Doc Digest: March 9, 2015


Welcome back to the Doc Digest, Point of View’s biweekly round-up of documentary news and views. If you’re reading this, you’ve almost made it through another Canadian winter. Congratulations!

“His legacy is so immense and multifaceted that I can’t face trying to sum it up.” The documentary world continues to celebrate the life of Albert Maysles, who passed away late last week at the age of 88. Online reactions to his death were passionate to say the least, with many filmmakers reflecting on the tremendous effect his work had on them personally, and on the documentary genre itself. Two such examples that we’ll highlight here: Film School Rejects compiled 6 tips from Maysles’ work, and Matt Zoller Seitz (quoted above) shared 8 “caught moments” about the man’s legacy.

Maysles’ influence is also noted in this piece by Johann Hari in the New Statesman. He posits that documentary has entered its golden age, citing such work as Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell and Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing.

Oppenheimer’s follow-up to The Act of Killing, The Look of Silence, screened at the 2015 True/False Film Festival this past weekend in Columbia, Missouri. As predicted by POV contributor Adam Nayman in 2013, it’s well worth making the pilgrimage to the sleepy town, with Oppenheimer himself calling it “the best film fest in the world.” Scroll down Criticwire’s Twitter feed for first impressions and capsule reviews from the festival, but be forewarned: you’ll develop a fairly severe case of FOMO.

“Let’s not get caught up in a false dichotomy of art vs. social-justice films; we’re all in this together.” Filmmakers Pamela Yates and Paco de Onís and debunk five myths that divide documentary filmmakers.

POV recently spoke with Caitlin Boyle, executive director of Film Sprout, in advance of her live consultation at the DOC Institute’s “Art of Audience Engagement” event this Saturday, March 14. She discusses “grassroots distribution,” social-issue docs, and the multi-faceted definitions of “impact.”

Speaking of impact: NPR recently profiled Under the Dome, a Chinese anti-pollution documentary that has been viewed more than two hundred million times.

A number of new documentaries are addressing the treatment of women in the gaming world. Though more relevant than ever in the wake of GamerGate, the topic is sadly nothing new for the industry. We wrote about another (admittedly dude-centric) video game doc in 2012 – Indie Game: The Movie.

After the success of their partnership on Oscar-nominated Virunga, actor Leonardo DiCaprio has signed a first look deal with Netflix to bring more documentaries to the streaming site. These films will focus on “environmental and conservation themes,” helping to ensure that the Earth remains hospitable for future parties.

A few items for those of you on the west coast: Our friends at DOXA are looking for a four good people to work with them.

DOXA is also collaborating with DOC BC and Creative BC to bring filmmaker Steve James to Vancouver this Saturday, March 14 for a three-part event. Will Di Novi wrote about the enduring legacy of James’ best known film, Hoop Dreams, on its 20th anniversary.

The first British Columbia public screening of the award-winning Tales from the Organ Trade is happening Tuesday, March 10 at the Centre for Dialogue in Vancouver. The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with the film’s director/producer Ric Esther Bienstock. Register to attend by contacting

Want to see On the Trail of the Far Fur Country, the beautiful film that graces the cover of POV’s Spring 2015 issue? It’s available here.

We’ll leave you this time with a well-curated list of Spring grants all filmmakers should know about, courtesy of No Film School.

More to Digest:
February 23, 2015
February 2, 2015