Weekly Roundup: Mourning Karen Schmeer, Oscar Nominations, Sundance Wrap-up and More

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This week, the documentary world mourns the passing of a beloved editor, we look forward to the Oscars and look back at Sundance, and we take a peek at Patti Smith’s new memoir.

Karen SchmeerDocumentary editor Karen Schmeer was killed in a hit-and-run accident in New York City last week. Filmmaker Errol Morris, who worked with Karen on The Fog of War and Fast, Cheap and Out of Control, broke the devastating news on his Twitter. The New York Times gives the details on the incident, a reporter from OregonLive pulls up a 1997 article about Karen’s work on Fast, Cheap and Out of Control in rememberance (Karen grew up in Oregon), commenters on All These Wonderful Things share memories of Karen, and POV’s Yance Ford and filmmakers Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini penned tributes to her. Our thoughts are with Karen’s colleagues, friends and family.

Most Dangerous Man in America

Oscar nominations were announced on Tuesday, and we were thrilled to learn that two upcoming POV films (Food, Inc. and The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers) were nominated for best documentary. AJ Schnack has a roundup of the nominees’ reactions and the LA Times‘ The Envelope says that all five of the contenders deal with serious, even “dire” subjects. The Oscars air on Sunday, March 7th.


The 2010 Sundance Film Festival wrapped up on Sunday, and the Grand Jury Prizes in Documentary were won by “Restrepo” (U.S. Documentary Competition) and “The Red Chapel” (World Documentary Competition). Laura Poitras’ The Oath (POV 2010) won the Cinematography Award. For a full list of award winners in the documentary competitions, visit The Documentary Blog. In other news from Sundance, Democracy Now! broadcasted from Park City last week, and journalist Amy Goodman talked to Cara Mertes, the director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and the Sundance Documentary Fund (and former POV executive director), about Sundance documentaries that focus on human rights and social justice issues. The New York Time‘s Manohla Dargis also hailed the docs at Sundance,
singling out Last Train Home by Lixin Fan, which will air on POV in 2011, as a “beautifully shot, haunting and haunted large-scale portrait” of contemporary China.

The amazing Patti Smith, the subject of the recently aired Patti Smith: Dream of Life, has a new book out! Just Kids is a memoir about her relationship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, and gives a wonderful of bohemian New York in the 1960s and 1970s. The New York Times called the book “terrifically evocative” and “enchanting,” and Rolling Stone has an excerpt from the book. Patti herself talked to NPR’s Fresh Air about her career and her relationship with Mapplethorpe last month.

Finally, Doc Alliance Films is a new documentary portal from five European documentary festivals. Check out their website, where you can find out more about the project and stream films online.

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Ruiyan Xu
Ruiyan Xu
Former POVer Ruiyan Xu worked on developing and producing materials for POV's website. Before coming to POV, she worked in the Interactive and Broadband department at Channel Thirteen/WNET. Ruiyan was born in Shanghai and graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Modern Culture and Media.
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    The 2010 Sundance Film Festival wrapped up on Sunday, and the Grand Jury Prizes in Documentary were won by “Restrepo” (U.S. Documentary Competition) and “The Red Chapel” (World Documentary Competition).