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Thompson on Hollywood

Now and Then: What Can We Demand of the Documentary--Subjects, Aesthetics, Goals and Business Models?

This year, if you held your ear to the Oscar keyhole and listened hard enough, you might have discerned a slight disquiet. "Very strong category," people were saying about the nominees for Best Documentary Feature. "I loved all of them," they usually added. "But..." The "but" concerned the eventual winner, director Malik Bendjelloul's "Searching for Sugar Man." A soulful mystery about the American musician Rodriguez, who rose to prominence in South Africa and Australia a generation ago before being relegated to obscurity, "Sugar Man" was never discussed as anything less than deserving. In certain quarters, though, "Sugar Man" could be seen as insubstantial when placed against the other nominees, all weighing heavy political subjects: the Israeli/Palestinian conflict ("The Gatekeepers," "5 Broken Cameras"), military sexual assault ("The Invisible War"), and the AIDS crisis ("How to Survive a Plague").
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • March 12, 2013 3:22 PM
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Full Frame Documentary Film Festival Reveals 2013 Slate

At a time when doc production is exploding and ways of telling real-life stories have never been more innovative and varied, it's a great moment to check out the eclectic selection at the 16th annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, which is becoming a major doc showcase. Running April 4-7 in Durham, North Carolina, Full Frame has revealed its 2013 slate.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • March 7, 2013 2:56 PM
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Trailer Watch: Sarah Polley's Lovely 'Stories We Tell' Pushes the Line Between Truth and Mythology

One of the best films to hit the fall 2012 festival circuit, Sarah Polley's documentary memoir "The Stories We Tell," is a portrait of the Canadian writer-director-actress's family history and secrets, and a personal exploration into the smudged line between truth and mythology. Watch the new trailer below.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • March 6, 2013 12:18 PM
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Exclusive Clip: SXSW Documentary 'Big Joy' Follows the Pre-Beat, Pansexual Adventures of Artist James Broughton

Check out this exclusive clip from Steven Silha and Eric Slade's documentary "Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton," making its world premiere at SXSW on March 9. The film centers on pre-Beat filmmaker and poet Broughton, whose pansexual lifestyle...
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • March 5, 2013 1:29 PM
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Kino Lorber Takes 'Deceptive Practice' Doc on Magician Ricky Jay

Kino Lorber has taken US rights to "Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay," from directors Molly Bernstein and Alan Edelstein. The film debuted at last year's New York Film Festival.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • March 4, 2013 12:44 PM
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Exclusive Clip: SXSW Documentary 'And Who Taught You to Drive' Follows Three Quests for Foreign Drivers Licenses

Check out this exclusive clip from SXSW documentary "And Who Taught You to Drive?" The film, directed by Andrea Thiele, follows three different individuals as they jump through hoops to attain drivers licenses in foreign countries -- German Mirela in India, American Jake in Japan, and South Korean Hye-Won in Germany.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • March 1, 2013 3:27 PM
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Exclusive Clip: SXSW Documentary 'Maidentrip' Chronicles Teen Laura Dekker's Record-Breaking Sail Around the World

Check out this exclusive clip from Jillian Schlesinger's SXSW documentary "Maidentrip," following Dutch 14-year-old Laura Dekker's seabound excursion to become the youngest person to sail around the globe solo.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • February 27, 2013 3:05 PM
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Drafthouse Films Nabs 'A Band Called Death,' Documentary on Lost and Reborn '70s Punk Group

Drafthouse Films has taken North American rights to Jeff Howlett and Mark Covino's documentary "A Band Called Death," chronicling the rise to cult stardom of '70s African-American proto-punk trio Death almost 30 years after the release of their forgotten demo tape. The film will screen at SXSW (March 8-16). Trailer below.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • February 26, 2013 12:56 PM
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Full Frame Documentary Film Festival Chosen as Oscar-Qualifying in Documentary Short Category

The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival has been selected as an Academy Award-qualifying festival in the Documentary Short Subject category. This decision follows a recent similar decision by the Producers Guild.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • February 22, 2013 12:24 PM
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Why 'Searching for Sugar Man' is a Slam Dunk for the Documentary Oscar

There are few reasons to envy the membership of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, but there have probably been times when the Academy hierarchy has turned an envious eye upon the HFPA’s policy regarding the Golden Globe for Best Documentary: Namely, that there isn’t one. If one thinks of Oscar as the Titanic, and documentaries as an iceberg, the Academy membership – or some derivation of same – has managed to punch a hole in their own hull more often than not.
  • By John Anderson
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  • February 21, 2013 3:38 PM
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  • 0 Comments

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