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News Stories about Documentary Films

and more

The occasional story about documentary films and links to the sources. 

Jun 28, 2024

New members invited into the Documentary branch of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences;

Trish Adlesic – “The ABCs of Book Banning,” “Gasland”
Daniela Alatorre – “A Cop Movie,” “Midnight Family”
Waad Al-Kateab – “We Dare to Dream,” “For Sama”
Anne Alvergue – “The Martha Mitchell Effect,” “Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn”
Raed Andoni – “Ghost Hunting,” “Fix Me”
Alethea Arnaquq-Baril     – “Twice Colonized,” “Angry Inuk”
Mila Aung-Thwin – “Let There Be Light,” “Last Train Home”
Tina Baz – “Adolescents,” “Fix Me”
Jorge Bodanzky – “The Amazon, a New Minamata?,” “Third Millennium”
Moses Bwayo – “Bobi Wine: The People’s President”
Caryn Capotosto – “Little Richard: I Am Everything,” “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
Nadim Cheikhrouha* – “Four Daughters,” “Benda Bilili!”
Mstyslav Chernov – “20 Days in Mariupol”
Michael Collins – “Almost Sunrise,” “Give Up Tomorrow”
Flávia de Souza – “Aftershock,” “Open Heart”
Jeanie Finlay – “Your Fat Friend,” “Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth”
Beadie Finzi – “Only When I Dance,” “Unknown White Male”
Ellen Goosenberg Kent – “Torn Apart: Separated at the Border,” “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”
Sky Hopinka – “Kicking the Clouds,” “Malni: Towards the Ocean, towards the Shore”
José Joffily – “A Symphony for a Common Man,” “Foreign Soldier”
Rachel Lears – “To the End,” “Knock Down the House”
Rebecca Lichtenfeld – “The Eternal Memory    ,” “The Nightcrawlers”
Sergei Loznitsa – “Babi Yar. Context,” “Mr. Landsbergis”
Aïcha Macky – “Zinder,” “The Fruitless Tree”
Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala – “Delikado,” “Call Her Ganda”
Elaine McMillion Sheldon – “King Coal,” “Heroin(e)”
Mark Mitten – “A Compassionate Spy,” “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail”
Vincent Moloi – “Skulls of My People,” “Men of Gold”
Nisha Pahuja – “To Kill a Tiger,” “The World before Her”
Pola Rapaport – “Addicted to Life,” “Broken Meat”
RaMell Ross – “Easter Snap,” “Hale County This Morning, This Evening”
Ousmane Samassekou – “The Last Shelter,” “The Heirs of the Hill”
Frédéric Tcheng – “Invisible Beauty,” “Halston”
Jennifer Tiexiera – “Subject,” “P.S. Burn This Letter Please”
Hemal Trivedi – “Among the Believers,” “Saving Face”
Christine Turner* – “The Barber of Little Rock,” “Lynching Postcards: “Token of a Great Day”'
Keith Wilson – “Joonam,” “I Didn’t See You There”


Jun 23, 2024

The Future of Streaming...Do you want to know what's going on with all the networks and streamers from a business and programming point of view? Here is an excellent overview from the top down about all the buyers that doc filmmakers want to sell projects to. See the NY Times story today here

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Jun 22, 2024

Is it real? Or is it a reindeer? "Compliance" is the new word at network/streamers these days as Netflix is being sued for $170 million in the wake of "Baby Reindeer." Deadline has a compelling story here producers should read. 

Jun 9, 2024

"The 9/11 Documentary You Will Never See. Extraordinary story by Allen Salkin in the Hollywood Reporter about the making of a doc and financial fraud. Take a look here


Jun 4, 2024

Doc filmmaker Rory Kennedy is producing a film about Alec Baldwin and the Santa Fe Rust shooting. See Variety story here


June 1, 2024

Oscar nominated doc filmmaker Mitchell Block dies at 73. Hollywood Reporter obit here.  

May 24, 2024

Doc filmmaker Morgan Spurlock dead at 53. His groundbreaking first feature "Super Size Me" gave us all a different perspective on fast food. See the story in The Hollywood Reporter here. And a more in-depth obit in the NY Times here

May 24, 2024

Finally, some optimism in the doc world. Read the Deadline story here


May 14,2024

We have been big supporters of the annual HotDocs documentary film festival held in Toronto, Canada every year. I was unable to attend this year but Doug Block of The D-Word (Westdoc episode # 123) has produced a short video that gives part of the feel of the pitching and networking. Take look here.

May 9, 2024

NETFLIX, FAIR USE, and a cameraman making $150 per week...

...“Tiger King” was streamed by 34 million viewers in its first 10 days of release, and finding that weighed against a claim of fair use.

“It’s not fair for one of the world’s largest media companies to take an aspiring creator’s footage without compensation, without credit, without his permission, and then use it in the most commercial manner,” Grimm argued in his appellate brief.

This is one paragraph in the last half of the Variety story here about Fair Use. This could change Fair Use in documentaries. 

May 3, 2024

The Hollywood Reporter writes here that the NY Times is restructuring their documentary film unit. In corporate speak that means cutting way back. More bad news for doc filmmakers as another potential outlet shrinks. 


Apr 26, 2024

Esquire posted their 64 Best Documentaries of All Time. Some of the choices in my opinion are a bit odd. But overall if you haven't seen most of these great docs, you have some catching up to do. All the listed films have trailers and are currently available. Take a look here


Apr 22, 2024

Filmmaker Alex Braverman and NY Times writer Irina Aleksander gave birth to a healthy baby girl yesterday. Hopefully she will have a first name soon.  (5/4/24) Eleanor Sasha Braverman pictured at one week. 

Apr 22, 2024   

AMPAS, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced some new rules for the coming Oscar race today. And final submission deadline for Documentary films is October 17, 2024. Current rules can be viewed at

Apr 21, 2024

HotDocs is certainly the biggest and best doc fest in North America, and maybe the world. I have been going for years and it is always sensational. The two day HotDocs Forum is worth the trip alone.  It's no secret to us in the lower 48 that the Canadian government has subsidized the arts up north forever. But for whatever reason, as they give millions to TIFF and others, they are now shutting out HotDocs. Barry Walsh in Realscreen gives some details here.  


Apr 22, 2024

The shutting of Participant comes as a shock to many. The Hollywood Reporter writes some of the details here


April 10, 2024

Has the financial eco system for documentary films collapsed? Cutbacks and deal scarcity are the subjects of this Variety news story. 


Mar 31, 2024

Hotdocs is in trouble. It's the biggest and best documentary film festival in North America and I have attended a dozen times. In fact we were sponsors a decade ago and I represented a film at the Forum that is a two-day pitch event to international buyers. Here is a link to CityNews which is a local Toronto station interviewing the Hotdocs president, Marie Nelson. 

Mar 25, 2024

What's going on at HotDocs? In my opinion, HotDocs is the best documentary film festival in the world. And one month before this year's April 25th opening, 10 programmers have resigned! Read the story here in Screen Daily


Mar 14, 2024

AMPAS cut the Documentary Oscar category in their shorter 90 minute international version of the awards show! Read the Deadline Hollywood story here


Feb 3, 2024

A fascinating story about feature documentaries in today's edition of Variety by Addie Morfoot. Is the Doc branch of the Motion Picture Academy imploding on itself? What is happening with many very good films not getting picked up while the "Superman" doc gets acquired for $15 million. You read that right, $15 million. See the story here

Feb 8, 2024

Apparently, the Variety story abive is raising eyebrows and more. Here is a rebuttal to Variety from Slate

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Jan 27, 2024

Superman still has power. While a score of very good docs sit on shelves, waiting for some streamer love, the new Christopher Reeve Superman doc is in negotiations with Warner Bros. Discovery for $15 million. See the Variety story here


Jan 23, 2024

Major surprises and snubs in the Oscar feature documentary nominees. See the Deadline story here


Jan 11, 2024

We don't report every award group, but the Directors Guild of America (DGA) is a big deal. Here are Documentary nominees for 2023 just announced;


Bobi Wine: The People’s President

(National Geographic)



20 Days in Mariupol

(PBS Distribution)



Beyond Utopia

(Roadside Attractions)



Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie

(Apple Original Films)



Kokomo City

(Magnolia Pictures)


Jan 4, 2024

Another list of great docs from the last year in Variety here


Jan 1, 2024

Matt Carey of Deadline Hollywood writes about a look back at the best docs of 2023 here. He has an interesting list. The most disturbing part of the reporting is his take on the economic state of today's docs which confirms that despite great docs being produced, very few sales are happening. A good number of doc features that would have been picked up a year ago for high six and low seven figure purchase and distribution, are just waiting...

Dec 20,2023

It's the night before the Oscar short list is announced. Should be a great event. But is the Golden Age of the Documentary Dead? IndieWire has a disturbing story here about how the streamers have won and have beat down the docs. 


Dec 13, 2023

Preliminary Oscar voting starts December 13th and some are making predcitions. The craziest of all categories is the feature documentaries. There are 168 films that have qualified and now the first vote will slim down the short list to only 15. In my email earlier this week, I told you some of the best films but Variety has a list of who will make the list. No one can watch all of the films. The Fred Wiseman film alone is four hours, in French. Here is the link to the Variety predictions. Stay tuned. 

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Nov 29, 2023

NYPD encrypted their police radios without notice and freelance stringers are pissed. See the story in PetaPixel here. Below is a a famous pic of Weegee the Famous in his room next to the police department in the 1930's. I have been obsessed with him since my teens. During my high school and college years, I had a police and fire radios in my car and supported myself selling short news clips to local and network news department. 

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Nov 28, 2023

Archival Producers Alliance want some safeguards for the future use of archive footage. With AI now capable of realistic looking changes, this organization of film researchers wants to make sure that footage changed by AI is not taken for the real thing. See the story in The Hollywood Reporter here. 

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Nov 21, 2023

How do you get to make a mini series on the History Channel when you are still a kid living at home in Indiana? Read the story in The Hollywood Reporter here

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Nov 20, 2023

What happens when a star is part of the making of a documentary about himself? An interesting piece in the NY Times here profiles, several different documentaries featuring well knowns. I would also ask the same about anyone involved producing a documentary if they are the subject of the film. 

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Nov 18, 2023

IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund chose eleven projects out of 371 applicants to receive a total of $435,000 in production grants. Awarded projects are currently in production in eleven countries, including the US, Philippines, Brazil, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Italy, and Afghanistan. Amongst the filmmakers at the helm of selected projects, 46% are filmmakers of color, 69% are women or gender-non-conforming filmmakers, 12% identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and 8% identify as a D/deaf or disabled person or have long-term health conditions.

See the story here


Nov 16, 2023

Catapult Film Fund announced their 2023 Development Grant recipients today. 20 grants totaling $500,000 in early-stage funding to independent documentary artists. See the story here

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Nov 11, 2023

Ethical standards in documentaries needed? Time Magazine has a piece here, written by Margie Ratliff who is a producer and key participant of Subject, where she examines her participation in the 2018 Netflix true-crime documentary, The Staircase and how it affected her. She is currently starting the non-profit, Documentary Participants’ Empowerment Alliance. The documentary film Subject is also our episode # 100 on Westdoc.  


Oct 24, 2023

The International Documentary Association (IDA) announced their short list of nominees for best documentary for the year. Films from; India, Columbia, Denmark, Uganda, France, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, Morocco,  Canada, UK, and the USA! It certainly is diverse. What does this list say about the IDA?

Against the Tide (India)
BBC ‘Storyville’
Director: Sarvnik Kaur
Producers: Koval Bhatia, Sarvnik Kaur

Anhell69 (Colombia)
Director: Theo Montoya
Producers: Bianca Oana, David Hurst, Theo Montoya, Juan Pablo Castrillon, Balthasar Busmann, Maximilian Haslberger

Anonymous Sister (U.S.)
Director: Jamie Boyle
Producers: Marilyn Ness, Elizabeth Westrate, Jamie Boyle

Apolonia, Apolonia (Denmark)
Director: Lea Glob
Producer: Sidsel Lønvig Siersted

Bobi Wine: The People’s President (Uganda, pictured)
National Geographic Documentary Films
Directors: Moses Bwayo, Christopher Sharp
Producers: Christopher Sharp, John Battsek

De Humani Corporis Fabrica (France)
Directors: Verena Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor
Producers: Valentina Novati, Charles Gillibert, Pauline Gygax, Max Karli, Verena Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor

Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project (U.S.)
HBO Documentary Films
Directors: Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster
Producers: Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster, Tommy Oliver

In the Rearview (Poland)
Director: Maciek Hamela
Producer: Maciek Hamela, Piotr Grawender

Milisuthando (South Africa)
Director: Milisuthando Bongela
Producers: Marion Isaacs, Viviana Gomez, Sonia Barrera, Milisuthando Bongela, Hankyeol Lee

Motherland (Sweden)
Directors: Alexander Mihalkovich, Hanna Badziaka
Producers: Mario Adamson, Ashley J. Smith, Alexander Mihalkovich, Anita Norfolk

Nathan-ism (U.S.)
Director: Elan Golod
Producers: Elan Golod, Melanie Vi Levy

Q (U.S.)
Director: Jude Chehab
Producers: Jude Chehab, Fahd Ahmed

Rewind & Play (France)
Director: Alain Gomis
Producers: Anouk Khélifa, Arnaud Dommerc

The Mother of All Lies (Morocco)
Director/producer: Asmae El Moudir

Twice Colonized (Canada)
Director: Lin Alluna
Producers: Aaju Peter, Emile Hertling Péronard, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, Stacey Aglok Macdonald, Bob Moore

unseen (U.S.)
Director: Set Hernandez
Producers: Set Hernandez, Day Al-Mohamed, Félix Endara, Dorian Gomez-Pestaña

While We Watched (UK/India)
Director: Vinay Shukla
Producers: Vinay Shukla, Khushboo Ranka, Luke W. Moody

Oct 21, 2023

UK documentaries face and existential threat.  See the story in Variety here


Oct 13, 2023

The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating story about Ken Burns and his latest documentary on The American Buffalo. The new two part series will premiere on PBS Oct. 16 & 17th. See the story here

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Oct 13, 2023

Darren Aronofsky is not known as a documentary filmmaker, but he certainly has a long list of great scripted films including Black Swan, The Wrestler, Requiem For a Dream, and Pi.  And now he has the first film to be featured in the new Las Vegas Sphere called POSTCARD FROM EARTH. The Los Angeles Times has a story here that tells us about the experience watching the film inside the new dome. 

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Oct 7, 2023

New York Times has a contentious interview with documentary Oscar winner Errol Morris about his new film THE PIGEON TUNNEL here. (Our Westdoc conversation with Morris is now posted episode 136.)

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Oct 6, 2023

Theatrical distribution of documentaries is down, but not out. Read an in depth story from Real Screen here. (You may need to log in with an email address to access the story. But it is worth it.)


Sep 28, 2023

Documentary Emmy Award winners here from the Hollywood Reporter.


Aug 31, 2023

Nancy Buirski, Director of "Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy,  passed away two days ago. She was the guest on our Westdoc episode # 127 recorded two months ago and talked all about the making of her new film. She began her professional career as a photo editor at the NY Times. Her first doc was "The Loving Story" (2011) about a couple in an interracial marriage. She also helmed a couple of PBS American Masters docs, the last on director Sidney Lumet. She was the founder of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Her "Midnight Cowboy" doc is certainly going to be a contender in this years' awards.  

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Aug 31, 2023

Rave review of Andy Kaufman documentary in Variety today here


Aug 30, 2023

First time feature director helms the definitive Andy Kaufman bio doc; "Thank You Very Much." See the Guardian story here


Aug 25, 2023

New documentary about Bella Abzug under a cloud as the subjects daughter is not happy. See the NY Times story here


Aug 16, 2023

Variety story here discusses the use of AI in Documentaries. "We are supposed to be telling the truth." 


Aug 15, 2023

AI is going to change our lives in many ways and already has. Redshark has a story here about four new AI video editing platforms. I'm old fashion and like to make all my own decisions. Take a look and let me know what you think. 


Aug 4, 2023

NY Times says Nira Burstein's documentary feature CHARM CIRLE is"tender and funny." See the story here


Jul 29, 2023

Realscreen seems to be the only press reporting the fact that DGA Documentary members were left out of the “historic deal” with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Take a look here


Jul 29, 2023

Magnolia picks up N. American rights for “Immediate Family” doc on ’70s session musicians. We will be posting an episode on Westdoc soon with the director of the film, Denny Tedesco in the near future. See the story here on 

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Jul 26, 2023

"Charm Circle," by Nira Burstein,  Westdoc episode #122 will be released on Criterion Channel August 1st. 

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Jul 23, 2023

A documentary filmmaker feared his subject had turned on him. So he staged his own murder. LA Times here



Jul 19, 2023

He was making a film about the cops then the LAPD tased him in his own home. See the LA Times story here.  Also from the LA Times, "The 50 Best True Crime Stories You Can Stream Now," here


Jul 17, 2023

The NY Times has a review here of THE LEAGUE, the new Sam Pollard directed documentary tracing the history of the Negro baseball leagues. This new film happens to be our next Westdoc episode. 

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June 26, 2023

Just after we posted a new Westdoc episode about a wonderful doc on the history of Warner Bros, big brother has arrived. The Hollywood Reporter has a story here that says Warner Bros has contracted with Cinelytic to use artificial intelligence to help green light projects. “The system can calculate in seconds what used to take days to assess by a human when it comes to general film package evaluation or a star’s worth.”

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June 20, 2023

An interesting and unusual case with two networks fighting over a similar documentary style format. RealScreen reports here how a NY judge sides with A&E in a copyright lawsuit against Reelz

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June 19, 2023

The Wrap has their list of the 25 Best Documentaries currently on Netflix. Story is here


June 14, 2023

Here is a very comprehensive story from Variety writer Matt Donnelly about the two new co-CEOs and co-chairpeople at Warner Bros. What does this have to with documentary filmmaking? Not much but it is a great companion piece to the new "100 Years of Warner Bros" feature doc. If you care about show biz and what is going on today, watch the series on the new Max and read the Variety story. 

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June 9, 2023

Milli Vanilli Feature Doc snapped up by Paramount+. The infamous singing duo had to return their Grammy when it was discovered they didn't sing on their hit records. Back to 1989 with the story from Deadline here


May 26, 2023

Fair Use has been a controversial and somewhat confusing topic for documentary filmmakers for years. When attorney Michael Donaldson wrote the book on Fair Use, his law firm became the go to place to hire when producing any doc that might want to use the Fair Use doctrines. The Andy Warhol vs Lynn Goldsmith case before the Supreme Court last week certainly must have made some producers nervous. The other outspoken authority on the issue is Pat Aufderheide who is a professor at the School of Communication at American University in Washington DC. She has been a steady advocate and a calm voice who often explains what is really happening. Her latest article in Filmmaker Magazine is here telling us not to panic. 



May 24, 2023

What were they thinking? Two of the best known TV brands in the world have merged together today.  I guess they didn't like the name HBO or Discovery. So, they are calling it Max. Now I love Max very much. In fact I named one of my sons Max. But when you combine the two (and more), what do you get? To add insult to injury the new Max app didn't work when they launched today. See the story here. And if that's not enough, they pissed off all the creatives in town by dropping the credits from their shows. LA Times story here

Update, May 25, 2023 Max Changes Credits After Outcry. LA Times story here.

In another update, here is more info from Variety on why the new Max is better. Read it here

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May 23, 2023

"Fair Use" is a very important two edge sword for documentary filmmakers.  It has spawned a mini industry of law firms that specialize in fair use and service doc production companies. There are more than a few very good docs that could not be made without fair use. The supreme court just made a decision on the Andy Warhol Foundation vs celeb photographer Lynn Goldsmith which could have a huge effect on the future of fair use. The New York Times has a terrific podcast called The Daily which discusses a different story every day. Here is a link to the podcast which explains it all 

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May 14, 2023

Profile here of documentary filmmaker Jon Alpert in the NY Times today.

May 12, 2023

This is not really documentary. But what a great story here in the American Cinematographer magazine. "Behind the Curtain: The Wizard of Oz." 

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May 4, 2023

Received an email this morning here from the distribution consultant Peter Broderick. The mass mailing was essentially saying that the heyday of the documentary film is over and that the major streamers and networks aren't buying. At least not what they used to. Not one film was picked up by any streamer at Sundance. It was very unsettling. Also today a headline in a Variety story is "Will the Writers Strike Benefit the Documentary?" You can read it here


May 3, 2023

Vulture has a story here on the nine best docuentaries on Apple TV+. 


Apr 27, 2023

Variety story here about some terrific docs not picked up at the major festivals and the alternate methods the filmmakers are pursuing. 


Apr 23, 2023

Redshark story here reports that most watch YouTube at a faster than normal speed. And wanna know more about HBO beginnings and where the streamer is headed? See the CNN video here



Apr 20, 2023

I asked ChatGPT to name the best documentaries streaming now and here is what it spit out;

There are many great documentaries streaming now across various platforms, but here are some of the best ones to check out:

  1. "The Social Dilemma" (Netflix) - A thought-provoking documentary that examines the negative impact of social media on society.

  2. "My Octopus Teacher" (Netflix) - A visually stunning and emotionally moving documentary about a filmmaker who develops a relationship with an octopus while diving in a South African kelp forest.

  3. "Framing Britney Spears" (Hulu) - A documentary that explores the life and career of pop icon Britney Spears, focusing on her conservatorship and the #FreeBritney movement.

  4. "Crip Camp" (Netflix) - A heartwarming documentary that follows a group of young people with disabilities who attend a summer camp in the 1970s and become advocates for disability rights.

  5. "The Last Dance" (Netflix) - A fascinating look at the career of basketball legend Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls, featuring never-before-seen footage from their championship-winning season.

  6. "The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley" (HBO Max) - A gripping documentary about the rise and fall of Theranos, a fraudulent blood-testing startup founded by Elizabeth Holmes.

  7. "Seaspiracy" (Netflix) - An eye-opening documentary that exposes the environmental impact of the fishing industry and challenges viewers to consider their own consumption habits.

  8. "The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" (HBO Max) - A nostalgic and informative documentary about the Bee Gees, one of the most successful bands of all time.

These are just a few of the many great documentaries streaming now, so take some time to explore the various platforms and discover more that interest you!




Apr 20, 2023

16 mm has now been around for 100 years. Terrific NY Times piece about why it is still in demand. 

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Apr 11, 2023

The Doc Market is Changing. Important story from IndieWire here


Apr 13, 2023


LA Times story on the killing of HBO here

Apr 8, 2023

SAM NOW, Westdoc episode 101 opens this week with a limited theatrical run. Try and catch it before it is on PBS in a couple months. Here is a review in  


Mar 31, 2023

Lisa Nishamura, head of Netflix documentaries, is leaving after leading the non fiction films of the streamer since the DVD days. See The Wrap story here

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Mar 16, 2023

The 50 Best Crime Documentaries and where to stream them now in the LA Times here


Mar 15, 2023

Netflix Wins Defamation Suit Over "Making a Murderer."  See The Hollywood Reporter story here

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Mar 13, 2023

Daniel Roher wins the Oscar for Best Documentary and blasts Putin and the war on Ukraine. Here is the story from the LA Times. 

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Mar 8, 2023

Ever wonder about the Oscar campaigns and what is behind winning that golden statue? Today the NY Times published a fascinating story by Irina Aleksander online that will be in their Sunday magazine that pulls back the curtain on the huge amounts of money and sharp elbowing that was perfected by Harvey Weinstien. The details are about the nomination of Andrea Riseborough and the film you probably didn't see called "To Leslie." What has this to do with the documentary film? Everything, on a smaller scale. Take a look here


Mar 1, 2023

Documentary Oscar campaigns getting very expensive. Variety story here


Feb 28, 2023

"Subject" doc and the ethics of documentary exploitation in the story here in The Guardian.  See Westdoc episode # 100. 

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Feb 17, 2023

Double dipping now allowed again for documentaries at the TV Academy. The Variety story here

And Oscar nominated directors discuss why obsession leads to better films here in The Wrap. 

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Feb 14, 2023

Variety publishes a great list of the 25 best documentaries about Hollywood. Here is the link

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Feb 14, 2023

The LA Times does a interesting interview with Jermy Lin about his participation in "38 At the Garden." Westdoc episode #117.  Read it here

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Feb 12, 2023

Featured on Westdoc episode # 85, Robert Weide the "Vonnegut" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" director pens a moving farewell to his late wife Linda Weide.  See the story here in Deadline

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Feb 2, 2023

Is Netflix good or bad for docs? Too much money, too fast, too many cooks in the kitchen? Or has the golden age of docs come and gone? Read in Vulture here the story that is making a buzz in the doc world. 

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Jan 31, 2023

"This book has never been more valuable and relevant. It's the bible for professionals, creators, and distributors." That's what Ted Serandos, Co-CEO and Chief Content officer at Netflix had to say. Lisa Calif, one of the authors, was on our Westdoc episode #5 back in 2018 and her law firm has represented some of my films. The book is available for pre-order now on Amazon or at your local book store. 

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Jan 28, 2023

ALL THE BEAUTY AND THE BLOODSHED review in The Guardian here

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Jan 24, 2023

Oscar nominees

Best Documentary Feature Film 

“All That Breathes,” Shaunak Sen, Aman Mann and Teddy Leifer

“All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” Laura Poitras, Howard Gertler, John Lyons, Nan Goldin and Yoni Golijov

“Fire of Love,” Sara Dosa, Shane Boris and Ina Fichman

“A House Made of Splinters,” Simon Lereng Wilmont and Monica Hellström

“Navalny,” Daniel Roher, Odessa Rae, Diane Becker, Melanie Miller and Shane Boris


Best Documentary Short Film 

“The Elephant Whisperers,” Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga

“Haulout,” Evgenia Arbugaeva and Maxim Arbugaev

“How Do You Measure a Year?” Jay Rosenblatt

“The Martha Mitchell Effect,” Anne Alvergue and Beth Levison

“Stranger at the Gate,” Joshua Seftel and Conall Jones


Jan 20, 2023

John Williams doc in the works from Spielberg's Amblin prodco. See the story here in the Hollywood Reporter. 



Jan 17, 2023

Who says you can't make a couple of bucks in the non fiction film biz? Vin Di Bona just sold a portion of his production company that has produced "America's Funniest Home Videos" for "..believed to be valued in the nine-figure range." Read the story in Variety here.

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Jan 14, 2023

Documentary short listed "The Territory" protagonist profiled here in Deadline. 

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Jan 11, 2023

The Directors Guild of America announced today the nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary.


Fire of Love




All The Beauty and the Bloodshed




All That Breathes


Jan5, 2023

The Hollywood Reporter looks at the 15 shortlisted contenders for the documentary feature nomination here


Jan 3, 2023

"An American Family" on PBS 50 years ago was a ground breaking 12 part cinema vérité documentary that changed everything on television. Read the story in The Wrap here

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Dec 31, 2022

"The best movies here are the documentaries."

Variety year end story here.  


Dec 25, 2022

IndieWire documentary feature predictions after the short list here



Dec 21, 2022

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences names the films

short listed in the Documentary Feature and Doc Short Branch.


“All That Breathes”
“All the Beauty and the Bloodshed”
“Bad Axe”
“Children of the Mist”
“Fire of Love”
“Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song”
“Hidden Letters”
“A House Made of Splinters”
“The Janes”
“Last Flight Home”
“Moonage Daydream”
“The Territory”


“American Justice on Trial: People v. Newton”
“Angola Do You Hear Us? Voices from a Plantation Prison”
“As Far as They Can Run”
“The Elephant Whisperers”
“The Flagmakers”
“Happiness Is £4 Million”
“Holding Moses”
“How Do You Measure a Year?”
“The Martha Mitchell Effect”
“Nuisance Bear”
“Shut Up and Paint”
“Stranger at the Gate”
“38 at the Garden”

Dec 16, 2022

Email received today from Tom White;

Dear Documentary Community,


After 22 ½ years as Editor of Documentary magazine, I have decided to step down, effective January 4, 2023. I have submitted letters of resignation to the Executive Director and IDA Board of Directors and to the IDA staff. My mental health–namely, my depression–instigated by the exodus of 18 of my colleagues since the beginning of this year, and the toxic context that spurred that exodus, has worsened over the past several months, and it would be best for me, and for the organization, to bow out at this point. 


On September 10, 2001, I was on a flight from Boston to Los Angeles, having visited my wife that weekend, who was getting her master’s degree at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. She wanted me to stay an extra day, and leave the next morning–September 11. She was disappointed that I didn’t honor her wishes. And then the same plane I had taken the previous day was flown into the World Trade Center.


In my long tenure as editor, I often think about 9/11. I think about those who were on the plane I might have taken–how so much loss reverberates over so many people, and how the future becomes an unending, horrific present and past. And I think about those who flew out on September 10, and how they might have carried out or redirected their lives in the subsequent decades, having been spared, as I would grow to believe that I was.


It was the 10th anniversary of 9/11 when things began to crystallize–my fortune ten years ago had transformed my job into a calling, a livelihood, a purpose. I feel truly blessed to have had a purpose, a reason for making my work better, for serving the community as honestly, intentionally and creatively as I could, ever mindful of my blind spots and deficiencies, ever intent on addressing them  To echo what I wrote back in February, in a letter to the IDA Members, in what seemed like a valediction, my purpose has been fortified in large part by the brilliant and compassionate people I’ve had the pleasure of working with–the staffs at IDA and Documentary magazine, and the awesome corps of writers, Editorial Fellows and interns. I have learned so much from all of you, as well as from the documentary community out there: the filmmakers, the educators, the activists, the gatekeepers, the fans. 


I leave IDA and Documentary magazine for destinations unknown. New frontiers are always daunting and inspiring; I relish the challenge of taking those steps into something new. I feel immense gratitude for having had the opportunity to serve the documentary community for 22 1/2 years with the job of a lifetime, and I look forward to seeing what my successor will deliver. 


I wish you all the best.



Tom White


Editor, Documentary Magazine

Dec 10, 2022

"ALL THAT BREATHES" wins the top IDA award. Read the full results here in The Hollywood Reporter. 


Dec 9, 2022

Jane Latman and Nancy Daniels out as Discovery slims down to save money. I've worked with both of the these very smart and competent women. See the story here on Deadline. 


Dec 6, 2022

The Academy announces the complete list of 144 documentaries eligible for an Oscar this year. Here is the list. 


Dec 6, 2022

IDA Executive Director Rick Peréz to Step Down. Hollywood Reporter story here


Dec 6, 2022

White Males Dominated Documentaries. The Hollywood Reporter story here on the racial make up of doc filmmakers. 


Dec 2, 2022

Trump books are poison in the documentary world. Apple kills their doc show based on Maggie Habberman's best selling Trump bio "Confidence Man." A slew of other Trumpian bios also dead in the water. The Wrap story here

Nov 28, 2022

Pelosi Doc Directed by her Daughter headed to HBO. The Deadline story here tells us about the Alexandra Pelosi footage we first saw on CNN from January 6th will debut as a full doc. "Pelosi In The House" covers three decades of her mothers political life. This is Alexandra's 14th HBO film.  (Apparently Alexandria doesn't care about the list of minimum camera requirements published by Netflix. See the list here.)

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Nov 26, 2022 featuring a story here about the Hollywood Black List. It's a good background piece to prep you for our next Westdoc conversation with Billy Shebar and his new doc short "High Noon On The Waterfront." 

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Nov 15, 2022

144 feature documentaries have been submitted to the Oscars for possible nomination. The "short list" will be announced December 21st. See The Wrap story here.  (I don't like it much when a publication features two or three films like the pictures below. But now I am doing it.)

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Nov 11, 2022

IDA Documentary Award Nominations here on Real Screen. 

Nov 11, 2022

This is a first in the doc world. A sticker on the front page of today's LA Times for a documentary film. 

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Nov 8, 2022

"All the Beauty and the Bloodshed" Oscar wining director Laura Poitras to be honored by the Museum of Moving Image and will be the next Westdoc episode. See The Wrap story here

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Nov 3, 2022

Conspiracies and disinformation being used in documentaries. See the NPR story here.

And a "Sad day for documentaries" as cost cutting CNN eliminates outside productions. See the IndieWire story here

Oct 11, 2022

NY Times story here about the Baltimore Prosecutors dropping the charges against Adnan Syed. He was convicted of murder and had a life sentence and was the main character in "Serial," the first very successful podcast documentary series. 

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Oct 11, 2022

If you are a techie, you will love this story of how "Avatar" was converted from 24 to 48 fps. Not documentary issue, but maybe in the future. See the story here in The Wrap. 

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Oct 9, 2022

Ondi Timoner gets a full page in today's Sunday NY Times here on her very personal film "Last Flight Home," the latest episode of Westdoc Online. 

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Oct 8, 2022

See the NY Times story here about "Three Great Documentaries available to stream now." Rotten Tomatoes has a story here on the best upcoming documentaries from the latest fall film festivals. 

Sep 26, 2022

Front page on the NY Times today features a story about documentary filmmaker Meg Smaker and her "Jihab Rehab." Sundance Liked Her film on Terrorism, Until Muslim Critics Didn't.  So I guess you have to be gay if you want to make a film about anyone who is homosexual. Or should Ken Burns have been allowed to make a film about the Holocaust? Scary story can be seen here

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Sep 21, 2022

Firehouse Theater Dedicated to Docs opens in NYC. Co-founded in 1972 by Academy Award-nominated docu filmmaker Jon Alpert (“Life of Crime 1984-2020”) and his wife, doc producer Keiko Tsuno, DCTV has supported documentary filmmakers for the last 50 years. The center dedicated to docs helps produce nonfiction projects and hosts community screenings, discussions, youth media, and continuing education programs. The full story from Variety here

Sep 19, 2022

The power of the documentary is undeniable. The NY Times reports today that a judge has overturned the conviction of Adnan Syed. That name should be familiar to you from the first very successful podcast "Serial." Read the story here. And the Ken Burns mini series "The U.S. and the Holocaust" is reviewed here in the LA Times.  You have probably read and seen the story more than once before. But when Mr. Burns lays it all out in front of you, it makes you think twice about our history. Those who think we should not teach our children critical race theory or anything that questions the good old USA, will not be pleased by this shocking and powerful warning documentary. 

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Sep 16, 2022

Yesterday Variety says doc sales are slowing down. But today, the Hollywood Reporter says ..."streaming transforms the once-sleepy nonfiction space into a money-making juggernaut of hit series, cool parties and $30 million single-title sales." Read the Hollywood Reporter story here

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Sep 15, 2022

Are doc sales slowing down? Is this the age of the corporate doc? Very interesting read from Variety that you can see here.  Below is the poster art from Ondi Timoner's latest documentary picked up at Sundance by Sheila Nevins at MTV. We will be discussing the film with Ondi in an upcoming episode. 

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Amy Stechler, who was instrumental in the early years of Florentine Films, the company behind the Ken Burns series “The Civil War” and numerous other acclaimed documentaries, and who went on to make an Emmy-nominated documentary of her own on the artist Frida Kahlo, died on Aug. 26 at her home in Walpole, N.H. She was 67. See the full obit here in the NY Times

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When we produced the live Westdoc Conference in Santa Monica and Los Angles about ten years ago, we were very fortunate to have the best talent booker, Karin Martenson. I'm not sure how she did it, but she seemed to know everyone in the business and was always able to get A list talent. She had a great smile and laugh.  Karin passed away in July and leaves two wonderful children.  Our hearts are with the family. 

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August 13, 2022  BITTERBRUSH producer SU KIM discusses the current state of the documentary film here in IndieWire

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The non fiction Emmy awards can be a bit confusing at first glance. Even with two glances. But here is the East Coast NY News and Doc nominations by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) as reported in RealScreen. Our episode # 90 "The Rescue" by Chai Vasarhely and Jimmy Chinn is one of the major nominees. 

Directors Guild of America

(You don't have to be a DGA member)

75th Annual Documentary Awards Schedule

Entry forms available online      September 8, 2022

Submit Doc Entries Deadline   October 17, 2022

Doc nominees announced     January 10, 2023

DGA Awards Ceremony           February 18, 2023

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July 20, 2022

The Unraveling of an Award Winning Documentary. The NY Times story here.

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July 1, 2022  Justin Timberlake sued by documentary filmmaker for unreleased doc. See the story on Deadline here

June 25, 2022

Did you happen to watch our episode #78 on the Matt Yoka film "Whirlybird?" It's a wonderful documentary about the infamous TV helicopter pilot Bob Tur and issues in their domestic life. You already know the MSNBC host Katy Tur and she is their daughter and has a new book out this week. The Washington Post headline reads "NBC’s Katy Tur took abuse from Trump; it reminded her of her childhood." See the story here

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June 14, 2022

The Washington Post and Imagine Entertainment for partnership to create scripted and non scipted projects. See the story here

Lucy Walker.jpg

May 11, 2022

Lucy Walker on the Power of the Documentary film here

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May 7, 2022

"The Profit" host Marcus Lemonis sued by business he was supposed to help. Read the story in the LA Times here

April 24, 2022

The largest and best documentary film festival in North America, Hotdocs starts this coming week in Toronto. Get all the info here

April 13, 2022

The ultimate ANDY KAUFMAN feature documentary is now in production. See the details here from the Hollywood Reporter.

April 13, 2022

In 1970 I went to Osaka, Japan to attend Expo '70 because I had become a fan of the the multi screen and interactive films from the previous Expo. This expo showed the first Imax film, Tiger Child, in the horizontal 70mm format that is 9 times bigger than a full 35mm frame.  The extreme high quality and visual impact, is like seeing film for the first time. In fact, the screen is so big, the language of an Imax film is quite different than 35mm or any smaller format. Here is a link to an editorial in the recent LF Examiner from the retired editor/publisher, James Hyder, who thinks Imax should have better standards. (Reprinted by permission.)


April 7, 2022

Just in case you thought there wasn't enough competition, according to Variety there are now more than 817,000 titles available on U.S. streaming and TV services. See the story here


Mar 18, 2022

Shorts near $1.5 million theatrical gross as Oscar broadcast creates second class category. ScreenDaily story here


Mar 3, 2022

More trouble at the International Documentary Association (IDA) as additional staffers depart. Deadline story here

Mar 2, 2022

Rolling Stone Magazine has a wonderful piece on the Godmother of Documentaries, Sheila Nevins. The 82 year old Nevins currently is head of the doc unit at MTV. For 38 years she ran the HBO division that produced all their great award winning documentaries and other non fiction series. Read the story here

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The Academy Shoots Itself in the Foot

Washing Post perspective on how the Oscars may become irrelevant here.



Some Awards Not Live This year!

The very day I feature the Documentary Short category on Westdoc, with a great interview with the director of a brilliant short doc, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces that several awards will not be presented live at their March telecast, including the Documentary Short. Here is the story in The Hollywood Reporter today by Scott Feinberg, who was on our episode #1. 

February 18, 2022

Where to Watch all 38 Oscar nominated feature films here in Variety.


January 13, 2022

"Where are the Jews?" Scandal at the Motion Picture Academy. Read the Rolling Stone story here


I haven't mentioned this yet on Westdoc, but some of you may be aware that I have gotten involved with a couple of Broadway Bound musicals. "PARADISE SQUARE" is finally set to begin previews on Broadway March 15th. Here is a link to a short video and the link below to purchase tickets; (What does this have to do with documentary films, not much, yet. But if you enjoy live theater, you will love this show.)

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Jan 8, 2022

The Hollywood Reporter has an extensive rundown on the 15 Oscar short listed Documentary features here


Real Screen Summit scheduled for Austin in January 2022 has been rescheduled to June in Dana Point, Calif., due to Covid. But the folks at Brunico are going to produce a Real Screen Summit Lite February 7-11.  Take a look at the agenda here

The Guardian is a newspaper worth supporting. Here is a story on upcoming new documentaries to look for. 

December 21, 2021

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars) has announced the short list for Documentary features and shorts. 


Feature Films

Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry
Faya Dayi
The First Wave
In the Same Breath
The Rescue
Simple as Water
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
The Velvet Underground
Writing with Fire

Doc Shorts (Under 40 minutes)

A Broken House
Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis
Coded: The Hidden Love of J. C. Leyendecker
Day of Rage
The Facility
Lead Me Home
Lynching Postcards: “Token of a Great Day”
The Queen of Basketball
Sophie & the Baron
Terror Contagion
Three Songs for Benazir
When We Were Bullies

Dec 15, 2021

Oscar Campaign worth the Cost? Read the story by Anthony Kaufman here in the latest IDA newsletter. 



is the complete list of 138 films eligible for the next Documentary Feature Academy Awards Oscar®

December 2, 2021

The Hollywood Reporter

panel with some of the best documentary filmmakers this year.

See the full story and video here

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Photographed by Charles W. Murphy

Nov 19, 2021

How Documentaries are making a major impact. See the story in the Washington Post here


Nov. 14, 2021

An amazing story in the NY Post about Sheila Nevins (Westdoc episode #46) and her departure from HBO can be read here

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October 25, 2021

IDA Documentary Awards 2021 Features Shortlist:

Ailey (USA / NEON. Director: Jamila Wignot. Producer: Lauren DeFilippo.)

Apenas el sol (Nothing but the Sun) (Switzerland, Paraguay/ Film republic. Director/Producer: Arami Ullón. Producer: Pascal Trächslin.) 

Ascension (USA. Director/Producer: Jessica Kingdon. Producers: Kira Simon-Kennedy, Nathan Truesdell.)

Black Power: A British Story of Resistance (United Kingdom / Amazon Studios. Director: George Amponsah. Producer: Helen Bart.)

Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters (USA / Kino Lorber. Director: Tom Hurwitz. Director/Producer: Rosalynde LeBlanc. Producer: Duana C. Butler.)

Charm Circle (USA. Director/Producer: Nira Burstein. Producer: Betsy Laikin.)

Convergence: Courage in a Crisis (USA / Netflix. Director/Producer: Orlando von Einsiedel. Producers: Dan Cogan, Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby, Laura McNaught.)

Eyes on the Prize: Hallowed Ground (USA / HBO Max. Director: Sophia Nahli Allison.)

Faya Dayi (Ethiopia, USA, Qatar / Janus Films. Director/Producer: Jessica Beshir.)

FLEE (Denmark, France, Norway / NEON. Director: Jonas Poher Rasmussen. Producers: Monica Hellstrӧm,Signe Byrge Sørensen.)

FRUITS OF LABOR (USA / Grasshopper Films, POV. Director/Producer: Emily Cohen Ibañez.)

In the Same Breath (USA, China / HBO, HBO Max. Director/Producer: Nanfu Wang. Producers: Jialing Zhang, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn.)

Jacinta (USA / Hulu, ABC News. Director: Jessica Earnshaw. Producers: Jessica Earnshaw, Holly Meehl, Nimisha Mukerji.)

Life of Crime 1984-2020 (USA / HBO, HBO Max. Director/Producer: Jon Alpert. Producers: Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller.)

Miguel’s War (Lebanon, Germany, Spain. Director/Producer: Eliane Raheb.)

North By Current (USA / POV. Director/Producer: Angelo Madsen Minax. Producer: Felix Endara.)

Not Going Quietly (USA / Greenwich Entertainment. Director: Nicholas Bruckman. Producer: Amanda Roddy.)

President (Denmark, USA, Norway. Director: Camilla Nielsson. Producer: Signe Byrge Sørensen, Joslyn Barnes.)

Rebel Hearts (USA / discovery+. Director: Pedro Kos. Producers: Kira Carstensen, Shawnee Isaac-Smith, Judy Korin.)

So Late So Soon (USA / Oscilloscope Laboratories. Director: Daniel Hymanson. Producers: Trace Henderson, Josh Penn, Kellen Quinn, Noah Stahl.)

Storm Lake (USA / Independent Lens. Director: Beth Levison, Jerry Risius. Producer: Beth Levison.)

Summer of Soul (USA / Hulu, Searchlight Pictures. Director: Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. Producers: Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent, David Dinerstein.)

Taming the Garden (Switzerland, Germany, Georgia. Director/Producer: Salomé Jashi. Producers: Vadim Jendreyko, Erik Winker, Martin Roelly.)

This Stained Dawn (Pakistan, Canada. Director/Producer: Anam Abbas.)

Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre (USA / History. Director/Producers: Stanley Nelson, Marco Williams. Producer: Julie Sisson.)

Who Are You, Charlie Brown? (USA / Apple TV+. Director: Michael Bonfiglio. Producers: Kimberly Small, Marcella Steingart.)

Wojnarowicz: F**k You F*ggot F**ker (USA / Kino Lorber. Director: Chris McKim. Producers: Randy Barbato, Fenton Bailey.)

Writing With Fire (India / ITVS, Music Box. Director/Producers: Rintu Thomas, Sushmit Ghosh.)

Wuhan Wuhan (USA / Starlight Media Inc., SA Inc., Kartemquin Films. Director: Yung Chang. Producers: Peter Luo, Donna Gigliotti, Diane Quon.)

IDA Documentary Awards 2021 Shorts Shortlist:

A Broken House (USA, Lebanon / Condé Nast Entertainment, The New Yorker, POV. Director/Producer: Jimmy Goldblum. Producers: Matt Weaver, Harrison Nalevansky.)

Águilas (USA / The New Yorker. Director/Producers: Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, Maite Zubiaurre.)

Ain't No Time For Women (Canada / Travelling. Director: Sarra El Abed. Producer: Isabelle Grignon-Francke)

Day of Rage: How Trump Supporters Took the U.S. Capitol (USA / The New York Times. Directors: Malachy Browne, David Botti. Producers: Haley Willis, Christiaan Triebert, Evan Hill, Cora Engelbrecht, Stella Cooper.)

E14 (United Kingdom / Fifth Season LTD. Director: Peiman Zekavat. Producer: Sanam Jehanfard.)

Joe Buffalo (Canada / Condé Nast Entertainment, The New Yorker. Director/Producer: Amar Chebib. Producers: Hayley Morin, Mack Stannard)

Joychild (USA / The New Yorker, Stanford University. Director/Producer: Aurora Brachman)

Kalsubai (India / Film and Television Institute of India. Director: Yudhajit Basu)

Open Shutters (USA, Republic of Korea / Field of Vision. Director/Producer: Do Youjin.)

Red Taxi  (USA, Hong Kong / Field of Vision. Director/Producer: Anonymous)

same/different/both/neither (Brazil / Photogram Films Distribution. Director/Producer: Adriana Barbosa, Fernanda Pessoa.)

Senior Prom (USA / PBS, Independent Lens. Director/Producer: Luisa Conlon. Producer: Jessica Chermayeff.)

Since you arrived, my heart stopped belonging to me (Desde que llegaste, mi corazón dejó de pertenecerme) (USA / The New Yorker. Director/Producer: Erin Semine Kökdil)

Status Pending (USA / Al Jazeera English - Witness. Director: Priscilla Gonzalez Sainz. Producer: Laura Reich.)

Takeover (USA. Director: Emma Francis-Snyder. Producer: Tony Gerber.)

The Last Cruise (USA / HBO Max. Director/Producer: Hannah Olson. Producers: Shane Boris, Joe Beshenkovsky, James A Smith.)

The Seeker (USA / Topic. Director: Lance Edmands. Producers: Kyle Martin, Sarah Tihany.) 

October 14, 2021

The latest episode of Westdoc Online is a conversation with first time feature director Rachel Fleit and her film is a must see, "Introducing Selma Blair." The New York Times has story here today and Good Morning America video can be seen here

October 11, 2021 

The Documentary Award Entry Form for the 74th Annual DGA Awards is now available on the DGA's website. If you have directed a documentary that was, or will be, released by December 31, 2021, we encourage you to consider entering your documentary. Please note, the Documentary Award category is open for submission to DGA and non-DGA directors.


Deadlines for receipt of all Documentary Award Entry Forms and HD link submissions are as follows:

  • For Documentary entries with a theatrical release or broadcast during the period of March 1 through June 14, 2021, the deadline is Friday, October 22, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. PST.

  • For Documentary entries with a theatrical release or broadcast during the period of June 15 through December 31, 2021, the deadline is Monday, November 8, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. PST.

Please visit the DGA website to see all the key dates for the 74th Annual DGA Awards, which will take place on Saturday, March 12, 2022.

Should you have any questions, please contact the DGA Awards Office at (310) 289-2038 or

September 18, 2021













                                    PATRICIA AUFDERHEIDE

is at it again. This time she wrote to the Federal Trade Commission about why they should Not let Amazon buy MGM. It's a compelling read and you can see it here on the IDA web site. 

Episode 79 is an in depth conversation with producer director NICK DAVIS about his four part ESPN doc on the Mets called "Once Upon a Time In Queens." He discusses his family history starting with his father Peter Davis who won the doc Oscar for the powerful Viet Nam film "Hearts and Minds." If that was enough, his grandfather, Herman Mankiewicz won an Oscar for writing "Citizen Kane." Davis wrote a book about Herman and brother Joe Mankiewicz and by coincidence, the book and the Mets doc both premiere September 14th. Nick tells more in this short story about his family here. And the LA Times reviews the book "Competing With Idiots: Herman and Joe Mankiewicz, a Dual Portrait" here. Go to a local book store and buy the book. 


PATRICIA AUFDERHEIDE has been a powerful voice in the documentary world for years. I first became aware of her when she started writing and informing everyone about "Fair Use." She is the author of several books and is a University Professor in the School of Communication at American University in Washington DC. They just published a report and survey on "The State of Journalism on the Documentary Filmmaking Scene." Thought provoking good read can be seen here.


The deadline for submitting new films for this year's Oscar nominations is just around the corner. 

Feature documentary is 11-01-2021 5 PM

Doc short is 10-15-2021  5 PM


August 24, 2021   YouTube paid its creators $30 Billion over the last three years! Read the story in The Wrap here


August 16, 2021   Time to brag a bit. The last three years I have been an adjunct professor teaching "Documentary Producing and Directing" at CSUN, Cal State University, Northridge. Last year I taught the first documentary thesis class 441 for Seniors. The students pitch proposed projects to me and the students and I pick the best. The young filmmakers whose projects were not chosen, are picked as crew in different positions on the new projects. The university wanted and needed some recognition for all the good work they have been doing. USC, UCLA, and NYU are perceived as the best film schools in the country, and they certainly are very good. (I graduated from USC Cinema department) but CSUN is getting up there. This year there were seven films picked as Finalists by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science for best Domestic Documentary. Two from NYU, two from Columbia, one from USC, UC Berkeley, and one from my 441 class at CSUN! The film is "Translucent" by Avery Fox and Kayla Hoeflinger and congrats to them. See all the nominations here


August 12, 2021    Jukin Media (Westdoc Online episode # 37) has been acquired by the parent company of Readers Digest. Last year alone Jukin licensed over 2,000 video clips for ad campaigns and more.  Read the full story in Variety here


August 5, 2021.  The Hollywood Reporter has a story by Eriq Gardner about FAIR USE that should be of interest to many documentary filmmakers. It deals with footage from 9/11 that was distributed all around the world to major players without permission from the filmmakers. Read it here

July 16, 2021   Morgan Neville's new documentary "Roddrunner" about TV superstar Anthony Bourdain is getting a good deal of press. The New Yorker magazine has a compelling story about the making of the film and the AI  VO controversy. Take a look here

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July, 13, 2021.  There were 8,762 nominations for Emmy awards today. Below is the list for Outstanding Directing For A Documentary/Nonfiction Program. If you want to see the unending full list of nominees in all categories, click here

Allen v. Farrow • Episode 3 • HBO • HBO Documentary Films presents in association with Impact Partners and Chicago Media Project, a Jane Doe Films Production
Kirby Dick, Directed by
Amy Ziering, Directed by

The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart • HBO • HBO Documentary Films And Polygram Entertainment Present A Kennedy/Marshall Production and a White Horse Pictures Production in association with Diamond Docs
Frank Marshall, Directed by

Boys State • Apple TV+ • Apple / A24 / Concordia Studio / Mile End Films
Amanda McBaine, Directed by Jesse Moss, Directed by

Dick Johnson Is Dead • Netflix • A Netflix Original Documentary / A Big Mouth Productions Film
Kirsten Johnson, Directed by

The Social Dilemma • Netflix • An Exposure Labs Production in association with Argent Pictures for Netflix
Jeff Orlowski, Directed by

Tina • HBO • HBO Documentary Films presents a Lightbox Production
Dan Lindsay, Directed by TJ Martin, Directed by

July 9, 2021

BARRY DILLER tells NPR that "The Movie Business is Dead!"

Read the full story here

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Oscars) just sent out an email announcing the invitation to 395 new members. Here is part of their message and the names of the new Documentary Branch invitees;

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extending invitations to join the organization to 395 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures.

Membership selection decisions are based on professional qualifications, with representation, inclusion and equity remaining a priority of Academy Aperture 2025.  The 2021 class is 46% women, 39% underrepresented ethnic/racial communities, and 53% international from 49 countries outside of the United States.  There are 89 Oscar® nominees, including 25 winners, among the invitees.

Karen Akerman – “The Trial,” “Simonal – Nobody Knows the Hard I Had”
Raney Aronson-Rath – “For Sama,” “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail”
João Atala – “The Edge of Democracy,” “The Daily Death”
Philippe Bellaiche – “Advocate,” “The Settlers”
Julie Cohen – “My Name Is Pauli Murray,” “RBG”
Charlotte Cook – “Do Not Split,” “The Gospel of Eureka”
Heino Deckert – “Aquarela,” “Human Flow”
Alice Elliott – “Miracle on 42nd Street,” “The Collector of Bedford Street”
Rodney Evans – “Vision Portraits,” “The Unveiling”
Kristin Feeley
Bryan Fogel – “The Dissident, “Icarus”
Nick Fraser – “The Lovers and the Despot,” “Man on Wire”
Jacqueline Glover – “True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality,” “Jim: The James Foley Story”
T. Griffin – “Boys State,” “Life, Animated”
Maya Daisy Hawke – “Janis: Little Girl Blue,” “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”
Wolfgang Held – “All In: The Fight for Democracy,” “Children Underground”
Kathy K. Im 
Judy Karp – “Dick Johnson Is Dead,” “Citizenfour”
Lesli Klainberg – “Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema,” “In the Company of Women”
Susan Margolin – “A Crime on the Bayou,” “The Rape of Recy Taylor”
Ousmane William Mbaye – “Président Dia,” “Mère-Bi (Mother)”
Lucila Moctezuma – “Living Los Sures,” “The New Americans”
Bill Morrison – “Dawson City: Frozen Time,” “The Great Flood”
Alexander Nanau* – “Collective,” “Toto and His Sisters”
Xan Parker – “Rebuilding Paradise,” “Tigerland”
Kellen Quinn – “Time,” “Midnight Family”
Brenda Robinson – “The Great American Lie,” “United Skates”
Kim A. Snyder – “Us Kids,” “Newtown”
Kathryn Townsend – “Cold Case Hammarskjöld,” “Shirkers”
Angela Tucker – “Belly of the Beast,” “(A)Sexual”
Betsy West – “My Name Is Pauli Murray,” “RBG”
Justin Wilkes – “Rebuilding Paradise,” “What Happened, Miss Simone?”
Peter Yam – “Lost Course,” “Yellowing”

June 13, 2021.  Imax was an important and innovative development in the history of film. I saw the first Imax film at Expo '70 in Osaka, Japan and became a fan. In the '90's I was involved with the production of a couple of Imax films. Graeme Ferguson was the co-inventor and his obit is in the NY Times today.

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Click on the title to view the film


"Colette" (#67) Oscar Winner

"A Concerto Is a Conversation"

"Do Not Split" (#70)

"Hunger Ward"

"A Love Song For Latasha"


Feature Docs


"Crip Camp"

"The Mole Agent"

"My Octopus Teacher" (#63) Oscar Winner

"Time" (#62

April 11, 2021   News Flash

Directors Guild of America


Episode # 65

Best Documentary 

April 18, 2021

I hope I am wrong, but I am afraid that this year's Oscars will be less relevant than ever after very low tv ratings. Read today's NY Times story here about the Oscar show.  On the other hand, the documentaries are better than ever. 

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April 4, 2021

The last few days on Facebook I have been following a story line about doc filmmakers complaining about all the many hours PBS has given to KEN BURNS. Now The Guardian has pitched in with a story of 140 non fiction filmmakers signing a petition criticizing PBS for lack of diversity and transparency.  Read the full story here

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Would China censor the Oscars over

a documentary short? See The Wrap story here

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March 19, 2021

Documentaries are changing public opinion about celebs in the

Washington Post here. 

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March 15, 2021

Oscar-Nominated Documentary Being Auctioned As An NFT

Read the story here.

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Director Leon Gast spent 22 years making the Oscar winning doc "When We Were Kings," about the Ali-Foreman fight. Read the amazing obit in the NY Times here

Directors Guild of America

Documentary nominees



The Truffle Hunters

(Sony Pictures Classics)



My Octopus Teacher




Welcome to Chechnya




Boys State




The Painter and the Thief

The Hollywood Reporter takes a closer look at the 15 short listed documentary feature films here

Oscar Short Listed Documentaries

Documentary Feature

All In: The Fight for Democracy
Boys State
Crip Camp
Dick Johnson Is Dead
The Mole Agent
My Octopus Teacher (ep#63)
The Painter and the Thief (ep#54)
76 Days
Time (ep#53)
The Truffle Hunters (ep#65)
Welcome to Chechnya

Documentary Shorts

Abortion Helpline, This Is Lisa
Call Center Blues
Colette (ep#67)
A Concerto Is a Conversation
Do Not Split
Hunger Ward
Hysterical Girl (ep#69)
A Love Song for Latasha
The Speed Cubers
What Would Sophia Loren Do?

February 2, 2021

Here Come the Awards

PGA Doc Nominations here.

January 16, 2021

240 Feature Documentaries qualify for this year smashing the old record. See the entire list and story in The Wrap here.

January 14, 2021

What happens to the "Up" series now that Michael Apted is gone? Read the NY Times story here.

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January 16, 2021


Wins at IDA Awards

See Deadline story here

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January 11. 2021

"An American Family"

Pat Loud, mother of the documentary family dies.

Must see film.  Read NY Time story here

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January 8, 2021


Read the Variety story here

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January 8, 2021

"Up" series director

Michael Apted

passes at age 79. RealScreen story here

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Click on the image below to read the story from THE WRAP

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Bryan Fogel and "The Dissident"

Major distributors snub Oscar winners follow up documentary. NY Times story here

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Coley Brown for The NY Times

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Rolling Stone 

10 Best Documentaries for 2020 here.

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Indiewire story on the Best Documentaries of 2020 here.

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NY Times story on the two women who now run documentary programming at HBO.


Episode #56

Called "harrowing" by NPR and listed as a new documentary to watch by CBS News, new WMM release BELLY OF THE BEAST will open at the Roxiein San Francisco on 10/14, the Laemmle Theather in LAthe O Cinema in MiamiAFI Silver in DC on 10/16, and venues in New Orleans, Seattle, and New York before going on to other theaters around the country.

This powerful film, made by Peabody and Emmy Award-winning and nominated filmmakers, has an original song from nine-time Grammy-winning singer Mary J. Blige. "I was moved by Erika Cohn’s important documentary," said Blige, "I immediately knew I wanted to be involved and was inspired to write a song that would amplify the voices of women in prison." Variety recently announced that Blige's song will be submitted for Oscar consideration for Best Original Song. Hear a portion of the song in the trailer.

With recent stories in the New York Times, NPR, and other outlets about unnecessary hysterectomies being performed in ICE detention centers, the release of BELLY OF THE BEAST, an investigation of forced sterilizations in California prisons, could not be more timely.

The film -- which has attracted the attention of celebrities such as Common, QTip, and Yvette Brown -- premiered as the opening night film at Human Rights Watch Film Festival, New York in June and has upcoming festival screenings at the Mill Valley Film Festival and the Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival.

Now available for pre-order for sale and to book for virtual screenings

September 7, 2020

Profile of Netflix's Reed Hastings

from Vanity Fair

by Joy Press


August 29, 2020

NY Times story

on "Honeyland"

and what the filmmakers are still dealing with. 


July 29, 2020

New PBS Documentary channel on Amazon Prime

June 29, 2020

Jukin Media Surpasses $25 million in

Royalty payments to Video Creators

(See episode # 37)


July 1, 2020

Deepfake Technology Enters the Documentary World

June 30, 2020

New Academy Members in the Documentary branch of the AMPAS

Shirley Abraham – “The Hour of Lynching,” “The Cinema Travellers”
Joelle Alexis – “The Green Prince,” “A Film Unfinished”
Cristina Amaral – “Um Filme de Verão (A Summer Film),” “Person”
Liran Atzmor – “King Bibi,” “The Law in These Parts”
Violeta Ayala – “Cocaine Prison,” “The Bolivian Case”
Julia Bacha – “Naila and the Uprising,” “Budrus”
Robert Bahar – “The Silence of Others,” “Made in L.A.”
Nels Bangerter – “Cameraperson,” “Let the Fire Burn”
Malek Bensmaïl – “The Battle of Algiers, a Film within History,” “La Chine Est Encore Loin (China Is Still Far)”
Sara Bernstein – “Rebuilding Paradise,” “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley”
Yael Bitton – “Advocate,” “Machines”
Garrett Bradley – “Time,” “Alone”
Salem Brahimi – “Abd El-Kader,” “Africa Is Back”
Vincent Carelli – “Martírio,” “Corumbiara: They Shoot Indians, Don’t They?”
Almudena Carracedo – “The Silence of Others,” “Made in L.A.”
Paola Castillo – “Beyond My Grandfather Allende,” “Genoveva”
Daniel Chalfen – “The Infiltrators,” “Silenced”
Chaowei Chang – “Chong Tian (The Rocking Sky),” “The Road to Fame”
Lisa Kleiner Chanoff – “Life Overtakes Me,” “Watchers of the Sky”
Alison Chernick – “Itzhak,” “Matthew Barney: No Restraint”
Kasper Collin – “I Called Him Morgan,” “My Name Is Albert Ayler”
Inadelso Cossa – “A Memory in Three Acts,” “Xilunguine, the Promised Land”
Laura Coxson – “The Proposal,” “Iris”
Maria Cuomo Cole – “Newtown,” “Living for 32”
Emma Davie – “Becoming Animal,” “I Am Breathing”
Adam Del Deo – “Quincy,” “Every Little Step”
Whitney Dow – “When the Drum Is Beating,” “Two Towns of Jasper”
Kelly Duane de La Vega – “The Return,” “Better This World”
Sandi Dubowski – “A Jihad for Love,” “Trembling before G-d”
Carol Dysinger – “Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl),” “Camp Victory,Afghanistan”
Paz Encina – “Memory Exercises,” “Paraguayan Hammock”
Ali Essafi – “Sheikhates Blues,” “Général, Nous Voilà!”
Ina Fichman – “The Oslo Diaries,” “The Wanted 18”
David France – “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson,” “How to Survive a Plague”
Asako Fujioka – “Shukufuku (Blessed)”
Atanas Georgiev* – “Honeyland,” “Cash & Marry”
Linda Goldstein Knowlton – “We Are the Radical Monarchs,” “Somewhere Between”
Robert Greene – “Bisbee ’17,” “Kate Plays Christine”
Pernille Rose Grønkjær – “Hunting for Hedonia,” “The Monastery”
Tala Hadid – “House in the Fields,” “Windsleepers”
Amelia Hapsari – “Rising in Silence,” “Fight like Ahok”
John Haptas – “Life Overtakes Me,” “Tokyo Waka”
Jessica Hargrave – “Ask Dr. Ruth,” “Good Ol’ Freda”
Monica Weston Hellström – “The Distant Barking of Dogs,” “15 Min – The Massacre”
Sonja Henrici – “Donkeyote,” “I Am Breathing”
Jerry Henry – “City of Gold,” “American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs”

Alice Henty – “The Dog Doc,” “The Work”
Robin Hessman – “Simple as Water,” “My Perestroika”
Nishtha Jain – “Gulabi Gang,” “Lakshmi and Me”
Rachel Leah Jones – “Advocate,” “Gypsy Davy”
Gary Byung-Seok Kam – “In the Absence,” “Planet of Snail”
Toni Kamau – “I Am Samuel,” “Softie”
Anne Köhncke – “Pervert Park,” “The Act of Killing”
Tamara Kotevska* – “Honeyland,” “Lake of Apples”
Hajooj Kuka – “Live from Mogadishu,” “Beats of the Antonov”
Richard Ladkani – “Sea of Shadows,” “The Ivory Game”
Véronique Lagoarde-Ségot – “Amal,” “5 Broken Cameras”
Peter Lataster – “Miss Kiet’s Children,” “Awake in a Bad Dream”
Petra Lataster-Czisch – “Miss Kiet’s Children,” “Awake in a Bad Dream”
Erez Laufer – “Rabin in His Own Words,” “One Day after Peace”
Monica Lazurean-Gorgan – “A Mere Breath,” “Chuck Norris vs. Communism”
Bo Li – “Our Time Machine,” “Plastic China”
Allyson Luchak – “This Is Not a Movie,” “One Nation under Dog”
Amit Madheshiya – “The Hour of Lynching,” “The Cinema Travellers”
Vinnie Malhotra – “16 Shots,” “Ivory Tower”
Jeffrey Malmberg – “Spettacolo,” “Marwencol”
Vitaly Mansky – “Putin’s Witnesses,” “Under the Sun”
Andrea Meditch – “Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops,” “Grizzly Man”
Thomas G. Miller – “Limited Partnership,” “One Bad Cat: The Reverend Albert Wagner Story”

Todd Douglas Miller – “Apollo 11,” “Dinosaur 13”
Rima Mismar
Nicole Newnham – “Crip Camp,” “The Rape of Europa”
Bianca Oana – “Colectiv (Collective),” “Turn Off the Lights”
Jacki Ochs – “Out of My Head,” “Letters Not about Love”
Mariana Oliva – “The Edge of Democracy,” “Piripkura”
Göran Hugo Olsson – “That Summer,” “The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975”
Deborah Oppenheimer – “Foster,” “Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport”

Iván Osnovikoff – “Los Reyes,” “La Muerte de Pinochet (The Death of Pinochet)”
Tiago Pavan – “The Edge of Democracy,” “Olmo and the Seagull”
Bettina Perut – “Los Reyes,” “La Muerte de Pinochet (The Death of Pinochet)”
Nicolas Philibert – “To Be and to Have,” “In the Land of the Deaf”
Diane Quon – “The Dilemma of Desire,” “Minding the Gap”
Claudia Raschke – “RBG,” “Mad Hot Ballroom”
Marina Razbezhkina – “Optical Axis,” “Winter, Go Away!”
Jeff Reichert – “American Factory,” “Remote Area Medical”
Lisa Remington – “Foster,” “Feminists: What Were They Thinking?”
Yoruba Richen – “The New Black,” “Promised Land”
Jihan Robinson – “Pahokee,” “Traveling While Black”
Marta Rodriguez – “Our Voice of Earth, Memory and Future,” “Campesinos (Peasants)”
Erich Roland – “The Final Year,” “Waiting for “Superman””
Maureen A. Ryan – “1971,” “Wisconsin Death Trip”
Sophie Sartain – “Seeing Allred,” “Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh”

Elhum Shakerifar – “Of Love & Law,” “Even When I Fall”
Karin Slater – “Sisters of the Wilderness,” “The Meaning of the Buffalo”
Jason Spingarn-Koff – “The White Helmets,” “Life 2.0”
Ljubo Stefanov* – “Honeyland,” “Lake of Apples”
Michèle Stephenson – “American Promise,” “Slaying Goliath”
David Tedeschi – “Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese,” “George Harrison: Living in the Material World”
Douglas Tirola – “Bisbee ’17,” “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead”
Mila Turajlic – “The Other Side of Everything,” “Cinema Komunisto”
Noland Walker – “Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story,” “Citizen King”
Yvonne Welbon – “The New Black,” “Sisters in Cinema”
Chris White – “Midnight Traveler,” “Quest”
Yi Seung-Jun – “In the Absence,” “Planet of Snail”
Donald Young – “Daze of Justice,” “Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings”
Miranda Yousef – “Misconception,” “Troubadours”
Yolande Zauberman – “M,” “Classified People”
Zhou Hao – “The Chinese Mayor,” “Cotton”
Michel Zongo – “No Gold for Kalsaka,” “The Siren of Faso Fani”

June 10, 2020

Peabody Awards announced today include;

"For Sama," Westdoc Online episode # 35 and

"Hale County, This Morning, This Evening" ep # 21


May 14, 2020

New Oscar® Eligibility Rules

from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 

for this year's Documentaries.

Scott Feinberg Hollywood Reporter story here

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May 7, 2020.  Director Matt Wolf, who we interviewed in episode 48, just released his latest documentary, "SPACESHIP EARTH." From the LA Times review; For two years, from 1991 to 1993, eight men and women sealed themselves inside this eight-story, three-acre terrarium and made it their research laboratory and their home. It was a scientific experiment and a domestic one, a test of how humankind might endure in a self-enclosed environment on this planet or the next. Watch the trailer here

May 8, 2020  Hollywood film on hold, but documentary producers keep on shooting. NY Times story here.



Netfllix puts 10 documentaries on

Youtube free. See the story here.

Here is part of an email just received (May 7, 2020) from the Television Academy Documentary Peer Group;

Today, the Television Academy announced its support for the recent decision of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to allow feature films, originally intended for theatrical distribution but made available via streaming or video on demand during the current pandemic crisis, to compete at the 2021 Oscars. Further, the Television Academy noted its recent March ruling: that effective in 2021, any program that has been nominated for an Oscar will no longer be eligible for the Emmys competition.

Scott Feinberg (Westdoc episode # 1) of the Hollywood Reporter doesn't think the Television Academy has gone far enough. See the story here

The New York Times just ran a story about the latest film featured on Westdoc Online; "Made You Look" by BARRY AVRICH. Take a look here.

Quibi launched April 6th. Here is the first review I found;


The Academy Award noms & winners 
Feature Docs:

"American Factory" Oscar winner
"The Cave"
"The Edge of Democracy"
"For Sama" (Westdoc episode # 35)
"Honeyland" (Westdoc episode # 36)

Documentary Shorts:
“In the Absence” 
“Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone

(If You’re a Girl)” Oscar winner
“Life Overtakes Me” 
“St. Louis Superman" (Westdoc episode # 46)
“Walk Run Cha-Cha” 

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