things with David Suzuki—Michael Allder and Michael Bennett, producers. Performing Arts Program or Series or Arts Documentary Program: Yo-Yo Ma Inspired by Bach: Falling Down Stairs—Niv Fichman and Rudy Buttignol, producers. Information Series: Undercurrents —F.M. Morrison and Pam Bertrand, producers. Donald Brittain Award for Best Documentary Programming: Gerrie & Louise—Sturla Gunnarsson, Phyllis Brown and David York, producers.


The Brandon Teena Story, by Susan Muska and Greta Olafsdottir, won the National Film Board's Best Documentary Feature Prize at the Vancouver International Film Festival.

The following documentaries are slated for Telluride IndieFest '98 this month: The Roots of Roe, by Andrea Hubbell; The Bed-Stuy Follies, by Ed Greene; The Garifuna Journey, by Andrea Leland; They Were Not Silent, by Ron Millman; Dear Doctor Spencer, by Danielle Renfrew; Emperor Norton I of America, by Brett Schwaitz; and Bitchin' in the Kitchen, by Jonathan Steams.

IDA member Ruth Leitman took the Golden Starfish Award for Best Documentary at the Hamptons International Film Festival for her film Alma, and Aviva Kempner's The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg and Marshall Dostal and Mark Littman's Red, White and Yellow tied for the Audience Award in the documentary category. The Lifetime Vision Award went to Vicky Funari for Paulina. IDA member Greg Pak won a Student Filmmaker Award for Fighting Grandpa.

The Bangkok Film Festival bowed last September, but it didn't bow quietly, according to IndieWIRE. The Festival was fraught with contentions with Thailand's Police Censorship Board, which banned certain films and demanded cuts in others, such as Bugis Street, a doc about Singapore's transvestites from the 1960s, and Topless Women Talk About Their Lives, a doc from New Zealand that speaks for itself. Nonetheless, an appreciative crowd of 20,000 attended the festival, including reps from the U.S., Holland, Argentina, and most of the Pacific Rim. The Best Documentary Award went to Christine Choy for Shot Heard 'Round the World.

Among the films nominated for the First Hawaiian Bank Golden Maile Awards at the Hawaii International Film Festival last month include Fury for the Sound: The Women at Clayquot, Shelley Wine and Hilary Mackey, directors; Habitual Sadness, Byun Young-Joo, director; Journey to Beijing, Evans Chan, director; Manuel Ocampo: God is my Co-Pilot, Phillip Rodriguez, director; and Nadya's Village, Seeichi Motohashi, director.


Edmund Levy, who earned an Academy Award® in 1966 for his documentary short A Year Tomorrow, passed away of cancer last October. Levy also received Academy Award nominations for While We Run This Race and Beyond Silence, both shorts, and he authored a book: Making a Winning Short. His career out­ put as a writer, producer and director totaled more than 120 documentaries, and his work was aired on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and the Disney Channel. A native of Toronto, Levy graduated from Harvard University and studied acting at the Yale Drama School and directing at the Actor 's Studio.


Independent Feature Project Opens Web Site The Independent Feature Project launched its web site in September. The web site, , gives the surfer access to infor­mation, events and members of all five regional IFP chapters, as well as other opportunities for IFP and regional IFP members.

FILM BYTES Beams Out Flics

FILM BYTES,, is an online series that "gets under the skin of film." FILM BYTES made the web quiver in October with its special webcast of the 1998 Independent Feature Film Market, which included outtakes from the screenings, the parties, the seminars, and anecdotes from attendees. You can become a virtual audience member of FILM BYTES every Friday night at 7:00 p.m. EST, or watch the dozens of programs in the FILM Bytes archives anytime. FILM BYTES is created and produced by KINOTEK. For more information , call Julia Zborovsky at 2 12-332-9874, or e-mail at