Doc News: “The Thin Blue Line”, R.J. Cutler, Cee Lo Green

– Last week Errol Morris tweeted the first major report of the passing of Randall Dale Adams, who had died of a brain tumor in October at age 61. Adams was one of the two main subjects of Morris’ classic “The Thin Blue Line,” he being the wrongfully imprisoned man who was exonerated in part by the film itself. He had spent 12 years behind bars for a Dallas police officer’s murder he didn’t commit. After his release he sued the filmmaker over the rights to his story, which seemed a bit like biting the hand that unlocks your prison cell, and after that he disappeared from limelight (Morris stopped talking to him after the legal matter) and apparently ended up in Ohio, in a city called Washington Court House, where he died. Since Morris’ tweet more lengthy reports and obituaries, such as this one in the NY Times, have gone out. One of the most famous documentary figures of all time, it’s sad to hear this news. If you’ve somehow never seen “Thin Blue Line,” it’s on Netflix Instant. In lieu of a decent clip from the film, check out a bit of Philip Glass’s score after the jump, specifically “Adams’ Theme.”

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– Documentary staple R.J. Cutler (“The September Isuse”; “The War Room”) is already disappointingly hitting the fiction form with the fashion novel adaptation “Fabulous Nobodies” and now he’s also reportedly going to make a rom-com out of Rudolph Delson’s book “Maynard and Jennica.” At least it’s a fitting work since the novel is about a filmmaker and is narrativized through 35 different accounts, a la documentary interviewees. Of course, Cutler’s more of a verite documentary guy, so it’s only a tiny bit appropriate.

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– Iranian documentary filmmaker Mahnaz Mohammadi, who directed a short titled “Women Without Shadows,” has been arrested by security forces for an unknown reason. She had previously been arrested in 2009 with the currently imprisoned Jafar Panahi, and earlier this year she was denied leave to attend the Cannes Film Festival. A journalist and fellow women’s rights activist was also arrested in Tehran Sunday. Both appear to be related to a hunger strike protest last week organized in response to the death of activist Haleh Sahabi.

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– Clearly this is more advertisement than documentary (but aren’t many docs ads anyway?): a short titled “Cee Lo Distilled” has been made in part by Absolut Vodka, and the first part is now available online for “free.” The black and white doc is directed by the collaboration known as Hudson Dusters (including former Michael Mann cameraman Niles Roth) and presents Cee Lo Green hanging out in Atlanta and talking about his career. You can watch below and continue with Part 2 on July 6th at Facebook.

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– A number of awards were announced over the weekend for various film festivals. Silverdocs winners include US competitor “Our School” and the disturbing Latvian doc “Family Instinct,” which took the world prize. Honorable mentions include “The Bully Project,” “When the Drum is Beating” and “Position Among the Stars.” Kevin MacDonald’s crowd-sourced YouTube-sponsored “Life in a Day” won the fest’s special Cinematic Vision Award. Audience awards later went to the feature “Donor Unknown” and short “Mr. Happy Pants.” 

Doc winners at the San Antonio Film Festival include Yoav Potash’s “Crime After Crime,” which took the overall Grand Prize, and U. Roberto Romano’s “The Harvest,” which won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature. As for the Los Angeles Film Festival, the top doc prize went to “Wish Me Away” with audience awards going to “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest” and “Senna,” which won for international feature.

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About Christopher Campbell
I am a blogger for Documentary Channel and Movies.com, where I write the Doc Talk column. I prefer real stories to fake ones. I tweet here: @thefilmcynic

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