Now that we've got award season out of the way (I tweeted on Monday that "Moving Cinema Eye to January was the best decision ever. I can't imagine planning an awards show right now."), we can dive full force into the films of 2011. And nothing underlines that more than the impending launch of two major US film festivals - True/False and SXSW - and the documentary rebirth of the Miami Film Festival, courtesy of doc-master Thom Powers, that festival's new documentary programmer.
Miami kicks off unofficially tonight with an outdoor screening of Sarah McCarthy's THE SOUND OF MUMBAI, a crowd-pleasing film that premiered in Powers' 2010 Toronto line-up and has been picked up by the folks at HBO. During the week that follows, Miami will screen a potent round-up of the best of Sundance 2011, including James Marsh's PROJECT NIM, Morgan Spurlock's THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD, Marshall Curry's IF A TREE FALLS, Steve James' THE INTERRUPTERS, Liz Garbus' BOBBY FISCHER AGAINST THE WORLD, Andrew Rossi's PAGE ONE, David Weissman's WE WERE HERE, Daniele Anastasion and Eric Strauss' THE REDEMPTION OF GENERAL BUTT NAKED, Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood's MAGIC TRIP and Göran Hugo Olsson's THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE.
[Full disclosure: I am on the documentary jury at the Miami Film Festival this year.]
Marsh, James, Garbus, Rossi, Ollson and Anastasion/Strauss will also be screening their films this weekend at True/False in Columbia, Missouri, where Marsh will be presented with the fest's True Vision Award (which has previously gone to Laura Poitras, Alex Gibney, Kim Longinotto and Kirby Dick) and the subjects of James' film THE INTERRUPTERS will be the beneficiaries of the fest's True Life Fund.
True/False will also be screening a trio of this year's Cinema Eye nominees - Clio Barnard's THE ARBOR, Pietro Marcello's LA BOCCA DEL LUPO and Janus Metz' ARMADILLO - along with two stand-out locally-made films, Chase Thompson and Ryan Walker's ZIELINSKI and Chad Freidrich's THE PRUITT-IGOE MYTH. Finally, filmmaker Robert Greene returns to Columbia (he previewed KATI WITH AN I last year) with a sneak of his latest doc, FAKE IT SO REAL.
As True/False and Miami kick off what will just over two months of solid spring festival action (followed by a pre- and post-Cannes breather before June returns to kick our ass with Silverdocs, Sheffield, Los Angeles and Edinburgh in quick succession), the other shoe really drops next week as SXSW opens its doors in Austin.
There's no question that SXSW has carved a very important place for itself in the doc world, particularly with its premieres over the past several years (in quick succession they had jury award winners BILLY THE KID, THEY KILLED SISTER DOROTHY, 45365 and MARWENCOL). This year, the documentary competition consists of eight World Premieres, including new work from Ian Cheney, Don Argott and Michael Tucker & Petra Epperlein. In addition, World Premieres throughout the program include a impressive slate of notable directors and famous subjects. We'll cover the SXSW premieres in a separate post.
But SXSW will also screen a number of already noteworthy 2011 titles in its Festival Favorites section, including the aforementioned BUCK, PAGE ONE, INTERRUPTERS and GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD, as well as Toronto 2010 highlights TABLOID and CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS (from master directors Errol Morris and Werner Herzog), as well as Sundance 2011 favorites BEING ELMO: A PUPPETEER'S JOURNEY, Peter D. Richardson's Grand Jury champ HOW TO DIE IN OREGON and Asif Kapadia's SENNA.