Documentary Film: Catching the Critics Eye
The past decade witnessed an explosion of documentary film production. Non-fiction films are being distributed more widely, and exhibited in grander settings than ever before. Filmgoers across the country are hungrier than ever for docs of every stripe, dealing with any range of subjects. But the growth in documentary production has not been met by a reciprocal growth in documentary criticism. Richard Brody (New Yorker), Ed Halter (Light Industry), Thom Powers (Toronto International Film Festival, DOC NYC, Stranger than Fiction), Lisa Rosman (New Deal Sally), Aaron Hillis (GreenCine Daily, Benten Films), and Karin Chien (dGenerate Films) will discuss the challenges of getting documentaries critically reviewed and brainstorm solutions during this lively panel.Moderated by Steve Holmgren (UnionDocs Programmer) and Colin Beckett (UnionDocs Writing Fellow). Full biographies below.
Good Fortune Screening
Dir. Landon Van Soest; Producers: Jeremy Levine & Landon Van Soest. Followed by Q & A with the filmmakers.
Through the personal stories of two Kenyans battling to save their homes from large-scale development organizations, Good Fortune explores ways in which massive international efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa may be undermining the very communities they aim to benefit. Recipient of 2007 Sundance Documentary Fund grant and Winner of the 2007 Fledgling Fund Award for Socially Conscious Documentaries.
Click here for more information on the film.
DOCUMENTARY PANELISTS BIOGRAPHIES:
Richard Brody is the movie listings editor at The New Yorker, where he writes film reviews, a DVD column, and the blog The Front Row; among his publications there are articles about François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Samuel Fuller, and Wes Anderson. He is the author of “Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard”, published in 2008 by Metropolitan Books.
Ed Halter is a critic and curator living in New York City. His writing has appeared in Artforum, Arthur, The Believer, Cinema Scope, Kunstforum, Millennium Film Journal, Moving Image Source, Rhizome, The Village Voice and elsewhere, and he is a 2009 recipient of the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. From 1995 to 2005, he programmed and oversaw the New York Underground Film Festival, and has organized screenings and exhibitions for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Cinematexas, Eyebeam, the Flaherty Film Seminar, the Museum of Modern Art, and San Francisco Cinematheque. He currently teaches in the Film and Electronic Arts department at Bard College, and has lectured at Harvard, NYU, Yale, and other schools as well as at Art in General, Aurora Picture Show, the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, the Images Festival, the Impakt Festival, and Pacific Film Archive. His book From Sun Tzu to Xbox: War and Video Games was published in 2006. With Andrea Grover, he is currently editing the collection A Microcinema Primer: A Brief History of Small Cinemas. He is a founder and director of Light Industry, a venue for film and electronic art in Brooklyn, New York.
Thom Powers is the creator of the documentary series Stranger Than Fiction that takes place at the IFC Center. Now in its 13th season, STF has featured guests such as Jonathan Demme, Albert Maysles, and Barbara Kopple. Powers also serves as the documentary programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) where he has presented world premieres such as “Art of the Steal,” “Food, Inc,” and “Encounters at the Edge of the World.” He has taught at New York University SCPS for 10 years. He co-founded the Cinema Eye Honors, an annual award for documentary excellence; and the Garrett Scott Development grant for first time filmmakers. He has directed documentaries for HBO, PBS and Sundance Channel. His essay “Wanted: Documentary Critics” was published in 2008 on www.STFdocs.com. He is also setting up DOC NYC with his partner Raphaela Neihausen, a festival of nonfiction storytelling kicking off in November.
Lisa Rosman is a former labor organizer, and now writes the Indiewire film and television blog New Deal Sally. Her work regularly appears in Time Out New York, Salon.com, usmagazine.com, and IFC.com, and she previously served as the Flavorpill film editor from 2005-2009, the Brooklyn Rail film editor from 2003-2005, and the mistress of the film blog The Broad View from 2005-2008. She also has served as the official blogger for Roger Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival since 2006 and has commented on TNT, the IFC, PBS and NPR. Most notably, she once served as an assistant for Elmo on Sesame Street.
Aaron Hillis is Vice-President of the boutique label Benten Films, the editor of GreenCine Daily, and a regular contributor to The Village Voice, LA Weekly, IFC, and Time Out New York. His co-directorial feature debut, Fish Kill Flea, played at UnionDocs in 2007.
Karin Chien is an independent film producer based in New York City, and the recipient of the 2010 Piaget Producers Award from the Independent Spirit Awards. Karin has produced seven feature-length films, including THE EXPLODING GIRL (2009), THE MOTEL (2005) and ROBOT STORIES (2002), which have won over 75 festival awards, premiered at Sundance and Berlin, and received international distribution. Karin is currently in post-production on two Sundance Filmmaker Lab projects, CIRCUMSTANCE and AYITI, AYITI, and in pre-production on Bradley Rust Gray’s JACK & DIANE. Karin is the president and founder of dGenerate Films, the leading distributor of independent, uncensored Chinese cinema. Karin is also the curator of the Chinatown Film Project, an inaugural film exhibition for the Museum of Chinese in America.