News Stories about Documentary Films

The occasional news story about documentary films (and more) from a variety of sources. 

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

Do Not image.jpg

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”