Doc News: Herzog, New Academy Membership, Silverdocs, Ryan Dunn

– Werner Herzog‘s next documentary has been retitled from “Death Row” to “Gazing Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, a Tale of Life” and has been picked up by ZDF Enterprises for worldwide TV rights and theatrical distribution outside the U.S. and UK. The filmmaker is quoted by Variety as describing the film as “a gaze into the abyss of the human soul,” though more literally it involves interviews with Texan death row inmates, including: “two men convicted of triple murder, another who killed his girlfriend and her two mentally retarded sons, and a woman — one of only 10 on Texas’ death row — charged with abducting a newborn baby and killing the child’s mother.”

Read more of this post

Advertisements

What Documentary Has Changed Your Mind?

While I was away honeymooning last week, my latest Doc Talk column posted over at Movies.com. The topic/question: What documentary has changed your mind. I focus on “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front,” which opens this Wednesday, while also hearing from guests like filmmaker Robert Greene and Pajiba’s Dustin Rowles. Also included are recommendations of new releases “Buck,” “Page One: Inside the New York Times,” “Jig,” “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop,” “Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders” and (sight unseen) “General Orders No. 9.” Here’s a snippet of the column:

Call me the worst kind of skeptic, but I’m not one for being convinced by anything, let alone documentaries. They may tell or show me something I didn’t already know, whether it’s the daily routines of Eskimos or bible salesmen or theories about global warming. And sometimes I’ll believe what I’ve heard or seen to be true, while other times I’ll watch something as out there as Loose Change or Collapse and think, “hmm, maybe…”

I enjoy documentaries for the stories and characters and occasionally the unknown worlds it introduces me to. But while these elements and their whole can often affect me emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, it’s not too often I walk away from a documentary thinking differently about an issue than when I started the film.

Read more: Doc Talk: What Documentary Has Changed Your Mind? | Movie News | Movies.com

Read more of this post

Short or Reality Series

Here’s something that just occurred to me while watching Cindy Meehl’s “Buck,” the documentary about a horse whisperer that won an audience award at Sundance and is now getting standing ovations at SXSW: some docs shouldn’t be features, but it’s sometimes hard to say if they should instead be a short or a TV series.

On the one hand, I really don’t think there’s enough of a story in “Buck” to play out near 90 minutes. It repeats itself a lot, particularly regarding its explicit metaphoric anti-abuse message. On the other hand, Buck Brannaman is such an amusing and likable character, and his on-the-road job is so episodic, that I could see his life further followed as a reality program.

I wonder how many other docs that seem ill-fit as features are the same, could go either other way.