Critics Choice Documentary Awards 2019

Posted on November 10, 2019 at 9:50 pm

We are proud to announce the winners of this year’s Critics Choice Awards for documentaries:

Apollo 11 took home the evening’s most prestigious award for Best Documentary Feature as well as Best Editing for Todd Douglas Miller, Best Score for Matt Morton, Best Archival Documentary, and Best Science/Nature Documentary.

There was a tie for Best Director between Peter Jackson for They Shall Not Grow Old, and Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar for American Factory. They Shall Not Grow Old also brought home the award for Most Innovative Documentary. American Factory also won the award for Best Political Documentary.

“Once again, we are thrilled to celebrate and support the vibrant and groundbreaking work of these talented documentarians. We are proud that our yearly gala event has become an informed and valuable way for people to find the best films out there and for the work of these filmmakers to find their audiences,” said CCA CEO Joey Berlin. “It was a great night of lauding the greats in the documentary field as well as some outstanding newcomers.”

At the ceremony a special new honor, The D A Pennebaker Award, was  presented to legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman. The award, formerly known as the Critics’ Choice Lifetime Achievement Award, is named for prior winner D A Pennebaker, who passed away last summer. It was presented by filmmaker Chris Hegedus, Pennebaker’s long-time collaborator and widow.

Acclaimed filmmaker Michael Apted was presented with The Landmark Award, an honor bestowed upon him for his extraordinary and unparalleled achievement with the Up series, which has just added 63 Up, distributed by BritBox, to this historic work. The award was presented by Michael Moore, who was honored with the Critics’ Choice Lifetime Achievement Award last year.

The award for Best Cinematography went to John Chester for The Biggest Little Farm.

Best Narration went to Bruce Springsteen for Western Stars.

Honeyland took home the award for Best First Documentary Feature for directors Tamara Kotevska an Ljubomir Stefanov.

The award for Best Biographical Documentary went to Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am.

The Best Music Documentary award went to Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice.

Maiden won the Best Sports Documentary award.

The Best Short Documentary Award was given to Period. End of Sentence.

This year’s honorees for Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary are Dr. Amani Ballor (The Cave), David Crosby (David Crosby: Remember My Name), Tracy Edwards (Maiden), Imelda Marcos (The Kingmaker), Hatidze Muratova (Honeyland), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, and Paula Jean Swearengin (Knock Down the House), Linda Ronstadt (Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice), and Dr. Ruth Westheimer (Ask Dr. Ruth).

 

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Trailer: No Joke — Documentary About Bullying with Patrick Stewart, Jane Lynch, Lemmy, and More

Posted on October 23, 2019 at 8:00 am

Former bullies and those who have been bullied are candid about their experiences in “No Joke,” a documentary featuring Jeff Goldblum, Slash, Patrick Stewart, Lemmy, Chad Smith, Jane Lynch, and more.

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Documentary Trailers, Previews, and Clips

Critics Choice Documentary Award Nominees 2019

Posted on October 14, 2019 at 12:11 pm

The nominees for this year’s Documentary Awards from the Broadcast Film Critics Association are:

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
American Factory (Netflix)
Apollo 11 (Neon)
The Biggest Little Farm (Neon)
The Cave (National Geographic)
Honeyland (Neon)
The Kingmaker (Showtime)
Knock Down the House (Netflix)
Leaving Neverland (HBO)
Maiden (Sony Pictures Classics)
One Child Nation (Amazon Studios)
They Shall Not Grow Old (Warner Bros.)

BEST DIRECTOR
Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts, For Sama (PBS)
Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, American Factory (Netflix)
John Chester, The Biggest Little Farm (Neon)
Feras Fayyad, The Cave (National Geographic)
Peter Jackson, They Shall Not Grow Old (Warner Bros.)
Todd Douglas Miller, Apollo 11 (Neon)
Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang, One Child Nation (Amazon Studios)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Ben Bernhard and Viktor Kossakovsky, Aquarela (Sony Pictures Classics)
John Chester, The Biggest Little Farm (Neon)
Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma, Honeyland (Neon)
Nicholas de Pencier, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (Kino Lorber)
Muhammed Khair Al Shami, Ammar Suleiman, and Mohammad Eyad, The Cave (National Geographic)
Richard Ladkani, Sea of Shadows (National Geographic)

BEST EDITING
Georg Michael Fischer and Verena Schönauer, Sea of Shadows (National Geographic)
Todd Douglas Miller, Apollo 11 (Neon)
Jabez Olssen, They Shall Not Grow Old (Warner Bros.)
Amy Overbeck, The Biggest Little Farm (Neon)
Lindsay Utz, American Factory (Netflix)
Nanfu Wang, One Child Nation (Amazon Studios)

BEST SCORE
Jeff Beal, The Biggest Little Farm (Neon)
Matthew Herbert, The Cave (National Geographic)
Matt Morton, Apollo 11 (Neon)
Plan 9, They Shall Not Grow Old (Warner Bros.)
H. Scott Salinas, Sea of Shadows (National Geographic)
Eicca Toppinen, Aquarela (Sony Pictures Classics)

BEST NARRATION
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (Kino Lorber)
Alicia Vikander, narrator
Jennifer Baichwal, writer
The Biggest Little Farm (Neon)
John Chester and Molly Chester, narrators
John Chester, writer
The Edge of Democracy (Netflix)
Petra Costa, narrator
Petra Costa, Carol Pires, David Barker and Moara Passoni, writers
The Elephant Queen (Apple)
Chiwetel Ejiofor, narrator
Mark Deeble, writer
For Sama (PBS)
Waad Al-Kateab, narrator
Waad Al-Kateab, writer
Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People (First Run)
Adam Driver, narrator
Oren Rudavsky and Bob Seidman, writers
One Child Nation (Amazon Studios)
Nanfu Wang, narrator
Nanfu Wang, writer
Western Stars (Warner Bros.)
Bruce Springsteen, narrator
Bruce Springsteen, writer

BEST FIRST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Midge Costin, Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound (Matson Films)
A.J. Eaton, David Crosby: Remember My Name (Sony Pictures Classics)
Pamela B. Green, Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché (Kino Lorber/Zeitgeist Films)
Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov, Honeyland (Neon)
Richard Miron, For the Birds (Dogwoof)
Garret Price, Love, Antosha (Lurker Films)

BEST ARCHIVAL DOCUMENTARY
Amazing Grace (Neon)
Apollo 11 (Neon)
Maiden (Sony Pictures Classics)
Mike Wallace is Here (Magnolia)
Pavarotti (CBS Films)
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (Netflix)
They Shall Not Grow Old (Warner Bros.)
What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali (HBO)

BEST BIOGRAPHICAL DOCUMENTARY
David Crosby: Remember My Name (Sony Pictures Classics)
The Kingmaker (Showtime)
Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (Greenwich)
Love, Antosha (Lurker Films)
Mike Wallace is Here (Magnolia)
Pavarotti (CBS Films)
Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (Magnolia)

BEST MUSIC DOCUMENTARY
Amazing Grace (Neon)
David Crosby: Remember My Name (Sony Pictures Classics)
Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (Greenwich)
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (Abramorama)
Pavarotti (CBS Films)
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (Netflix)
Western Stars (Warner Bros.)

BEST POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY
American Factory (Netflix)
The Edge of Democracy (Netflix)
Hail Satan? (Magnolia)
The Kingmaker (Showtime)
Knock Down the House (Netflix)
One Child Nation (Amazon Studios)

BEST SCIENCE/NATURE DOCUMENTARY
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (Kino Lorber)
Apollo 11 (Neon)
Aquarela (Sony Pictures Classic)
The Biggest Little Farm (Neon)
The Elephant Queen (Apple)
Honeyland (Neon)
Penguins (Disney)
Sea of Shadows (National Geographic)

BEST SPORTS DOCUMENTARY
Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable (Entertainment Studios)
Diego Maradona (HBO)
Maiden (Sony Pictures Classics)
Rodman: For Better or Worse (ESPN)
The Spy Behind Home Plate (Ciesla Foundation)
What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali (HBO)

MOST INNOVATIVE DOCUMENTARY
Aquarela (Sony Pictures Classics)
Cold Case Hammarskjöld (Magnolia)
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (Netflix)
Screwball (Greenwich)
Serendipity (Cohen Media)
They Shall Not Grow Old (Warner Bros.)

BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY
The Chapel at the Border (Atlantic Documentaries)
(Director and Producer: Jeremy Raff)
Death Row Doctor (The New York Times Op-Docs)
(Director: Lauren Knapp)
In the Absence (Field of Vision)
(Director: Yi Seung-Jun. Producer: Gary Byung-Seok Kam)
Lost World
(Director and Producer: Kalyanee Mam. Producers: Adam Loften and Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee)
Mack Wrestles (ESPN)
(Directors and Producers: Taylor Hess and Erin Sanger. Producers: Erin Leyden and Gentry Kirby)
Period. End of Sentence. (Netflix)
(Director: Rayka Zehtabchi. Producers: Melissa Berton, Garrett K. Schiff and Lisa Taback)
The Polaroid Job (The New York Times Op-Docs)
(Director: Mike Plante)
Sam and the Plant Next Door (The Guardian)
(Director and Producer: Ömer Sami)
The Unconditional
(Director and Producer: Dave Adams. Producers: Adam Soltis, Renee Woodruff Adams, Josie Swantek Heitz, and Chris Tuss)
The Waiting Room (The Guardian)
(Director and Producer: Victoria Mapplebeck)

MOST COMPELLING LIVING SUBJECTS OF A DOCUMENTARY
Dr. Amani Ballor – The Cave (National Geographic)
David Crosby – David Crosby: Remember My Name (Sony Pictures Classics)
Tracy Edwards – Maiden (Sony Pictures Classics)
Imelda Marcos – The Kingmaker (Showtime)
Hatidze Muratova – Honeyland (Neon)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, and Paula Jean Swearengin – Knock Down the House (Netflix)
Linda Ronstadt – Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (Greenwich)
Dr. Ruth Westheimer – Ask Dr. Ruth (Hulu)

The first-time winner of the new D.A. Pennebaker award for lifetime achievement will very appropriately go to the legendary Frederick Wiseman. There is hardly an institution in America, from high school to mental hospital to upscale department store to library that has not been the subject of one of and illuminated by his documentaries.

Another outstanding awardee is Michael Apted, who will receive the Landmark Award for the groundbreaking UP series. There’s never been anything like it. A documentary about school children turned into one of the most extraordinary longitudinal studies in the history of science. I always look forward to the next episode.

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Awards Documentary

Cinemability: Tonight on TCM

Posted on September 23, 2019 at 6:54 am

Tonight on TCM, “Cinemability: The Art of Inclusion” tells the story of disability representation in films, followed by some classic, if not consistent with current standards, examples, including “Freaks” (“You’re one of us now!”), “Hunchback of Notre Dame,” and “Johnny Belinda,” with Oscar-winner Jane Wyman as a young deaf woman.

For many years, it seemed that the most reliable way to get an Oscar was to play someone with disabilities. In addition to Wyman, actors who have won Oscars for portraying disabled or ill characters include Dustin Hoffman (“Rain Man”), Daniel Day-Lewis (“My Left Foot”), Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”), Geoffrey Rush (“Shine”), Al Pacino (“Scent of a Woman”), Jamie Foxx (“Ray”), Tom Hanks (“Forrest Gump”), Tom Hanks again (“Philadelphia”), Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club”), Marlee Matlin (“Children of a Lesser God”), Jack Nicholson (“As Good as it Gets”), and Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”). Of those, only Matlin had the real-life disability she was portraying. Increasingly, Hollywood is being urged to cast disabled actors to play disabled characters, which will open up opportunities to talented performers and provide more meaningful authenticity to the representation we see on screen.

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Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles

Posted on September 8, 2019 at 5:10 pm

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements/disturbing images
Profanity: Brief strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Social drinking
Violence/ Scariness: Images of pogroms and references to the Holocaust
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie
Date Released to Theaters: September 13, 2019

“Fiddler on the Roof” opened on Broadway in 1964 and every single day in the over half a century since then it has been performed somewhere. Even more impressive, it has been performed pretty much everywhere, and is currently back in New York with an off-Broadway all-Yiddish version directed by Joel Gray. In this engaging new documentary about the history and continuing cultural vitality of the musical based on the stories of Yiddish author Sholom Aleichem about the families in a Russian Jewish shtetl, we see productions in Japan, Thailand, and in a student production with an all-black and Latinx cast. We see Puerto Rican “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda singing “To Life” to his Dominican/Austrian-American bride at their reception, in a YouTube video with over 6.5 million views.

We hear the show’s creators and performers talk about what it means to them. Since the earliest part of the 20th century, Jewish composers and lyricists including Irving Berlin, Oscar Hammerstein, Richard Rodgers, Fritz Loewe, and more wrote huge hit Broadway shows about cowboys, Thai kings, an Italian mayor of New York, Pacific Islanders, and a sharpshooting hillbilly. Finally, it was time to write their own story, the story of the Jews who lived in tiny towns in Eastern Europe until anti-Semitic gangs and local governments pushed them out. And so they were ready to tell the story of their parents and grandparents, just as those stories seemed vitally important again.

So we see again what has made this story so vibrant over the decades. “What is this about?” director/choreographer Jerome Robbins repeatedly asked the show’s creators, Sheldon Harnick (lyrics), Jerry Bock (music), and Joseph Stein (book). They tried different answers — about the poor father of daughters who have their own ideas about who they should marry or about Jews struggling in a country that is increasingly hostile to them. He asked them again until they finally came up with the right answer and it was just one word: tradition. That, of course became the iconic opening song in the play.

My parents saw the original production of “Fiddler” on Broadway and bought the cast album, which our family played constantly. I played the part of the oldest daughter in a religious school production and then our daughter played the same role in her middle school version. We have all seen it many times, and my parents saw a production in Tokyo with an all-Japanese cast my parents saw, where Tevye sounded like TV. They asked a member of the audience why it was so popular in Japan and they got the same answer someone in this movie did, “Because it is so Japanese.”

The fringes on the prayer shawl and the words of the prayers may be different, but every family has had to resolve conflicts between the generations and every individual has had to face the existential question of which traditions provide a foundation of our identity and connect us to our culture and which have to be adapted or abandoned, which aspects of our culture hold us up and which hold us back.

In “Fiddler,” we see three conflicts as Tevye’s three oldest daughters fall in love. The oldest refuses an arranged marriage with an older, wealthy man and asks her father to approve her marriage to the poor tailer she loves. Then the second says she will marry the hotheaded revolutionary she loves, and she does not want her father’s permission, only his blessing. He gives it to them. But when the third daughter wants to marry a man who is not Jewish, that is something he cannot accept. Meanwhile, Russian anti-Semitism is growing, and it is no longer possible for the Jews to stay in the only home they have ever known. When the play was first produced in 1964, the world was still learning about the breadth and damage of the Holocaust (the term itself was still not widely used), and the State of Israel was just 16 years old and still perilous. The story was at the same time charmingly nostalgic, painfully topical, poignantly personal (everyone understands “Sunrise Sunset”), and meaningfully universal. The documentary shows the contributions of the extraordinarily gifted people who created the show (touchingly, director/choreographer Jerome Robbins, a Jew born Jerome Wilson Rabinowitz, was inspired in part by visiting the town his family came from, wiped out in the Holocaust), and the impact the show has had around the world, always resonating with contemporary concerns. But most of all, it reminds us of why it is so enduring simply through the characters, story, and music that will still be touching audiences in another 50 years.

Parents should know that this film has references to theatrical and historic tragedies and atrocities.

Family discussion: When did you first see “Fiddler” or hear its songs? What are your favorite traditions?

If you like this, try: the movie version of “Fiddler on the Roof” and a theatrical production — there should be one near you.

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