Iraq in Fragments (2006) - News Poster

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Oscars: How Has Race Been Featured in the Best Documentary Category Since 2000?

  • Scott Feinberg
Ava DuVernay (Courtesy: Kevork Djansezian/Reuters)

By: Carson Blackwelder

Managing Editor

Let’s talk about race in this year’s Oscar race, shall we? Three of the top films up for best documentary feature this year — 13th (Netflix), I Am Not Your Negro (Magnolia), and O.J.: Made in America (Espn) — all deal with the black experience in the United States through various lenses. These movies, all favorites to make the official list of five nominees that will battle it out for the big win, drive home the fact that this is still a very important and is one of the Academy’s favorite topics to highlight — but has that always been the case?

First, let’s take a more in-depth look at what these three leading docs deal center around. Ava DuVernay’s 13th provides an in-depth look at the prison system and how the nation’s history of racial
See full article at Scott Feinberg »

Cinema Eye Names Top Documentaries and Directors of the Past Decade

  • Indiewire
Cinema Eye has named 10 filmmakers and 20 films that have been voted as the top achievements in documentary filmmaking during the past 10 years. Founded in 2007 to “recognize and honor exemplary craft and innovation in nonfiction film,” Cinema Eye polled 110 members of the documentary community to determine the winning films and filmmakers just as the organization kicks off its tenth year.

Read More: Behind the Scenes of Cinema Eye’s Secret Field Trip for Nominees

Among the films chosen are Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Act of Killing,” Laura Poitras’ Oscar-winning “Citizenfour” and Banksy’s “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” Poitras and Oppenheimer were both also named to the list of the top documentary filmmakers, joining Alex Gibney, Werner Herzog and Frederick Wiseman, who recently won an honorary Oscar and will be saluted at the annual Governors Awards on November 12.

“It’s fantastic that he is being recognized by the Academy for a
See full article at Indiewire »

Daily | Welles, Malick, Lewis

  • Keyframe
opinion from the man who, after all, made the picture." That's Orson Welles in an excerpt from a 58-page memo he wrote in 1957 to Edward Muhl, head of Universal Pictures. Jonathan Rosenbaum introduces an excerpt. Also in today's roundup: Reno Lauro on Terrence Malick, James Longley (Iraq in Fragments) on Joshua Oppenheimer's The Look of Silence, Fernando F. Croce on John Cassavetes's Shadows, John Marks on Ava DuVernay's Selma and Clint Eastwood's American Sniper, Daft Punk in the movies—and the day we might see Jerry Lewis's The Day the Clown Cried. » - David Hudson
See full article at Keyframe »

'West of Memphis' Director Takes on Janis Joplin Documentary

  • MovieWeb
'West of Memphis' Director Takes on Janis Joplin Documentary
Content announced today that Disarming Films' Academy Award nominated Amy Berg (Deliver Us From Evil, West of Memphis) is directing and producing the upcoming Janis Joplin documentary, Janis: Little Girl Blue. Academy Award winner Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Darkside, The Armstrong Lie) is producing under his Jigsaw Productions banner with Jeff Jampol (When You're Strange) from Jam, Inc and Billy McMillin (West of Memphis, Iraq in Fragments) is editing. The documentary is executive produced by Noah C. Haeussner, Susan Lacy, Michael Kantor and Michael Raimondi. Content will be handling worldwide sales and introducing the documentary to buyers at the Cannes International Film Festival.

Disarming Films, Jigsaw Productions and Thirteen Productions LLC's American Masters are co-producing Janis: Little Girl Blue in association with Sony Music Entertainment and Ueg (Union Entertainment Group). The film will have its U.S. broadcast premiere on the American Masters series on PBS.
See full article at MovieWeb »

West of Memphis Checks in on Blu-ray and DVD

The home video announcement has come for the documentary West of Memphis, which opened way back on Christmas Day 2012 courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics; and it should provide one of the most intense, powerful movie experiences this year. Check out the art and specs!

From the Press Release

Academy Award®-winning producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh (both 2003, Best Picture & Best Adapted Screenplay, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) present West Of Memphis, available August 6th on Blu-ray™ and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Directed by Academy Award® nominee Amy Berg (2007, Best Documentary - Feature, Deliver Us From Evil), this acclaimed documentary tells the powerful, untold story of the 18-year fight to free the “West Memphis 3,” three teenagers wrongfully convicted of the 1993 murders of three eight-year-old boy in West Memphis, Arkansas.

The film was the Official Selection at the 2012 Sundance and Toronto International Film Festivals,
See full article at Dread Central »

The History Of Sundance Films’ Pursuit Of The Oscars

By Joey Magidson

Film Contributor

***

Greetings from Park City, everyone! As I’m writing this piece, I’m in Utah attending the Sundance Film Festival. So far, it has been pretty cool (if a bit overwhelming at times), especially for a first-timer like myself. Being here inspired me to try and tie in the festival to the Oscars, as I’m prone to do with just about everything that I can. I’ve found that I’m on the lookout for what could move from this year’s festival lineup to the next awards season.

When I wrote about which film festivals influence the Oscar race a few weeks ago (found here), I mentioned how Sundance wasn’t the prime destination for awards hopefuls but still functioned as an essential launching pad. That was certainly true this year, and it will remain the case going forward.

It takes a certain
See full article at Scott Feinberg »

2010 Gotham Awards: Laura Poitras' The Oath - Best Documentary

Academy Awards didn't even consider for the 15 list of noms, but the Gothams didn't forget The Oath, Laura Poitras' doc about a pair of folks close to Osama bin Laden that was distributed by Zeitgeist films and will most probably be compensated by the Cinema Eye Awards right before Sundance in January. Other Noms: 12th & Delaware Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, directors/producers (HBO Documentary Films) Inside Job Charles Ferguson, director; Charles Ferguson, Audrey Marrs, producers (Sony Pictures Classics) Public Speaking Martin Scorsese, director; Martin Scorsese, Graydon Carter, Margaret Bodde, Fran Lebowitz, producers (HBO Documentary Films) Sweetgrass Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ilisa Barbash, directors; Ilisa Barbash, producer (Cinema Guild) Previous Winners 2009: Robert Kenner's Food, Inc. 2008: Tia Lessin and Carl Deal's Trouble the Water 2007: Michael Moore's Sicko 2006: James Longley's Iraq in Fragments  
See full article at ioncinema »

A Closer Look at Sundance Favorite 'Restrepo'

Photo: National Geographic Entertainment

Did Sebastian Junger sucker Sundance into supporting an Afghanistan War with no end in sight?

Sebastian Junger lucked into a perfect storm when Restrepo, his feature documentary about a fire base in Afghanistan opened the same week General Stanley McChrystal was forced out as the Commander of Us troops in that country (read the original Rolling Stone article on McChrystal here).

Junger was already slated to appear on many TV and radio shows promoting the critically acclaimed Sundance Jury Prize Winner, but when Afghanistan became the biggest news story of the week Junger was added to several guest lists including a well-publicized panel on NBC's Meet The Press. On each of these shows Junger was asked his opinion of the ongoing war and each time he argued for more time and more troops. In other words, more war.

As I watched Junger on these shows I
See full article at Rope Of Silicon »

Giving Audiences the War They Want

  • IFC
Giving Audiences the War They Want
Americans soldiers, weighted down with backpacks and machine guns, rush up a hill in the remote mountains of Afghanistan. We follow them closely through the underbrush as bullets whiz past their heads, then voices call out -- a man is down, one of theirs. A grieving soldier goes into shock, breathing heavily, on the verge of breakdown, as his comrades try to steady him. It's utter chaos -- in short, this is war.

But this is a very specific representation of war -- as chronicled in new documentaries like Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger's "Restrepo," the Danish Cannes winner "Armadillo" and photojournalist Danfung Dennis' work-in-progress "Hell and Back Again." Visceral, alarming and in-your-face, these Afghanistan docs offer a depiction of war that isn't exactly new in the mediascape, but it stands in striking contrast to the images we've seen coming out of Iraq for the last several years.
See full article at IFC »

Filmclub takes world news into schools

Director of Afghan Star tells of impact on young audience

"Usually at screenings people ask questions which include a statement about what they believe, and then they don't bother listening to your answer," says Havana Marking. "What was great about the kids was that they actually wanted to know what you were going to say."

As the director of Afghan Star – a documentary about Afghanistan's version of Pop Idol and its eventual winner, 21-year-old Rafi Naabzada – Marking is used to Q&As about her More 4-funded film. She has accompanied it around the world from Stockholm to Sundance and faced interrogation from audiences ranging from human rights workers to indie film buffs. Recently, however, her audience was 150 kids, aged 11 or 12, sprawled in the gym at St Augustine's School in Kilburn, north London, just before lunch hour.

"The most obvious difference was that every other screening has the audience asking you,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Documentary Channel Adds 11 Films to Its Slate

  • The Wrap
By Lisa Horowitz

The Documentary Channel has reached an exclusive multiyear deal with the Film Sales Co. for a package of 11 documentary films.

Financial terms were not disclosed for the deal, announced Tuesday by the Documentary Channel president-ceo James Ackerman and the Film Sales Co. president Andrew Herwitz.

The Documentary Channel will air documentaries from the Film Sales Co.'s library including Academy Award nominee “Iraq in Fragments” and film festival notables "Body of War," "Jump!," "Paper Clips," "Beyond Conviction&qu...
See full article at The Wrap »

Academy Documentary Series Looks for Connections

  • The Wrap
By Steve Pond

You may have noticed that documentaries often come in groups: there are lots of films about Iraq (“Taxi to the Dark Side,” “Iraq in Fragments”), films about the environment (“An Inconvenient Truth,” “Encounters at the End of the World”), films about the economy (“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” “Capitalism: A Love Story”) …

For the Academy, that kind of repetition is a very good thing.

<img style="margin: 15px; height: 267px; width: 173px; float: left;" alt="" src=...
See full article at The Wrap »

Next to Exit Sundance

As of April 30, 2009 Ken Brecher will no longer be Executive Director of the Sundance Institute, it was announced by Wally Weisman, Chair of the Board of the Sundance Institute. For the next two years he will be a strategic advisor for the Institute. Since beginning in 1996, the Institute's core programs have been guided by him. The Feature Film Program began its work in the Middle East supporting regional film artists, and the Documentary Fund has been established in more than 50 countries, supporting such films as Born into Brothels, Iraq in Fragments and Trouble the Water. A search for a replacement will begin in the next few months.

A 'Howl' of a docu program

A 'Howl' of a docu program
NEW YORK -- The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund awarded grants to a record 25 projects in development and production, including Kirby Dick's look at anti-gay legislation, The Glass Closet, and the animated story of Allen Ginsberg's Howl from helmers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.

Other notable projects and filmmakers include The Prime Minister, the Shah, the Ayatollah and I, an autobiographical film from I am a Sex Addict director Caveh Zahedi, and the untitled Iran project from Oscar nominee James Longley (Iraq in Fragments), the story of the country told from a child's perspective.

More than $600,000 was awarded to the projects, chosen from more than 300 applications from 20 countries. The final selection from 13 countries (including India, Chile, Pakistan and Kenya) was made by a jury of film and human rights professionals, overseen by program director Cara Mertes.

The films reflect a wide cross-cultural mix of mostly political subject matter. Control Room and Startup.com director Jehane Noujaim's Egypt: We See You looks at the country's pro-democracy movement from the perspective of three female journalists.

AFI highlights Altman, Eastwood

AFI highlights Altman, Eastwood
With a farewell tip of the hat to Robert Altman and a special commendation for Clint Eastwood, the American Film Institute completed its review of 2006 on Wednesday by highlighting what it calls the AFI's Moments of Significance.

Casting the spotlight on eight developments that had an impact on the worlds of TV and film, the list leads off with Clint Eastwood, dubbed "a national treasure," citing the fact that he completed two films, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima that "not only complement one another, but they resonate together to create one of the great motion picture experiences of the new century." The AFI also hailed Eastwood's team of collaborators -- including producers Steven Spielberg and Robert Lorenz, writer Paul Haggis, cinematographer Tom Stern, editor Joel Cox, production designer Henry Bumstead and casting director Phyllis Huffman -- for providing "an epic reminder that the American viewpoint is not the only human perspective."

Letters also was included among the AFI's choices of the top 10 movies of the year, which were announced this month.

The new list concluded by eulogizing Altman, who died Nov. 20. It called him "a true maverick of American film. His body of work -- both in film and television -- reflects an exceptional diversity in genre, but always with his indelible signature. From overlapping dialogue to the epic ensemble pieces filled with actors who revered him, Altman's style continues to inspire artists and audiences alike."

The other developments cited by the AFI include:

The documentary speaks to the world. Citing Davis Guggenheim's An Inconvenient Truth, which examined global warming; James Longley's Iraq in Fragments, one of a number of docus that took on the war in Iraq; and Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke, an epic take on Hurricane Katrina's effects on New Orleans.

'Fragments' tops Documentary Achievement Awards

[/link]  An Inconvenient Truth  God Grew Tired of Us The International Documentary Assn (a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to supporting the efforts of nonfiction film and video makers throughout the United States and the world, and who also publish a monthly mag) choose James Longley's Iraq In Fragments as the best feature-length documentary of the year. The other final noms in the same category were Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?, Deliver Us From Evil, Showbusiness: A Season to Remember and Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars. Other winners were: Best short documentary: Marcelo Bukin - Angel's Fire (Fuego de Angel) Pare Lorentz Award (recognizing a documentary filmmaker who represents both an activist spirit and a lyrical vision): Davis Guggenheim's An Inconvenient Truth Courage Under Fire Award: Andrew Berends - The Blood of My Brother The Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award:
See full article at ioncinema »

'Fragments,' 'Fire' top IDAs

'Fragments,' 'Fire' top IDAs
Documentaries about the war in Iraq and forced child labor in South America earned top honors at the annual International Documentary Assn.'s awards gala benefit.

James Longley's Iraq in Fragments, the HBO Documentary Films and Typecast Releasing docu that provides intimate portraits of life among everyday Iraqis, won IDA's feature documentary award Friday night at the DGA Theatre in Hollywood.

The IDA's documentary short film award went to Marcelo Bukin for Angel's Fire (Fuego de Angel). In his speech, he described his visually ambitious film as "a kind of poem about sacrificing souls and bodies."

Both awards were presented by Morgan Freeman, who acknowledged former Vice President Al Gore after taking the stage.

Gore gave the evening's opening remarks to an overflow crowd, stressing the importance of documentaries to the health and vitality of American democracy and comparing Guttenberg's publishing revolution to today's digital-media revolution.

Gore warned that ownership of the networks by conglomerates has not helped challenge the prevailing dogma of our times.

"Newspapers are increasingly shrinking and losing advertising, and, as a result, our national conversation of democracy has been shrinking," he said.

IDA victory for 'Iraq in Fragments'

IDA victory for 'Iraq in Fragments'
James Longley's Iraq in Fragments was named the best feature-length

documentary of the year at the International Documentary Assn.'s

Distinguished Documentary Achievement Awards on Friday night.

Iraq, which is also on the short-list of documentary Oscar documentary contenders, looks at the impact that the war in Iraq has had on the Iraqi people.

The other nominated features were Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?, Deliver Us from Evil, Showbusiness: A Season to Remember and Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars.

Marcelo Bukin's Angel's Fire (Fuego de Angel) was named best

short documentary at the IDA's gala, at the DGA Theatre in West Hollywood.

Davis Guggenheim's An Inconvenient Truth was honored with the Pare Lorentz Award, recognizing a documentary filmmaker who represents both an activist spirit and a lyrical vision.

Andrew Berends received the Courage Under Fire Award for The Blood of My Brother.

Scholar and critic Dr. Patricia Aufderheide was honored with the IDA

Preservation & Scholarship Award. The Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award went to Christopher Quinn for God Grew Tired of Us, while Carrie Lozano claimed the David L. Wolper Student Documentary Achievement Award for Reporter Zero.

PBS' American Experience series captured the IDA Award for a

Continuing Series, while the prize for Limited Series went to Off to War,

which aired on the Discovery Times Channel.

'Half Nelson' Triumphs at Gotham Awards

  • WENN
Budget drug-addiction drama Half Nelson was a triple winner at this year's Gotham Awards, scooping prizes for Best Feature, Breakthrough Director and Breakthrough Actor. Despite stiff competition from big studio-financed films including The Departed and Marie Antoinette, the $1 million movie dominated the New York ceremony on Wednesday night honoring independent film-making. Host David Cross slammed the inclusion of its big-budget rivals, insisting, "We're here to celebrate the films that show you don't need a big studio, films with an untested director and cast - films like The Departed. How that got greenlit I have no idea." Despite the scathing comments, the $25 million Brad Pitt-starring Babel won the Best Ensemble Cast award, and its star Rinko Kikuchi shared the Breakthrough Actor award with Shareeka Epps of Half Nelson. Oscar-short listed Iraq In Fragments took home the Best Documentary prize.

Gothams apply full 'Nelson'

NEW YORK -- Ryan Fleck's Half Nelson topped the list of winners at the Independent Feature Project's 16th annual Gotham Awards on Wednesday night -- picking up awards for best feature, breakthrough director and breakthrough actor Shareeka Epps -- in a ceremony that generated controversy for its inclusion of big studio-financed films.

James Longley's Oscar-shortlisted Iraq in Fragments took home best documentary honors.

In accepting the directing honors, Fleck said, "Directing this movie was easy because the cast was so amazing."

Before the ceremony, which took place at Pier 60 on the Chelsea Piers, IFP executive director Michelle Byrd said, "I don't think the Gotham Awards are about independent film." While there have been no budget restrictions on contenders for the past three years, the 2006 list of nominees was the first to include notable big-budget entries, which sparked debate in the independent-film community.

Speaking at the ceremony, she pointed out "for those of you who thought we only added controversy this year" that IFP has begun a new screening series for films without distributors at the Museum of Modern Art and participated in the Times Talks series featuring directors Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo Del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who were toasted with tributes at the Gothams.
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