SDFF NEWS BITS: ALUMNI UPDATES, FEST + DOC INDUSTRY HAPPENINGS
- 1 month ago
SEPTEMBER 17, 2022
SDFF ALUMNI NEWS
Italian documentarian and journalist, Stefano Liberti, whose film Soyalism (2019, Italy) was an SDFF 2020 Official Selection, made the news this week when he became pivotal in helping female, Afghani soccer players into Italy. Liberti was contacted via facebook by the captain of Bastan, a women’s soccer team featured his film with Mario Poeta Heart Football Club. Liberti was able to help three of the female players and their families into Italy. See the full story here.
SDFF alumni Cassidy Friedman’s new restorative practices-themed doc Detroit Rising: How the Motor City Becomes a Restorative City won an Audience Award at the 12th Annual New Hope Film Festival. Friedman’s film Circles (2018, U.S.) showed at SDFF 2019.
Filmmaker, puppeteer and engineer Farzaneh Omidvarnia’s exceptional documentary short, Song Sparrow, won the prize for best animation at Italy’s Andaras Film Festival. Based on real events, in Austria 2015, and Ireland 2019, Song Sparrow is Iranian-Austrian filmmaker Omidvarnia’s interpretation of the tragic events that befall a group of refugees attempting to reach a safe country. Their hopes of living with some modicum of safety are dashed after temperatures in a freezer truck smuggling the group across borders threatens their lives and makes their journey into yet another fierce struggle for survival. Song Sparrow was an official selection of SDFF 2021, and was accompanied by an exclusive online interview with Omidvarnia.
Director Richard Reens won at this year’s Dances With Films for Pant Hoot, which garnered the Industry Choice award in the Over 40 category. Pant Hoot was an official selection at SDFF 2021.
Alessandro Cassigoli and Casey Kauffman, who co-directed the SDFF2020 film Butterfly, won the Europa Cinemas Label at the Giornate degli Autori (GdE) for their film Californie. The film follows the day-to-day life of a street-smart, pre-teen Moroccan girl in a small southern Italian town for three years, as she tries to find her place in the world. The award means a financial contribution towards the film’s distribution, promotion and theatrical exhivition. This year’s GdE was juried by 27 young cinephiles from every country in the EU. For more on this year’s winners, see Cineuropa’s coverage.
SDFF 2021 My Favorite War (Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen, 2020) producer Guntis Trekteris’s Stranded was awarded post-production services valued at €3,000 at the 25th Annual Baltic Sea Documentary Forum. Stranded attempts to look at the lives of the Baltic Russian community through the stories of three generations of women in director Staņislavs Tokalovs’s family. If you missed My Favorite War at SDFF 2021, check it out at the Calvert Journal Film Festival online. This streaming festival is envisioned as a journey across Central Europe and runs Oct. 18-31.
Multi-year SDFF alumni Ben Proudfoot’s Queen Of Basketball (U.S., 22 mins) won Best of the Fest and Best Short Documentary honors at the Nevada City Film Festival earlier this month. The film is about Lucy Harris, arguably the greatest living women’s basketball player, who has won 3 national trophies, played in the ’76 Olympics and was drafted to the NBA.
SDFF alum Marshall Curry’s 2019 Oscar-winning film The Neighbors’ Window opened The Great Indian Film Festival this year. The film festival’s aim is to provide a global platform for filmmakers to showcase their short films and documentaries.
Filmmaker Pedro Kos’s Lead Me Home, co-directed by Jon Shenk, will be premiering at Telluride. The film is about living on the street in West Coast cities, but is also intended to be a cinematic study of contrasts. Pedro Kos’s collaboration with Kief Davidson, Bending the Arc, was an official selection at SDFF 2018.
Rahul Jain’s film Invisible Demons, a film documenting Dehli’s deadly pollution, was selected for BFI’s London festival. The film had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in its newly-introduced section on climate change. Jain’s film Machines was an SDFF 2018 selection.
SDFF 2021 selection From The Wild Sea (Robin Petré and Mette Bjerregaard, 2021) will show as part of this year’s documentary competition at the Zurich International Film Festival.
Paul Szynol’s I Want Everything about celebrity journalist Larry “Ratso” Sloman, who has released his first album at the age of 70, will be in competition at the 2021 Coney Island Film Festival, which is resuming it’s in person screenings this year! The short showed as part of SDFF 2021.
Gilda Shepperd’s Since I Been Down, about Tacoma’s victims of the drug war of the 1980s who continue to languish behind bars, is an official selection at the Northwest Film Forum’s Local Sightings festival. This SDFF 2021 selection is also in competition at this year’s Montreal International Black Film Festival.
SDFF 2018 selection Negative Space (Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata, 2017) is showing as part of Turkey’s Accessible Film Festival this year, which is focusing on absurdist works. Negative Space is an Oscar-nominated stop-motion animated documentary short, and can also be seen in its entirety on youtube this week.
Nathalie Biancheri second narrative film, Wolf, will soon premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film is about a young man with “species dysphoria” who believes himself to be a wolf, and stars method actor George MacKay. Biancheri’s doc Xavier Corbero: Portrait of an Artist in Winter was an SDFF 2018 selection.
Director Penny Lane, whose film Nuts! Was an SDFF 2018 official selection, has made a new film, Listening To Kenny G, about the extremely famous and much maligned saxophonist, which is receiving quite a bit of attention in the indie press. As with Lane’s other docs, this new work appears to be a reflection on his subject based more on affect than on a strict, historic or factual approach. The documentary is upcoming on HBO.
Egil Haskjold Larsen, whose doc 69 Minutes of 86 Days played at SDFF 2018, is one of three Norwegian filmmakers launching Mirage, a new creative documentary festival in Oslo. Larsen’s co-conspirators in the project are his wife, producer Racha Helen Larsen (Yellow Log) and Martijn Te Pas, a documentary consultant and moderator. The festival has the support of the Norwegian Film Institute and will commence in 2022.
Hunger Ward (Skye Fitzgerald, 2020) Executive Producer Jannat Gargi (formerly Vice VP of docs and Vulcan Productions) was hired this week by Westbrook Studios, launched in 2019 by founders Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, Miguel Melendez and Ko Yada. In addition to Hunger Ward (SDFF 2021), Gargi has produced acclaimed docs such as Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), The Reason I Jump, Ghost Fleet, Ballet Now and Flee. Westbrook’s current documentary projects include the docuseries Amend: The Fight for America and Welcome to Earth (with National Geographic) and a two-season run of a series on iconic African queens, Cleopatra and Njinga.
SDFF 2021 selection Fish & Men (Darby Duffin and Adam Jones, 2019) came out on DVD, VOD and digital sale through Virgil films this month. The Film explores the high cost of cheap fish in the modern seafood economy, and the forces threatening local fishing communities as well as the public health. On the eve of the release, producer and Director, Duffin and Jones, also interviewed eachother for a piece in The Knockturnal, which you can read here.
SDFF FILMS STREAMING FESTIVALS (AVAILABLE TO VIEW ONLINE)
If you weren’t able to catch My Favorite War (Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen, 2020) at SDFF 2021, check it out at the Calvert Journal Film Festival online. This streaming festival is envisioned as a journey across Central Europe and runs Oct. 18-31.
If you missed The Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin (Arwen Curry, 2018) at SDFF 2019, you’ll have an opportunity to see it streaming as part of the Brooklyn Sci-Fi Festival online. The film will stream for free with advancd registration on Weds., Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT).
DOC INDUSTRY ODDS + ENDS
The Hollywood Reporter ran a piece about artist-funded and produced docs’ centrality to streaming services in the present day, and what that means for the genre as a whole. Check out Mia Galuppo’s “Why Talent Docs Are a New ‘Lightening Rod’ for Streamers” for more on this trend.
This year’s crop of streaming docs will be the last eligible for both Oscar® and Emmy nods. Beginning in 2022 docs shortlisted for an Academy Award will be considered a theatrical motion picture and ineligible for competition in the Emmy’s, despite the TV awards far more expansive categories, including awards for documentary direction. For more, see Variety’s piece “Documentary Filmmakers Lament End of Oscar and Emmy Double-Dipping Era.”
Women in the independent film industry continue to have a far more prominent role in documentary making than in narrative features, according to a recent report by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. According to the report, “Indie Women in a Pandemic Year: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women in U.S. Independent Film, 2020-21,” women make up 42% of people working behind-the-scenes on documentary films versus 35% for fiction films in above-the-line creative roles like editor, cinematographer, producer, etc. This was true in every such category except writing. Overall, women most commonly occupied producer roles (44%). They also accounted for 39% of directors, 38% of executive producers, 37% of editors, 36% of writers and 23% of cinematographers. When films had at least one woman director, they had far greater percentages of women in other roles, like writers, editors or cinematographers, the report found, indicating the presence of a woman in a director’s chair influences whether women will occupy other roles behind the camera. Though the study was limited in scope, it is the largest of its kind to date. See more at the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. Variety also recently published an article on this study that addresses how indie films made by women did at festivals during the pandemic.
A potentially important new funding platform for documentaries was announced earlier this week with the expansion of Al Jazeera Balkans and Al Jazeera Documentary (AJD) teeming up for “Industry Days” during the annual AJD Festival. The partnership is aimed at establishing cooperation and providing support to documentaries and filmmakers in Southeast Europe, the South Caucasus and the Middle East and North Africa through the funding, distribution and co-production of films, according to Cineuropa’s in-depth article on the news.
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