Nanook of the North (1922) - News Poster

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Power and Perspective in Storytelling: How To Support Each Other, Authentically Represent Characters, and Dismantle The White Power Structure

Discussing the Other, race, and privilege in documentaries is no straightforward task. Who can tell whose story to whom using whose story-telling techniques have been questions since before 1922’s Nanook of the North, and when we toss in why, and whose paying for it, it doesn’t get simpler. At a panel on perspective and point of view in storytelling at Doc NYC Pro, filmmaker Renee Tajima-Peña deftly moderated as five award-winning filmmakers who present as non-white grappled with some of the issues around representation, the white gaze, and what we as individuals can do to support each other, act authentically […]
See full article at Filmmaker Magazine »

Birth, Death, and Dramatization: The Invention of the Modern Documentary

By Jacob Oller

Truth needs a little creativity sometimes. n the early 1920s, director Robert Flaherty decided to film the incredible and different society of Inuits that he’d stumbled upon. He ruined the first draft, then went back and reshot what later became 1922’s Nanook of the North, a feature-length docudrama that became the controversial catalyst for a […]

The article Birth, Death, and Dramatization: The Invention of the Modern Documentary appeared first on Film School Rejects.
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The Beautiful Lies of Robert J. Flaherty’s "Moana with Sound"

  • MUBI
Close-Up is a feature that spotlights films now playing on Mubi. Robert Flaherty's Moana with Sound (1926 / 1980) is playing August 30 - September 29, 2017 on Mubi in most countries around the world.Slowly, slowly, the tufunga taps his comb of bone needles into the young man’s lower back. His movements are practiced and precise, each tap marking the young man for the rest of his days. The young man winces in agony, sweat pouring down his face as his relatives wipe away the blood and excess ink with tapa cloth. A witch-woman stokes a fire and burns candlenut stalks to make more soot for the tufunga’s ink. The infernal tapping continues, now on his upper back, now on his flanks, now on his knees—the most painful part of the ceremony. Outside the hut, a crowd of men dance and sing. “Courage to Moana,” they cry, “Courage to Moana!
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‘Documentary Now!’: The Secrets to Recreating Film History the Right Way

‘Documentary Now!’: The Secrets to Recreating Film History the Right Way
IFC’s “Documentary Now!” has always gone for more than the cheap laugh. While it’s a mockumentary of public-tv programming and the documentaries they feature, the real pleasure lies in watching how it will create homages to great nonfiction filmmaking.

“We really wanted you to be clicking through the channels, landing on our show and thinking that it is a real documentary, and then suddenly say, ‘Hey, hold on for a minute — that’s Fred Armisen, what’s he doing in this documentary?'” said Alexander Buono, the executive producer who has co-directed and served as cinematographer on every episode of the show’s two seasons.

Buono and his fellow co-director, executive producer Rhys Thomas, started their collaboration on “Saturday Night Live” where every week they were charged with creating send-ups of everything from a suspense drama to a pharmaceutical commercial to a music video.

Read More: How ‘The
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When In Disgrace With Fortune and Men's Eyes: Close-Up on Nicholas Ray's "In a Lonely Place"

Close-Up is a column that spotlights films now playing on Mubi. Nicholas Ray's In a Lonely Place (1950) is playing June 2 - July 2, 2017 on Mubi in the United Kingdom as part of the series The American Noir.Although mostly remembered now by the public for his 1955 classic Rebel Without a Cause, Nicholas Ray left behind him a legacy of over twenty feature films. A veritable cinematic explorer, Ray traversed genres ranging from noir, western (most notably his 1954 gender-bending cult Trucolor extravaganza Johnny Guitar), melodrama, epic and experimental film. He dared as few would to shoot in remote and forbidding locations such as the Arctic and Everglades National Park. What are Ray’s films about? As in his signature piece Rebel, despite Ray’s wide-ranging endeavors in genre and subject matter we are often met with anti-hero protagonists who struggle and rail against authority while lamenting their meaningless and circumscribed existences.
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Carrie Fisher on Catastrophe: A Recap of Her (Hilarious) Final TV Performance

Carrie Fisher on Catastrophe: A Recap of Her (Hilarious) Final TV Performance
It’s still hard to believe that Carrie Fisher is no longer with us. But at least now, we can finally see the final role the iconic Star Wars actress filmed before her sudden passing last December: her hilarious work as Rob’s prickly mother Mia on Season 3 of Amazon’s Catastrophe.

RelatedFamily Guy Honors Carrie Fisher With Winter Premiere Dedication

Fisher played Mia in all three seasons of the U.K.-based comedy, starring Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney as a mismatched married couple — she’s Irish, he’s American — raising kids in London. Season 3 debuted on Amazon last Friday,
See full article at TVLine.com »

Icarus Films Releases Two DVDs Looking At The Early Days Of Non-Fiction Cinema

Over the last decade or so, non-fiction and documentary cinema has been the breeding ground for some of cinema’s most interesting films and film-makers. However, for many cinephiles the history of this world of cinema has been vastly undervalued and works vastly underseen. Be it the earliest days of silent cinema to the importance of documentary films in global conflicts, non-fiction directors have crafted some of the greatest and most influential works in all of the art form.

And thankfully two great, if light, histories of some of the great films are finally available on DVD.

From Icarus Films comes the release of three films, across two DVDs, that take a direct look at the early days of documentary cinema, ostensibly from the beginning with films like Nanook Of The North to the work of German propagandists like Leni Riefenstahl and Us news reels which would see names like
See full article at CriterionCast »

Episode 179 – Criterion Collection Wish List for 2017

Episode Links Past Wish List Episodes Episode 63.9 – Disc 3 – Top Criterion Blu-ray Upgrades for 2011 Episode 110 – Criterion Collection Blu-ray Upgrade Wish List for 2012 Episode 136 – Criterion Collection Blu-ray Upgrade Wish List for 2013 Episode 146 – Criterion Collection Blu-ray Upgrade Wish List for 2014 Episode 154 – Criterion Collection Blu-ray Upgrade Wish List for 2015 Episode 169 – Criterion Collection Blu-ray Upgrade Wish List for 2016 DVD to BluRay Wish Lists Aaron: The Shop on Main Street Pickup on South Street Arik: Cleo from 5 to 7 Berlin Alexanderplatz Mark: Taste of Cherry Sisters David: Do the Right Thing Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters Ld to Blu-Ray Wish Lists Aaron: Blue Velvet (Announced as Ld Spine #219 but never released) Early Hitchcock Box (Sabotage, The Secret Agent, Young and Innocent, The Lodger, The Man Who Knew Too Much) Arik: A Night at the Opera Singin’ in the Rain Mark: 2001: A Space Odyssey The Producers David: I Am Cuba Letter From an Unknown Woman
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The Eagle Huntress: how a Mongolian teenager triumphed over tradition

Otto Bell’s documentary mixes the traditional and modern to thrilling effect

Related: The Eagle Huntress review – Kazakh falconry was never so family-friendly

At first glance, Otto Bell’s The Eagle Huntress looks like one of those archetypal ethnographic documentaries with which Robert Flaherty kicked off the whole history of documentary film-making a century ago. Just like in 1922’s Nanook Of The North, Bell tackles a vanishing way of life – an ancient people in a harsh, unforgiving climate – and one might be forgiven for thinking it celebrates a wilful anachronism as it slides over history’s horizon. But you’d be wrong: there is enough of the new and the now to make this enthralling viewing.

Continue reading...
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Newswire: R.I.P. Lupita Tovar, Mexican star of Hollywood’s golden age

Lupita Tovar, the 1930s film actress who starred in the acclaimed Spanish-language version of Dracula and the first Mexican talkie, Santa, has died. She was 106.

Born the oldest of nine in a poor and very religious household in a small town in the southernmost part of Mexico, Tovar moved with her family to Mexico City in the later years of the Mexican Revolution. It was there, as a teenager studying dance and gymnastics, that she was discovered by Robert Flaherty, the docu-fiction film pioneer who directed Nanook Of The North and Man Of Aran. At the time, Flaherty was preparing his collaboration with F.W. Murnau, Tabu: A Story of the South Seas, and he wanted Tovar for the lead role. However, after coming to Hollywood, she ended up signing a contract with Fox; Tovar would later claim that this was an attempt by the studio to get back ...
See full article at The AV Club »

‘Moana’ Review: Dazzling Visuals, Dwayne Johnson and Lin-Manuel Miranda Sustain This Animated Disney Musical

‘Moana’ Review: Dazzling Visuals, Dwayne Johnson and Lin-Manuel Miranda Sustain This Animated Disney Musical
Disney’s animation roster has a history of playing with culturally insensitive fire, from the “siamese” cats in “Lady and the Tramp” to the savage Middle Eastern stereotypes in “Aladdin.” The same directors of that movie, Ron Clements and John Musker, reteam for “Moana,” the tale of a young Polynesian woman who commands the high seas to save the world. But the movie has two other co-directors, Don Hall and Chris Williams, whose credits include more recent Disney efforts such as “Big Hero 6.” While the quartet of credits may contribute to the movie’s uneven tone, it also suggests a merging of Disney’s past and present.

Visually dazzling and loaded with charm, the movie is also blatant in its quest for cultural sensitivity: It has memorable songs by “Hamilton” phenom Lin-Manuel Miranda and a first-rate mystical soundtrack by Samoan composer Opetaia Tavia Foa’i, in addition to a
See full article at Indiewire »

Sliff 2016: Tribute to King Kong Nov. 6th – Here’s a Retrospective on the 1933 Original

A Tribute to King Kong takes place as part of the The St. Louis International Film Festival Sunday, Nov. 6 beginning at 6:00pm at Webster University’s Moore Auditorium. The first film screened will be the new documentary Long Live The King, which explores the enduring fascination with one of the biggest stars — both literally and figuratively — in Hollywood history: the mighty King Kong. Produced and directed by Frank Dietz and Trish Geiger, the creative team behind the award-winning “Beast Wishes,” the documentary devotes primary attention to the 1933 classic, celebrating the contributions of filmmakers Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, stars Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, and Bruce Cabot, writer Edgar Wallace, and especially stop-motion innovator Willis O’Brien. But Kong’s legacy is also fully detailed: the sequel “Son of Kong,” the cinematic kin “Mighty Joe Young,” the Dino DeLaurentis and Peter Jackson remakes, even the Japanese versions by Toho Studios.
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

‘Documentary Now’: A Missed Opportunity Reveals The IFC Show’s Biggest Flaw

  • Indiewire
‘Documentary Now’: A Missed Opportunity Reveals The IFC Show’s Biggest Flaw
The most impressive thing about “Documentary Now,” the Bill Hader/Fred Armisen/Seth Meyers collaboration that’s just launched its second season on IFC, is the attention to detail. In creating these stand-alone tributes to iconic docs like “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” and “Grey Gardens,” the team prides itself on accuracy beyond compare for all elements of production, even going so far as using 1920s camera lenses for the first season’s “Nanook of the North” homage, or traveling to Tijuana to capture that edgy “Vice” feel.

Read More: ‘Documentary Now!’ Exclusive First Look at ‘Globesman’ & ‘Parker Gail’s’ Posters

That stunning ability to recreate the look and feel of the original documentaries is of course accompanied by jokes. But to some degree, it’s the basic act of recreating the docs with Hader and Armisen in the lead that serves as the primary gag — and it’s now clear
See full article at Indiewire »

Documentary Now! Season 2 Review

Four episodes were provided prior to broadcast.

Returning to IFC this fall is one of the most peculiar, inventive comedies on TV, the veritable documentary spoof factory Documentary Now! Created by SNL MVPs Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Seth Meyers, and their ever-loving godfather Lorne Michaels, the show found its niche on the “always on, slightly off” cable network by spoofing some of the most popular documentaries of all time, appealing to the indie-minded set while providing enough surface-level humor to appease fans of their famous late-night shenanigans. The show’s first season goofed on classics like The Thin Blue Line, Grey Gardens and Nanook of the North, and now the comedy triumvirate is back with a new lineup of 20-minute spoofs.

The new one-off episodes each have unique charms, from “Globesman,” a take on Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin’s Salesman, to “Bunker,” a timely homage (considering the
See full article at We Got This Covered »

‘Documentary Now!’ Season 2 Trailer: Fred Armisen and Bill Hader Return for More Mockery

‘Documentary Now!’ Season 2 Trailer: Fred Armisen and Bill Hader Return for More Mockery
The funniest fake documentary show on television now has a trailer for its second season.

Read More: ‘Documentary Now!’ Season 2 First Clip: Watch The Twisted & Morbid Spin on ‘The War Room

Season two of IFC’s “Documentary Now!” starring “Saturday Night Live” alums Bill Hader and Fred Armisen will parody films including Albert and David Maysles’s “Salesman,” Jonathan Demme’s Talking Heads music documentary “Stop Making Sense,” D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus’ presidential election doc “The War Room,” and David Gelb’s “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.”

For anyone who hasn’t seen the show, every episode is shot in a unique style of documentary filmmaking to honor “some of the most important stories that didn’t actually happen.” The seven-episode first season earned a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series. The new season will have a total of six episodes.

Season one parodied films including “Grey Gardens,
See full article at Indiewire »

‘Documentary Now!’ Season 2 First Clip: Watch The Twisted & Morbid Spin on ‘The War Room’

‘Documentary Now!’ Season 2 First Clip: Watch The Twisted & Morbid Spin on ‘The War Room’
Though Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Seth Meyers are no longer on “Saturday Night Live” together, they still work closely together on the IFC mockumentary series “Documentary Now!” Hosted by Helen Mirren, the series parodies celebrated documentary films by adopting its style and focusing on a fictitious subject. In the first season, the team parodied the Maysles brothers’ “Grey Gardens,” Robert J. Flaherty’s “Nanook of the North,” Errol Morris’ “The Thin Blue Line,” and the recent rock doc “The History of the Eagles.”

Read More: IFC’s ‘Documentary Now!’: Bill Hader and Fred Armisen Break Down the Docs Spoofed in Season 2

The series will return this fall, but before then, they have released a teaser of their first episode back which parodies Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker’s 1993 political documentary “The War Room,” about Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign for President. “The War Room” mainly follows lead strategist
See full article at Indiewire »

Beldocs: The Festival That Turns Expectations Upside Down

The Great FortuneNot many festivals grant you the privilege of being personally welcomed by its director with a bottle of home-brewed liquor, not very many set that as their standard of hospitality: Beldocs, the Belgrade International Documentary Film Festival, is one of them. The composite beauty and disinterested generosity of the city and its people are the ideal environment for a festival genuinely close to its etymological roots, that of festivity, of an uplifting moment of reciprocal discovery and exchange. Big enough to explore, small enough to elaborate, Beldocs is what a festival is meant to be: a place where films are not only consumed but also convivially dissected. The size and schedule of the festival, but most crucially its comradery dimension, allow for the kind of space cinema needs in order to be cultivated, not only watched. The constitutive elements of the seventh art in Beldocs coexist organically side by side,
See full article at MUBI »

‘Documentary Now!’ Stands Out in the Emmys’ Variety Sketch Race

‘Documentary Now!’ Stands Out in the Emmys’ Variety Sketch Race
Spliced together from interviews, establishing shots, and dramatic reenactments, its subjects’ homegrown aphorisms set against the forceful tinkling of the score, “The Eye Doesn’t Lie” might’ve been made by Errol Morris himself.

Inspired by “The Thin Blue Line,” the fourth episode of IFC’s inventive, erudite “Documentary Now!” — from the frenzied imaginations of director Rhys Thomas and “Saturday Night Live” alumni Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Seth Meyers — mimics the filmmaker’s work so precisely that it comes to resemble an X-ray, showing the bone structure of his distinctive style while (gently) poking fun at it. In this sense, to describe “Documentary Now!” as a parody is to undersell: It’s a wildly funny act of criticism, deconstructing the mechanics of nonfiction in an age defined by the slippage between “reality” and the real.

Starring Armisen and Hader in an ever-changing series of roles—in a pungent send-up of Vice Media, they even play three indistinguishable pairs of plaid-clad, ne’er-do-well correspondents on the trail of a Mexican drug kingpin — “Documentary Now!” is designed with an in-depth knowledge of the form, down to the title sequence. A clever nod to public television, replete with evolving logo, synthesized theme music, and Helen Mirren’s refined introductions, the homage to the likes of “Pov,” “Frontline,” and “Independent Lens” is telling. Though tough, at times, on the familiar tropes of Morris and the Maysles, the creators’ treatment of documentaries is affectionate; their approach is closer to Christopher Guest’s warm, playful comedies, from “Waiting for Guffman” to “For Your Consideration,” than to the sharp satire of “Drop Dead Gorgeous” or “Tanner ’88.”

This is born, it seems, of their interest in the power of nonfiction narratives, and in the process by which such stories take shape. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, “Documentary Now!” is lavish in its praise — Hader’s version of Little Edie Beale, in the series’ tribute to “Grey Gardens,” replicates several memorable moments in the film almost exactly — but it’s when the series turns toward exaggeration and hyperbole that its understanding of the form’s fakery is on fullest display. Against the “direct cinema” aesthetic of the Maysles, “Documentary Now!” depicts the siblings, here known as the Feins, eliciting performances from their subjects, searching the shadows of “Sandy Passage” for the most compelling variant of the truth. (It comes back to bite them, in a way that acknowledges the elements of Gothic horror in “Grey Gardens” by blowing the original to bits.)

Understanding documentaries as a set of narrative techniques, and not simply as a reflection of “the facts,” “Documentary Now!” is at its most astute in the first season’s “Kunuk Uncovered.” Based on 1988’s “Nanook Revisited,” itself an investigation of the stagecraft in Robert Flaherty’s 1922 silent, “Nanook of the North,” “Kunuk” renders explicit the series’ animating principle: “Was the first documentary a documentary at all,” the narrator intones, “or was it something else?” As William H. Sebastian (John Slattery) attempts to mold his subject, Pipilok (Armisen), into the “Eskimo” of his ethnocentric assumptions, mounting dog sledding and spear fishing scenes, he loses control of the project to its central figure. “Kunuk” becomes an artful farce, part Hollywood excess and part careful craft.

Pipilok first demands compensation, securing the managerial services of a local pimp, and then displaces Sebastian altogether, transforming into a tortured auteur. (At one point, he curses out the cast in his native tongue, a true diva of the directing chair.) His aesthetic innovations — recording sound, building sets, developing “point of view” and new forms of movement — are those, roughly speaking, of realism, and “Kunuk” is, in essence, a reminder that the style that doesn’t seem like a style is no less fabricated for convincing us otherwise. In “Documentary Now!” nonfiction is always “something else”: A performance, a manipulation, a construction, adjacent to “the real” but not a mirror image of it.

In fashioning a new short film for each installment—with the exception of the two-part “Gentle and Soft: The Story of the Blue Jean Committee” — the series is an outlier in the Emmys’ nascent Variety Sketch category. Last year’s inaugural field featured five nominees on the traditional “sketch” model, including “Saturday Night Live” and winner “Inside Amy Schumer,” and all, including the final season of the excellent “Key & Peele,” are among this year’s twenty eligible series (up from 17). But given the TV Academy’s tendency to settle into firm patterns, to the point that one might call them ruts, it would behoove voters to honor the heterodox, learned, distinctly non-topical comedy of “Documentary Now!” while the contours of the category are still in flux.

If there’s one aspect of the series we know Academy members can appreciate, it’s the brilliant impression: Schumer and Ryan McFaul were nominated last year for directing the dead solid perfect satire “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer” as if inhabited by the spirit of Sidney Lumet, a feat “Documentary Now!” manages many times over, and in myriad registers. Its sketches succeed, in the end, because they’re not sketchy at all, but rather fully realized, remarkably savvy reconsiderations of their subject, which is the creative, sometimes-deceptive act of documentary filmmaking itself.

“The Eye Doesn’t Lie” recalls not only “The Thin Blue Line,” then, but also, by dint of its title, the filmmaker’s examination of visible evidence in “Standard Operating Procedure.” “The pictures spoke a thousand words,” as Army Special Agent Brent Pack says in the latter of photographs of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, launching into the kind of Morris-esque paradox that IFC’s series so beautifully distills. “But unless you know what day and time they were taken, you wouldn’t know what story they were telling.” The eye does lie, of course, and the brilliant “Documentary Now!” is always catching it red-handed.

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[Montclair Review] Booger Red

Employing an outsider to disarm subjects deep in Bubba Texas, Booger Red turns to writer/director/actor/provocateur Onur Tukel as its conduit into this world, asking the absurd questions at the heart of a scandal that involves swingers, foster parents and a “sex kindergarten.” Inspired by Michael Hall’s 2009 Texas Monthly article, director Berndt Mader (Five Time Champion) constructs his own documentary/narrative hybrid with Tukel as a reporter named Onur Tukel (although not as himself) in his most restrained role yet.

Playing an Austin-based investigate reporter, he’s dispatched to the small town of Mineola, Texas where the neighborhood swinger’s club is conveniently located across from the town’s newspaper. It’s here where the mysterious Booger Red apparently brought kids he trained in his “sex kindergarten” to perform — an allegation made by a profiteering set of foster parents.

Rather curiously, Mader has insisted many real players
See full article at The Film Stage »

Oscars Voter Admits He Aimed to Stop 'The Revenant' and 'Ridiculous' Leo

Every year, The Hollywood Reporter pulls back the veil by allowing a few Academy members to anonymously reveal their Oscar ballots and the reasons for those votes. Every year, it's illuminating and maddening. This year is no exception. The Oscars will be handed out this Sunday, February 28 on ABC, and voting is now closed. It seems like Leonardo DiCaprio is a lock to win Best Actor for "The Revenant" but at least one Academy member openly voted against him.

This particular Oscar voter shared his ballot with THR, revealing films he didn't even see (including "Mad Max: Fury Road") and admitting that he hated "The Revenant" so much he voted for "Mad Max" in one category "solely because I want to stop The Revenant." He had some valid (and funny) points to make in his distaste for "The Revenant," arguing that Leo's Oscar campaign is based around how hard
See full article at Moviefone »
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