We're gonna try a bit of an experiment, a new feature here at the blog called The Monday Brief.
What is it? In short, it will be a recap of some of the news of the weekend, some of the items that we missed or couldn't get to from the previous week(s) and a bit of a riff on what we're thinking and talking about.
How long will it last? Hard to say. We're gonna try to keep it regular, although our filmmaking job will continue to take top priority, so we can assume that there will also be Commando Mondays (sans Briefs). But we're hoping this provides an outlet for stories that seem to deserve more than a headline and maybe something less than a full blog post, plus a bit more stream of consciousness (which will likely get us into a spot of bother).
In any case, thanks for coming along for the ride.
Today is the day that Anne Thompson moves her column Thompson on Hollywood over to indieWIRE and, at press time, there's already a significant amount of content, including posts about THE HURT LOCKER's Oscar hopes, a few wrap-up pieces from ComiCon and a look at the disappointing year Universal is having.
As we wrote earlier this year after it was announced that Variety had given her the pink slip:
I should add that she's one of a handful of folks who pays a good deal of attention to what's happening in the documentary world. It's great to see Thompson pair up with indieWIRE and it will be interesting to see how the partnership plays out.
Roadside Attraction's release of THE COVE averaged just under $14K in each of 4 theatres that launched the film this weekend. It's a strong number, if not a runaway blockbuster. On Friday, the acclaimed film adds another 40+ theaters.
In case you're asking, the year's top two nonfiction releases - EARTH and THE JONAS BROTHERS: 3D CONCERT EXPERIENCE (both from Disney) have made nearly as much money as last year's top 20 docs put together. Magnolia will get to $3M easily this weekend with FOOD, INC., passing up the total gross for their 2008 Oscar winner, MAN ON WIRE.
We're wondering if THE COVE and FOOD, INC. are the only two Oscar sure things thus far (in the Documentary category). Yes, the talk has come around to awards season, particularly with last week's launch of the IDA's DocuWeeks qualifying program, and the titles are being bandied about. Are well-received bio-films like VALENTINO and ANVIL destined to be left out, as such films almost always are?
Can Michael Moore get nominated a third time - and win a second Oscar - particularly if he keeps telling everyone that CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY is going to be his last documentary?
We gotta admit that suggestions of imminent retirement rarely rouse our ire, having been through it before with Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, Cher and so many others. Of course, Moore couches this "last documentary" talk in some pretty undecided language: "thinking that maybe this will be" and "or maybe for awhile". That's two maybes in one retirement announcement! I'm thinking he just needs a new muse (Jeb Bush, there's a call for you).
We've got to hand it to Moore though for continuing to press the public case (as has Errol Morris and several other filmmakers that came of age in the late 80s) that nonfiction filmmaking is not (always) journalism:
It's worth noting that all this Michael Moore news happened at his Traverse City Film Festival, which wrapped up tonight. At one screening, an audience member asked more to choose his favorite films. He named RACHEL the best documentary playing the fest and said WINNEBAGO MAN was the funniest doc.
Stuff we missed last week: PBS' Independent Lens announced their upcoming season. Docs of note include Stephen Walker's YOUNG@HEART, Gary Hustwit's OBJECTIFIED, the still-in-theaters HERB & DOROTHY and UNMISTAKEN CHILD, also Zeigeist's forthcoming THE HORSE BOY (known around these parts as 2009 Sundance selection OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY).
Stuff we missed from weeks earlier: We noted that upstart funder Cinereach had joined forces with the Sundance Institute to fund artistically made, social impact documentaries. Days later, Sundance announced the continuation of their partnership with George Soros' Open Society Institute - 5 million dollars in matching funds (Sundance has announced that they aim to raise $10 million over the next five years to support documentaries "on significant, contemporary issues"). In the same week, Sundance also announced its inaugural Documentary Film Creative Producing Lab with four projects/fellows announced. The topics of the quartet of projects, it will not surprise, are exclusively social issue/human rights, and none are based in the US: civil war and disappeared children in Central America, centuries of war and revolution in Mexico, a miscarriage of justice in the Phillipines and a matchmaking service for AIDS patients in India.