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Thompson on Hollywood

In the Works: Guggenheim Starts Doc on 15-Year-Old Pakistani Activist Malala Yousafzai, Survivor of Taliban Assassination Attempt

A July production start has been set for a feature-length documentary, to be directed by Davis Guggenheim ("Waiting for Superman"), on 15-year-old Pakistani student activist Malala Yousafzai, who last year survived a brutal assassination attempt by the Taliban. She was targeted for speaking out on behalf of girls' education in her community.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • July 16, 2013 12:42 PM
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Gravitas Nabs 'Calvin & Hobbes' Doc 'Dear Mr. Watterson' on the Influence of the Classic Comic Strip (TRAILER)

In time for Comic-Con, Gravitas Ventures has snapped up North American rights to documentary "Dear Mr. Watterson," which explores the impact of Bill Watterson's "Calvin & Hobbes" comic strip. It is directed by first-time filmmaker Joel Allen Schroeder.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • July 15, 2013 1:44 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Sundance Institute Awards $550,000 in Grants to 29 Documentaries

Sundance Institute's Documentary Film Program and Fund has selected 29 documentary features to receive $550,000 in grants. Sundance's jury of doc pros and human rights experts made the selection from 772 submissions from 88 countries. The filmmakers boasts a wide range of experience, from rookies to veterans. They come from Chile, Libya, Cuba, Cambodia and Pakistan.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 11, 2013 3:31 PM
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Sony Pictures Classics Takes Doc 'Jodorowsky's Dune,' on the Legendary Director's Doomed Sci-Fi Adaptation (TRAILER)

Sony Pictures Classics has picked up North American rights to Frank Pavich's documentary "Jodorowsky's Dune," which explores legendary director Alejandro Jodorowksy and his elaborate yet ultimately doomed 1970s adaptation of the eponymous sci-fi novel -- set to star Orson Welles and Mick Jagger, among others.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • July 11, 2013 12:02 PM
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Talking Must-See Doc 'Terms and Conditions May Apply': NSA Spying, and Reading the Unsettling Fine Print (TRAILER)

Cullen Hoback hasn’t really had a proper home for the last year -- “Keeping the government on its toes,” the director jokes. Sort of: He knows that they know that he knows that they probably knew where he was all the time.
  • By John Anderson
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  • July 10, 2013 1:22 PM
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Upcoming Documentary on Studio Ghibli Goes Behind the Scenes with Hayao Miyazaki

Exciting news lands today for Studio Ghibli fans. Filmmaker Mami Sunada is completing the final cut on a documentary that goes behind the scenes of the legendary Japanese animation studio. The film is titled "The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness," and centers -- naturally -- on auteur Hayao Miyazaki, who is finishing "Kaze Tachinu," and on Isao Takahata ("Grave of the Fireflies"), who has "The Tale of Princess Kaguya" in the pipeline.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • July 10, 2013 12:42 PM
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  • 1 Comment

New York Times Op-Docs Series Unveils Live-Pitch Competition: Winner Will Premiere Doc on NYTimes.com

The New York Times's Op-Doc series, a forum for short, opinionated documentaries with wide creative latitude, is extending an open invitation to US documentary short filmmakers to apply to Op-Doc's first live-pitch competition in North America. The prize is the opportunity to produce an Op-Doc for the New York Times, to premiere on NYTimes.com.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • July 8, 2013 12:49 PM
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Review Roundup: Must-See Doc 'Gideon's Army' Follows Tenacious Public Defenders in the Deep South (TRAILER)

Dawn Porter's documentary "Gideon's Army," which premiered earlier this year at Sundance, had its HBO debut July 1. The film, which follows overworked yet idealistic public defenders in the deep South, has gained high praise from critics: the Village Voice hails it as "the most illuminating crime drama since 'The Wire,'" while the New York Times claims it will "grab you by the throat." Look out for this one come Oscar season. Review roundup below.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • July 2, 2013 1:26 PM
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'Venus Vs.' Review: Venus Williams Fights for Gender Equality at Wimbledon in Ava DuVernay's Rousing Sports Doc

Ava DuVernay’s skilled documentary “Venus Vs.,” which debuts on ESPN July 2, charts Venus Williams’ two-year battle from 2005 to 2007 for equal prize money among genders at Wimbledon. In the film, sports journalist Howard Bryant explains that it takes a certain collision of factors for someone to be the right and most effective person to champion a cause. In 1973, it was Billie Jean King. In this millennium it’s Williams, a superstar in the world of tennis who also understands acutely what it is to be an outsider in that sport -- racially, economically and in terms of gender.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • July 2, 2013 11:42 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Review: Sensational True-Crime Doc 'The Cheshire Murders' Asks All the Right Questions

“The Cheshire Murders,” airing on HBO July 22, is, in part, a blow-by-blow account of the unspeakable 2007 Connecticut home invasion that left a mother and her two daughters dead, and made Dr. William Petit his state’s leading advocate for the death penalty (which was abolished there nonetheless).
  • By John Anderson
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  • July 1, 2013 11:54 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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