News Stories about Documentary Films
The occasional news story about documentary films (and more) from a variety of sources.
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.
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.
Jan 28, 2023
ALL THE BEAUTY AND THE BLOODSHED review in The Guardian here.
Jan 24, 2023
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.
Jan 14, 2023
Documentary short listed "The Territory" protagonist profiled here in Deadline.
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
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.
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”
“Children of the Mist”
“Fire of Love”
“Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song”
“A House Made of Splinters”
“Last Flight Home”
DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILM
“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”
“Happiness Is £4 Million”
“How Do You Measure a Year?”
“The Martha Mitchell Effect”
“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.
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.)
Nov 26, 2022
Deadline.com 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."
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
August 13, 2022 BITTERBRUSH producer SU KIM discusses the current state of the documentary film here in IndieWire
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
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.
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.
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; https://paradisesquaremusical.com. (What does this have to do with documentary films, not much, yet. But if you enjoy live theater, you will love this show.)
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.
Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry
The First Wave
In the Same Breath
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
Lead Me Home
Lynching Postcards: “Token of a Great Day”
The Queen of Basketball
Sophie & the Baron
Three Songs for Benazir
When We Were Bullies
December 2, 2021
The Hollywood Reporter
panel with some of the best documentary filmmakers this year.
See the full story and video here.
Photographed by Charles W. Murphy
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 Awards@dga.org.
September 18, 2021
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.
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
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”
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. https://nyti.ms/3cAsmNh
2021 OSCAR® DOCUMENTARY NOMINEES
Click on the title to view the film
"Colette" (#67) Oscar Winner
"Do Not Split" (#70)
"My Octopus Teacher" (#63) Oscar Winner
April 11, 2021 News Flash
Directors Guild of America
"THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS"
Episode # 65
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.
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.
Would China censor the Oscars over
a documentary short? See The Wrap story here.
March 19, 2021
Documentaries are changing public opinion about celebs in the
Washington Post here.
March 15, 2021
Oscar-Nominated Documentary Being Auctioned As An NFT
Read the story here.
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
MICHAEL DWECK & GREGORY KERSHAW
The Truffle Hunters
(Sony Pictures Classics)
PIPPA EHRLICH & JAMES REED
My Octopus Teacher
Welcome to Chechnya
AMANDA McBAINE & JESSE MOSS
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
All In: The Fight for Democracy
Dick Johnson Is Dead
The Mole Agent
My Octopus Teacher (ep#63)
The Painter and the Thief (ep#54)
The Truffle Hunters (ep#65)
Welcome to Chechnya
Abortion Helpline, This Is Lisa
Call Center Blues
A Concerto Is a Conversation
Do Not Split
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.
January 16, 2021
Wins at IDA Awards
See Deadline story here.
January 11. 2021
"An American Family"
Pat Loud, mother of the documentary family dies.
Must see film. Read NY Time story here.
January 8, 2021
215 FEATURE DOCUMENTARIES SUBMITTED THE MOTION PICTURE ACADEMY FOR THIS YEAR!!
Read the Variety story here.
January 8, 2021
"Up" series director
passes at age 79. RealScreen story here.
Click on the image below to read the story from THE WRAP
Bryan Fogel and "The Dissident"
Major distributors snub Oscar winners follow up documentary. NY Times story here.
Coley Brown for The NY Times
10 Best Documentaries for 2020 here.
Indiewire story on the Best Documentaries of 2020 here.
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 LA, the O Cinema in Miami, AFI 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
from Vanity Fair
by Joy Press
August 29, 2020
and what the filmmakers are still dealing with.
July 29, 2020
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”
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.
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; https://www.engadget.com/quibi-mobile-video-review-040106790.html
The Academy Award noms & winners
"American Factory" Oscar winner
"The Edge of Democracy"
"For Sama" (Westdoc episode # 35)
"Honeyland" (Westdoc episode # 36)
“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”
LA Times January 18, 2020