Doc Digest: October 10, 2014

Netflix headquarters in Los Gatos, California, Thursday, July 10, 2014 / Paul Sakuma Photography)

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Doc Digest, Point of View’s biweekly curation of what’s been happening lately in the world of documentary culture.

For much of this week (and well, the last few weeks) the big topic of discussion here in Canada has been The CRTC vs. Netflix. To recap: after a two-week hearing called “Let’s Talk TV,” the CRTC demanded that Netflix provide data about its Canadian subscribers, a request that Netflix flatly refused. The CRTC is already trying to forget this ever happened.

This has sparked a wealth of analysis on the way the broadcasting landscape has changed, the CRTC’s relevance in 2014, and whether or not Netflix truly has filmmakers rights and interests at heart. To highlight a few takes: Calum Marsh argues in the Financial Post that in trying to regulate Netflix, the CRTC is actually undermining its own mandate, as many independent Canadian filmmakers are able to use Netflix (and other curatorial online services like MUBI) to reach greater audiences.

Although the CRTC has been mostly painted as the stodgy, out-of-touch principal to Netflix’s hip, universally adored teenager, John Michael McGrath at Hazlitt wants to remind you that Netflix is Not Our Friend, and it may even be, as Simon Houpt writes in The Globe and Mail, a total parasite.

Finally, Barri Cohen and Rob King have taken sides in POV, in a three-part dialogue started by Cohen back in April before the hearings started. All three articles can be accessed through this link.

Today is World Mental Health Day, making this Toronto Star article on how filmmaker John Kastner’s two recent documentaries have changed perceptions about mental health all the more relevant. Kastner stopped by CBC’s Q this week to talk about mentally ill offenders, and you can also check out this career-spanning interview with Kastner from our Summer issue, where he discusses the making of both NCR and Out of Mind, Out of Sight.

The NFB has posted an informative two-part series on documentary ethics and aesthetics that include some of the insights gleaned from the 2014 TIFF Doc Conference. For more on doc ethics, read Mark Dillon’s article on how filmmakers maintain objectivity when they get close to their subjects.

Speaking of the TIFF Doc Conference, there is a great interview at The Hairpin by Sara Black McCulloch with speaker Astra Taylor (Examined Life, Zizek!) where she expands on her thoughts about how the Internet isn’t as democratic as we think, and what that means for documentary filmmakers and creators in general.

POV contributor Kiva Reardon interviewed the legendary Frederick Wiseman for MUBI’s Notebook blog, in which he reveals how he found inspiration for one of his films at the dentist’s office. Watch for our video interview with Wiseman, online soon.

We’ll leave you with this quick interview with Eric Spitzer-Marly, the sound engineer behind Werner Herzog’s films since 1999, where he dispels most of the rumours about the famously eccentric filmmaker.