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Can nature save documentary films by being just symbolism and stereotypes? And other news from North America

News from the north of the other side of the Atlantic Ocean
The Man of Aran, Micheal Jackson and the NYC



Can nature save documentary films by being just symbolism and stereotypes? And other news from North America.

****TCM Diary: Man of Aran**** Last year at the forth annual Nitrate Picture Show the festival of film conservation's closing night Blind Date with Nitrate screening turned out to be Robert Flaherty's rarely seen MAN OF ARAN. In the latest edition of Film Comment's online column TCM Diary, Sheila O'Malley ruminates on the early nonfiction work. Flaherty was not the first nor the last person to romanticize the Aran Islands.... Flaherty was drawn to people seemingly untouched by progress. Realities that did not cooperate with his romantic views were left out. For example, the Inuit people in his 1922 surprise hit Nanook of the North were far more connected to the modern world of Canadian commerce than the film suggested. As Seán Crosson remarks in A Boatload of Wild Irishmen, a documentary about Flaherty, [Flaherty] had clearly been influenced by the Irish literary revival of the late 19th century. But it s possible life on Aran was never like that. Perhaps it only existed in Flaherty s mind. Often filmed from a low angle, the characters tower into the sky, idealized peasants, like workers in a Soviet propaganda poster.... Flaherty s reputation as the 'father of documentary film' has been debated for 80 years, and his legacy is a mixed one, but in Man of Aran it s Flaherty s footage of the landscape that still shocks and stuns. The ferocity of the sea crashing against the sheer cliff faces, the towering geysers of foam, the pure wildness of it all none of this is an exaggeration or a fiction."

MICHEAL JACKSON Dan Reed's controversial Michael Jackson documentary LEAVING NEVERLAND has been making waves since its Sundance debut, but has just reached a wider audience thanks to HBO's primetime release last week. Some press-review: Lexie Schapitl at Vox The battle over HBO s Michael Jackson documentary, Dan Jackson at Thrillist The Shocking Revelations of HBO's Michael Jackson Documentary, Tonja Renée Stidhum at The Root Reconciling With the Man in the Mirror The Daily at The New York Times Reckoning With the Real Michael Jackson Liz Shannon Miller at IndieWire From Michael Jackson to R. Kelly: Documentaries Offer Justice Courts Have Not

DODCNYC 2019 Submissions are now open for DOC NYC, America s largest documentary festival. It's10th-anniversary edition will take place November 7-14, 2019. Only In New York/Pitch Perfect submissions are open until August 31, 2019 (regular deadline: March 22). DOC NYC, America s largest documentary festival, is an annual event based in New York City at the West Village s IFC Center and Chelsea s SVA Theatre and Cinépolis Chelsea. Voted by MovieMaker magazine as one of the top five coolest documentary film festivals in the world , the eight-day fest showcases new achievements in documentary film along with panels and conversations with acclaimed filmmakers and industry professionals. Only in New York (Nonfiction Works-in-Progress Features or Webseries)  Only in New York is an opportunity for filmmakers with works-in-progress (either features or series) to have intimate roundtable meetings with industry figures from the fields of distribution, financing, festival programming, and more. Submissions are open to nonfiction works-in-progress features or series proposals in any genre or style.


ZEUS MACHINE, by Zapruder, still
ZEUS MACHINE, by Zapruder, still



Lo schermo dell'Arte Film Festival From Wednesday 6 to Sunday 10 March

For the sixth consecutive year, a selection of the last edition of Lo schermo dell arte Film Festival is presented at the Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi, with documentaries dedicated to major figures of the art world and with films by artists. Founded in 2008 in Florence, the festival is a project dedicated to exploring, analysing and promoting the complex relations between contemporary art and cinema.

Wednesday 6 March 6 pm Self-Portrait in 23 Rounds: A chapter in David Wojnarowicz's life 1989-1991 by Marion Scemama and François Pain (2018, 70 ) Introduction by Silvia Lucchesi, director of Lo schermo dell'arte Film Festival

Thursday 7 March 6 pm Zeus Machine by Zapruder (2018, 90 ) In the presence of the artists

8 pm Wild Relatives by Jumana Manna (2018, 69 )

Friday 8 March 6 pm The end of fear by Barbara Visser (2018, 70 )

7.15 pm Ceremony by Phil Collins (2018, 67 )

8.30 pm Jaar, Lament of the Images by Paula Rodríguez Sickert (2017, 77 )

Sabato 9 marzo 6 pm Moriyama-San by Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine (2017, 63 )

7.10 pm Kusama-Infinity by Heather Lenz (2018, 76 )

8.30 pm Art in the XXI Century: Berlin by Rafael Salazar and Ava Wiland (2018, 56 )

Sunday 10 March 5 pm Island of the Hungry Ghosts by Gabrielle Brady (2018, 94 )

6.40 pm The Price of Everything by Nathaniel Kahn (2018, 99 )

Films screened in the original language with Italian subtitles. Free entry until capacity is reached.

JONAS MEKAS - Again, Again It All Comes Back to Me in Brief Glimpses, MMCA, Seoul



The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) proudly presents Again, Again It All Comes Back to Me in Brief Glimpses, which celebrates the extraordinary life and work of Jonas Mekas, one of the true pillars of avant-garde and independent cinema. This is the first retrospective of Mekas’s career that has ever been held in Asia. Curated by Eunhee Kim and Francesco Urbano Ragazzi, the retrospective will run from November 9 2017 to March 4 2018 at MMCA Seoul. Through a vast and diverse selection of artworks that comprehensively cover the sixty-year career of the Lithuanian-born filmmaker and poet, the exhibition looks at Mekas’s practice as an exercise of resistance to human brutality, as a pursuit of happiness that loudly resonates in these uncertain times. Jonas Mekas’s oeuvre is an ode to the vitality of daily life. In his films and video-installations, the camera becomes a diary for recording intense fragments of his life: a flower, a cat, the energy of a choir, or a gathering with his friends Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg, and Yoko Ono. Through non-narrative, kaleidoscopic editing, Mekas assembles these moments into lyrical films that evince the language of poetry.

The Guardian doc about prostitution in Itay



The latest Guardian documentary takes us into the lives of the people on the Strada Bonifica, the ironically named road of love on the Adriatic coast of Italy, where forced prostitution is rife. There has been a huge increase in the number of Nigerian women working along the 10-mile stretch of road some of whom have been trafficked into the country and forced into prostitution. The film moves between the women s stories, the Italians who live and work nearby whose tolerance is at breaking point, and the local NGO that attempts to support the women. "This documentary - reports The Guardian - is commissioned as part of the Guardian Bertha documentary partnership. Piers Sanderson is an award winning director and cameraman. He embedded himself for four months with the work of the On the Road charity on the frontline of sexual trafficking in Europe and gained the trust of the social workers and the women with whom they work with the aim of making a film that went deeper than the short reports he had seen elsewhere". On the Road: watch the full video.

Beauty of a Stateless Mind wins the IWM Short Film Festival in London 2017



10 days of IWM Short Film Festival. Screenings 17 – 26 November 2017, IWM London. From the Syria conflict to modern terrorism and from suffragette surgeons to war art, IWM Short Film Festival presents an imaginative, edgy and challenging selection of films responding to past and contemporary conflict. The festival shows documentaries, dramas and animations by filmmakers from all over the world. On Wednesday 15 November, IWM London hosted the awards event. The Annie Dodds Award for Best Documentary and the IWM Special Category: Age of Terror have gone to the documentary short film Beauty of a Stateless Mind by Lutia Swan-Hutton. It is a poetic documentary based on the portrait a series of artists in Calais 'Jungle' refugee camp. As a student film this allowed a unique insight into the sensitive lives of these displaced people and their inner thoughts. “I feel the entire world is mine. I haven't got any religious beliefs, I only believe in the humanity”. Genjo Hozan from Iraq Kurdistan.




LO SCHERMO DELL’ARTE FILM FESTIVAL (from November 15th to 19th) is an annual appointment held in Florence to present artists’ films, documentaries about contemporary art, video installations and encounters with artists, authors and curators. Born in 2008, it is dedicated to explore, analyse and promote the complex relations between contemporary art and cinema through films, videos, installations, training projects, residencies for international artists and artist films’ production and distribution. See news at and at In the same days the Uffizi Galleries in Florence is hosting the exhibition Ejzenštejn. The Image Revolution to commemorate the first centenary of the Socialist Revolution in Russia through the drawings of one of the 20th century's greatest cultural revolutionaries. Curiously, some of his drawings remind some drawings of the Italian director Federico Fellini made for his films.

Errol Morris' Wormwood at the 74th Venice International Film Festival



True crime OG Errol Morris has teamed up with Netflix for a 6-part series called Wormwood. The series, a mixture of documentary and historical reenactment, is an exploration of the CIA experiments with LSD in the 1950s and the death of CIA employee Frank Olson, who was covertly given LSD more than a week before he died. Olson s death was ruled a suicide, but many years later, the US government settled a potential wrongful death lawsuit out-of-court with a $750,000 payment to the family. "Isn t journalism the pursuit of truth? - said the director - But what if the truth proves to be elusive, hard to get at? How far does one go? Here we have the story of one man s sixty year quest to identify the circumstances of his father s death. Did he jump from a hotel window? Or was he pushed? A shadowy world of hidden and imagined intentions coupled with dark and horrifying revelations. In many ways, a personal family story, but in many other ways, a story of America s decline in the period following World War II. It asks the question: To what extent can a democracy lie to its citizens and still, in the end, remain a democracy?" Trailer at To buy tickets for the screening in venice, go to:

Gone: The Forgotten Women of Ohio



No special effects, just ordinary crime stories about women. The investigation documentary series premiered on July 22 on Spike TV. Gone: The Forgotten Women of Ohio is an eight-hour program produced by RadicalMedia in association with Third Eye Motion Picture Company for Spike TV, directed by Joe Berlinger. Many of the women who disappeared, Berlinger found out, were addicted to drugs or involved in prostitution. In the small town of Chillicothe, the families of the victims felt that no one was pursuing their cases because of their daughters supposed risky lifestyles. With the investigation still active, the police were also, naturally, limited in their cooperation. Berlinger says that as the production team s own investigation intensified, bringing more information and opinions into the open about the cases, tensions would heighten on occasion. They probably viewed us as people not necessarily on their side, says Berlinger. Shooting the series in real time as the investigation continued and having to deliver episodes on deadline was daunting because he didn t know what material his team would have. He also couldn t push the production schedule back as he could have done with a doc film because of the nature of television scheduling. Joe Berlinger has spent the majority of his filmmaking career investigating the criminal justice system. My entire focus on the criminal justice system has been about giving voice to the voiceless", he says. From See some clips at the Spiketv series page

Is Real Time the new Frontier of Wildlife Docs?



My first and greatest love about tv have been wildlife documentaries. Those times have gone, and NatGeo is going to screen a new format on July 9: Earth Live. This Sunday (July 9), National Geographic is bringing together wildlife filmmakers and photographers for an event spanning six continents, starring animals around the world filmed in real time. Over the two-hour special, 51 cameras will be shooting simultaneously in 25 different locations across 15 countries, all anchored in a New York control room and studio where co-hosts Jane Lynch and Phil Keoghan will be based. Earlier this week, cinematographers, filmmakers and photographers were parachuted down to a set of designated locations where they will be based during the special. Award-winning cinematographer Bob Poole, for example, will be in Ethiopia getting up close and personal with a hyena clan. Elsewhere, wildlife filmmaker Sophie Darlington will be camped out in the Maasai Mara of Kenya to watch lions. Throughout the two hours, cameras will be primed to cut between feeds at any moment, shifting between live footage taken by these on-the-ground experts, Lynch and Keoghan in the studio, and additional footage captured beforehand. For the first time, viewers will be able to watch live wildlife lit only by the moon, in full color, via new low-light camera technology from Canon. And under the 24-hour sun in Alaska, a drone camera called a “snot bot” will be used to capture footage of humpback whales and simultaneously collecting DNA for scientific research. “Let’s face it — the old style of wildlife documentaries on television are quiet…they’re polite. They’re, of course, beautiful and beautifully presented, and there’s no question that they’re stunning to watch, but this show is going to be adventurous and exciting. We want to take the classic wildlife documentary and reinvent it for a new viewer", said Michael J. Miller, executive producer. Let's see where it will bring us lovers of old-style exciting wildlife docs.

Pablo Picasso protagonist of the Nat Geo Genius Season Two.



National Geographic announced 2 days ago that the second season of its acclaimed scripted anthology series GENIUS will chronicle the life and work of Spanish painter Pablo Picasso. The artistic career of Pablo Picasso spanned more than 80 of his 91 years, much of it in his second home of France. Much like the subject of the first season of GENIUS, Albert Einstein, Picasso imagined and interpreted the world in totally new and unorthodox ways, and constantly reinvented our perceptions of art and creativity. Hailed as “Joyful to watch” by the Los Angeles Times, “Compelling” by The New York Times, and featuring “Superb performances” according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the first season of GENIUS starred Geoffrey Rush as professor Albert Einstein, Johnny Flynn as Einstein in his youth, and Emily Watson as Albert’s second wife – and first cousin – Elsa Einstein. Over 10 episodes, the series explored how Albert became Einstein, including his rise from humble origins as an imaginative, rebellious thinker, through his struggles to be recognized by the establishment, to his global celebrity status as the man who unlocked the mysteries of the cosmos with his theory of relativity. News from

ARCHIVES and TV. Inside rappers Biggie Small and Tupak Shakur murders.



A lot of attention around BIG and Tupak murders recently. "Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G" is a three-hour biography that explore the life of the late Christopher Wallace a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G. through exclusive archival footage and audio recordings. The special will also explore the people and places that shaped Biggi, including hustling on the streets of Brooklyn, NY in his youth, his rise to fame, his relationships with Evans and Lil Kim, his feud with Tupac Shakur and his murder on the streets of Los Angeles. It is directed by Mark Ford and produced by Creature Films in association with Entertainment One (eOne). The two-part documentary premieres June 28 at 9 p.m. ET/PT with the final hour airing June 29 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on A&E Network's. Following the final hour, Biography will air "Who Killed Tupac?" a six-hour limited series focusing on the investigation of the prolific and influential rapper and actor, Tupac Shakur. Each installment of this investigative series will follow civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump as he conducts a full-scale investigation into key theories behind the rapper s murder twenty years after the death, as well as include key aspects of the legendary artist s life. Who Killed Tupac? is produced by Renegade 83 in association with FGW Productions. These docs come after many others trying to enlighten the mystery of those murders. Among there are: "Biggie and Tupac" (2002), "Murder Rap: Inside the Biggie and Tupac Murders" (2015), and the last, "Tupac Assassination III: Battle For Compton" with new revelations, released in April 2017. See the trailer. I feel that on one side TV producers are looking for real crime stories because they are "cool", on the other side we (people, institutions, culture...) still don't know how to deal with race questions in our "civilized" societies. So we entertain with them.

Saving Brinton - archives treasures on a new documentary



Saving Brinton by John Richard & Andrew Sherborne centers on a small-town historian setting out to restore and exhibit his treasure trove of newsreels, home movies and lost films. He discovered the showreels of the man who brought moving pictures to the Heartland. A poetic story and a suggestive travel to the origins of the American cinema. A world premiere at the American Film Institute’s AFI Docs festival, Silver Spring, Maryland, June 14-18.

Inside the Venice Biennale 2017. A series of 360 degrees videos



Artsy takes you inside the 57th Venice Biennale. For the first time, experience the world’s most important art exhibition through a series of 360° films produced by in collaboration with UBS. Hear the story of the famed 122-year-old event from a global cohort of leading artists and curators, such as Massimiliano Gioni, Carol Bove, and Erwin Wurm. Then, follow their journeys to Venice—and immerse yourself in the most engaging artworks, performances, and conversations animating curator Christine Macel’s exhibition “Viva Arte Viva,” the surrounding national pavilions, and villas, boats, and streets across the city.

The digitalization of the Klencke atlas, one of the largest in the world



Out of British Library’s ‘banquet of maps’ the Klencke atlas of 1660 is surely the main course. It is also one of the cartographic collection’s best-known objects. Until 2012 it was the largest atlas in the world. The atlas is named after the man who led a consortium of Dutch sugar merchants in presenting it to Charles II on his restoration to the English throne in 1660. Johannes Klencke (1620?–1672), wished to impress the king and gain favourable trade agreements with Britain. And what better gift to give a king than a giant atlas, its binding bearing tooled symbols of the nations the king claimed as his dominions: England, Scotland, Ireland, and France. Klencke was made a baronet that same year, and the atlas was placed in Charles’s cabinet, amongst his most prized possessions. It was to stay in royal hands for over 150 years. A composite atlas, the Klencke contains 41 copperplate wall maps constituting the greatest examples of Dutch cartography at the midpoint of the 17th century. All are extraordinarily rare, having benefited from the luxury of protective boards not usually extended to wall maps. Some are unique surviving examples. The Klencke atlas is important both in itself, and for its constituent parts. As an object, its scale and conception recalled Renaissance ideas relating to the symbolic power of a book which contained the entire world’s knowledge. It has recently been fully catalogued and photographed as part of the British Library’s King’s Topographical Collection cataloguing and digitisation project. A time-lapse video of the digitisation can be viewed here. At you can get more information about the rare atlas.

Social Issues at the 2017 Hot Docs



Filmmakers are diving deep and exploring themes of social, economic and political unrest in many of the films screening at the 2017 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival. With 35 world premieres, and a total of 230 films from 58 countries the festival runs April 27 to May 7. Karin Jurschick’s Playing God focuses on U.S. attorney Ken Feinberg — the man responsible for compensating victims of America’s most tragic events, from Agent Orange and the BP oil spill to Sandy Hook and 9/11. Shane Smith, director of programming, noted that there has been a move towards genre mash-ups. He described a doc mash-up as one that combines and utilizes familiar documentary tropes, even fiction genres, to great effect. The Road Movie from Dmitrii Kalashnikov is another feature that falls outside of the box. Kalashnikov uses YouTube footage from dash cams from cars in Russia to tell a story of the wider society. “The personal is political and these films use a micro approach — a personal story — to examine larger systemic issues.” Attiya Khan and Lawrence Jackman’s A Better Man approaches the issue of domestic violence in a way we have never seen before in film. In the documentary, Khan and her ex-boyfriend discuss their violent relationship and what drove her ex to abuse her daily during the two years they dated. Hot Docs offers the space for films that might slip under the radar — especially those mid-length films like Audrius Stonys’ Woman and the Glacier, about Lithuanian scientist Aušra Revutaite who is the sole guardian of the remote Soviet-era glaciological station of Tuyuksu in Kazakhstan. And director Mária Rumanová’s Hotel Sunrise, which takes audiences into a small Slovakian town where the local Communist Party is making efforts to get back up and running. Enjoy! From

Two controversial documentary films at the IFC Center, NYC, USA



Today April 18, A Time For Burning (dir. Bill Jersey, 1966). This seldom screened Academy-Award nominated documentary is a landmark of the cinéma vérité movement. The idealist Lutheran pastor Rev William Yongdahl asks his all-white congregation in Omaha, Nebraska to reach out to black Lutherans. Some members of the congregation including Ray Christensen take up the cause, while others react negatively. The film was originally rejected by major networks for being too controversial. Today it’s as stirring as ever. At April 25, the latest Tokyo Idols (dir. Kyoto Miyake), an eye-opening film that gets at the heart of a cultural phenomenon driven by an obsession with young female sexuality and internet popularity. As the female idols become younger and younger, Miyake offers a critique on the veil of internet fame and the new terms of engagement that are now playing out IRL around the globe. "The society will stop at nothing to protect male fantasies".

New US series about WWI: a clip



PBS s American Experience new (3×60) series, _The Great War_ produced by Insignia Films, scopes out the American landscape beyond just the telling of the political and military history of the war. It explores the unprecedented government crackdown on dissent, the use of propaganda to sell the war to a wary public, the role of women in the antiwar/suffrage movement and the treatment of African Americans and other minorities both at home and abroad. The archivist for the series, Lizzy McGlynn procured material from over 150 institutions and combed through close to 2,700 reels of footage from the National Archives to bring this story to the screen. Once the material was found, it was restored and worked with to create an intimate story that would resonate with viewers. What was fortunate for us, was the war coincided with the dawn of motion pictures. It was the first war to be recorded by film cameras". The director Mark Samels said the problems plaguing his country today the divisions and suspicions and perceived threat of immigration is an old story for the nation.

Domestic violence, rape, sex industry, gang-life and other matters on UK television soon



The Abused from Brinkworth Films looks at the issue of domestic violence and Rape, from Lambert Productions, is an examination of the aftermath of rape, exploring support for victims and how perpetrator are brought to justice. Channel 5 has also signed historian and architecture-loving presenter Michael Portillo for two series in 2017 and 2018. He will host Abandoned Britain (4 x 60″), where he will explore Britain’s most intriguing abandoned buildings. Building on Slum Britain: 50 Years On, ITN Productions has been commissioned to produce a new film, Black Britain: 50 Years On. The film is based on the anniversary of Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech and will explore multiculturalism, immigration and race relations in Britain in the five decades since. Inside the Gang (3 x 60″) will examine three separate issues surrounding gangs: the next generation of gangsters, girls and gangs and how drug money underpins gangs. C5 has also commissioned a new four-part series of Gangland. This time, the series will explore gang-life outside of London. Maroon Productions will use similar techniques as the first series with much of the footage filmed by the gangs themselves. Go-Pro cameras are delivered anonymously via pre-arranged dead drops. Maroon Productions have also been commissioned to make the series Inside the Sex Business (3 x 60″), an honest look at the lives of those working in the sex industry. Gaining unparalleled access, the new series explores the stories inside this closed world and what drives people to buy the services of these workers. Hope for the best.

True South , a book on the 1987 documentary series Eyes on the Prize



Eyes on the Prize is a landmark documentary series chronicling the history of the civil rights movement in USA. Debuting on public television in 1987, it remains just as riveting 30 years later. Now the making of the series is covered in a new book called True South by the filmmaker-turned-author Jon Else. He gives a vivid portrait of the pioneering black filmmaker Henry Hampton and the Boston-based company Blackside that created Eyes on the Prize. Series topics range from the Montgomery bus boycott in 1954 to the Voting Rights Act in 1965; from community power in schools to "Black Power" in the streets; from early acts of individual courage through to the flowering of a mass movement and its eventual split into factions. The series went on to win six Emmys and numerous other awards, including an Academy Award nomination, the George Foster Peabody Award, and the top duPont-Columbia award for excellence in broadcast journalism.

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