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Time Magazine Creates Unit To Produce Documentaries For The Web

By | Monday August 12, 2013 @ 4:22am PDT

NEW YORK (August 12, 2013) — Today, TIME launched Red Border Films, a new documentary film unit to be hosted on an interactive digital site on Red Border Films will feature deeply reported original films by award-winning filmmakers, TIME journalists and photojournalists and will produce at least one short documentary per month and two expanded projects a year. These cinematic films will vary in length and will be presented along with interactive features at, where users will be able to watch video, explore in-depth information about the filmmakers and their subjects and view photo galleries and other multimedia elements around each project.

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Toronto Festival Locks Docus

By | Tuesday July 30, 2013 @ 7:39am PDT
Mike Fleming

The 2013 Toronto International Film Festival has set its documentary program to start unspooling when the festival launches September 5. The subjects range from Donald Rumsfeld to Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione and the Congo. Here are the films:

A Story Of Children And Film Mark Cousins, United Kingdom North American Premiere
A Story of Children and Film is the world’s first movie about kids in global cinema. A passionate, poetic portrait of the adventures of childhood — its surrealism, loneliness, fun, destructiveness and vitality — as seen through 53 great films from 25 countries, director Mark Cousins’ landmark film is an eye opener and a celebration of both childhood and the movies.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ Marcel Ophüls, France North American Premiere
The director of The Sorrow and the Pity shares his memories with us, stories both incredibly rich and fascinating, making Ain’t Misbehavin’ a cheerful and bittersweet trip through cinema history. Son of the great director Max Ophüls, Marcel can be a generous man and an admirer. Marcel talks with and about personalities like Jeanne Moreau, Bertolt Brecht, Ernst Lubitsch, Otto Preminger, Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick and, of course, his friend François Truffaut.

At Berkeley Frederick Wiseman, USA North American Premiere
At Berkeley is a documentary film about the University of California at Berkeley. The film explores the major aspects of university life of America’s premier public university with particular emphasis on the administrative efforts to maintain the academic excellence, public role, and the economic, racial … Read More »

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Hot SXSW Trailer: ‘The Short Game’

By | Wednesday March 6, 2013 @ 7:28pm PST

EXCLUSIVE: 1500 youngsters from all over the globe compete each year in the World Championships of Junior Golf. Eight of the pint-sized competitors (including Allan Kournikova, Anna Kournikova’s 7-year-old brother) are the subjects of The Short Game, a SXSW 2013 documentary world premiere. Emmy-winning director Josh Greenbaum previously helmed short projects for Paramount, Sony, Fox, Comedy Central, Funny Or Die, and The Clinton Foundation and enlisted veteran help for his feature-length debut, including award winning producer John Battsek (The Imposter, Searching For Sugar Man) and Oscar-winner David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada, Hope Springs), who executive produced. Composer Mark Mothersbaugh (Rushmore, The Life Aquatic) scored the docu which screens Sunday, March 10 in Austin. Submarine is repping sales. Watch the trailer here:

Watch this video on YouTube.

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Oscilloscope Picks Up ‘Only The Young’

By | Tuesday August 7, 2012 @ 8:23pm PDT

Oscilloscope Laboratories has acquired the North American rights to Only The Young. The coming of age documentary follows three teens in a Recession-plaqued SoCal desert town. Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims directed Only The Young. The film premiered at this year’s True/False Film Festival. Only The Young went on to win the award for Best U.S. Feature at the AFI-Discovery Channel SilverDocs Documentary Festival. Derek Waters produced the film. Oscilloscope’s marketing, distribution and acquisitions chiefs David Laub and Dan Berger of negotiated the deal with UTA Independent Film Group, who represented Tippet and Mims.

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‘Dirt’ Director Seeks To Find Lost Jungle City in New Doc

By | Thursday May 17, 2012 @ 4:35pm PDT

Bill Benenson has teamed with cinematographer Steve Elkins for a documentary about the search for a legendary lost city in Honduras. The Dirt! The Movie filmmaker and the Emmy-winning Elkins will co-direct and co-produce the documentary. Venture Technologies Investment Group founder Gary Spire will executive produce. Shot over two decades in the Central American country, the doc also utilizes recently developed aerial laser imaging to survey the vast Mosquitia jungle region. The LiDAR tech was able to see through the thick rain forest growth. The result, Benenson tells Deadline, reveals “hidden manmade structures” and “lost remains” in the area rumored to once have been the home of the fabled city of Ciudad Blanca. The legend of the Mosquito Coast river valley’s White City, so named for its supposed white rock buildings, has grown over the centuries since conquistador Hernan Cortes first heard of it in 1526. Benenson’s feature film Dirt! The Movie, narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis, was a 2009 Sundance Film Festival Selection. The film had its TV premiere on Earth Day 2010 on PBS’s Independent Lens. The film recently played at the Beijing International Film Festival as one of only two chosen American documentaries.

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PGA Awards Unveils Documentary Shortlist

By | Friday December 2, 2011 @ 8:38am PST

LOS ANGELES, CA (December 2, 2011) – The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced today the Documentary Theatrical Motion Picture nominees that will advance in the voting process for the 23rd Annual Producers Guild Awards.

The nominated films, listed below in alphabetical order, are:

Producers Guild arbitrations for individual producer credit determination for all film and television categories are still underway. Television series nominations for the 2012 Producers Guild Awards will be announced December 7, 2011. All other nominations for the 2012 Producers Guild Award categories will be announced January 3, 2012, along with the individual producers.

All 2012 Producers Guild Award winners will be announced on January 21, 2012 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. This year, the Producers Guild will also award special honors to Steven Spielberg, Leslie Moonves, Don Mischer, and Stan Lee, among others. The 2012 Producers Guild Awards co-chairs are Michael Manheim and Paula Wagner.

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Stephen David Entertainment, Brainstorm In “Hybrid Documentary” Pact

By | Thursday November 3, 2011 @ 4:41pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Stephen David Entertainment, producer of documentary-style shows for History Channel, TLC, Lifetime and others, and award-winning feature and TV effects house Brainstorm Digital have established an exclusive strategic partnership to create pioneering event TV. First up is History’s The Men Who Built America, about the dreamers and builders who transformed post-Civil War America into an economical, industrial and technological powerhouse. The partnership aims to combine Brainstorm‘s technical know-how with SDE’s storytelling expertise by integrating “invisible effects” to create what they’re calling “the documentary hybrid.” In addition to extensive feature work for several of the major studios and production companies, Brainstorm won an Emmy and two awards from the Visual Effects Society for its work on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Formed by Richard Friedlander and Glenn Allen in 2005, Brainstorm Digital’s feature work includes Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Road, Frost/Nixon, The Adjustment Bureau and Julie & Julia. New York-based Stephen David Entertainment has put together several docu-series and specials including Secret Access: The Vatican, Heavily Ever After, Jobsite, and Big Medicine. SDE is repped by CAA.

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Arclight Launches Documentary Fest

By | Wednesday October 26, 2011 @ 10:21pm PDT

The inaugural ArcLight Cinemas Documentary Film Festival will unspool November 7-11 at Hollywood’s preferred venue for special screenings and industry events. The 10 entrants were chosen by fans who voted for trailers on Arclight’s YouTube page out of some 150 hopefuls that attracted more than 100,000 views and more than 30,000 votes. Selected docs range from a deep look into the world of YouTube, the beginnings of punk rock, UFC fighter Evan Tanner and “the idea” of God and others. Titles are Butterflies, We Were Feared, Once I Was a Champion, God in the Box, Unsigned, More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead, 13 Families, Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians, More Than Me and Rize N Grind. Winners will be chosen by four judges from the documentary and entertainment community: Rebecca Cammisa (Which Way Home), Rhadi Taylor (Sundance Institute), Marjan Safina (International Documentary Association) and Gretchen McCourt (ArcLight’s EVP of cinema programming), who conceived the event. The winning documentary will be revealed at a gala at ArcLight Cinemas Hollywood on November 12.

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Toronto: Woody Allen Documentary Sneaks

By | Sunday September 11, 2011 @ 4:52pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Woody Allen isn’t here at Toronto, but a documentary about him will screen here. An invite has gone out for buyers to take in a “sneak peek screening” of an unfinished version of the documentary about Allen’s creative process that was directed by Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s Robert Weide. The screening will be held tomorrow. The film’s being sold by Submarine’s Josh Braun.

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Sundance: ‘Knuckle’ Documentary Creates Remake Rights Intrigue For Brawling Saga

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: While Hollywood will be in a heavy rotation of Oscar screeners, another in-demand picture for weekend viewing will be Knuckle. That is a  documentary that won’t premiere until January 21 in competition at Sundance, but has created a heightened advanced interest for remake rights to a film being described as Fight Club meets Sons of Anarchy. The Ian Palmer-directed doc chronicles an enduring violent feud between two rival families in Ireland that periodically leads to a bare-knuckle bout with a member of each family. The fighters square off and beat each other to bloody pulps, the victor winning family pride and bragging rights. It’s not exactly clear why the families hate each other—hints are it has to do with a dispute over a woman—but the bouts are preceded by taunt-filled videos sent by one family to the other. The film took 12 years to shoot, and focuses on two brothers, James Quinn and Michael McDonagh. CAA, which is selling distribution, held a screening Wednesday for talent clients that had asked to see it. Suddenly, everyone wanted it, intrigued with turning it into a drama that’s an allegory for any number of geopolitical clashes between countries based on disputes so old that current combatants can barely remember why they hate each other. Though the the reps’ phone sheets filled up with calls from studios, producers, actors and directors in both feature and TV, CAA planned to let the interest level … Read More »

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Calling Audible, Tim Tebow Film Finds Audience Connection Through ESPN

By | Thursday January 6, 2011 @ 4:44am PST
Mike Fleming

The Sundance Film Festival will soon get underway, when filmmakers arrive with distribution deal dreams. Even those lucky enough to get such deals often watch the films they slaved over disappear or go straight to video, especially documentaries. That was the dilemma facing the makers of Everything In Between, a film that tracked the 4-month period from when Tim Tebow led the Florida Gators to a blowout 2010 Sugar Bowl victory to the NFL draft. The subject matter was compelling: despite Tebow’s unprecedented college success, many pundits—especially at ESPN—felt his mobile style of play and throwing motion would leave him lucky to be drafted at all, and that his NFL dream was a long shot. Director Chase Heavener became Tebow’s constant companion as he worked to prove the skeptics wrong, while dealing with the burden of fame (his clean-cut Christian values have made him an icon). Heavener talked Tebow into participating, helped by the fact their fathers were college roomies at Florida 40 years ago. The director financed the film through his company, Fiction, with former WMA agents Rob Lee and Dave Phillips, and Bill Heavener producing.

Chase Heavener ended up with 1000 hours of footage he cut into a feature. Unfortunately, the market for such a film is daunting. Even The Tillman Story, the  superb Sundance-launched docu about the government cover-up of fratricide in the death of football star-turned Army … Read More »

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Redford Tips New Documentary Premiere Section For 2011 Sundance Film Festival

Robert Redford blogs about it here:

“I’m excited about the changes that John Cooper and I have discussed over the past several months. . . A new documentary premiere section that’s a nod to the continued evolution of nonfiction film. A Festival opening that isn’t focused on a single film but includes docs and narratives by U.S. and international filmmakers, along with a program of shorts. A new location for New Frontier that’s a sort of campus for truly innovative work that blurs boundaries of film, art, and technology.”

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OSCAR: 15 Documentaries Will Advance

By | Thursday November 18, 2010 @ 12:21pm PST

Beverly Hills, CA — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 15 films in the Documentary Feature category will advance in the voting process for the 83rd Academy Awards®.  One hundred-one pictures had originally qualified in the category.

The 15 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production company:

“Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer,” Alex Gibney, director (ES Productions LLC)
“Enemies of the People,” Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath, directors (Old Street Films)
“Exit through the Gift Shop,” Banksy, director (Paranoid Pictures)
“Gasland,” Josh Fox, director (Gasland Productions, LLC)
“Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould,” Michele Hozer and Peter Raymont, directors (White Pine Pictures)
“Inside Job,” Charles Ferguson, director (Representational Pictures)
“The Lottery,” Madeleine Sackler, director (Great Curve Films)
“Precious Life,” Shlomi Eldar, director (Origami Productions)
“Quest for Honor,” Mary Ann Smothers Bruni, director (Smothers Bruni Productions)
“Restrepo,” Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, directors (Outpost Films)
“This Way of Life,” Thomas Burstyn, director (Cloud South Films)
“The Tillman Story,” Amir Bar-Lev, director (Passion Pictures/Axis Films)
“Waiting for ‘Superman’”, Davis Guggenheim, director (Electric Kinney Films)
“Waste Land,” Lucy Walker, director (Almega Projects)
“William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe,” Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler, directors (Disturbing the Universe LLC)            

Read More »

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OSCAR: Docu Short Subject Field Narrowed

By | Wednesday October 13, 2010 @ 10:11am PDT

Beverly Hills, CA — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that the field of Documentary Short Subject contenders for the 83rd Academy Awards® has been narrowed to eight films, of which three to five will earn Oscar® nominations.

Voters from the Academy’s Documentary Branch viewed this year’s 30 eligible entries and submitted their ballots to PricewaterhouseCoopers for tabulation. The eight films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production company.

“Born Sweet,” Cynthia Wade Productions
“Killing in the Name,” Moxie Firecracker Films
“Living for 32,” Cuomo Cole Productions
“One Thousand Pictures: RFK’s Last Journey,” Lichen Films
“Poster Girl,” Portrayal Films
“Strangers No More,” Simon & Goodman Picture Company
“Sun Come Up,” Sun Come Up, LLC
“The Warriors of Qiugang,” Thomas Lennon Films, Inc.

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TV Producer’s Doc Opens Austin Film Fest

By | Thursday October 7, 2010 @ 11:55pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

The world premiere of Phil Rosenthal’s documentary Exporting Raymond has been chosen as the opening night film at the 17th annual Austin Film Festival & Conference, which will take place from October 21-28.  It marks the feature directorial debut of Everybody Loves Raymond creator and executive producer Rosenthal and chronicles his journey to Moscow where he spent time helping a Russian TV producing team create a local adaptation of his hit CBS sitcom. Rosenthal will be on hand for a Q&A after the screening.

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Hot Trailer: ‘I’m Still Here’

Mike Fleming

Magnolia Pictures has released this teaser trailer for I’m Still Here, the Casey Affleck-directed documentary about the peculiar hip-hop adventure of Joaquin Phoenix. The film will be unveiled next month at the Toronto Film Festival, but has anyone heard Phoenix’s supposed hip-hop tunes which interrupted the momentum of a fine acting career?

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Weinstein Fights MPAA Over Tillman Rating

By | Wednesday August 11, 2010 @ 5:32pm PDT

THURSDAY UPDATE: The MPAA’s Classification and Rating Appeals Board today upheld the “R” rating given to The Tillman Story for “language.”

The Weinstein Co announced today that the filmmakers are appealing the “R” ratings which the MPAA just gave The Tillman Story documentary about to be released in theaters August 20th. Of course, far be it from Weinsteins to miss an opportunity to generate controversy and enjoy the ensuing free publicity for their film. (Witness Kevin Smith’s ratings battles on his TWC releases…) But in this case director Amir Bar Lev and producer John Battsek have an excellent argument when the rating will be appealed on August 12th in Los Angeles. According to The Weinstein Co, the MPAA gave the film that “R” rating based on its “excessive language”.

“Of course there is excessive language,” states John Battsek. “This is a film that follows a truly exemplary family torn apart by the death of their loved one and the barrage of government deceit they encountered in their pursuit of the honest truth. We should be looking at this film as a way to show our younger generation the power of true family values and the sometimes unfortunate failings of our government.”

Agreed Bar Lev: “The language in this film is not gratuitous. I think this is how many people would react when faced with the unthinkable. Giving this film an ‘R’ rating prevents young people from seeing this film; … Read More »

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R.I.P. David L. Wolper

By | Wednesday August 11, 2010 @ 1:29pm PDT
Mike Fleming

One of the true pioneers of TV miniseries and documentaries, Wolper died Tuesday night from congestive heart failure at age 82. Wolper transformed the miniseries into event programming, particularly when he was the executive producer of Roots, the eight-segment ABC miniseries adaptation of the Alex Haley book that smashed ratings record and had half the country watching in early 1977. Wolper also produced the opening and closing ceremonies for the 1984 Olympic  Games in Los Angeles; and  he produced such game-changing documentaries as the Mike Wallace-narrated 1958 The Race for Space (which was Oscar-nominated), The Making of the President 1960 and The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau specials.

His programs won 50 Emmys and two Academy Awards, along with five Peabody Awards.

Wolper grew up in New York and after attending USC, really got his producing career off the ground with the space documentary, which he self-syndicated because networks were reluctant to bite. Wolper developed an affinity for event programming and really hit his stride with the advent of miniseries that included Roots and its spinoffs, The Thorn Birds and North and South. Aside from the Olympics, he produced a special on the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, and also produced hit sitcoms like Chico and the Man and Welcome Back, Kotter.

Wolper tapered off his TV output when the demand for movies and minis waned. He didn’t spend as much time making features, but those credits include Willy Wonka and Read More »

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Toronto Sets Bruce Springsteen Chronicle As Opening Act In Documentary Program

Mike Fleming

The Toronto International Film Festival unveiled part of its documentary films program this morning. Opening the proceedings is the world premiere gala screening of The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town, the Thom Zimny-directed chronicle of Springsteen and the E Street Band’s making of the band’s fourth album, which was released in 1978. The Boss collaborated on the film, and his presence ought to create more of a rock star atmosphere than a documentary premiere usually provides. Read More »

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