Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival looks cleaner and more focused with new head programmer, Charlotte Cook at its reins. Cook, who previously curated edgy and au courant docs for the Edinburgh Film Festival and London’s trendy Frontline Club, clearly knows a thing or two about making docs hip and sexy.
After a wobbly start to this year’s feature documentary program at the Tribeca Film Festival, on day two a winning streak took me from Hollywood to Tel Aviv to Ethiopia to China.
Even the seasons seem to go faster in New York, where summer made a bid to surge past spring as the Tribeca Film Festival began this week. Temperatures more suited to the boggy depths of August greeted journalists as they arrived in the city to cover what has become New York’s biggest film festival in the eleven years since its inception. Founded by producing partners Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal as a way to help rejuvenate the lower Manhattan neighborhood in the aftermath of September 11th, Tribeca gained a reputation early on of trying to do too much, too soon—being too pushy, too cluttered, too mercenary, too New York.
The Sydney Film Festival has released a sneak peek of 25 films that it will be screening in June, including ten documentaries. So far it looks like there’s a rich selection covering a range of styles, from some famous faces of documentary to more obscure picks. Here’s a totally subjective selection of a few that stand out.
Chewing over the interactive sessions from the South by Southwest festival with a bit of distance, I’m finding some themes beginning to emerge - and the main one is that old principles are new again. For a conference essentially about technology (described to me by one person as ‘mardi gras for nerds’), it was good to see story getting a run in there as well.
Held in Toronto, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival is North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market. It runs from April 26 to May 6. In what is director of programming Charlotte Cook’s first year at the helm, this year the festival boasts 189 official selections, from a festival record 51 countries, in 11 screening programs.
I was feeling rather unsatisfied by the films I'd seen thus far at South by Southwest (SXSW), so I lined up three diverse films in a day to improve my chances of finding a winner. Here my fortunes changed markedly; all three were excellent films in totally different ways.
The sun came out, the clothes became skimpier, 6th Street got crazier and South by Southwest (SXSW) had finally hit its stride. I began walking with purpose from panel to panel, rather than bouncing around the convention centre like I'd found myself in an MC Escher painting. The interactive panels were a mixed bag, offering up tidbits of information and ideas that I could slowly fit together rather than any one big mind blowing presentation.
My first South by Southwest trip to the Paramount Theatre, mega-theatre of the mega-queues, was for the premiere of Kevin Macdonald’s latest film, Marley. The film has attracted a fair amount of hype, as the combination of a director of Macdonald’s calibre (Touching the Void, Life in a Day, Last King of Scotland) and the story of Bob Marley could mean a zinger of a film. The audience buzzed in anticipation, and this built to a crescendo when Macdonald took the stage to introduce the film accompanied by several members of the Marley family.
South by Southwest (SXSW) got off to a sodden start, with thousands of festival goers arriving to a very un-Texan torrent of rain and ten degree temperatures. Two days later the rain hasn’t stopped and Austin is awash, cramping the style a little of those hoping to party hop. One thing the rain is great for, though, is encouraging a desire to sit in a darkened cinema.
The 11th annual Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 18–29 in New York City. Yesterday, the festival announced its 2012 World Narrative and World Documentary Feature Competitions, its out-of-competition viewpoint titles and its opening night films in both world categories. All in all, forty-six of the 90 feature-length films were announced.
Planning for the South By South West festival (SXSW) feels a little like preparing for a journey to the North Pole, but with 7,000 other people coming along for the ride. There are any number of SXSW 'survival blogs', advising newbies (such as myself) what to pack (walking shoes), what to eat (TexMex), how not to catch the SXSW flu (don't go), what apps to have (don't get me started) and so on.
Two of this year’s Sundance panels functioned as companion pieces, and together they formed a unique look at how contemporary documentaries get made. The first, called “How Documentary Changed Change” featured Robert Redford, BBC/Storyville commissioning editor Nick Fraser and president of HBO Documentary Films Sheila Nevins talking in theory about what was evidenced in practice across the second panel, “Celebrating Stories of Change.”
Film writer Michelle Orange is in Park City, Utah, for the Sundance Film Festival, where she'll seek out the latest documentary events and news.
Physicist and author Brian Greene, brings us a mind-blowing new exploration of space, time, and the very nature of reality.
Acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns chronicles the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history.
A fresh perspective on the birth of civilisation in the Near and Middle East and its dynamic influence on the West.