Doc Digest: December 5, 2014

Monsoon (dir. Sturla Gunnarsson, 2014)

Welcome back to the Doc Digest, Point of View’s biweekly round-up of documentary news and views. It’s like an advent calendar, but instead of eating one daily piece at a time, you’re gorging on half of it at once! (As if there’s any other way to eat an advent calendar.)

DOC NYC wrapped up in late November, and Indiewire helpfully took notes from four sessions and compiled their 10 tips for finishing your documentary.

Tip #8 on the list: “Animation is a great way to get information across.” The creators of the NFB-produced documentary The Wanted 18 certainly knew that when they were deciding how to present their story. They explain the process of making the hybrid documentary in this POV article.

Speaking of the NFB, the organization named its new chair this week, appointing 11-year veteran Claude Joli-Coeur. The Globe and Mail has the full report.

TIFF just announced the line-up for the 2014 Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival, and we were happy to see three documentaries included: Sturla Gunnarsson’s Monsoon (the cover story of our Fall 2014 issue), Harold Crooks’ The Price We Pay, and Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Susan Avingaq’s Sol. Visit TIFF’s website for the full list and screening info.

Playing in conjunction with the festival is a free screening of Bonnie Sherr Klein’s landmark Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography on Friday, January 9, 2:30pm at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Named to the Order of Canada in 2013, Klein has created controversial activist films for over 40 years – read about them here.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their 15 shortlisted picks for Best Documentary Feature this week, narrowing the field down from 134 entries in total. Among them are The Internet’s Own Boy (which opened Hot Docs 2014 – here’s our review) and Steve James’ look at the life of Roger Ebert, Life Itself. Our editor Marc Glassman looks at the film here, and Will Di Novi recently examined the enduring cultural legacy of another Steve James film, Hoop Dreams.

Netflix’s continuing push into acquiring and producing original documentaries seems to be paying off in the awards circle: their latest original, Virunga, is also on the 2014 Oscar shortlist. This comes after The Square’s 2013 Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature.

The Toronto Star has some high praise for the 10-part miniseries The Polar Sea, now showing on TVO: “Hugely entertaining and mind-bogglingly educational at the same time, it instantly stands as one of the landmarks in the long and rich history of Canadian documentary filmmaking.” Thomas Wallner writes about the making of this epic journey in our Fall 2014 issue – watch for it online soon.

There are two documentaries on HBO’s 2015 slate that the author of this digest is quite excited for. Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck is the first officially-sanctioned documentary about the late Nirvana singer, made with the direct involvement and blessing of Courtney Love. The other is decidedly not officially-sanctioned: Alex Gibney will direct a doc based on Lawrence Wright’s book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief, with an army of 160 lawyers already hired by HBO to cover their respective butts.

We’ll leave you this week with a plug for our new issue, which is available now! Have a look at the table of contents and read Barri Cohen’s latest Policy Matters column on Jian Ghomeshi. It’ll be your first issue when you subscribe – or of a gift subscription (wink wink, nudge, nudge) – just email us and we’ll get you sorted.

As always, see you in two weeks.

More Doc Digests:
November 21, 2014
November 7, 2014