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News Archives - (Current News)

2000 Oscar Winner on HBO
Ken Burns Jazz Will Premiere January 8, 2001
DocFest 2000
Our House Interview/Coverage
Oscar Winners 2000
Oscar Nominees 2000
Man on the Moon Doc Begins Selling Independent Films
Star Trek Fan Documentary Receives National Promotional Campaign
IndieWIRE Covers the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival's Documentaries
P.O.V. Summer 99 Season Announced
Star Wars' Fan Documentary Available Online
Frontline: Memory of the Camps
Tenth Vermont International Film Festival Call For Entries
Academy Awards Announced: Year of the Independents
HBO premieres Documentary on Women in Sports
$80,000 in funds for Documentary Film Productions
Film Critic Gene Siskel dies at 53
Adademy Award Nominations Announced
Spielberg Documentary to be Released: The Last Days
Ken Burns' Documentary Announced: Mark Twain
Announcing the Hot Springs Film Festival
New Graffiti Documentaries
Home Page Doc
Frontline 1999: Rwanda

Chuck Braverman wins 2000 DGA Award for documentary film.
Chuck Braverman was presented the 2000 DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentaries during the 53rd Annual DGA Awards Dinner on Saturday, March 10, 2001 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.

Braverman's documentary, High School Boot Camp, follows teens on the verge of serious trouble as they turn their backs on drugs and violence to face the biggest challenge of their lives - the hard training and tough
discipline of military drill instructors. This was Braverman's first DGA Award and second nomination.

Hidden camera doc leads to political scandal. (National Post)

Documentaries big at SXSW (indieWIRE)

Taos Festival will award land to winner (Press Release)

Keep the River on Your Right - Now a documentary

Over 30 years ago, Tobias Schneebaum wrote about his journey into Peru's Madre de Dios region in his cult classic Keep the River on Your Right , but now the book has an epilogue.  A epilogue in the form of a feature length documentary that follows Schneebaum as he returns to to Peru and meets up with the remotely located Peruvians, he had lived with many years ago.  The basic storyline is compelling, but Schneebaum is no ordinary traveler.  His amazing story and details about the documentary can be found at ArtNewsOnline.

Review of Genghis Blues

Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. reviews the Academy Award nominated documentary, Genghis Blues

It takes little imagination to understand why Roko and Adrian Belic had problems financing their film. It would focus on a type of music—throat-singing—that few had ever heard of, and be filmed in Tuva, an isolated region near Mongolia that wasn’t even on the map. Worse still, the camera would follow one Paul Pena—a relatively unknown blind blues singer who had taught himself throat-singing—as he interacted with Tuvan culture. The brothers weren’t particularly surprised that no one was interested, but neither were they dissuaded. So with little money and a rag-tag crew who wanted to work on the film for nothing, they booked a flight to Tuva.

Click here to read the entire review.

Review of Don't Look Back

Mark Nichols reviews the D.A. Pennebaker documentary, Don't Look Back

Arguably more cinema vérité than documentary, D.A. Pennebaker’s Don’t Look Back follows four weeks of Bob Dylan’s solo acoustic tour across England in 1965. Virtually absent are the standard documentary conventions of archival or interview footage. Nor is the film a concert picture, with very few live numbers captured in their entirety, and more than half of the film following Dylan backstage and between gigs. Instead the camera acts solely as a fly on the wall and for 96 minutes the viewer watches Dylan ongoing evolution as performer and personality. Here’s hoping he’s evolved since.

Click here to read the entire review.

The DGA announces documentary nominations.

The Directors Guild of America nominees are:

  • Chuck Braverman, High School Boot Camp (Discovery Channel)
  • Laurie Collyer, Nuyorican Dream (Cinemax)
  • David deVries, The True Story of the Bridge on the River Kwai (The History Channel)
  • Mark T. Lewis, The Natural History of the Chicken (PBS)
  • Michael Mierendorf, Broken Child (HBO)

Hot Docs is almost here - prepare.

Registration forms for Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, North America's largest documentary event, are now available online at and through the Hot Docs office, with early bird rates available until March 30.

A meeting and marketplace for documentary professionals, Hot Docs has become a must-attend event for documentary filmmakers, buyers, programmers, distributors and commissioning editors from around the world. Last year, 1,100 industry delegates from 25 countries attended Hot Docs.

This year, Hot Docs will present over 80 cutting-edge documentaries from Canada and abroad, and an expanded roster of professional development, networking and market events. New in 2001 are:

* Producers Seminars, a series of panels focussing on the "business" side of documentary filmmaking;
* Cutting Truths: Convergence, Interactivity and the Future of Documentary, a one-day conference mounted in collaboration with the Banff New Media Institute (Banff Centre), exploring the impact of the "digital revolution" on documentary practice;
* Rendez-vous, an afternoon of one-on-one meetings between independent filmmakers and international documentary financiers;
* Kickstart, a half-day programme geared towards emerging documentary filmmakers.

Regular events returning in 2001 include Filmmaker Discussions, a series of panels focusing on the creative aspects of documentary filmmaking; Micro-Meetings led by industry professionals; Master Classes with Albert Maysles and the collaborative team of D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus; and Hot Docs' annual Symposium, this year entitled "Imagining Change". The Doc Shop, a documentary market running in conjunction with the festival, will include an on-demand videotheque and a video library of over 1,100 documentaries.

In 2001, Hot Docs will also mount the 2nd annual Toronto Documentary Forum (May 2-3), a two-day international market event during which independent documentary production teams pitch their projects to an international assembly of commissioning editors and other documentary financiers. A limited number of Observer seats are now available (see Registration Form for details).

Register before March 30 to receive early bird rates on Hot Docs Industry Passes, as well as passes for various individual events. Submit your registration form on-line at or call Hot Docs office at (416) 203-2155 to obtain a registration brochure.

New IMAX documentary is one big concert video.

All Access: Front Row. Backstage. Live! offer brief views of individual musical artists as they prepare to perform along with traditional concert style footage of individual song performance, in the not so traditional format of IMAX.  Artist featured include Dave Matthews Band, Moby, Carlos Santana, Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas, Sting, Al Green, George Clinton, B.B. King, Sheryl Crow, Mary J. Blige, Kid Rock, Macy Gray, the Roots, Phish's Trey Anastasio, and Cheb Mamic.

Review of Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided

Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. reviews the American Experience documentary series, Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided.  The three part series will air on PBS over three nights: February 19, 20 & 21.

Review of The Target Shoots First

When I first heard about a filmmaker who had shot video for two years while working at Columbia House corporate headquarters, I assumed that he was using a hidden camera. I was wrong. He showed up for his first day of work with a video camera, and when no one objected to being filmed, he proceeded to bring it to work everyday for the next two years. Click here to read the full review by Joshua Davis.

The Cinemax Reel Life presentation debuts Tuesday, February 20 at 8:00 p.m. EST.

Review of Frontline's Saving Elian

Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. reviews the Frontline documentary, Saving Elian.  This film offers a penetrating and disturbing look at the underlying forces and groups that mobilized when presented with the spark that was Elian Gonzolas. It will air on PBS Tuesday, February 6th.

Wes Craven directs Clinton documentary.

Director of many horror films including the original Scream and Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven filmed Clinton in the White House as he gave a tour of it. The completed film will be shown at his presidential library in Arkansas. (iWon)

Sundance Coverage

Review of Frontline's Juvenile Justice

Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. reviews the  Frontline documentary, Juvenile Justice.  The filmmakers were given full access to the Santa Clara, California juvenile court system to study four cases over the course of a year. It will air on PBS Tuesday, January 30th.

Cinemax will show 2000 Slamdance and SXSW documentary winner.

Winner of the 2000 Best Documentary Feature award at the Slamdance and South by Southwest film festivals, The Target Shoots First is a biting commentary on the gap between corporate America and the disillusioned youth market it is trying to exploit.  From the offices and corridors to the conference rooms and cafeterias, the director Chris Wilcha provides an all-access journey in his life as a worker for Columbia House. The "CINEMAX Reel Life" presentation debuts TUESDAY, FEB. 20 (8:00-9:15 p.m. ET). Other air date:  March 9 (6:00 a.m.)

The New York Times and docfest team up for documentary series.

docfest, The New York International Documentary Festival, in partnership with The New York Times is presenting a new screening series of classic documentaries as part of  "Times Talks," the New York Times speaker series dedicated to discussion of the arts, entertainment, and society.  Each "Times Talks" screening will be accompanied by special guests, a Q&A, plus a champagne reception in the manner of "docfest," the New York Documentary Center's annual spring event in New York.   (This year's "docfest", the fourth annual New York International Documentary Festival, is April 27-May 1st.)

Review of Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns

Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. reviews the new Ken Burns documentary series Jazz. A full review of the series is accompanied by a guide to each episode and a listing of air dates. The series will begin airing on PBS Monday, January 8th.

A review of The Clinton Years

Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. reviews the first 2001 Frontline documentary, The Clinton Years.  The film looks back at Clinton’s presidency through the eyes of those who served him. It will air on PBS Tuesday, January 16th.

Excellent overview of the state of documentary film financing

A must read for every documentary filmmaker and anyone concerned about the continued availability of documentaries.   Covers the role that public television, cable, the NEA, and corporate sponsorship play in getting films made. (New York Times - Registration may be required)

Shakeup in dot-coms affecting the online film community.

Think the .com shakedown doesn't affect the independent film industry; think again. With more and more online movie showplaces like iCAST going under, be sure to get your film shown by a company that will be around when you need them. Smart bet: traditional distribution systems are still the way to go. Also, interesting comments on the state of online-independent-movie-news sites. (

Interview with the directors of Hairdo

Hairdo explores the sub-culture of hair style contests by following a group of hair stylist as they travel and compete in New York in front of professional hairstylist judges. (

Ira Glass, host of This American Life, get a taste of his own medicine.

The host of this sometimes documentary series is asked questions that he had previously used on his own guests. (Chicago Tribune)

PBS gets into the "reality" TV business

Last summer PBS aired the British produced 1900 House, a documentary program that followed the lives of an English family who tried to live with 1900 technology, just as a turn-of-the-century  family would. Now PBS is doing its own take on the series with Frontier House.  This six-part series will follow three groups as they fend for themselves in the primitive conditions of the 1800s. Production for the series is being handled by WNET in New York.   PBS film crews will document the entire six-month experience.  Frontier House will air in 2002. PBS is even keeping the location a secret.  Survivor without the money?

DoubleTake Submissions Deadline Approaching

The DoubleTake Documentary Film Festival seeks recent creative documentary work to screen in its General Submissions category.   The 4th annual international festival will take place May 3-6, 2001 at the historic Carolina Theatre in Durham, NC.  Over 40 programs make up the General Submissions, Thematic, International, and Career Award segments.  Competition films are eligible for the Jury, Audience and other awards.  Documentaries must have been completed after January 1, 1999 and be no more than  180 minutes in length.  Deadline is December 28, 2000.  Late deadline is January 8, 2001.  Visit their site for more details.

Sundance Documentary Entries Announced

  • "Chain Camera"
  • "Children Underground"
  • "Dogtown and the Z-Boys"
  • "The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition"
  • "Go Tigers!"
  • "Home Movie"
  • "LaLee's Kin: The Legacy of Cotton"
  • "Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind"
  • "The Natural History of the Chicken"
  • "Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey"
  • "Scout's Honor"
  • "Scratch"
  • "Southern Comfort"
  • "Start Up.Com"
  • "Trembling Before G-D"
  • "An Unfinished Symphony"

Dark Days documentary invites audiences into 'homes' of the homeless. (CNN)

"Dark Day won three awards at the Sundance Film Festival, including the Audience Award. Now, it's finding new audiences as it slowly releases to 20 markets across the country this fall. "

Asian independent filmmaking spurred by the ability to screen films online. (Time Asia)

Jazz PBS Broadcast Schedule Announced

NOTE: At the beginning of January we will have a full review of Ken Burns' Jazz by Documentary Films .Net lead reviewer, Ronnie D. Lankford Jr.

All times are 8PM Eastern Standard Time
January 8 - Gumbo, Beginnings to 1917 
January 9 - The Gift, 1917-1924 
January 10 - Our Language, 1924-1928 
January 15 - The True Welcome, 1929-1935 
January 17 - Swing: Pure Pleasure, 1935-1937 
January 22 - Swing: The Velocity of Celebration, 1937-1939 
January 23 - Dedicated to Chaos, 1940-1945 
January 24 - Risk, 1945-1956 
January 29 - The Adventure, 1956-1961 
January 31 - A Masterpiece Midnight, 1961-Present 

A review of Return With Honor - POWs tell their story in their words.

Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. reviews The American Experience documentary Return With Honor, which explores the lives of America pilots who were captured and retained in North Vietnamese prisons. The documentary will air on PBS Monday, November 13th.

Death of Video Rentals? (LA Times)

The content is not dead, but with increased options for leisure time including the Internet and more on demand video options, traditional video retailers are feeling the pressure in fewer sales.

An interview with Documentarian and Activist Robbie Leppzer (New England Films)

Offers interesting thoughts on the state of documentary film distributing in the U.S., and how some thing have improved, while the climate as a whole has not.  

Napoleon: A Biographer of Presidents Tackles an Emperor (NY Times - Registration Required)

Three years and three million dollars have resulted in Napoleon.  A documentary directed by David Grubin and narrated by David McCullough, which begins Wednesday night on PBS.

Real Justice on Frontline Tonight

Producers for Frontline spent 10 months observing and documenting the goings-on of Boston's criminal court system by going inside the city's courtrooms and DA's office.  Real Justice, a two part series, goes beyond the headlines of   high-profile case and show what the modern court system is really like.

Attention New York (and the World):
The HBO FRAME BY FRAME documentary film showcase will run from Friday, Oct. 13, to Thursday, Oct. 26, at The Screening Room in lower Manhattan. The showcase helps focus the fim community on documentary films, by showing award winning films, along with films by up and coming filmmakers and their works.

Admission to FRAME BY FRAME screenings is $5.00 general admission. The Screening Room is located at 54 Varick Street.  All proceeds from ticket sales benefit the International Documentary Association.

Among the 21 films being screened at FRAME BY FRAME are:

* "Nuyorican Dream," Laurie Collyer's intimate look at three
generations of one Puerto Rican family  living in New York City.

* "Half Past Autumn:  The Life and Works of Gordon Parks," a portrait
of the modern-day Renaissance man, directed by Craig Rice.

* "The Laughing Club of India," acclaimed director Mira Nair's look at
Bombay's unusual and popular phenomenon of bringing people together to
promote healing and well-being through laughter.

* "Long Night's Journey into Day:  South Africa's Search For Truth &
Reconciliation," winner of the Grand Prize for best documentary at the 2000
Sundance Film Festival, from filmmakers Frances Reid and Deborah Hoffmann.

* "Legacy," a stunning saga of one family's rise from the grips of
despair in one of Chicago's most dangerous housing projects, directed by Tod
S. Lending.

* "Paragraph 175," the shocking story of the Nazi persecution of
homosexuals, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.

* "Big Mama," the story of a determined and resilient 89-year-old
grandmother's struggle to raise her nine-year-old grandson, directed by
Tracy Seretean.

* "Just, Melvin," a chilling and candid account of the cycles of
incest, directed by James Ronald Whitney.

* "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," a look at the fall and rise of Tammy Faye
Bakker Messner, directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato.

* "On Tiptoe:  Gentle Steps to Freedom," a poignant profile of South
African singing group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, directed by Eric Simonson in
association with Leelai Demoz.

Ironminds article on how the documentary Hands on the Hardbody compares to Survivor.
Note:  Hands on the Hardbody is a difficult to locate documentary, but if you get the chance, definitely see it.  The USA Network has been running a similarly themed show, Last One Standing, on Sunday evenings periodically, while not up to the Hardbody standard, it is the best of current reality programs.

2000 Oscar Winning Doc - Coming to HBO - One Time Only
This year's Academy Award winner for Best Documentary Feature, One Day in September tells the gripping story of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre from the initial hostage-taking, through the fruitless 24-hour negotiation process, to the final horrifying hours at a German airport. Produced by six-time Oscar-winner Arthur Cohn and narrated by Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas, this must-see documentary film provides explosive new insights into the Munich massacre-including the first-ever interview by the only terrorist still alive today. It also featues a wealth of film and television archival footage, including the memorable commentary of Olympic TV anchor JIm McKay. The film is driven by a majestic score including songs by Led Zeppelin and other top bands from the 1970's.

Premiering on HBO just prior to this year's Summer Olympic Games, One Day in September will air one time only: on Monday, September 11 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Ken Burns Jazz Will Premiere January 8, 2001.
The first episode of Ken Burns documentary series, Jazz, will be shown on January 8th of next year.  This series will be the third of what Ken Burns has described as his epic,  American documentary series, with the first two being The Civil War and Baseball.  The Jazz series has epic media proportions, in that Columbia Records' Legacy imprint and Verve Records are joining forces to release a far-reaching overview of jazz in conjunction with Ken Burns' PBS documentary Jazz.  On Nov. 7, Columbia Legacy and Verve will release a five-CD box set companion titled 'Ken Burns Jazz: The Story of American Music' in addition to 22 individual artist discs. There will also be a single disc overview of the 10-episode series. Before the series airs, Knopf will publish a coffee-table book of photographs from the series. After its airing, Warner Home Video will release it on DVD. For coverage of Ken Burns and a complete listing of his available films, visit our Ken Burns section.

View of things to come.   The Documentary Film Interview Index is being developed as a new feature of the site.  Click here to view, and start sending us your links.

Attention New York (and the World):

Though only in its third year, DOCFEST has fast become one of the must-attend events in the New York film festival calendar.   Seventeen films representing the very best of recent international documentaries will be featured, including eight US and eight New York premieres. The festival kicks off May 31 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Rose Cinemas with a special Opening Night screening of the US premiere of Argentinian director Daniel Rosenfeld’s SALUZZI: COMPOSITION FOR BANDONEON AND THREE BROTHERS followed by a Gala Reception featuring a one-of-a-kind performance by the film’s subject, Argentinian musical legend Dino Saluzzi.

All other screenings - beginning on June 2 and running to June 6 - will be held at the Directors Guild of America Theater, 110 West 57th Street. Each director and many special guests will attend their screenings with audience discussions and a champagne reception after every program.  For those who want to see the latest and best of documentary film, this event should not be missed.  We encourage you to visit the festival's web site to learn about the specific films listed below and to view the most current schedule.

Other featured works include: Nina Davenport’s ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID; Jem Cohen and Peter Sillen’s BENJAMIN SMOKE; Peter Wintonick’s CINEMA VERITE:DEFINING THE MOMENT; Paul Wilmshurst’s DICE WORLD; Pola Rapaport’s FAMILY SECRET; Deann Borshay’s FIRST PERSON PLURAL; David and Laurie Gwen Shapiro’s KEEP THE RIVER ON YOUR RIGHT: A MODERN CANNIBAL TALE; Jane Treay’s ONE MAN, SIX WIVES AND TWENTY-NINE CHILDREN; Marina Goldovskaya’s THE PRINCE IS BACK; Irene Langemann’s RUSSIA’S WONDER CHILDREN; Barak Goodman and Daniel Anker’s stunning SCOTTSBORO: AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY; Gidi Dar’s SHINE; Elizabeth Barret’s STRANGER WITH A CAMERA; Michael Camerini and Shari Robertson’s WELL-FOUNDED FEAR; Michel Negroponte’s W.I.S.O.R.;and a Special Tribute to CBS Sunday Morning.

Documentary Films .Net Interview with Meema Spadola, Director of Our House: A Very Real Documentary about Kids of Gay and Lesbian Parents.

With summer coming up, documentary film fans and supporters should be sure to take advantage of the independent films being shown on PBS.  One of the films that willl be shown this summer is Our House.   This film follows the lives of children of gay and lesbian parents. The documentary profiles sixteen sons and daughters—between the ages of four and twenty-three—in five families who are facing the usual highs and lows of growing up.   This documentary is thought to be the first to profile the lives of children of gay and lesbian parents, that is being presented to a national audience.  This film will be shown in June.  To get the exact times and more information on Our House check out their website.  Make time to see independent films this summer.

S has a excellent cover story on David Schisgall's The Lifestyle: Group Sex in the Suburbs, a new documentary that explores the all-American world of suburban swingers.  Find out how this film was so controversial, that most "indie" film festivals turned him down. Click here to visit the film's web site. 

And the Winners are,


And the Nominees are,





Sure to be a Oscar contender this year, the Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon might also spawn a documentary.  Talk at Jersey Films is that the over 200 hours of behind-the-scenes footage shot by Lynn Margolis, Kaufman's girlfriend, provides enough laughs and drama to make a full length doc.  Jim Carrey was in character 24/7 at the shoot making for some very strange and interesting footage.  The second article at MSN provides the details.

film you have likely not seen, but hopefully will: Sing Faster: The Stagehand's Ring Cycle.  This documentary follows the backstage crew of the San Fransico Opera's presentation of Wagner's opera Ring Cycle.  The film has only been shown at film festivals and on a few local PBS stations including in L.A. and San Fransico.  Explore this film's web site which includes a great interview with the director, Jon Else , and then give your local public broadcasting station a call, and ask for this film to be shown.

Only Trannies Have Beards:
What Outfest '99 Tells Us About Ourselves

an essay by Randy A. Riddle

Interview with Farmer's Wife Director, David Sutherland to Begin Selling Independent Films Through Its Site plans to announce today, July 9, that it will now add the selling of films to its very successful Advantage program, which allows authors and musicians to sell their work on without having distribution deals with large publishers or labels.

A viewing of the Advantage Programs web site this morning, finds that has added a video category to the program.  Details are similar to the other Advantage programs, in that the independent video will receive the same type of display as any other video on, and the artists will receive 45% of the retail price of the video.  The filmmaker is allowed to set his or her own price, and handles fulfillment for all orders and keeps filmmaker informed on sales and inventory.  The only other related cost, is the cost of getting the videos shipped to

Based on the feedback we get here at Documentary Films .Net, many filmmakers are likely to take up on the offer.  If only to have the opportunity to present their work to a larger audience. (NOTE:  Full Disclosure: Documentary Films .Net is an associate of

Star Trek Fan Documentary Receives National Promotional Campaign to Mark Its Release

Set to be released just as the Star Wars phenomenon reaches it height, Trekkies is a documentary that chronicles the "other" sci-fi fan obsession, Star Trek.  Paramount Classics is releasing Trekkies in selected cities May 21.  The film is produced by Paramount in association with Neo Art & Logic Production with Roger Nygard directing.

Director Nygard and host Denise Crosby, who created and played the role of Lt. Tasha Yar on Star Trek: The Next Generation, traveled across the country documenting the obsessive  and fun nature of Star Trek fans.  Fans highlighted include Barbara Adams, a grand juror on the Little Rock, White Water Grand Jury, who thought nothing of where a Star Trek uniform to the jury proceedings.  Another profiled fan legally changed his name to James T. Kirk, and yet another is considering get his ears physically altered to look like a Vulcan.  These fans along with hundreds of others represent the subjects of Trekkies.

The films subject alone makes this a enjoyable film, but Paramount is getting behind the film with promotion including national television advertising, that includes the trailer.  Paramount is likely getting behind the films because of it huge potential.  Beyond the documentary and independent film audiences, over 100,000 individuals have registered as official Star Trek fans.  Other facts which Paramount lists in its "Fun Facts" section on the film's Paramount web site include that, "The average "Star Trek" fan spends $400 per year on "Star Trek" merchandise.", and ""Star Trek" products have elicited over a billion dollars in retail sales in the last five years.".  These numbers mean that Paramount thinks the film has a chance and will act accordingly. 

Gabriel C. Keorner one of the profiled fans in the film posted on the Trekkies news group, that Paramount has released 320 prints of Trekkies nationwide for the May 21 weekend. We have posted a list of theaters were the film will playing this weekend.  This number of prints being released for a documentary in the first week is very rare.  Hopefully this support for the films will allow it to be shown on screens across the country, during the traditionally competitive summer film market.  

IndieWIRE Covers the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival's Documentaries

Stephen Garrett has written an excellent article "Pop" Go the Docs: Non-Fiction Films Shine At LAIFF '99  for IndieWIRE that provides an overview of the documentaries presented at this years LAIFF.  The article gives  synopses of the films and the audience reactions along with some excellent comments on the state of documentary films.  This years documentary films included Pop and Me, The Lifestyle, Hot Irons, Better Living Through Circuitry, and The Accident.

P.O.V. Summer 99 Season Announced

Starting June1, P.O.V.,the independent documentary film series on PBS, will begin its 1999 season.  Eight films are scheduled to air along with two special programs at the end of the summer.  This year's films include:

The Legacy: Murder & Media, Politics & Prisons- Murder victims' fathers consider  the three strike laws in California.
Rabbit in the Moon- Reflections on the WWII internment camps.
Golden Threads- 80 year old gay women's activist organizing in her golden years.
In My Corner- Two brother from the Bronx dream of being big-time boxers.
The Green Monster-  Without a formal education, mechanic designs and drives cars that break land-speed records.
Corpus: A Home Movie for Selena- Interviews with fans, family, and the community.
School Prayer: A Community at War- One women stands against the standard practice in Mississippi.
The Double Life of Ernesto Gomez Gomez- Son of Puerto Rican revolutionaries explores his past.

Full listing with descriptions at P.O.V.

Star Wars' Fan Documentary Available Online

Digital filmmaker John Wishnow's documentary film, Tatooine or Bust, is receiving renewed excitement as the film is available on the Internet using Quicktime, but more importantly as the release of The Phantom Menace approaches.

Tatooine or Bust chronicles the powerful and comedic devotion of Star Wars fans as they camp out in anticipation of the re-release of the original Star Wars film in 1997.  The film was shot at five different theaters simultaneously, and features interviews with Star War fans as they waited in line.  The film has been shown at several festivals over the past two years, and was recently screened for The Phantom Menace special effects crew at Lucas Films as they finished up post-production.   The film's web site has the documentary available for viewing using Quicktime.

Frontline: Memory of the Camps

This past year has witnessed the released of several films that deal in some way with the Holocaust.  Whether it be the comedic drama Life is Beautiful or the Oscar winning documentary The Last Days, films are increasingly more willing to deal with the issues of the Holocaust, and with a increased level of frankness.  However, long before any of these movies had ever even been conceived, and just at the end of World War II as the allies began to liberate the concentration camps, the United States and British governments conceived of a plan to film the conditions of the camps and the results of the Nazi's actions.

This effort resulted in the filming of six reels and the contribution of Alfred Hitchcock in editing the film, but bureaucratic fights and changing priorities left this film without release until 40 years later.  In 1985, Frontline, attempting to remain true to the filmmaker's vision of the film, recorded the written narration that accompanied the film and showed it to a nationwide audience.

This week Frontline is showing this one hour film again; it should not be missed, as viewers comments attest to the film's impact.  For further information and showtimes visit the film's web site.

Tenth Vermont International Film Festival Call For Entries

The Tenth Vermont International Film Festival will be held in Burlington, October 21-24, 1999. Currently, they are seeking call-for-entries in the categories of War & Peace, Justice & Human Rights and the Environment. Prizes will be given, courtesy of Eastman
Kodak. VTIFF primarily shows documentaries because of the nature of their subject matter.   So if your considering submitting your film, give this festival consideration. For more information,  contact Jennie Bedusa at 802.660.2600 or visit their web site.

Academy Awards Announced: Year of the Independents

For the first time ever, the major Hollywood studios failed to capture any Oscars.  While studios such as Dreamworks and Miramax are hardly small independents, their victories bode well for Independent film.  The big movie winners at this years Academy Awards included Shakespeare in Love and Saving Private Ryan, but some of the most exciting moments came when Roberto Benigni, director, writer, and actor in Life is Beautiful, won the Oscar for best Foreign Language Film as well as Best Actor.  His standing on the seats with his hands raised to the air after his first victory, must be categorized as a Academy first.

In the documentary categories, The Last Days won in the long form category, with The Personals: Improvisation on Romance in the Golden Years winning in the short form category.  The Last Days was executive produced by Steven Spielberg and funded by his Shoah foundation. Read below for more information.   Keiko Ibi, the director of The Personals, gave one of the most moving acceptance speeches of the awards.  She thanked the Academy and the world in general for allowing a Japanese immigrant the opportunity to create the documentary she had always wanted to do. A long, but generally entertaining cerimony.

HBO premieres Documentary on Women in Sports

On March 8th HBO is premiering its newest sports documentary, Dare to Compete: The Struggle of Women in Sports.  This two hour documentary features over 40 interviews and will chronicle women's struggle to gain acceptance and their own place in the sports world. 

Lauren Hutton narrates this documentary and some of those interviewed will include WNBA star Lynette Woodard and tennis legends Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova. The documentary is scheduled to play throughout the month of June on HBO.

$80,000 in funds for Documentary Film Productions

Documentaries with "unique social value" are eligible for grants from the 1999 Roy W. Dean Film and Video Grant.  Applications for the grants can be downloaded or can be obtained via mail.

Carole Dean, CEO of Studio Film & Tape and founder of From the Heart Productions, created the film grant in 1992 upon the death of her father, Roy W. Dean, an ardent supporter of independent filmmakers who insisted that "When you put the raw film in the hands of filmmakers, the project WILL be produced!"

Past winners include In My Corner, by Ricki Stern which will
be seen on PBS this spring, Save A Man to Fight by Mindy Pomper, which will be seen on The History Channel this year, All Power to the People by Lew Lee, which is now being shown in 18 countries, and Women Who Dare: Hollywood Stunt Women, which is currently doing the rounds at The Sundance Film Festival.  Now an industry honor, the grant also stands as a testimony of belief in the potential of the individual to make a lasting difference in public awareness via the mediums of the moving image.

Aditional Conatact Information: 1215 N. Highland Ave.  Hollywood   CA  90038 323-769-0900 ext. 816  FAX 323-463-2121

Film Critic Gene Siskel dies at 53.

The AP is reporting that Gene Siskel, noted film critic, has died at the age of 53.  Siskel is best know for his sparring with fellow Chicago critic Roger Ebert on their nationally syndicated program Siskel & Ebert.  Siskel also wrote film reviews for the Chicago Tribune and appeared as a movie critic for CBS This Morning.  Siskel will be surely missed by the documentary and independent film community for his and Ebert's reviews have brought audiences to films that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.  The documentary film community morns the passing of Gene Siskel, a great critic and fan of film.

Academy Award Nominations Announced

Documentary Features
-Dance Maker
-The Farm: Angola, USA
-The Last Days
-Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth
-Regret to Inform

Documentary Short Subject
-The Personals: Improvisation on Romance in the Golden Years
-A Place in the Land
-Sunrise Over Tiananmen Square

Spielberg Documentary to be released: The Last Days

The documentary The Last Days, executive produced by Steven Spielberg,  will be released by October Films February 5 in New York and Los Angeles and February 12 - nationally.  The Last Days is the third documentary produced for Survivors of Shoah Visual History Foundation by director James Moll.  It chronicles the final days of Jews in Hungary in 1944 as they were rounded up by the Nazi in a one of  the many scenarios that was part of the Holocaust.  The film focus on the stories of five Jews who survived Holocaust and now live in the United States.

This film is only part of Spielberg effort to document the stories of Holocaust survivors.  His effort began after the filming of Schindler's List, with the founding of the Shoah Foundation in 1994. As of February 1999, the foundation had recorded their 50,000th Holocaust survivor.   The foundation's focus has now turned to making these interviews available to the public and educational institutions in a variety of forms, including long-form documentaries, CD-ROMs, as well as future plans for on-line access.

Ken Burn's New Documentary Announced: Mark Twain

According to a interview done with Dayton Duncun by Jim Zwick, Mining Co. Guide to Mark Twain, Ken Burn's plans to film a documentary on the life of Mark Twain to be aired sometime in 2000 or 2001 on PBS.   Dayton Duncun, Ken Burn's coproducer, also indicated that a documentary on the lives of the suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, would be shown in 1999.

While rumors of a potential documentary on Mark Twain's life have been circulating for years, the Duncun interview is thought to be the first public interview on the film by someone actually involved in the project.

Announcing The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival

The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival is now accepting submissions of non-fiction films for consideration in its 8th annual celebration,  October 8-17, 1999. Travel & Leisure Magazine has recognized the HSDFF as "One of the Top 20 Film Festivals Worldwide". The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival features cutting-edge, classic and experimental documentaries as well as lectures and forums on issues and ideas.  Along with the selections of the Festival’s Screening Committee, the current year's Academy Award nominees in the documentary category and International Documentary Association (IDA) honorees are screened.  In 1999, more than 70 films covering a wide range of topics will be screened multiple times during the festival.  The Festival is unique in its recognition of documentarians, many of whom will be on hand to discuss their work.   Deadline:

New Graffiti Documentaries

Subject: GV2 and Graffiti Verite' Documentaries
To:  AV Media Acquisition Librarians
Date: February 26, 1999
From: Bryan World Productions

Announcing the newly released Graffiti Art Documentary  GV2: Freedom of ExpreSSion? (Graffiti Verite' 2); produced by the multi-award winning Independent  Filmmaker   Bob Bryan.

GV2: Freedom of ExpreSSion? is an exciting and revealing look into the controversial Graffiti Art Movement and the much awaited follow-up to Graffiti Verite', winner of the National Educational Media Networks "Gold Apple Award, CINE "Golden Eagle" (and many other awards)" which explores the eclectic world of 24 talented Urban Graffiti Artists.

"This well produced examination of an underground art, explained by the artists who created    it, will add a new dimension to art classes and to Library Video Collections. We recommend its use in High School and College Art Classes."
School Library Journal

"We endorse Graffiti Verite' to represent the USA in all International Film Festivals.  An American Film about a great American Art Form."
Council of Non-Theatrical Events (CINE)

"Appropriate and useful classroom material."
Committee for the Los Angeles Co. Office of  Education

"The colorful, neon like murals seen here (far removed from the ugly gang territory markings) are, rather the brash Picasso's of  hip-hop culture."
Booklist Review

"The minority Artists are so well represented and come across with such integrity, intelligence, cultural and artistic knowledge .  This will do a great deal to help dispel the usually wrong impression that Graffiti Artists are anti-intellectual and unaware of anything other that their own wish to express themselves."
Andrew Connor, Associate Curator, National Museum, Smithsonian Institution

"The work shown here in this video is very impressive, even more so when you consider that the primary tool here is a can of spray paint."
Video Librarian Review

"The strength of your videotape is that you focus on the commentary of the understand their thinking and what motivates them is really important to an appreciation of this art form."
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

"Intelligent and in-depth, it's 45 minutes of art, from Gallery Shows to the stuff on the streets.  Graffiti Verite' is sure to open your eyes."
Juxtzpoz Magazine

"This documentary helps dispel the prejudices against Graffiti Art and draws the viewer into the world of hip hop through stunning visual imagery."
Airbrush Action Magazine

"Keeping the culture alive!" It includes in-depth interviews with 24 Los Angeles based Graf Artists, going into the history and significance of the Art."
The Source Magazine

"Required viewing for all citizens of big cities that don't understand the significance and impact of Graffiti."
Rap Pages Magazine

"A mind expanding experience in people's - as opposed to commercial culture."
MSSRT Newsletter

Press Release for Graffiti Verite':

List of some Libraries and Educational Institutions that have purchased Graffiti Verite' and/or GV2: Freedom of Expression?

Library / Educational Distributors and Outlets by which you can purchase both GV2 and Graffiti Verite'.

How can I order the videos directly?

More Reviews of Graffiti Verite':

If you have any further questions or would like to submit a Purchase Order by e-mail ( or fax (323) 856-0855 please call (323) 856-9256.


Loida Mariano
Account Executive

P.O. Box 74033
Los Angeles CA 90004

Home Page Doc

Sundance is Coming -- Documentary To Watch: Home Page

This year 18 dramatic films will be presented at Sundance, but more importantly 18 documentaries will be presented.  Here at Documentary Films .Net we have our prediction for the doc that will be the most talked about this year.  It is Home Page, from Doug Block a Sundance veteran, who has produced such films as Jupiter's Wife and Silverlake Life: The View From Here. Both of these films where prize winners at Sundance, but this time his film is somewhat different.

Block began to travel the country in a effort to understand the Internet phenomenon that was becoming the focus of America's youth.  He travels and meets various Internet fixtures such as Justin Hall of,  and Block chronicles all of his travels on film.  In the process he becomes what he studies: a Internet junkie.  This new understanding starts in his establishing of a web site D-Word devoted to what he loves: documentaries.   As Block begins to turn his focus inward, he deals with his relation with the Internet and how it enhances his ability to communicate with others.

Block used part of his D-Word site to keep the Internet community abreast on the status of the film.  He even posted when he got the call from Sundance.  This film is truly a film of the Internet.

Undoubtedly, as the population as a whole becomes more interested in the Internet, Home Page will receive a considerable amount of public exposure.  A Sundance victory will be one of the steps towards this exposure.

Read Rough Cut coverage of Homepage here.


Frontline 1999: The Triumph of Evil -- Genocide in Rwanda

Frontline's season is well underway, and several great documentaries have aired including the season opener A Farmer's Wife, Ambush at Mogadishu as well as the somewhat disappointing Jesus to Christ, among others.  However, some of the best of the season should be coming in 1999.

The January 12 Frontline, Snitch, will highlight, how the mandatory minimum laws are forcing all those that are accused of a drug related crime to turn state evidence, whether they have legitimate information or not to avoid a life-time in jail.  The result of this system is that more and more lower-level dealer are landing jail sentences that surpass murders and rapists.   This documentary will be highlighting the depth (90 minutes) that Frontline continues to put into its analysis of the drug war and its consequences.

On January 29, Frontline in The Triumph of Evil examines the genocide that Western governments promised would not happen again after the Holocaust: the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda.  Frontline is finally doing what few other U.S. journalist would do, address the genocide that the world let happen.   Following two UN detectives, Frontline exposes the continuing dismissal conditions in the country and the cover-up of genocide. This documentary should not be missed.