Today PUMA.Creative and Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation announced the launch of the PUMA.Creative Impact Award, a major new annual award to honour the documentary film creating the most significant impact in the world. This 50,000 Euro award acknowledges the film’s makers and will help the continuation of the film’s campaign work.
In Yates’s Granito, an documentary film she made intertwines with Guatemala’s turbulent history and emerges as an active player in a nation’s struggle to heal itself and serve up justice.
The Interrupters from Academy Award-winning director of Hoop Dreams Steve James, tells a story of ex-gang members who are now protecting their communities from the violence they themselves once employed.
Screening dates and times are still pending. You can find up-to-date information online at Sundance.
You should also check out this clip from the producers of Granito as they explain the process behind making their film.
The Sundance Institute has revealed the lineup of films selected to screen in the U.S. and World Cinema Dramatic and Documentary competitions for the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in January. Among the films selected are two ITVS-funded documentaries: If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation for the U.S. Documentary competition and Family Portrait in Black and White in the World Cinema Documentary competition.
Today’s announcement brings the total number of ITVS-funded films that have screened at Sundance to 71 since we first attended in 1994.
With the September 24 deadline for Independent Lens approaching, and the new season premiering next month, BTB has decided to give you an intimate, inside look at how the Emmy Award-wining series gets made.
Lois Vossen is the show’s series producer and vice president of ITVS. We sat down with her recently to learn about the curating process behind the program, and what she looks for in an Independent Lens film.
The Sundance Film Festival, held annually in Park City, Utah, is one of the largest and most prominent festivals for independent filmmakers.
Thirty-four films were awarded prizes in 29 categories, honoring both veteran and first-time filmmakers from around the world. Taking home the Excellence in Cinematography Award for U.S. Documentary was The Oath, by Laura Poitras. The film will have its television premiere later this year on P.O.V. on PBS (check local listings).
Filmed in Yemen, The Oath is a family drama about Al Qaeda and Guantanamo Bay Prison. This documentary is the second in a trilogy about America post 9/11. The first film, My Country, My Country, documented the U.S. occupation of Iraq from the perspective of an Iraqi family. The third film will focus on domestic surveillance.
In the video below, Laura Poitras sits down and gives an in depth look at her film, which she hopes will help people gain a better understanding of Al Qaeda and Guantanamo.
The Sundance Film Festival, held annually in Park City, Utah, is one of the largest and most prominent festivals for independent filmmakers. This year, three ITVS films made their world premiere at the festival, which brings the total number of ITVS funded films that have screened at Sundance to 69 since we first attended in 1994. Lois Vossen, ITVS vice president and Independent Lens series producer, shares her reflections on this year’s festival, which wraps up this weekend.
Arriving in Park City, Utah at 8:00 AM on Friday morning, January 22, a couple of things were clear: it was doubtful that I would get caught up on sleep here. The list of documentaries I needed to screen in the next five and a half days was growing faster than the snowdrift that lay between me and our condo front door –– and this was going to be a snowy Sundance.
Three ITVS funded films were featured at 2010 Sundance: Last Train Home by Lixin Fan, The Oath by Laura Poitras, and My Perestroika by Robin Hessman. My colleagues Claire Aguilar and Cynthia Kane attended their screenings and I headed out to find new shows for Independent Lens acquisition consideration.
Seventeen films, countless shuttle rides, bad sandwiches on the run, and many snowstorms later, here’s what I remember now that I’m back in sunny San Francisco.
- Discovering Banksy street art on Main Street at 8:00 AM, Monday morning, en route to an early morning screening. I know there has to be more so I’m in hot pursuit…
- The Impact Partners party on Saturday night. Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, is in the house. We end up talking about the now-canceled TV show Life, and the joys of working with Adam Arkin with whom she starred.
- Unique offerings at Sundance 2010: Utopia in Four Movements by Sam Green; Double Take by Johan Grimonprez; and Saint Louis Blues by Dyana Gaye, a 48-minute musical documentary from Senegal. Too long but totally unexpected.
- Finding out when the next special screening of Exit Through the Gift Shop will take place. Banksy pursuit continues…
It’s official… The 2010 Sundance Film Festival just announced their official selections and ITVS has three films in competition. This brings the total number of ITVS funded films that have screened at Sundance to 69 since we first attended in 1994.
The three ITVS films in competition include:
By Robin Hessman
When the USSR broke apart in 1991, a generation of young people faced a new realm of possibilities. Filmmaker Robin Hessman follows this last generation of Soviet children brought up behind the Iron Curtain. Using a wealth of rare Russian footage, MY PERESTROIKA interweaves an intimate view of the past with the contemporary lives of a married couple and their childhood friends–telling the story of a nation still very much in transition.
A co-production of Red Square Productions/Bungalow Town Productions and ITVS International in association with American Documentary | P.O.V.
By Laura Poitras
Filmed in Yemen, THE OATH is a family drama about Al Qaeda and Guantanamo Bay Prison. This documentary is the second in a trilogy about America post 9/11. The first film, MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY, documented the U.S. occupation of Iraq from the perspective of an Iraqi family. The third film will focus on domestic surveillance.
This film is a co-production of ITVS.
LAST TRAIN HOME
By Lixin Fan
China experiences the largest internal migration in the world as rural workers travel to cities looking for employment. In LAST TRAIN HOME, filmmaker Lixin Fan follows the Zhang family who save all year to travel home for Chinese New Year, along with over 100 million other migrant workers, hoping to salvage the relationship with their teenage daughter.
An EyeSteelFilm production in association with ITVS International.
The festival will be held in Park City, Utah, Jan. 21-31. Screening dates and times are still pending.
The jury and audience award-winners of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival were announced over the weekend at the Festival’s closing Awards Ceremony. Winning this year’s Directing Award for U.S. Documentary was Natalia Almada for the ITVS film EL GENERAL, which will air this year on P.O.V. on PBS.
Through the legacy of filmmaker Natalia Almada, great-granddaughter of Mexican President Plutarco Elias Calles, EL GENERAL is a portrait of a family and explores a country living under the shadow of its past.
I was there for the second wave of the festival that started after Obama’s inauguration. Exhilaration was in the air along with hope and warm and fuzzy feelings that made the Sundance experience really special this year. And maybe less than the normal challenge, because “working” Sundance is fun but hard. Because of trying to shoehorn everything into a 24 hour day (midnight screenings, early morning meetings, bus trips, slogging through snow and black ice), basic human needs such as food, water and sleep are often at a minimum. Everyone is watching, promoting, developing, networking, organizing and discussing films so you tend to forget about lunch. But anyway, as a wimpy Californian it wasn’t too snowy this year and I had fewer waves of panic at the sight of black ice. The Sundance survival kit this year included cute green Nalgene water bottles and hand warmers.
Caroline Libresco from Sundance organized industry meetings with filmmakers and industry professionals where I got to meet with international filmmakers and talk about projects in development. I had great conversations with filmmakers Hubert Sauper (Darwin’s Nightmare), Havana Marking (Afghan Star), Christo Hird and Rupert Murray (End of the Line), NC Heikin (Kimjongilia), John Dower (Thrilla in Manila) and Ngawang Choephel (Tibet in Song). Thanks to Sundance for connecting industry documentary people with these filmmakers––it’s a good thing.
Since I’m at the festival mostly looking for projects in development and to talk with producers, watching films is more of a treat than a priority. But I got to see some wonderful features, such as the heart-warming Amreeka (a project in development by ITVS-funded filmmaker Cherin Dabis) and the odd and funny Brief Encounters with Hideous Men, based on the book by the late David Foster Wallace.
As for docs, I went to a screening of the premiere of The Yes Men Fix the World. The Yes Men are two guys who plan and execute hilarious hoaxes aimed at the corporate world. Andy Bilchlbaum and Mike Bonnano travel the world posing as representatives of Halliburton, HUD and the WTO. In their most famous hoax, Andy posed as a Dow Chemical spokesperson (“Jude Finisterra”). On the anniversary of the Bhopal disaster––an industrial disaster that took place at a Union Carbide, a chemical plant in the city of Bhopal, India––Andy promises that Dow will dissolve their company Union Carbide. With the 12 billion dollars from the sale, they’ll clean up the site and provide medical care for the thousands of victims of the Bhopal chemical spill. The news reaches millions of viewers before the BBC discovers it was all a hoax and the Yes Men are exposed. Dow suffered a great plunge in their stock and felt an enormous backlash from the stunt. The film is filled with other pranks but also has fun sequences of the Yes Men in their power suits strategizing in a barn/office, lovely shots of them synchronized swimming and creating and crafting their props. The young and energetic audience gave the Yes Men a standing ovation after the film, relishing their latest “hoax of hope,” a fake edition of The New York Times (dated July 4, 2009) with the headline “War in Iraq Ends.” A total of 1.2 million copies of the fake paper were distributed, including at the screening, where we read about “Maximum Wage Law Passes Congress” and “All Public Universities To Be Free.” A fitting sign that the Yes Men are the social issue tricksters in the Era of Obama.
-Claire Aguilar, ITVS vice president of Programming
After six days in Park City it is time to head home. This year marked my 18th consecutive Sundance and in many ways it was my best Sundance experience in years. The warm weather certainly helped––I only wore my gloves twice, my hat once and never even used my scarf!
The smaller crowds made catching the endless round of shuttle buses more enjoyable. As a proponent of mass-transit, I kind of enjoyed riding the shuttles and eavesdropping on all the conversations. While some of the comments were pretty wild, I also (over)heard some of the most intelligent discussions about film as the shuttles lumbered from the Transit Center and Main Street to the library, to the Yarrow/Holiday Cinemas and onto the Eccles.
But appropriately, the best thing about this year’s Sundance was the films. I saw 15 films and really liked many of them and loved a few of them. The bounty of environmental films could have made for a very depressing Sundance––especially since I screened The Cove, The End of the Line, Crude, No Impact Man and Dirt! The Movie within three days. But even the most dire of these films tried to offer the audience a ray of hope if we are willing to change our ways. Like the call from President Obama, we’ll have to make some sacrifices like giving up blue fin tuna so it doesn’t go extinct. But before I can taste some dirt in my own Oakland backyard like they did in Dirt! The Movie, I’ll have to remove the lead.
One of the fun things about Sundance are the chance encounters: running into former colleagues I see once a year or every few years at Sundance, meeting filmmakers whose work I’ve admired and being able to tell them that in person, going to a pub for lunch and getting seated down the table from the five documentary competition jurors so you can say hi to all of them at once, and of course meeting new filmmakers.
On Tuesday morning I participated in the “Meet the Commissioning Editors” pitch meetings at the Sundance House. One person who joined my table is a Sundance Fellow this year. His earlier short was featured as part of the Independent Lens Shorts Festival. He pitched his new project along with about 30 other filmmakers looking for funding, broadcast and other support.
A notable difference from earlier years at Sundance is whose sitting in the theater with me watching documentaries. This year I sat behind, next to, in front of or across the aisle from Sting, Trudie Styler, Chris Rock, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Bacon, Ben Affleck, Nia Long, etc. And of course Mr. Redford, but he’s been doing it for 25 years.
- Lois Vossen, vice president and Independent Lens series producer