Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oprah Winfrey turns to Documentaries

Leave it to Oprah to really push the documentary genre to the mainstream public (face it, she has so many followers in the US she puts Barack Obama to shame). In what I would call a surprise announcement and bold move, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) will develop a monthly documentary film club when it launches in 2011.

Following a similar stratagey that has made her book club so successful, OWN's documentary film club will not only involve films airing on the channel, but will also include an online community and exclusive video content at Even more impressive is a selection of the films will be featured in special theatrical screenings across the country and involve live panel discussions.

OWN CEO Christina Norman says, "OWN's commitment to Self-Discovery provides the ideal platform to elevate documentary films and the real, compelling stories they tell."

If you're worried this will mean more sappy or shallow documentaries geared towards stay at home mom's, think again. OWN is partnering with ro*co Productions to find films for the network. That means documentary powerhouses like Street Fight, No End in Sight, The Weather Underground, What Would Jesus Buy and countless others will potentially be in the mix. That's a wonderful lineup and should have documentary fans everywhere salivating.

"Partnering with ro*co Productions, OWN will deliver the very best documentaries to our audience and give them ways to connect through stories that move them," says Norman.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Soderbergh Documentary Premiering at Slamdance

Steven Soderbergh, ever the lover of indie films and new ways of putting films into the public's hands, will unveil his latest work at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah (don't confuse it with Sundance... it's different). Not one to dabble in documentaries too frequently, this film actually sounds like it could be a major success considering the way it's made.

The film, titled And Everything is Going Fine, plays out almost as if it's a diary of the late writer and performer Spaulding Gray. Admittedly, not exactly a house hold name, Soderbergh's choice to only use Gray's voice (no other narration or interviews) sounds like this could be the next best documentary since Errol Morris' The Fog of War.

Personally, I'm a fan of Soderbergh and by continuing to promote independent work and film outlets he has become a huge fan of the Slamdance Film Festival (a festival that highlights and promotes the true independent artist).

If you are suddenly interested in attending Slamdance, I'd hurry and buy your tickets as the festival (and Soderbergh's premier) take place January 23rd.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Anvil! Grabs IDA Documentary Award

Let this be a lesson to you all: if you protest loud enough and long enough, you will ultimately get what you want. After failing to make the Oscar shortlist for best feature length documentary, Sacha Gervasi's Anvil! The Story of Anvil has found itself on every major award show's nominee list and has now officially won the International Documentary Association's best documentary award.

In fact, Anvil! won two awards at the IDA award show this past weekend, also nabbing the best Music Documentary Award. The film about two aging Canadian heavy metal rockers trying to make it big has become somewhat of an instant cult-hit as critical and populous praise continues to grow. (If you don't know anything about the film, you can read our entire review here)

The other major award featured this past weekend by the IDA goes to Salt (directed by Michael Angus and Murray Fredericks) for best short documentary. This film focuses on the arid landscape of Lake Eyre in South Australia. The other awards were announced prior to the ceremony and were listed here last week, but in case you want to see the full recap, head on over to the IDA website.