For those of us keeping tabs on creative documentary, there is a Proustian swirl to each Fall. The past year collapses onto the present, which for the documentary fiscal year is actually the future. The Locarno, Venice, Telluride, and tiff circuit is the beginning of the 2013 documentary season. I'm still processing 2012. It gets disorientating.........Read more – ‘Notable Unfiction 2012 – Part Deux’.
A nagging effect of being raised in a mining town, where most of my friends take their showers after work, is that I’ve always felt suspect when describing my profession. “You watch movies all day?” Of course, there’s much more to film festival programming then screenings, but that’s what it usually gets hammered down to. And, indeed, I’ve watched over 4000 documentaries over the past twelve years. I still have notes on most of them. That’s a lot of reality. Another reality is that there comes a time to change course. Read more – ‘I Work For Documentary’.
Whilst uncertain what I meant by it at the time, it’s this “striving for authenticity” which most intrigues me now, as I reflect further upon the programme. It’s likely I was thinking about several films which had established a particularly firm footing within my seasonally boggy brain. In A Rubberband Is An Unlikely Instrument, for instance, I had been drawn to the day-to-day detail of two creative people, a couple, living in Brooklyn. There was something contemporary, authentic, both in their choices, even the struggles, and in the way filmmaker Matt Boyd realized their story. There’s also a sense of striving in Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then, in which filmmaker Brent Green decides, like the subject of his film, to “run everything down to zero to leave something wonderful behind.” Read more – ‘Hot Docs 2011 – Striving Towards Authenticity’.
I've likely screened, over the past decade, more documentaries then anybody else in the world. This is not a boast, it's a confession; or perhaps one of those moments of clarity that brings long term substance abusers to religion. If curation can be compared to the culinary arts, then film festival programming is the fast food counter. It's all about volume, turnover, quick decision making, serving while it's hot. I only call myself a curator when I want a raise. Read more – ‘Screening Season’.
"If we find the consequences of our arrogant ignorance to be humbling, and we are humbled, then we have at hand the first fact of hope: We can change ourselves. We, each of us severally, can remove our minds from the corporate ignorance and arrogance that is leading the world to destruction; we can honestly confront our ignorance and our need; we can take guidance from the knowledge we most authentically possess, from experience, from tradition, and from inward promptings of affection, conscience, decency, compassion, even inspiration." - Wendell Berry, from "The Way of Ignorance"Read more – ‘Salutation 2010’.
Last week Hot Docs announced a project that will be launching in a modest way at our 2010 Festival. We’re calling it Ripping Reality, and the intent is to generate a kind of cooperative, traveling symposium, from which we hope to stimulate discussions around the notion of a documentary new wave. While excited by the [...] Read more – ‘Ripping Reality at Sundance TwentyTen’.
(Jihlava’s Silver Eye award winner, DISCO & ATOMIC WAR. Pay attention to this film…revelatory, funny and seamlessly cinematic historical filmmaking) Here we go again. I departed Jihlava this afternoon, which followed four days in Leipzig. It was an intense two festival week. Now a day of recovery in Prague (literally, I’m sick, yuck) then Sheffield, [...] Read more – ‘The Festival Bubble’.
(“Hi there, internet.” Sundance’s John Cooper, Berlin’s Weiland Speck, tiff’s Piers Handling, Tribeca’s Geoff Gilmour and I, the not so attentive moderator, discuss “The Changing Role of Film Festivals” at tiff. Photo courtesy of Peter Belsito via Sydney’s Buzz) A side effect of being tossed from my summer media diet into Fall’s fulsome trough of [...] Read more – ‘A Sense Of An Ending’.
(A still from HUNTING DOWN MEMORY, to be presented in the International Spectrum, a competitive programme, at Hot Docs. Curating a competitive programme isn’t a science, but there does need to be a framework to guide these decisions.) Last year at the Hot Docs Awards Ceremony the respected British filmmaker Molly Dineen asked me why [...] Read more – ‘Curating A Competition’.
(A still from BORIS RYZHY, a remarkable portrait of the Russian poet by talented filmmaker Aliona van der Horst. There are 9 Dutch doc productions at Hot Docs this year!) Below is some text I drafted as a programme introduction for this year’s Festival, and which also formed the gyst of my comments at our [...] Read more – ‘Hot Docs 2009 – Strange and Valuable’.
(THE YES MEN FIX THE WORLD scooped the Panorama Audience Award at the 59th Berlinale) I was in Berlin, for the film festival, last week. Its the first time I’ve attended Berlinale, though for years have followed the programming, voraciously reading the coverage of this prestigious event, one of the “big four” (along with Sundance, [...] Read more – ‘Hot Docs 2009 – Week 6 (from Berlin)’.
We’re overwhelmed with DVDs, emails, phone calls….the “to do” list is an epic scroll. But I’m not complaining. The work is invigorating, mental calisthenics. Its keeping me up at night, hyper with ideas and information. The discussions we’re having at our programming meetings are vigorous, rigorous, and often hilarious. Following a screening this afternoon I [...] Read more – ‘Hot Docs 2009 – Week 4’.
(the glamorous life of documentary programming. here’s my view for the next two months: a screen and several multi-region DVD players, that’s how I roll…a window onto the world, literally) “Dad, how would you do this documentary watching job if you didn’t have a TV?” A fine question from my six-year-old son, Jimmy. Its Sunday [...] Read more – ‘Hot Docs 2009 – Week 1’.
(Producer on-a-roll Rachel Wexler (The English Surgeon, Garbage Warrior) pitches at Sheffield’s MeetMarket) I popped into Sheffield’s MeetMarket this morning, just to get a sense of the “plastics” of the event. I’m not sure where formalized pitching markets started (somehow, I recall hearing the Danes conceived them), but such events, in varying forms, are now [...] Read more – ‘Don’t Say “Pitch” – Day 15’.
(from left, Robert Cibis (JESUS LOVES YOU), Geoffrey Smith (THE ENGLISH SURGEON), Simon Kilmurry (P.O.V.), Minou Norouzi (ANATOMY OF FAILURE), and Boris Despodov (CORRIDOR #8) It feels like a Hot Docs ’08 reunion at Sheffield as I’m meeting many filmmakers who presented their work at this year’s Festival. I’m doing the Intros and Q&A’s with [...] Read more – ‘Brits Unite At Sheffield – Day 14’.
Heddy Honigmann is an international treasure, a cinema master who belongs in the contemporary canon of great filmmakers. But maybe its, still, a boy’s club…except in documentary. Immediately after receiving the Hot Docs Outstanding Achievement Award in 2007 Heddy flew to Peru. She told me she was shooting a new film there, in Lima, formerly [...] Read more – ‘Oblivion – Day 6’.