This past week was a busy one in the doc world. The Full Frame Documentary Festival took place in North Carolina; Young@Heart, the first documentary acquired by distribution company Fox Searchlight in a decade was released to wide acclaim; and the upcoming release of his Standard Operating Procedure has Errol Morris all over the news.
First, to Full Frame. Our own Yance Ford was in Durham for the festivities, and she filed reports for us on the films she saw and the career award presentation to director William Greaves. Elsewhere, Still in Motion blogger Pamela Cohn offered in-depth re-caps of the festival (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, as did AJ Schnack of All These Wonderful Things, who, in addition to writing about the films, offered photos from the festival. Chuck Tryon of the Chutry Experiment was at Full Frame too, and he offers long, thoughtful reviews of many of the films he saw, including Bigger, Stronger, Faster, American Teen, At the Death House Door, and Trouble the Water. Overall, the Full Frame Festival wrapped up another successful year, its first without founder Nancy Buirski at the helm. The big award winners of the festival were Tia Lessin and Carl Deal‘s Hurricane Katrina film Trouble the Water, and James Marh‘s Man on Wire, about a man who tightrope walked between the Twin Towers in 1974. Our own Doc Soup columnist Tom Roston called Stephen Walker‘s Young@Heart “the tear jerker of 2008!” The film, which chronicles a senior citizen choir that sings music originally performed by the likes of Sonic Youth, Coldplay and The Clash, opened this week, and many critics were just as smitten as Tom was. The Los Angeles Times says that to see “these men and women having the time of their lives near the end of their lives couldn’t be more refreshing.” And although indieWire takes issue with the frequently “ingratiating” filmmaking, it points out that “what’s good about the film comes through in spite of the filmmaking.” The New York Times devotes a review and an article to the film in the same week, with the former lauding the film for offering “…an encouraging vision of old age in which the depression commonly associated with decrepitude is held at bay by music making, camaraderie and a sense of humor.” The article, on the other hand, reports on sitting down to tea with the octogenarian singers, who are described as having “irrepressible goofiness,” and who manage to “negotiate the sometimes barren landscape of old age with consummate grace.” Finally, seminal documentarian Errol Morris has been all over the internet. As his film about Abu Ghraib and photography, Standard Operating Procedure, gets ready for its limited release on April 25th, Morris is set to make appearances at Apple stores in San Francisco and New York. The Believer also published a conversation between Werner Herzog and Morris in the March/April edition of the magazine; the two masters talk about cinema verité, when they first met and took a trip to visit a serial killer in prison, and how to capture spontaneity on film. In consideration of Morris and his filmmaking techniques, Slate offers a lengthy article on his use of superslow motion in Standard Operating Procedure, and ArtForum offers an article criticizing the film’s lack of insightful political discourse. Morris himself, meanwhile, considers the technique of re-enactments in his blog for the New York Times: specifically, he writes about his use of re-enactments in The Thin Blue Line, and considers the controversy around re-enactments in documentary films overall. Finally, for those who can’t get enough of Errol Morris, word comes from The Hollywood Reporter (via Spout Blog) that his next project will be a fictional film: a comedy he is writing titled The End of Everything.