July 1, 2000

Short Takes, July / August 2000

Calling out around the world,
Are you ready for a brand new beat?
Summer's here, and the time is right
For dancing in the street.

-William Stevenson/Marvin Gaye


Summer in the city, wherever you may be. IDA s Gilbert DeGloria, is spearheading the awards process, and he reports that IDA has received a veritable torrent of entrants to its 2000 Awards Competition; Melissa Disharoon is readying for the onslaught at the gate for Robert Drew's On the Road with Duke Ellington next month; and the magazine crew is shoring up for a final quarter of issues. And around the world, there are conferences a-plenty—Eastern European Film Conference in Estonia, Pro-Pitch 2000 in France, the Documentary in Europe 2000 conference in Italy the University Film and Video Association confab in Colorado and Docs Without Frontiers in Denmark. Fine occasions to retreat from the fray and ponder what it all means, I'd say. But then again, it's summer; summertime is here. One of these mornings, you're gonna rise up singin'. So put on your nose guard, pass the tanning butter and watch out for that piranha.




Sundance Channel Celebrates Latin American Cinema with "Zona Latino!"

Sundance Channel will present "Zona Latino!" this August. This unique festival offers viewers a rare opportunity to sample a cross-section of films from both veteran and emerging artists. a selection that spans countries, decades and genres. Among the documentaries to be presented include Fight in the Fields, written and directed by Rick Tejada-Flores and Ray Telles, which chronicles the formation of the United Farmworkers Union and its founder, Cesar Chavez; Fear and Learning at Hoover Elementary, Laura Angelica Simon's film  about the disastrous effects of California's Proposition 187 on her class of predominantly Latino fourth grade students; and Vicky Funari's Paulina, a portrait of a courageous woman from Mexico who had survived a childhood of sexual abuse, ostracism and abandonment.

National Geographic Specials Returns to PBS

After a five-year stint on NBC, National Geographic Special will return to PBS in an agreement reached by PBS and National Geographic Television this May. PBS will air 12 one-air installments over a two-year period. The Specials had previously aired on PBS from 1974-1994. PBS will also broadcast 2-5 episodes of World of National Geographic, beginning this month.




Fitzgerald Exits AFI Fest for IFILM; Gaines Takes Over; Boller Succeeds Gaines in Hawaii

Jon Fitzgerald was recently hired away from the top spot at AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival to be vice president of programming at IFILM, a leading portal for streaming short films.

In a related development, Christian Gaines was named to succeed Fitzgerald as director of the AFI Festival, and Program Manager Nancy Collet was promoted to Director of Programming. Gaines had been director of the Hawaii International Film Festival and was a programmer at the Sundance Film Festival, director of new media at the Sundance Institute and a consultant for the Sundance Channel.

Rounding out this round-robin at the top, Chuck Boller was appointed executive director of the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF), succeeding Christian Gaines. Boller, an entertainment attorney with specialties in copyright, contracts and nonprofit law, has over 28 years of industry experience and started with HIFF in 1989. Boller has been a consultant to PBS and a legal advisor to National Geographic Television and Charles Guggenheim Productions.




Lions Gate has acquired the North American rights to Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato's The Eyes of Tammy Faye .




In just three years, the Webby Awards, the leading creative honors for digital media, have earned a spot in the pantheon of plaudits. Held in May in San Francisco, the Webbies toasted everyone from the staid to the weird. Atom Films took home Webbies in the Film and Broadband-People's Voice categories, while IMDB won a Film-People's Voice award and Videolarm won the Broadband award. MSNBC took the Television prize, and CNN earned the Television-People's Voice honor.

The nominees for the Student Academy Awards in the Documentary category are the following: Between Two Fires, Douglas Smith, Regent University; Grand Theater: A Tale of Beirut, Omar Naim, Emerson College; Iron Ladies, Kennedy Wheatley, University of Southern California; My American Grandmother, Aysha Ghazoul, Northwest Film Center; Slender Existence, Laura Murray, Stanford University; and Sperm Bank: An Exchange to Remember, Christopher Dillon, New York University.




What would Festivals Roundup be without another mention of the Belic brothers? Well, the boys are at it again, racking up another honor for Genghis Blues—this time at the Lake Arrowhead International Film Festival. Best Documentary Short went to Come Unto Me: The Faces of Tyree Guyton, by IDA member Nicole Cattell; IDA member Chris Roe's Pop and Me took the Audience Award; and the Inspiration Award went to Brooke Maroldi's The Death of a Corner Drugstore. Other docs that screened at the festival included Extraordinarily Ordinary, IDA Board member Thelma Vickroy's portrait of LA artist-and Art Director of this mag—Val Echavarria.

At WorldFest-Houston this spring, the following documentaries took awards: Top honors—Waco—A New Reminder, Jason Van Vleet; A Force More Powerful, IDA member Steve York. Gold Award—Amargosa, Todd Robinson. Silver Award—Legacy, IDA member Tod Lending. Bronze Award—Louis Prima, Don McGlynn.

IDA member Kevin McKiernan's Good Kurds, Bad Kurds was honored for Best Documentary at the Atlanta Film & Video Festival in May, while Aiayana Elliott's The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack took the Audience Award.

At the San Francisco International Film FestivalLive Nude Girls Unite!, by Julia Query and Vicky Funari, won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature, and Jasmime Delaal's American Gypsy: A Stranger in Everybody's Land took the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature. First Person Plural, by Deann Borshay Liem, won the Grand Prize for Best Bay Area Documentary Feature.

The Slamdance Film Festival took its act to Cannes again this year as part of the festival's "On The Road" initiative. Slamdance presented four features and 11 shorts from the 2000 festival....Slamdance also announced last spring the launch of a new original production wing devoted to short films directed by Slamdance alumni. Dubbed "$99 Specials," the films will be shot on a micro-budget with digital cameras and are specially geared as original content to premiere on Slamdance.com.

The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival wrapped last May, and the winners are too numerous too mention. But here's a sample:

  • Best Independent Canadian Film and Best Cultural Doc: The Holier It Gets, directed by Jennifer Baichwal and produced by Baichwal and Nick de Pencier.
  • Best Short, Best Editing and Honorable Mention for Best Independent Canadian Fllm: Zyklon Portrait, by Elida Schogt (edited by Schogt and Caroline Christie).
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
  • Best International Documentary: Godard a la Tele, directed by Michel Royer and Produced by Christiane Grazianai; and Long Night's Journey Into Day, directed by Deborah Hoffman and Frances Reid and produced by Frances Reid.
  • Vision TV Humanitarian Award: Village of Widows, directed by Peter Blow and produced by Peter Blow and Gil Gavreau; and Zyklon Portrait.
  • Best Feature: Avant le Jour, directed by Lucie Lambert and produced by Sylvain L'Esperance.
  • Best Direction: Pierre Houle for Riopelle, sans titre, collage, 1999.

IDA Executive Director Betsy Mclane served on the Blue Ribbon Jury.

Doclands is the first event dedicated to documentary filmmaking to take place in Ireland. Doclands will be based in Dublin's cultural quarter, Temple Bar, and will run from October 24-26. Doclands will comprise festival screenings, a market, seminars and master classes, as well as a photographic exhibition run in association with the National Photographic Archive of Ireland. For information, contact Ion Entertainment, 26 Eustace Street, Dublin 2, tel: 353.1.6708177: fax: 353.1.6707575; e-mail: ion@indigo.ie; web: www.docos.com/doclands.



BuyIndies.com Offers Docs for Sales

BuyIndies.com, the first online community for buying and selling independent films. announced an allegiance with several award-winning filmmakers, including David Sutherland of The Farmer's Wife and Jay Craven of A Stranger in the Kingdom. Buyers will be able to click on BuyIndies.com and locate and purchase hard-to-find titles. Sutherland and Craven have offered up their entire bodies of work for sale on the site.

Buylndies.com enables sellers to choose their own pricing, ship time and available formats.

Michael Weise Productions Launches New Site

To celebrate the launch of its new site. Michael Weise Productions is giving away an entire shelf of its best-selling books on filmmaking. These books cover screenwriting, directing, financing, animation and more. Log on to www.mwp.com, follow the links to "free prizes" and register.