What’s Up, Doc? Weekly Round-up - Feb. 5

Sundance winner Summer of Soul


By Madeline Lines

This week’s roundup includes the last trickle of Sundance news – and then we’ll shut up about it, we promise! The big winners in the documentary sphere included Summer of Soul, the Questlove-directed music doc about the Harlem Cultural Festival, and Flee, an animated story of a refugee that ‘captures the unfilmable.’ Searchlight Pictures acquired Summer of Soul for distribution with Hulu joining for US streaming and Star/Star+ for international streamking. You can find the complete list of winners in the documentary category here. Other standouts included Misha and the Wolves, which was picked up by Netflix, and the festival’s late addition, Captains of Zataari.

At this point, we’re becoming accustomed to attending film festivals like Sundance from the comfort of our living rooms, beds, bathtubs – basically wherever you please. You can pause to grab a snack, or rewind to catch a piece of dialogue that slipped by. But will the convenience of online festivals ever outweigh the experience of attending an in-person festival? The topic is explored in the latest episode of the Truth & Movies podcast by Little White Lies.

Some of the biggest documentary news circulating in mainstream media is today’s release of the New York Times -produced documentary Framing Britney Spears, a new doc on the pop singer’s oppressive conservatorship. The #FreeBritney movement has gained traction in recent years after struggling to be taken seriously outside of its own insular bubble. The doc premieres on FX and Hulu tonight at 5 p.m. EST in the US.

In other news, a documentary is already underway about the Gamestop stock market whirlwind that had deep-pocketed hedge fund managers reeling. In Deadline, Alexandra Del Rosario reports that Jonah Tulis, director of the video game doc Console Wars, is set to direct the film, with Submarine Entertainment on board to produce it. Things sure do move fast these days!

It’s Black History Month, and there’s plenty to stream. The CBC has put together a collection of films for Black History Month that are currently streaming for free via CBC Gem. The list includes a mix of fiction and non-fiction films reflecting a wide range of Black perspectives, focusing on Canadian stories. The NFB also has a similar collection of films that can also be streamed for free. Kanopy has a collection as well which focuses on the African American experience. The Criterion Channel has also curated an inspired February lineup which highlights the work of pioneering documentarian Madeline Anderson, among others.

The legacy of legendary hockey player Willie O’Ree continues to flourish following projects like the award-winning documentary Willie, which played Hot Docs 2019. O’Ree paved the way for BIPOC in the world of hockey, and now will be working alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on a new project called Lessons from Willie. The project will allow students across the country to participate in a Q&A with the iconic hockey player. Willie is now streaming on Crave.