Doc5 Middleburg: 5 Highly-Anticipated Documentaries Premiere at the Middleburg Community Center, September 22 – 26, 2020

Posted on September 4, 2020 at 12:05 pm

CMP has announced its inaugural ​Doc5 Film Festival will take place at the Middleburg Community Center (200 W. Washington St., Middleburg, Virginia 20117) from Tuesday, September 22 through Saturday, September 26, 2020.

Doc5 is the traveling “little sister” to CMP’s flagship Doc10 Film Festival, which launched in Chicago in 2015 and has continued its reign as the taste-making festival in the Midwest, with dozens of titles earning Oscar nominations and trophies. CMP’s mission with its festival series is to celebrate independent documentary filmmaking and the filmmakers who tell those stories. Doc5 Film Festival is more intimate, bringing these incredible films on the large screen so film lovers in smaller communities and locales can watch them in a festival experience.

“We’re so proud of the success of our Doc10 Film Festival and we want to share the experience across the country,” said CMP’s ​Co-Founder and Board Chair, Steve Cohen​. “We’re really excited to launch Doc5 with a slate of film premieres especially curated for the film-lover community of Middleburg, Virginia.

Doc5 opens on Tuesday, September 22 with ​OTTOLENGHI AND THE CAKES OF VERSAILLES, ​which ​follows famous chef Yotam Ottolenghi on his quest to bring the sumptuous art and decadence of Versailles to life in cake form at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Director Laura Gabbert’s film credits include feature length ​No Impact Man and the popular Netflix series ​Ugly Delicious. ​OTTOLENGHI AND THE CAKES OF VERSAILLES perfectly captures the heights of human achievement and the frailty of decadence, adding taste as one more sense with which to experience the Met.

The festival closes on Saturday, September 26 with ​DEAR MR. BRODY, a story about how a 21-year-old hippie heir to a margarine fortune announced to the world that he would be giving away his $25-million inheritance to anyone in need. Set in 1970, Michael Brody, Jr. and his wife Renee were soon flung into a psychedelic spiral of events and overwhelmed by the crush of personal letters responding to their extraordinary offer. Fifty years later, an enormous cache of these letters are discovered–unopened. In this riveting follow-up to his acclaimed ​Tower, award-winning director Keith Maitland reveals the incredible story of Michael Brody, Jr. and the countless struggling Americans who sought his help.

The full slate of films featured at Doc5 include:
● 9/22: OTTOLENGHI AND THE CAKES OF VERSAILLES ​ (Dir. Laura Gabbert, U.S.)
● 9/23: THE SIT-IN: HARRY BELAFONTE HOSTS THE TONIGHT SHOW (Dir. ​Yoruba Richen, U.S.​)

● 9/24: TIME ​(Dir. Garrett Bradley, U.S.)
● 9/25: WHIRLYBIRD​ (Dir. Matt Yoka, U.S.)
● 9/26: DEAR MR. BRODY​ (Dir. Keith Maitland, U.S.)

CMP’s Chicago-based Doc10 Film Festival is known for its ancillary programming, including special talk backs with filmmakers and subjects, so audiences can expect some surprises during Doc5 Middleburg.
All screenings will be held outdoors to a capacity of 75 guests who will find it very easy to maintain a safe social distance in the venue’s large amphitheater. In case weather conditions force an indoor event, the festival will be moved indoors to a 50-person capacity ballroom that will still easily adhere to social distancing guidelines. Attendees will each receive swag bags with hand sanitizer, masks, and bug spray at the entrance.

Admission to each film is $25, or guests can purchase a pass for all 5 films for $100. These will be available online at doc5filmfest.org, and guests can also purchase tickets onsite at the venue’s concessions.

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Ebertfest 2015, Part 1

Posted on April 17, 2015 at 7:39 am

Greetings from the campus of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, where the 17th annual Roger Ebert Film Festival is underway. I am delighted to be appearing on a panel of very distinguished film critics this morning and will post a link when it is online. Yesterday I was thrilled to see one of my favorite films, “Moving Midway,” followed by a discussion with the director, Godfrey Cheshire and, via Skype, his cousin, Professor Robert Hinton.

Copyright Nell Minow 2015
Copyright Nell Minow 2015

We then got a special treat, a pre-release screening of “The End of the Tour,” directed by James Ponsoldt (“The Spectacular Now,” “Smashed”), and starring Jason Segal as David Foster Wallace. Ponsoldt and Segal discussed the film afterward with Rogerebert.com editor Brian Tallerico and festival director Nate Kohn.  Segal told us his biggest challenge in making the film was in the scenes with Wallace’s dogs — “having to do serious acting with salmon down my pants.”

Today I am especially looking forward to one of my favorite Ebertfest traditions — a silent film with live musical accompaniment from the Alloy Orchestra.

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AFI Docs: Three Great Documentaries About Failures of Law Enforcement

Posted on June 20, 2014 at 8:34 am

We had a great first day at AFI Docs, the most important documentary film festival in the country. I am very proud to be a sponsor. Yesterday, we saw three of the films featuring one of this year’s key themes, failure, abuse, and over-intrusiveness of law enforcement, all followed by panel discussions with the filmmakers and those featured in the film.

“1971” is the story of a group of young anti-war protesters who broke into a field office of the FBI in Media, Pennsylvania and stole all of the documents filed there. Before Daniel Ellsberg, Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden, these eight people, anonymous until they came forward four decades later, sent files to newspapers that revealed shocking and illegal activity at the FBI. What they uncovered led to the first-ever oversight hearings and guidelines for FBI activities. Reporter Betty Medsger, who covered the story for the Washington Post, wrote a book about it last year: The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI.

“The Newburgh Sting” is the story of four men who were arrested for planning a terrorist attack on a plane and two synagogues. But the movie reveals that the man who planned and financed the operation was an FBI informant.

“The Internet’s Own Boy” is about Aaron Swartz, a brilliant, passionate young man, the co-founder of Reddit and one of the leaders of the anti-SOPA campaign, who killed himself at age 26 because he was being prosecuted for downloading scholarly journals. He was facing a 13-count indictment with the prospect of a 35 year sentence.

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Sundance 2011

Posted on January 30, 2011 at 1:05 pm

I am sitting by the fire in my Park City, Utah hotel, where the wall has enormous pictures of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (as portrayed by Paul Newman and Robert Redford) and a sign that says “No Skis In Room.” This is the last day of the 2011 edition of the film festival founded by Redford. It began in 1978, took on the name Sundance in 1991 in honor of the founder’s iconic role, and is now the biggest festival in the US and possibly the world focusing on independent film. Movies like “sex, lies, and videotape,” “Capturing the Friedmans,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Napoleon Dynamite,” and current Oscar nominee “Winter’s Bone” got their start here. While some people complain that it has become too institutional, the festival and its audience are devoted to independent film and film-makers who are independent in vision as well as in financing. A new category for entries called “Next” is dedicated to films made on micro-budgets. And Sundance has programs for beginning screenwriters and directors that has provided support to film-makers like Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, and David Gordon Green.

I am here for the most unexpected of reasons, not as audience, critic, or press, but in support of a documentary about the financial meltdown called “The Flaw,” in which I appear. Director David Sington and I answered questions about the movie following yesterday’s screening.

I got to see two other films while I was here, both documentaries, “Hot Coffee,” a first-time film from lawyer Susan Saladoff about corporate sponsored efforts to prevent access to the courts and “Project Nim,” the story of an ambitious but poorly conceived 1970’s project to teach language to a chimpanzee and what happened when the experiment ended. Saladoff appeared before her film to tell us that two years ago she was where we were, sitting in the audience at Sundance, and inspired by what she saw to take a year off from work to make her movie. She told me later that she does not plan to go back to practicing law; she wants to keep making movies.

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I was thrilled to attend the awards ceremony (you can see host Tim Blake Nelson wearing the festival’s logo snowflake), where I sat next to director Anne Sewitsky as she heard her name called as winner of the top prize for an international feature film for “Happy Happy.” Other award-winners that I am hoping to see in theaters include top festival prize and acting award winner “Like Crazy,” “Another Earth,” about a discovery of a parallel planet that might possibly give us the chance to erase our mistakes and painful losses; “The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975,” based on archival footage from Swedish journalists of American black power leaders including Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale, Huey P. Newton, Angela Davis, and Eldridge Cleaver; “The Redemption of General Butt Naked,” a documentary about a once-brutal Liberian warlord turned preacher; and “Buck,” the true story of the man who inspired “The Horse Whisperer.” This year featured an unusual number of films about struggles with faith and spirituality, including “Butt Naked,” and “Higher Ground,” directed and starring Vera Farmiga (“Up in the Air”); “Tyrannosour,” directed by actor Paddy Considine (“In America”), and “Kinyarwanda,” the first feature film produced by Rwandans.

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Washington Jewish Film Festival 2008

Posted on November 30, 2008 at 8:00 am

The 2008 Washington Jewish Film Festival has released its schedule. Opening night is a film I have really been looking forward to, Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger. The festival, now in its 19th year, will have 59 features, documentaries & shorts representing 10 countries. Other films on the schedule include “Lemon Tree,” based on A the true story of a Palestinian widow who must defend her lemon tree field when a new Israeli Defense Minister moves next to her and threatens to have her lemon grove torn down, and “Like a Fish Out of Water,” a romantic comedy about an Argentinian immigrant to Israel who falls for his Hebrew teacher. One of the highlights of the schedule is a salute to the late documentarian Charles Guggenheim, featuring a presentation from his daughter, particularly apt as the schedule features a number of new documentary films. New Film Fest Director Susan Barocas explains this year’s trend, “We had so many good films to choose from, but the docs were exceptional. It’s exciting to see more and more filmmakers turning the cameras on themselves and the worlds around them, revealing untold stories in their own unique voices.”

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