I’m really excited that this week is the launch of the second annual DocNYC Film Festival. I imagine most of my NYC based readers know about this fest already, but if not, check out their website for the complete line-up. They’ve got some amazing docs this year, and I really commend them for putting together such a spectacular festival.
I’ll be moderating a couple of interesting panels at the festival. On Wed, Nov 2nd, I’ll be moderating “State of Theatrical” at 12:45pm. Panel description from the site: What do recent hits and misses tell us about the theatrical marketplace for docs? Panelists include Matt Cowal of Magnolia Pictures (Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times); Ryan Krivoshey of Cinema Guild (The Interrupters); Emily Russo of Zeitgeist Films (Bill Cunningham New York); and a representative of IFC Films/Sundance Selects (Cave of Forgotten Dreams) discussing their strategies for success.
Then at 2:30pm, I’ll be discussing the “State of Digital” From the fest description: In the rapidly changing world of digital distribution what are the options, opportunities and cautions for independent filmmakers? What’s the difference between transactional, subscription and ad-supported models? Representatives from key players and close watchers of this sector share their insights. Panelists include: Matt Dentler (Cinetic Film Buff); Susan Margolin (New Video/Docurama); Andrew Mer (SnagFilms); Lisa Schwartz (SundanceNOW).
That’s a great line-up of fantastic panelists, and I’m looking forward to learning a bit about the current health of the industry from them. While I’m not moderating the panel, I’m excited to also hear the panel on Branded Content. Given the fact that Thom Powers just announced a new partnership, Launch Pad, with Grey Global and Morgan Spurlock to connect doc makers and brands, that should be a great discussion. I think this is one of the most exciting new developments in the industry. Everyone with an interest in how brands and filmmakers might work together should attend. I’ve written before that we need a lot more conversation about this, as it’s a growing area. I think the team here will do it the right way, and I congratulate them on pulling this together. You can find all the panels at DocNYC here.
I’ve also been lucky enough to see a few of the films in advance, and of those I’ve seen I can highly recommend three. Okay, I could recommend more, but these three are my favorite, plus one retrospective that no one should miss. No lengthy reviews here, but I highly recommend checking out the following three titles:
Lemon – following the story of Lemon Andersen, as he attempts to make a come-back, from three time felon to one man poetry theater phenomenon.
Kumare – Kumare follows a man with followers – but he’s not the shaman they think he is. This one was a huge hit at SXSW, and while it does ride a fine line between ridiculing its subjects and having compassion for them, I think it comes down on the right (latter) side of that line.
Calvet – Another story of an artist breaking through, but this one is much different. Calvet is now an internationally renowned artist, but he led a tough life including everything from mob bodyguard to heroin and crack addicted nightclub owner. Calvet has now cleaned up his life, but has one task left – to re-connect with his estranged son. While most people will like this for the more sensational parts of the story, I found it fascinating to hear how he discovered his artistic talent and how his art continues to help him move forward.
Last, I highly recommend checking out the Ricky Leacock retrospective and the work in progress screening of Jane Weiner’s “On Being There.” Full disclosure, I’m helping Jane with her soon-to-launch Kickstarter campaign (more on that soon), but I’d recommend this regardless of that connection. Ricky Leacock was a legendary figure in documentary films, and we lost a mentor to many when he passed away last year. Jane’s film is an excellent tribute to him, and while it is a work in progress, it’s worth catching as it’s the last time you’ll ever see the film like this (a completely new version of the film is being completed now). You can also catch a few greats in the Leacock retrospective the fest has put together.
All in all, this is a great week to catch some amazing docs in NYC. The organizers have put together a great event, and it’s still growing and coming into its own, so we can only expect greater things in the future.