September 1, 2000

Short Takes, September 2000

Oh, it's a long, long while
From May to December
And the days grow short
When your reach September.
-Maxwell Anderson

Well, readers, it's time to sharpen your wits and your pencils, dust off the sandy nether regions of your brain, load up your satchel and get back to work. Big changes are afoot at the land of docs, and I'd like to take this opportunity from my little corner of the world to echo President Haugland's sentiments from the front of the mag. I'm talking about the doyenne of docs, Betsy A. McLane, who in her eight years at the helm, shepherded IDA from a two-person curiosity to a full-fledged coast-to-coast operation. We have an office in New York, more spacious headquarters in LA, and a membership of some 2,500 strong all over the world. We have yet to conquer Antarctica, however, but with a little chutzpah. I'm sure that we can entice our frost-bitten brethren and sistren down there with a healthy dose of nonfiction entertainment. This magazine, like IDA, had its humble beginnings—as a newsletter, printed on bond paper, bereft of photos, managed by volunteers and read by few. Now the global community is safe for docs, and docs are everywhere you want to be—in theaters, at festivals, on cable, on television, on the Internet. Reality is a happening thing, folks. Let's hope that the next IDA chief can continue to keep it real.

 

NEWS BRIEFS

 

Kodak Puts Its Name on Future Oscars Home

Eastman Kodak Company had committed to an undisclosed (at press time) sum of sponsorship dollars in exchange for having its name on the future home of the Academy Awards presentation. The theater will be called The Kodak Theatre and is currently under construction in the heart of Hollywood.

Academy Nixes Internet Streamers for Oscar Consideration; IFILM and AMC Team Up in Response

According to a report in indieWIRE, the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted last June to disqualify from Academy Award consideration any film that streams on the Internet prior to its theatrical release. In the ruling, the acaderny stressed its "longstanding principle that its province is theatrical motion pictures as distinct from pictures experienced as lone viewing."

Less than a week later, IFILM and AMC Theaters announced plans to showcase short films prior to their life on the Internet. The program would consist of up to an hour of short films, screening twice a day for three days. Jon Fitzgerald, IFILM's programming chief, will curate the showcase with AMC executives. "With AMC's help we have found a win-win solution that will result in even broader opportunity for these exciting new filmmakrrs," said IFILM CEO Kevin Wendle.

 

CHANGES AT THE HELM

 

Claire Aguilar Ankles KCET for ITVS

Claire Aguilar' recently joined the Independent Television Service (ITVS) as director of programming, a newly created position. In her new role, she will develop program strategies and manage the program selection process. Additionally she will provide counsel on creative aspects of funded productions, and she'll organize workshops and roundtables. Aguilar was previously manager of broadcast programming at KCET, the PBS affiliate in Los Angeles.

Odyssey Channel Australia Announces Changes

Henri de Gorter, the manager of program planning at Odyssey Channel Australia, has been appointed to the new position of general manager, programming and administration. De Gorter has been with the Odyssey Channel since its launch in July 1997.

 

DOCS WATCH

 

The Light at the End of the Tunnel: Dark Days Finds a Home

Palm Pictures, in association with WideAngle Pictures, released Dark Days, Marc Singer's multiple-award-winning documentary, to theaters last month and will take on the home video/DVD release through Ryko Distribution. Sundance Channel has secured the television rights, and sputnik7.com will handle online distribution.

The film profiles a subterranean community of subway tunnel dwellers in New York City. In a bid for verisimilitude—and as a means to survive while making a no-budget film—Singer lived in the tunnels with the participants, who eventually became his collaborators.

Shoah Foundation Launches International Doc Project

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Steven Spielberg and James Moll, maker of The Last Days, will team with directors from Poland, Argentina, the Czech Republic, Russia and Hungary to make a series of one-hour documentaries for television. The Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation is producing the project. The directors include the legendary from director Andrzej Wadja; Luis Puenzo, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker (The Official Story) from Argentina; Vojtech Jasny from the Czech Republic, Pavel Chukhari of Russia; and Janois Szasz from Hungary. In a statement, Spielberg said that the project is being undertaken "in response to many demands from educators all over the world to teach the history of the Holocaust and confront Holocaust deniers and racial hatred."

PBS and Scorsese Sing the Blues

At its television critics press tour this summer, PBS announced a partnership with Martin Scorsese in which the filmmaker will executive produce a documentary series on the evolution of the blues as a musical art form. Scorsese has already selected a number of well-known directors to create episodes.

These include Spike Lee, Michael Apted, Charles Burnett, Marc Levin and Wim Wenders. Clear Blue Sky Productions will produce. The series is tentatively slated for a Fall 2001 airing and will include such ancillary features as a Web site, a home video set, a companion book and a CD box set.

Sonic Cinema Series in September on Sundance

According to indieWIRE, Sundance Channel is premiering a number of high-profile music documentaries as part of its Sonic Cinema showcase. Among the works to be aired include Better Living Through Circuitry, Jon Reiss's valentine to the rave'n'ecstasy culture; Jem Cohen's Instrument, which profiles the Washington, DC band FugazziMeeting People is Easy, Grant Gee's doc on Radiohead's American tour; and Gigi Gaston's The Cream Will Rise, a portrait of Sophie B. Hawkins.

 

AWARDS ROUNDUP

 

New Radziwill Doc Achievement Award to Highlight IFP Gotham Awards

The Independent Feature Project announced last May the creation of the Anthony Radziwill Documentary Achievement Award as part of the 10th IFP Gotham Awards Ceremony taking place this month. 

The award honors the late Anthony Radziwill, an Emmy Award-winning documentary producer who, up to his death of cancer last year, was
vice president of documentaries at Home Box Office. The award recognizes an emerging filmmaker whose first or second feature-length documentary signals an extraordinary talent. The filmmaker must reside in the New York area and the film must have played theatrically in the US, screened between May 1999 and May 2000 at the Toronto, Sundance, Rotterdam, Berlin, DoubleTake or Cannes Film Festivals, or was a finalist for the 2000 Academy Awards.

The award is sponsored by ABC, HBO and the family and friends of Anthony Radziwill.

Emmy Awards Nods Announced

 

The Emmy Award nominations arrived just before press time, so here they are:

  • Outstanding Non-Fiction Special
    • American Hollow, HBO. Moxie Firecracker Films; Sheila Nevins, Ex. Prod.; Jacqueline Glover, Sup. prod.l Rory Kennedy, Prod./Dir.
    • Cancer: Evolutiort To Retrtlutiott, HBO; Anthony Radziwill. Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, MD, Sheila Nevins, Ex. Prods.; John Hoffrnan. Sup. Prod.; Joseph F. Loveu, Prod./Ivtr./Dir.
    • Children In War, HBOI Sheila Nevins. Ex. Prod.; John Hollhan, Sup. Prod.; Alan Raymond, Susan Raymond, Prods.AVtrs./Dirs.
    • Paradise Lost 2: Revelations, HBO, Creative Thinking International in association with HBO Original Programming; Sheila Nevins, Ex. Prod.; Nancy Abraham, Sup. prod.; Joe Berlinger. Bruce Sinofsky. Prods./Dirs.
    • Raising The Mammoth, Discovery Channel, NOVI Productions fbr Discovery Channel in association with France 3; Adrienne Crullb, Prod./Wtr.: Jean-Charles Deniau. Dir.
  • Outstanding Non-Fiction Series
    • AMERICAN MASTERS: Hitchcock, Selznick, and the End of Hollywood, PBS, Thirteen/WNET; Susan Lacy, Ex. Prod.; Tamar Hacker, Sen. Prod.; Michael Epstein, Prod./Wtr./Dir.; Karen Bernstein, Prod.
    • BEHIND THE MUSIC: Tina Turner, VH1, VH1 Productions; Jeff Gaspin, George Moll, Ex. Prods: Paul Gallagher, Sup. Prod.; Susan Biesack, Victoria Zielinski, Prods.
    • BIOGRAPHY, A&E, Peter Jones Productions for A&E Television; CarolAnne Dolan, Ex. Prod.; Maryellen Cox, Sup. Prod. INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO: Kevin Spacey, Bravo, In The Moment Productions, Ltd. and Betelgeuse for Bravo Network: James Lipton, Ex. Prod/Wtr./Flost; Frances Berwick. Christian Barcellos. Vienna Steiner, Ex. Prods.; Michael Kostel, Producer; Jeffiey Wunz, Dir.
    • THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: New York, PBS, A Steeplechase Films Production for THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE in association with WGBH Boston, Thirteen WNET in New York and The New York Historical Society. Ric Bums, Ex. Prod./Prod./Dir./!Vtr.; Lisa Ades, Prod./Co-Dir.: Margaret Drain, Ex. Prod. for THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE; Judy Crichton, Ex. Prod. for WGBH; Mark Sarnels, Producer for THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE James Sanders, Writer.
  • Outstanding Achievement in Non-Fiction Programming: Cinematography
    • Children in War, HBO, Home Box Office. Alan Raymond, Cinematographer. THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: New York. PBS, A Steeplechase Films production for THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE in association With WGBH Boston, Thirteen WNET in New York and The New York Historical Society. Allen Moore, Buddy Squires, Cins.
    • Raising The Mammoth, DSC, NOVI Productions for Discovery Channel in association with France 3. Didier Portal, Robert Pauly, Cins.
  • Picture Editing
    • THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: New York—Cosmopolis 1919-1931, PBS, A Steeplechase Films production for THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE in association With WGBH Boston, Thirteen WNET in New York and The New York Historical Society. Li Shin Yu, Nina Schulman, Eds.
    • Raising The Mammoth, DSC. NOVI Productions for Discovery Channel in association with France 3; Emmanuel Mairesse. Ed.
    • THE REAL WORLD: Huwaii—No. 812, MTV Bunim-Murray Productions in association with MTV; Mark Raudonis, Ed.
    • Walking With Dinosaurs, Discovery Channel, A BBC/Discovery ChanneUTV Asahi Co-Production : Andrew Wi lks, Ed.
  • Sound Editing
    • Raising The Mammoth, Discovery Channel. NOVI Productions for Discovery Channel in association with France 3. Derek Luff, Sound Sup; Rick Norman, Sound Effects Ed.; Tania Wang, Dialogue Ed.: George Leyva, Glen Frazier, Foley Editor.
    • Walking With Dinosaurs, Discovery Channel A BBC/Discovery Channel/TV Asahi Co-Production. Andrew Sheriff, Simon Cotel. Sound Desrs.
  • Sound Mixing
    • Raising The Mammoth, Discovery Channel, NOVI Productions for Discovery Channel in association with France 3; Paul Schremp. Troy Tatzko, Re-recording Mixers.
    • Walking With Dinosaurs, Discovery Channel. A BBC/Discovery Channel/TV Asahi Co-Productionl Bob Jackson, Dubbing Mixer

Rounding Out the Round-Up...

Wim Wenders's Buena Vista Social Club took Best Documentary honors at the 50th German Film Awards in June.

Lisa Rinzler received the Kodak Vision Award for Cinematography at the Women In Film Crystal Awards in June. Rinzler's documentary credits include World Without End, No Sense of Crime and the New York sequences of Buena Vista Social Club.

School Prayer: A Community at War, produced by IDA members Ben Crane and Slawomir Grunberg, was selected as the winner of the 2000 Jan Karski Competition for films focused on moral courage. The competition is named for the Polish diplomat who first brought eyewitness news of Hitler's "Final Solution" policies to the attention of the Allies in 1942. Mr. Karski passed away in July... School Prayer also received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Coverage of a Continuing News Story.

Kennedy Wheatley of University of Southem California won a Student Academy Award in the documentary category for Iron Ladies.

The South Africa-based Close Encounters Documentary Laboratory took three of the top four Documentary Awards at the National Television Association's Avanti Awards in June. Cathy Winter's My African Mother won the award for Best Documentary and Eddie Edwards's The Fight and Pule Diphare's JG Strijdom is Very, Very Dead each earned a Silver Award.

Tami Gold and Kelly Anderson, both professors at Hunter College, received a Rockefeller Foundation Film/Video Multimedia Fellowship for their film Every Mother's Son, which focuses on the merging movement of mothers in New York City whose sons have been killed by the police and who contest official accounts of what happened.

Katrina Browne earned a William Randolph Hearst Fellowship for a television documentary entitled Trace of the Trade, which explores the history and legacy of the slave trade in New England. The fellowship, administered by the American Antiquarian Society, is awarded to people whose research objectives are to produce works dealing with pre-twentieth century American history designed for the general public.

Henninger Productions has been awarded Bronze Tellys for Jack the Ripper: An Ongoing Mystery, produced for Discovery Channel, and Escape from a Living Hell, produced for The History Channel. Jack the Ripper was executive produced and directed by Brian J. Kelly and produced and directed by Virginia Williams. Escape from a Living Hell was co-produced by Bill Howard and Paul Wimmer.

 

FESTIVALS ROUNDUP

 

Outfest 2000 rang out in LA with a bevy of awards. Here are the doc winners: Audience Award—Documentary Short Film: Straight Down the Aisle: Confessions of Lesbian Bridesmaids, directed by Christine Russo. Audience Award—Documentary Feature: Nuyorican Dream, directed by Laurie Collyer. Grand Jury Award—Outstanding Documentary Feature: Our House: A Very Real Documentary about Kids of Gay and Lesbian Parents, directed by Meema Spadola. Elsewhere at Outfest, PlanetOut and IFILM presented the winners of the first Queer Short Movie Awards. Tina Ghavari's Closer and Patrick Foery's Family shared the grand prize, while Kathryn Xian's Constructions was a first prize winner.

Spadola's film also walked away with the Best Documentary prize at the New Festival: New York's Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.

Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's Paragraph 175 won the Best Documentary prize at the Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, while Brent Scarpo and Martin Bedogne's Journey Into a Hate Free Millennium took the Audience Award for Best Documentary.

Paragraph 175 also shared the Audience Award for best doc at the San Francisco International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival with Debra Chasnoff's That's A Family.

At the Florida Film Festival, Tod Lending's Legacy tied for the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature with Arlene Donnelly's Naked States, while the Jury Award for Best Documentary Short went to Steven Bognar's Picture Day. Michael Apted won a Special Jury Award for his latest doc Me and Isaac Newton.

The Newport International Film Festival handed out Best Documentary honors to Amir Bar-Lev's Fighter. The Jury Award and Audience Prize for Best Documentary went to Frances Reid and Deborah Hoffman's Long Night's Journey into Day. The Eyes of Tammy Faye, by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, shared the Audience Prize.

Shaya Mercer's Trade Off took the Best Documentary Prize at the Seattle Film Festival.

The Los Angeles Independent Film Festival spent part of the summer on tour to Chicago, Seattle, New York and Atlanta. The tour included screenings of Kevin Fitzgerald's Freestyle, which won the Best Soundtrack Award back in April.

IDA member Christopher Nebe's documentary The Art of Deception Hitler—Savior or Satan received the Gold Award for Best Documentary at WorldFest Houston 2000.

Elsewhere at WorldFest, IDA member David Wittkower won a Silver Award for Best Director on his doc Firefight Stories from the Frontlines. The film also earned Telly Awards for Best Director, Editing (IDA member Lisa Leeman), Writing (Kenneth Carlton). Fleur van Dissel's Hi Mum received a special jury prize for "most sensitive film" at the International Documentary and Anthropology Film Festival Parnu.

 

PASSINGS

 

John R. Barnes, Educational Filmmaker, Dies at 80

John R. Barnes who wrote, produced and/or directed more than 100 narrative educational films and documentaries, died in June at the age of 80.

His work was distinguished in some part by his collaborators. He made a series on the art of mime with Marcel Marceau and worked with poet Archibald MacLeish and composer Ezra Laderman on Magic Prose: The Poetry of Emily Dickinson and Keats: His Life and Death, respectively. Barnes also tested the timidity of Hollywood, calling for interracial casting in his educational films in an era of harsh racism and taking on school boards in the South that declined to show his films.

Barnes was bom in New Jersey and attended the University of Chicago. After a stint as editor of the school literary magazine, he dropped out to take a job writing for the local CBS radio station. He later made films for the Chicago Anti-Defamation League, edited a publication for the Chicago Urban League, worked for the Encyclopedia Britannica for 20 years, where he created short educational films about a wide range of subjects. He was nominated for an Academy Award in 1954 for his documentary The Living City. He started his own production company in New York in 1973.

He is survived by his wife, a daughter, two sons and two grandchildren.

Marc Reisner, Whose Cadillac Desert Inspired Award-Winning 1997 Documentary

Marc Reisner, who wrote extensively on environmental issues, died in San Anselmo, Calif. in July at 5l . The cause was cancer.

Reisner will best be remembered for Cadillac Desert (1986), which documented the environmental cost of Western water projects. The book was a finalist for a National Book Critics' Circle Award and was selected last year by the Modern Library as one of 100 best nonfiction books written in English during the 20th century. The book also inspired the award-winning documentary of the same name, made by Jonathan Taplin, Sandra Itkoff, Jon Else and Laura Harrar. Cadillac Desert aired on PBS in 1997.

He subsequently worked with Else and Itkoff on An American Nile, a PBS documentary about the Colorado River, which earned a Silver Baton at the 1998 Alfred I DuPont-Columbia University Awards.

He is survived by his wife, two daughters, his parents and a sister.

 

CYBERTAKES

The Internet, along with its various servers and searchers, has made a tremendous impact as a communications medium and an informational resource. As the Intemet offers new and innovative opportunities every day for documentarians, ID will monitor some of these developments ond share them in Cybertakes. If the readers hear of new Web sites, chat rooms, or online services before ve do, please let us know.

Independent Film Channel (IFC) Launches DV Theater

DV Theater, a showcase of films shot on digital video, made its debut in July on the Independent Film Channel (IFC) and its Web site. www.IFCtv.com. DV Theater is designed to reach television, Broadband and Internet audiences simultaneously. Doug Block's Home Page, which explores the wild and wacky culture of the World Wide Web, kicked off the series.

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