Critics Choice Documentary Awards 2016

Critics Choice Documentary Awards 2016

As proof positive of the trending interest in nonfiction film, the first-ever Critics Choice Documentary Awards (CCDA) were presented on November 3, 2016, at a gala event attended by leading documentary filmmakers, distributors and film critics. Presented by the BFCA and BTJA, the critics organizations behind the annual Critics Choice Movie Awards (to be presented on December 11), the documentary awards covered nonfiction films with theatrical releases and those shown on television or via online streaming. Read more…

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Movie Review: GOOD HAIR

Movie Review: GOOD HAIR

Chris Rock’s smart commentary on ‘good hair’ (ie straight hair) is hilarious and, alarming. Compelled by concerns about what his daughters will face in the future, he addresses the serious social, political and economic implications of the ‘good hair’ precept. Jeff Stilson perfectly captures Rock’s intent and delightfully subversive attitude. Good Hair rocks! Read the review

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INAUGURAL CRITICS’ CHOICE DOCUMENTARY AWARDS NOMINATIONS UNVEILED

INAUGURAL CRITICS’ CHOICE DOCUMENTARY AWARDS NOMINATIONS UNVEILED

The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) have announced the nominees for the inaugural Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards. The winners will be presented their awards at a gala event on Thursday, November 3, 2016 at BRIC, in Brooklyn, New York. Here’s a list of the nominees. DISCLAIMER: I was a member of the nominating committee and am a BFCA voting member.

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Documentary Review: YOU’VE BEEN TRUMPED

Documentary Review: YOU’VE BEEN TRUMPED

As you may have assumed from its title, You’ve Been Trumped is about Donald Trump — or, more specifically, it’s about the environmental impact that is likely to result from the real estate mogul’s construction of a golf course complex along the scenic coast of Scotland, at the Menie Estate, near the village of Balmedie, just north of Aberdeen.

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Movie Review: RAFEA SOLAR MAMA

Movie Review: RAFEA SOLAR MAMA

It’s wonderful when filmmakers produce documentaries about social actions that better peoples’ lives. Such is the case with filmmakers Jahane Noujaim and Mona Eldaief’s extraordinary Rafea Solar Mama, which chronicles the transformation of a woman who felt she had no future into a self-confident, independent citizen with the means to support herself and her family. The film doesn’t cure all the ills in Rafea’s life, nor does it resolve all the issues that she and other women in her community face, but it strongly suggests that there are proactive ways to make a difference for the better.

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Margot Benacerraf on ARAYA, Documentaries and the Sun as a Protagonist

Margot Benacerraf on ARAYA, Documentaries and the Sun as a Protagonist

Milestone Films’ restoration of Margot Benacerraf’s Araya coincided with the 50th anniversary of the film’s premier at Cannes Film Festival, where it shared the International Critics Prize with Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima, Mon Amour. Despite the win, Araya didn’t receive widespread distribution. Nevertheless, director Margot Benacerraf, now in her 80s, is a legendary figure in world cinema. Although she’s made few films, her work is compared to that of Robert Flaherty, Luchino Visconti and other master filmmakers.

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Casting By… – Documentary Review

Casting By… – Documentary Review

Casting Director Marion Dougherty didn’t invent Al Pacino or Bette Midler, but she certainly was very influential in the shaping of their careers. Pacino and Midler, and many other actors who’ve risen to super star status. Pacino, Midler and a long list of other movie stars and leading directors, including Martin Scorsese, Robert Redford, Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood appear in filmmaker Tom Donahue’s Casting By… to tell how Dougherty contributed to their success and to thank her for her invaluable input. Praise for Dougherty comes from a who’s who of Hollywood honchos. But, amid all of the headliners, Dougherty herself is actually cast as the central character in Casting By….

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Release of TRAPPED, the abortion rights doc, is timed to Supreme Court decision on TRAP laws

Release of TRAPPED, the abortion rights doc, is timed to Supreme Court decision on TRAP laws

Filmmaker Dawn Porter’s Trapped, the abortion rights film that won Sundance Film Festival 2016′s U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking, is set to open theatrically on March 4, with subsequent broadcast dates in June on Independent Lens. The film’s nationwide release, timed for social impact, comes just as the U.S. Supreme Court takes on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the landmark case that will determine the constitutionality of “TRAP” (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws.

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Diversity Storm Heats Up in Hollywood

Diversity Storm Heats Up in Hollywood

Celebrities are speaking out, demanding better representation for women and people of color. Female filmmakers are lobbying. Plenty of other female critics, besides me, are flagging the problem, which includes a scarcity of substantial and complex female characters in narrative films, whether Hollywood or indie, that fail to pass the Bechdel test (at least one scene with two female characters who have names, talking to each other about anything other than a man).

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All about IDFA, For Those Who Don’t Already Know

All about IDFA, For Those Who Don’t Already Know

IDFA, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, is the world’s largest and most influential documentaries-only festival. Founded in 1983, by festival director Ally Derks, it is unique for its international film program featuring a wide variety of documentary genres with political and socially conscious themes. The festival presents many European and world premieres each year, and is a major annual gathering place for filmmakers, producers, distributors and students to meet and network.

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Olivia Cooke Talks ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL, Roles for Women and Amy Winehouse (Exclusive, Uncut Audio Interview)

Olivia Cooke Talks ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL, Roles for Women and Amy Winehouse (Exclusive, Uncut Audio Interview)

Olivia Cooke brings a vitality to the role of Rachel that is sure to touch youngsters who are coming of age — whether they’re in the grips of normal hormonal changes or life-threatening diseases. In this interview she speaks about women’s roles in cinema and the importance of not playing the victim or becoming reedits of roles written for men. Listen to the exclusive, uncut audio.

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Andrew Morgan on THE TRUE COST, Fast Fashion and Making Films That Matter (Exclusive, Unedited Audio Interview)

Andrew Morgan on THE TRUE COST, Fast Fashion and Making Films That Matter (Exclusive, Unedited Audio Interview)

In this exclusive and unedited audio interview, Andrew Morgan discusses his eye-opening documentary, The True Cost, about how ‘fast fashion’ – you know, those stylish little frocks that H&M and other branded purveyors sell by the millions for $9.99 each — impacts our global economy, shatters local cultures, causes political unrest and poses a serious threat to the environment. Surprise: H&M is just about on a par with Monsanto in its sacrifice of human well-being for the sake of profit. Read on and listen to the interview.

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Carey Mulligan on Playing Strong Female Characters, Working with Women Directors and FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD — Exclusive Interview

Carey Mulligan discusses playing Bathsheba Everdene, the independent heroine in the new cinematic version of Thomas Hardy’s FAR FROM A MADDING CROWD, portraying classic female characters created by Hardy and Jane Austen, her female director wish list and what is today’s madding crowd. Watch the exclusive interview for more….

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NORDISK PANORAMA Names New Director

NORDISK PANORAMA Names New Director

Søren Steen Poulsen has been appointed managing director of Nordisk Panorama, the premiere festival and marketplace for documentaries and shorts produced and/or co-produced in the Scandinavian countries of Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Poulsen joins the Nordisk Panorama team on May 1, replacing Katrine Kiilgaard, who leaves the organization at the end of March, after having run it successfully for 15 years.

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8th Annual Salem Film Fest Announces Outstanding Doc-Only Program

8th Annual Salem Film Fest Announces Outstanding Doc-Only Program

The 8th annual all-documentary Salem Film Fest (March 5-12, 2015) will have its largest line-up ever – 38 films by filmmakers representing 10 different countries telling stories from around the world. Twenty-nine of these films will be making their North American, US, East Coast, New England or Massachusetts premiere. Spread out over eight days with screenings at both CinemaSalem and the Peabody Essex Museum, the festival kicks off with the thoughtprovoking STRAY DOG, about Vietnam veteran and biker Ron “Stray Dog” Hall, which is directed by Oscar nominated director Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone)

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New Stats on Women in Film Show Cinema is Still A Man’s World

It should come as no surprise to anyone whose been paying attention — even marginally — to 2014′s crop of films and the film industry’s record of production that there is no such thing as gender equality of opportunity in Hollywood, or in any other segment of the moviemaking business.

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Now’s the Time To Establish Your Documentary Viewing Club

There is a constant complaint among documentary fans: “We can’t find the film we want to watch at our local theater. And,no matter how often we request the manager to program documentaries, we can’t get the films we want to see on the schedule.” That, unfortunately, is the reality of current film distribution. The situation may change in the future, but at present very few documentaries get wide theatrical releases — even though nonfiction film has constantly growing fan base. It’s frustrating for filmmakers, too. There is a remedy. Read on…

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Movie Review: THE INVISIBLE WAR

Movie Review: THE INVISIBLE WAR

Filmmaker Kirby Dick’s The Invisible War presents staggering evidence of the frequent incidence of the rape of soldiers — men and women, but mostly women — in the U.S. military, and exposes the systematic cover-up of reported rape and sexual harassment incidents and the ongoing victim persecution by U. S. military authorities. While authorities claim to have and administer a zero tolerance policy and the military acknowledges awareness of the complaints that have been filed, there is continued incidence of rape and sexual abuse throughout the military establishment. Read on…

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Filmmaker Kirby Dick Outs Sexual Bias and Abuse

Filmmaker Kirby Dick Outs Sexual Bias and Abuse

In his documentaries, filmmaker Kirby Dick takes on tough issues related to sexual bias, violence and abuse. He challenges institutions, authorities and media those who would hide the outrageous statistics related to rape on college campuses nationwide and across the breadth of the US military establishment, and outs hidden bias towards homosexuality and bad behavior directed towards homosexuals. His incessant righteousness in filmmaking makes us want to know more about him. Hence, this profile. Read on…

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Ally Derks Talks About IDFA and Documentary Film Trends

Ally Derks Talks About IDFA and Documentary Film Trends

Ally Derks has been the director of IDFA, aka the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, for a quarter of a century, and has grown the annual event into the documentary film industry’s preeminent showcase, not only offering filmmakers opportunity to pitch projects and make distribution deals for their finished films, but providing an extraordinary program of socially relevant films for documentary watchers from around the globe. In the documentaries realm, what Derks thinks matters. Read on…

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IDFA, aka Iternational Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam – An Overview

IDFA, aka Iternational Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam – An Overview

IDFA is the documentary realm’s pre-eminent cutting edge film festival, acclaimed for presenting trend-setting ‘creative documentaries,’ with ‘creative’ roughly defined as expressing the filmmaker’s point of view in a creative and cinematic manner– one which may challenge or push the envelope on established forms in nonfiction filmmaking.

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Kathryn Bigelow’s PSA for Saving Elephants

Kathryn Bigelow’s PSA for Saving Elephants

Filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow has directed her enormous talents to address a huge issue. Bigelow has made an effective and affecting three-minute PSA to support the cause of saving elephants in Sub-Sahan Africa, where poachers are slaughtering entire herds of the wonderful creatures for their ivory tusks — although international trade in ivory is universally illegal. Entitled Last Days, the PSA premieres at New York Film Festival on September 27 at Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at NYC’s Lincoln Center.

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Attention Cinema Citizens: Call for Contributions!

Attention Cinema Citizens: Call for Contributions!

Do you feel strongly about issues that are raised in narrative or documentary movies, and the way in which issues are represented? Express your opinions on the Cinema Citizen blog! Cinema Citizen’s OTHER VOICES category is intended to carry your opinions, along with those of filmmakers, cinema advocates, activists and audience members. The section contains interviews, articles by guest authors and your contributions — all adding up to a healthy consideration of the connection between cinema and current social and political concerns. Join the discussion!

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Movie Review: UNDER THE ELECTRIC SKY, A 3D Documentary Event

Movie Review: UNDER THE ELECTRIC SKY,  A 3D Documentary Event

For music documentary fans, especially those who are devoted to electronic dance music, Under The Electric Sky is the equivalent of a contemporary Woodstock — with the added attraction of providing a fully immersive and utterly spectacular 3D experience. And then, too, there’s the opportunity for die hard devotees to host their own theatrical screenings through an innovative ‘crowdsourcing’ distribution model. The film is well worth a look. So, too, is the distribution model.

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The European Documentary Network, an Overview

The European Documentary Network, an Overview

Founded in 1996, the European Documentary Network (EDN) is dedicated to enhancing opportunity for documentary filmmakers by stimulating cooperation and networking, and spreading knowledge within the documentary sector about financing and distribution. The independent nonprofit organization currently has more than 1000 members representing documentary communities in more than 60 countries. EDN is an invaluable resource. Read more…

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