Doc Digest: April 13, 2015

Welcome back to the Doc Digest, Point of View’s biweekly round-up of documentary news and views.

We begin this edition with a focus on music documentaries. Vinyl enthusiast Jack White (pictured above, enjoying a baseball game), musician T Bone Burnett and actor Robert Redford have joined forces for American Epic, “a historical music project encompassing a three-part documentary series, a feature-length film and companion album releases.” The project, which sounds nothing like Dave Grohl’s Sound City documentary and subsequent Sonic Highways series for HBO, will examine the influence of certain analog recording equipment on American music, and then invite modern-day musicians to record with it. Knowing White, the subsequent releases will no doubt be over-the-top collector’s items.

Here are the 25 best music documentaries of the 21st century so far, according to The Playlist. Oscar winner 20 Feet From Stardom kicks off the list – read our review here.

Something Else Reviews recently published a look back at the troubled production at one of the undisputed best music docs of the 20th century, The Last Waltz.

For more coverage of music docs, have a look through the POV archive: reviews of Roger Waters The Wall and My Prairie Home, how to get funding for documentary soundtracks, and Jason Anderson’s recent survey of the growing number of docs about the almost famous.

Nova Scotia filmmakers are singing the blues (sorry for the pun, segues are hard) after the province announced a devastating 75 per cent cut to the refundable tax credit that production companies have been using for the last two decades. Screen Nova Scotia are planning to protest the cut, stating “We are not leaving. We are fighting to stay. And we will win.”

In Do Not Track, “both the narrator’s identity and language are determined by your location, deduced from your IP address.” Sound invasive? It’s no different than what big corporations are doing with your personal information online. Read about Brett Gaylor’s eye-opening new interactive documentary in The Guardian, and experience the first two episodes now. This isn’t the first interactive documentary that Gaylor has made that’s concerned with the Internet. Read about his work on RiP: a Remix Manifesto and Open Source Cinema in POV.

“Archiving documentary footage and films may not be a sexy issue, but in this digital age, it’s an increasingly critical one.” Read about 5 key takeaways from the Documentary Film Preservation Summit. In 2011, Gabriel Paletz surveyed changing approaches to the use of archival footage, suggesting strategies to realize its contemporary creative potential – in docs, fiction and experimental films.

So what is an “experimental” documentary, anyway? That was the question on Indy Week’s mind during the 2015 Full Frame Festival last weekend. The films of the Sensory Ethnography Lab certainly fit the bill, as does Kings Of The Wind & Electric Queens, which had its North American premiere at Hot Docs last year.

In advance of the 2015 Hot Docs festival, NOW Toronto curated a number of hits from the 2014 edition that you can catch up with on Netflix now.

On the subject of Netflix, Astra Taylor (who presented at the 2014 TIFF Doc Conference) recently argued in The Walrus that the case for a Netflix tax in Canada just got stronger. Rob King of the Director’s Guild of Canada is also in favour of regulating the streaming giant – read his case here.

To conclude this edition, we’ll send you off to space with TIME.

More to Digest:
March 23, 2015
March 9, 2015