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What’s Up Doc?: Park City Premieres From Pennebaker/ Hegedus, Herzog & Greene Help Bring In The New Year

Having started this doc tracking project back in the summer of 2014, its been incredibly fascinating to see the development of these films and observer how filmmakers approach and engage audiences. For the most part, non-fiction filmmaking doesn’t ride the waves of celebrity statuses, and thus there is much less information floating around to keep track of progress and it’s not unusual to be completely caught off-guard when films seem to spring from the ether, born fully formed from nothing, like Michael Moore’s TIFF debuted Where To Invade Next or Werner Herzog’s Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (see still above), which was recently revealed to be among the many stellar looking films making up this year’s Sundance documentary line-up. I’ve been keeping close tabs on Herzog’s volcano project, Into The Inferno, and half expected to see it appear at Sundance or possibly Cannes, but the arrival of a completely unannounced doc on the internet’s revolutionary effects on society by the Bavarian master of cinematic existential crisis is something to be celebrated.

the-lovers-and-the-despot

Robert Cannan and Ross Adam’s The Lovers and The Despot

In addition to Herzog’s surprise appearance at Sundance is a whole host of less surprising, but no less exciting titles in DA Pennebaker & Chris Hagedus’ long gestating primate doc, Unlocking The Cage, Robert Greene’s Kate Plays Christine, which centers around the television host Christine Chubbuck whom committed suicide on air back in 1974 (and looks to interestingly pair well with Antonio Campos’ fictional treatment, Christine), as well as Robert Cannan and Ross Adam’s North Korean nightmare, The Lovers and the Despot (see still above), which first started to attract attention after being selected for development at the 2011 IDFA Forum. Other Sundance premieres that have climbed the ranks and found themselves near the top include The Settlers by Shimon Dotan, whom won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance back in 2007 for his feature Hot House, Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack’s Kickstarted Maya Angelo doc Maya Angelou And Still I Rise, and the reproductive rights focused Trapped by Dawn Porter, whose Gideon’s Army premiered at the festival back in 2013.

Those who, like me, spent their holidays transfixed to their television, enraged by Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi’s wildly popular Making a Murderer serial would do well to take note of Jamie Meltzer’s True Conviction, which centers around “a new detective agency in Dallas, Texas, started by three exonerated men, with decades in prison served between them.” Formally titled Freedom Fighters, the film moved into post production back in August and since its retitling received a sleek new website and a substantial new preview (see above), where the filmmakers let it slip that “the film will start playing festivals in early 2016.” Considering its Texan roots, I would be highly surprised if it didn’t make the SXSW cut.

From Gigantic Studios, the production unit that’s recently pumped out festival favorites like Joe Berlinger’s Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger, Margaret Brown’s The Great Invisible, and Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman’s E-Team, comes Joshua Zeman’s 52: The Search for the Loneliest Whale in the World. The project, which “explores the phenomenon of the famed 52-Hertz whale’s tragic plight and sheds light on its connection to the growing epidemic of loneliness in our interconnected world,” received a Catapult Grant for production back in 2013 and subsequently mounted a successful Kickstarter campaign to secure additional funding. It seems the production is nearing completion, with a newly released trailer (see above) and the launch of a health awareness initiative in The Lonely Whale Foundation just last month.

https://vimeo.com/151250405

Back in May, director Jonathan Bland took part in the 2015 Hot Docs Forum, pitching his latest project Thief’s Bazaar, which according to Realscreen, “profiles four people living in Mumbai, whose lives on the edges of society are meant to reflect a rapidly growing country where ‘dark undercurrents of lawlessness pervade across the entire social stratification.’” Over this past weekend, Blank uploaded an enigmatic first look at the film (see above), featuring a single close-up take of a tuba player performing in what one might guess to be the streets of Mumbai, played in slightly slow motion. It’s an unsurprising stylistic flourish that aligns with reports from Bland’s personal blog that the film utilizes “a combination of direct cinema and surrealist vignettes” that may recall the dreamy vérité methods of the Ross Brothers. Call me intrigued.

As mentioned previously, for those attached to any of the docs mentioned below — please feel free to share any updates on the status of your projects. I can be reached at jordan [at] ioncinema dot com. Here is our most anticipated Top 100 docs in the pipeline.

#
Film Title
Filmmaker(s)
Producer(s)
Status
Last Month’s Ranking
1
Unlocking The Cage
DA Pennebaker, Chris Hagedus
Frazer Pennebaker, Rosadel Varela, Chris Hegedus
Sundance Preem
2
Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World
Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog, Rupert Maconick
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
3
Kate Plays Christine
Robert Greene
Douglas Tirola, Susan Bedusa
Sundance Preem
⬆ #18
4
The Lovers and the Despot
Robert Cannan, Ross Adam
Sandra Whipham
Sundance Preem
⬆ #56
5
Maya Angelou And Still I Rise
Bob Hercules, Rita Coburn Whack
Chris Gardner, Raymond Lambert
Sundance Preem
⬆ #62
6
Voyage of Time
Terrence Malick
Dede Gardner, Nicolas Gonda, Sarah Green, Grant Hill, Brad Pitt, Bill Pohlad, Andreas Roald, Sophokles Tasioulis
Post Production
⬇ #2
7
The Settlers
Shimon Dotan
Estelle Fialon, Jonathan Aroch, Paul Cadieux, Shimon Dotan
Sundance Preem
⬆ #34
8
Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time
Robert Weide, Don Argott
Robert Weide
Production
⬇ #4
9
Trapped
Dawn Porter
Marilyn Ness, Summer Damon
Sundance Preem
⬆ #39
10
Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper
Liz Garbus
Liz Garbus
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
11
untitled Iggy Pop doc
Jim Jarmusch
TBD
Post Production
⬇ #8
12
Into The Inferno
Werner Herzog
André Singer EP: Lucki Stipetić, Vanessa Dylyn
Production
⬇ #3
13
How to Let Go of the World (and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change)
Josh Fox
Deia Schlosberg, Josh Fox
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
14
Hooligan Sparrow
Nanfu Wang
Nanfu Wang
Sundance Preem
⬆ #93
15
Under The Gun
Stephanie Soechtig
Olivia Ahnemann, Josh Kunau, Kristin Lazure, Stephanie Soechtig
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
16
Dear John Grierson: A Postscript to The Story of Film
Mark Cousins
TBD
Production
⬇ #6
17
Contemporary Color
Bill & Turner Ross
Bill & Turner Ross
Production
 ⬇ #9
18
The Bad Kids
Keith Fulton, Lou Pepe
Keith Fulton, Lou Pepe, Molly O’Brien
Sundance Preem
⬆ #58
19
LoveTrue
Alma Har’el
Alma Har’el, Christopher Leggett, Rafael Marmor, Rhea Scott
Post Production
⬇ #5
20
The Beatles Live – The Touring Years (1962-1966)
Ron Howard
Nigel Sinclair
Production
⬇ #12
21
Amazing Grace
Sydney Pollack
Alan Elliott. EP: Joey Carey, Stefan Nowicki
Completed
⬇ #10
22
Shanghai Youth
Wang Bing
Eugenio Renzi,Sonia Buchman, Nicolas R. De La Mothe
Production
⬇ #14
23
Untitled Justin Timberlake concert documentary
Jonathan Demme
TBD
Production
⬇ #11
24
Untitled Grateful Dead Doc
Amir Bar-Lev
Martin Scorsese, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Andrew Heller, Sanford Heller, Rick Yorn
Post Production
⬇ #15
25
The Return
Kelly Duane de la Vega, Katie Galloway
Ariella Ben-Dov
Production
⬇ #19
26
Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall
Spike Lee
Spike Lee, John Branca, John McClain
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
27
The Reagan Years
Pacho Velez
Sierra Pettengill
Post Production
⬆ #44
28
Ken Loach: Untitled
Louise Osmond
Rebecca O’Brien
Production
⬇ #13
29
Life, Animated
Roger Ross Williams
Julie Goldman
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
30
Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You
Rachel Grady, Heidi Ewing
Suzanne Hillinger, Brent Miller
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
31
Cameraperson
Kirsten Johnson
Marilyn Ness, Kirsten Johnson
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
32
When Two Worlds Collide
Heidi Brandenburg, Mathew Orzel
Taira Akbar
Sundance Preem
⬆ #107
33
Getting Personal
Doug Block
Doug Block
Production
⬇ #26
34
Buena Vista Social Club: Adios
Lucy Walker
Christine Cowin, Zak Kilberg. EP: Wim Wenders
Production
⬇ #32
35
Strong Island
Yance Ford
Esther Robinson
Announced, Pre-Production, Production, Post Production Completed INSERT Preem
⬇#23
36
Newtown
Kim A. Snyder
Kim A. Snyder, Maria Cuomo Cole
Sundance Preem
⬆ #212
37
O.J.: Made In America
Ezra Edelman
Ezra Edelman, Caroline Waterlow, Tamara Rosenberg, Nina Krstic, Erin Leyden, Deirdre Fenton
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
38
Sarah
Tracy Droz Tragos
Tracy Droz Tragos
Production
⬇#25
39
Sonita
Rokhsareh Gham Maghami
Gerd Haag
Sundance Preem
⬆ #228
40
Untitled Kronos Project
Sam Green
TBD Producer 40
Pre-Production
⭑ New!
41
Rats NYC
Morgan Spurlock
EP: Morgan Spurlock & Jeremy Chilnick
Production
⬆ #43
42
Les Blank: A Quiet Revelation
Gina Leibrecht, Harrod Blank
Harrod Blank
Production
⬇#30
43
So Help You God
Ashley York
Ashley York
Post Production
⬆ #68
44
Bo66y the Movie
Ron Scalpello
Matt Lorenzo, Bennett McGhee
Production
⬆ #35
45
Proposition for a Revolution
Khushboo Ranka, Vinay Shukla
Ruchi Bhimani, Anand Gandhi, Joris van Wijk
Post Production
⬆ #120
46
Mixed Feelings
Guy Davidi
Anna Somershaf, Kristian Mosvold
Post Production
⬇#16
47
Ask the Sexpert
Vaishali Sinha
TBD
Production
⬇#36
48
The Nine
Katy Grannan
Katy Grannan, Marc Smolowitz
Post Production
⬆ #87
49
David Millar Project
Finlay Pretsell
Iain Smith, Sonja Henrici
Production
⬇#42
50
Unseen Enemy
Janet Tobias, Cesar Charlone
Janet Tobias, Michael Ehrenzweig, Peter W. Klein and Rogger Lopez
Production
⬇#37

Legend:

New to Chart
No Change
Position Increase
Position Drop

 

#
Film Title 
Filmmaker(s)
Producer(s) 
Status
Last Month’s Ranking
51
Dick Gregory: How to Survive in America
Andre Gaines
TBD
Production
⬇#38
52
True Conviction (fka: Freedom Fighters)
Jamie Meltzer
TBD
Post Production
⬆ #105
53
Be Natural: The untold story of Alice Guy-Blaché
Pamela Green & Jarik van Sluijs
TBD
Post Production
⬇#21
54
Uncle Andy: The Andy Warhol Family Film
Abby Warhola, Jesse Best
TBD
Production
⬇#41
55
Weiner
Joshua Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg
Joshua Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg
Sundance Preem
⬆ #237
56
untitled Frank Zappa Doc
Alex Winter
Alex Winter, Glen Zipper
Pre-Production
⬆ #76
57
Rock and A Hard Place
Jon Alpert, Matthew O’Neill
Sheila Nevins
Production
⭑ New!
58
A Better Man
Attiya Khan, Lawrence Jackman
Christine Kleckner, EP: Sarah Polley
Post Production
⬇#45
59
Forgiveness
Elizabeth Stopford
Nicole Stott
Production
⬆ #94
60
Sour Grapes
Jerry Rothwell, Reuben Atlas
TBD
Production
⬇#46
61
Untitled Robby Naish Doc
Joe Berlinger
TBD
Pre-Production
⭑ New!
62
Hispaniola
Michele Stephenson & Joe Brewster
Lea Marin
Production
⬆ #57
63
Kusama: Life in Polka Dots
Heather Lenz
Dan Braun, Karen Johnson, David Koh, Heather Lenz
Post Production
⬇#50
64
When God Sleeps
Till Schauder
Sara Nodjoumi, Till Schauder
Production
⬆ #121
65
Command and Control
Robert Kenner
Robert Kenner, Eric Schlosser, Melissa Robledo
Production
⬇#49
66
For the Love of Spock
Adam Nimoy
David Zappone, Kevin Layne, Joseph Kornbrodt
Production
⬆ #84
67
Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four
Deborah Esquenazi
Deborah Esquenazi, Sam Tabet
Post Production
 ⬇#51
68
Night School
Andrew Cohn
Steve Bannatyne, Jason Orans, Zachary Shields, Louis Venezia
Production
⬆ #70
69
The Prison in Twelve Landscapes
Brett Story
TBD
Post Production
⬇#65
70
Ring Girls
Amy Berg
TBD
Post Production
⬇#52
71
Cocaine Prison
Violeta Ayala
Violeta Ayala, Cédric Bonin, Alexandra Daly, Dan Fallshaw
Post Production
72
Diamond, Silver and Gold
Jason Kohn
Jared I. Goldman, Amanda Branson Gill
Production
⬇#54
73
Young
Magnus Gertten, Fredrik Gertten
TBD
Production
⬆ #78
74
The Look of the Music (Ennio Morricone doc)
Giuseppe Tornatore
Bobby Păunescu, Dragoṣ Săvulescu, George Shu, Serena Menarini
Production
⬆ #132
75
Gleason
Clay Tweel
Seth Gordon, Kimi Culp, Kevin Lake
Sundance Preem
⭑ New!
76
Selling Our Daughters
Josie Swantek, Dave Adams
TBD
Post Production
⬆ #98
77
52: The Search for the Loneliest Whale in the World
Joshua Zeman
Lucy Cooper
Production
⬆ #134
78
Black Ballerina
Frances McElroy
Frances McElroy
Post Production
⭑ New!
79
Olancho
Christopher Valdes, Theodore Griswold
Esther Anino
Post Production
⬆ #143
80
Cheer Up
Christy Garland
Liisa Juntunen
Production
⬇ #55
81
Memories Of A Penitent Heart
Cecilia Aldarondo
Patricia Benabe
Post Production
⬆ #111
82
21 Years: Quentin Tarantino
Tara Wood
Tara Wood, Jake Zortman
Pre-Production
⭑ New!
83
Mammoth
Chad Gracia
Mike Lerner
Production
⬆ #92
84
Supergirl
Jessie Auritt
Jessie Auritt, Carmen Osterlye, Justin Levy
Post Production
⬆ #147
85
Big Sonia
Leah Warshawski, Todd Soliday
TBD
Post Production
⬇ #64
86
Living With Giants
Sébastien Rist, Aude Leroux-Lévesque
TBD
Post Production
⬆ #108
87
Kivalina
Gina Abatemarco
Anne Takahashi
Post Production
⬆ #137
88
Amazona
Clare Weiskopf
Nicolas Van Hemelryck
Post Production
⬇ #69
89
The Golden Dawn Case
Håvard Bustnes
Christian Falch
Post Production
⬆ #152
90
Mudflow
Cynthia Wade, Sasha Friedlander
Cynthia Wade, Sasha Friedlander. Co-Prod: Tracie Holder
Production
⬇ #60
91
Untitled Prison Project
Roger Ross Williams
Femke Wolting, Bruno Felix, Roger Ross Williams
Pre-Production
⭑ New!
92
Jamaica
Khalik Allah
TBD
Pre-Production
⭑ New!
93
Raising Bertie
Margaret Byrne
Margaret Byrne, Jon Stuyvesant
Post Production
⬆ #95
44
Mythical Creatures
David Charles
Lanette Philips
Post Production
⬇ #89
95
Thief’s Bazaar
Jonathan Bland
 TBD
Production
⬆ #234
96
The Island and the Whales
Mike Day
TBD
Post Production
⬇ #61
97
This is Congo
Daniel McCabe
Geoff McLean
Post Production
⬆ #96
98
Framed
Cassandra Herrman, Kathryn Mathers
TBD
Post Production
⬆ #223
99
Afterglow
Noémi Veronika Szakonyi
Julianna Ugrin
Production
⬆ #185
100
Chris Burden: Double Bind
Tim Marrinan, Richard Dewey
TBD
Post Production
⬇ #91
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