Our long national nightmare is almost over...
This year's Oscar race concludes in just under a week but first there's a long wind-up of activities in Los Angeles including a series of major awards-centric docuvents building to Friday night's Spirit Awards (in late night - or prime time if you're on the west coast) and Sunday's Academy Awards.
It all started last night with a fundraiser for Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush's forthcoming documentary HUNGRY IN AMERICA at Tom Collichio's Craft LA. Inspired in part by CBS News' groundbreaking 1968 report "Hunger in America", which led to quick, bipartisan action in Washington, the duo hope to explore and explain why hunger continues to to be an issue in this country. The benefit also served to kick off Vanity Fair's Oscar week activities and boasted a mix of doc veterans (including RJ Cutler, Participant's Diane Weyermann and Courtney Sexton, Gucci Tribeca Fund's Ryan Harrington - an EP on the Hunger doc - and Oscar nominee Roger Ross Williams) and celebrities (Topher Grace, Marcia Cross, David Arquette, Elizabeth Berkley and Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio).
Tuesday night, the IDA hosts a private event at the Standard Hotel. Wednesday night, the Motion Picture Academy takes over the IDA's annual Oscar reception with their first annual Docs! night, featuring clips from all 10 Oscar nominated documentary films and panel discussions with the nominees.
Friday, the aforementioned Spirit Awards kick off the weekend with their move to downtown LA and two awards for docs - the just announced Chaz and Roger Ebert Truer Than Fiction prize (which will go to either 45365, BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO or EL GENERAL) and the Best Documentary Feature award, which seems likely to go to ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL. The late night party that follows will continue the nonstop revelry leading up to Sunday's Oscars.
But all the world is not the Kodak Theatre, and so...
We continue with two new doc releases that are making waves at the box office - most notably, Don Argott's Toronto hit THE ART OF THE STEAL, which IFC opened in 3 theatres for an estimated total of $41,000 for the weekend. Estimates were also decent for Kimberly Reed's PRODIGAL SONS, boosted by a recent appearance by the director on the Oprah Winfrey show and strong reviews. Len Klady at MCN reports that Reed's personal doc took in $6,250 at NY's Cinema Village.
Speaking of NY, some ground shifted this week when the venerable New Directors/New Films showcase announced its lineup. In December, we noted that ND/NF was one of 6 film festivals that could be a top fest for docs - if only they actually showed docs. Well, this year, they are actually showing six docs (which is double the average, believe it or not) and they're kicking it off with their opening night title, Richard Press' BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK, described by the fest as a "heartfelt and honest documentary" about the octogenarian NY Times photographer. Also screening at this year's ND/NF - James Raisin's BEAUTIFUL DARLING: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF CANDY DARLING, ANDY WARHOL SUPERSTAR (fresh from Berlin), along with Sundance hits LAST TRAIN HOME, MY PERESTROIKA, THE OATH and THE RED CHAPEL. indieWIRE has the full line-up.
It's been a busy few months for Laura Poitras' THE OATH. In addition to its premiere at Sundance and recent international premiere in Berlin, the film is slated for SXSW and also screened at the just wrapped True/False Film Festival, where Poitras was given the fest's True Vision Award. The Columbia (MO) Tribune's Jonathon Braden interviewed Poitras. Braden also covers the T/F screening of Sundance World Special Jury Prize winner ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE. Basil Tsiokos wraps for indieWIRE and highlights a few of his favorites: FAMILIA, KATI WITH AN I and THE BRITISH IN BED.
Stuff we didn't get to last week: Filmmaker announced the closing of B-Side Entertainment, which had been providing innovative distribution for indie docs (and features) and had basically cornered the market on website templates for film festivals. HBO picked up Leon Gast's Sundance Directing winner SMASH HIS CAMERA - Eugene Hernandez has the details. Also, the Cleveland Film Festival (one of our 10 More US Fests that Matter) announced its line-up and its documentary competition, including fest favorites COLONY, COOKING HISTORY, FORGETTING DAD, LAST TRAIN HOME and RACING DREAMS.
Stuff worth reading only peripherally connected to nonfiction: Stephen Saito reports on this weekend's latest installment of "cranky veteran critics pine for the 'good old days' and bemoan that crazy internet thing"; the original "Dude", Jeff Dowd, goes long on the merits of his cinematic counterpart, Jeff Bridges; S.T. Vanairsdale wonders at Movieline about the very late in the game criticisms of THE HURT LOCKER over accuracy issues; and did Variety pull a negative review in the midst of a $400,000 ad buy? David Poland hits hard at the floundering trade paper.