What’s Up Doc?: Pennebaker/Hegedus & Malick Voyage to the Top in November

kasuma

It’s been a couple months since the last edition of What’s Up Doc? placed Michael Moore’s surprise world premiere of Where To Invade Next at the top of this list and in the meantime much shuffling has taken place and much time has been spent on various new endeavors (namely my Buffalo-based film series, Cultivate Cinema Circle). Finally taking its rightful place at the top, D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hagedus’ Unlocking the Cage is in the midst of being scored by composer James Lavino, according to Lavino’s own personal site. Though the project has been taking shape at its own leisurely pace, I’d expect to see the film making its festival debut in early 2016.

Right behind, the American direct cinema masters is a Texan soon to make his non-fiction debut with Voyage of Time. Just two weeks ago indieWIRE reported that Ennio Morricone, who scored Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven way back in 1978, would be reteaming with the elusive filmmaker for his long in the works doc on the creation of the universe. Additionally, it now seems there will be two versions of the film: “a 40-minute IMAX version narrated by Brad Pitt which will be delivered first, and a feature length edit narrated by Cate Blanchett.” If this doesn’t turn out to be another Malick masterpiece, I’ll at least be looking forward to the eventual making-of doc featuring lawsuits and all.

A handful of films made a splash onto the list after my fairly recent discovery of Dogwoof’s in-production site, including what looks to be shaping up as an impressive feature debut by Heather Lenz on the life and career of the Japanese outsider artist Yayoi Kusama. Utilizing a wealth of beautiful archival materials and key curatorial interviewees like Frances Morris of the Tate Modern to tell the story of Kusama’s journey from pop art fame (rivaling Andy Warhol at the time) through the halls of a Tokyo mental institution and back again, KUSAMA: Princess of Polka Dots (see clip and still above) looks to be nearing its completion, having taken part in Film Independent’s documentary lab back in 2013. Also on Dogwoof’s slate is Werner Herzog’s volcano doc Into The Inferno (see still of Herzog in production below), which we’ve been keeping tabs on, has made its way to the #3 spot on this list and is tentatively scheduled for a 2016 release.

Looking further down the list at new additions, directors Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack recently launched an ambitious Kickstarter campaign to raise capital for the production of their new film on the life of Dr. Maya Angelou, simply titled, The Maya Angelou Documentary (see clip above). With the support of executive producers Michael Kantor, Reuben Cannon and Marquetta Glass, who has successfully worked on previous Angelou projects, the film looks to have all the makings of a lavish and moving bio-docs about a most deserving African American woman who helped to forge a path in writing and filmmaking. With several weeks to go, the campaign still seeks more than half of its $150,000 goal, but I expect them to surpass the finish line with flying colors.

herzog-into-the-inferno

And while films like The Maya Angelou Documentary are just getting started, others like Katy Grannan’s The Nine are nearing completion. Just a few weeks ago Grannan and her team screened the film’s gorgeously poetic trailer (see below) at Rooftop Films in New York City after having taken part in the Independent Filmmaker Project’s (IFP) 2015 Documentary Labs. After four years in production the film, which according to the IFP press doc labs press release, “depicts a fallen Neverland where ruined lives exist in parallel with the sublime, and the lines blur between the fantasy of one woman’s imagination and the brutal reality she cannot escape,” recently reached picture lock and should be submitting to winter and spring festivals right about now.

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 and Rosadel Varela
Post Production
⬆ #3
2
Voyage of Time
Terrence Malick
Dede Gardner, Nicolas Gonda, Sarah Green, Grant Hill, Brad Pitt, Bill Pohlad, Andreas Roald, Sophokles Tasioulis
Post Production
⬆ #8
3
Into The Inferno
Werner Herzog
André Singer EP: Lucki Stipetić, Vanessa Dylyn
Production
⬆#7
4
Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time
Robert Weide & Don Argott
Robert Weide
Production
5
LoveTrue
Alma Har’el
Alma Har’el, Christopher Leggett, Rafael Marmor, Rhea Scott
Post Production
⬆#6
6
Dear John Grierson: A Postscript to The Story of Film
Mark Cousins
TBD
Production
⬇#5
7
Ronaldo
Anthony Wonke
Paul Martin. EP: James Gay-Rees & Asif Kapadia
Nov 9th Preem
⬆#85
8
Untitled Iggy Pop doc
Jim Jarmusch
TBD
Post Production
⬆#20
9
Contemporary Color
Bill & Turner Ross
Bill & Turner Ross
Post Production
⭑New!
10
Amazing Grace
Sydney Pollack
Alan Elliott. EP: Joey Carey, Stefan Nowicki
Completed
⭑New!
11
Untitled Justin Timberlake concert docu
Jonathan Demme
TBD
Production
⭑New!
12
Beatles Touring Doc
Ron Howard
Nigel Sinclair
Production
⬇#10
13
Ken Loach: Untitled
Louise Osmond
Rebecca O’Brien
Production
⬇#9
14
Shanghai Youth
Wang Bing
Eugenio Renzi, Sonia Buchman, Nicolas R. De La Mothe
Production
⭑New!
15
Untitled Grateful Dead Doc
Amir Bar-Lev
Martin Scorsese, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Andrew Heller, Sanford Heller, Rick Yorn
Post Production
⬇#13
16
Mixed Feelings
Guy Davidi
Anna Somershaf, Kristian Mosvold
Production
⬆#15
17
Holy Cow
Imam Hasanov
Veronika Janatkova/Andra Popescu
IDFA Preem
⬆#96
18
Kate Plays Christine
Robert Greene
Douglas Tirola, Susan Bedusa
Post Production
⭑New!
19
The Return
Kelly Duane de la Vega & Katie Galloway
Ariella Ben-Dov
Production
⬆#87
20
Becoming Zlatan
Fredrik Gertten, Magnus Gertten
TBD
IDFA Preem
⭑New!
21
Be Natural: The untold story of Alice Guy-Blaché
Pamela Green & Jarik van Sluijs
EP: Robert Redford
Post Production
⬇#16
22
Once And For All
Michael Epstein, Dyllan McGee
Sara Wolitzky
DOC NYC Preem
⭑New!
23
Strong Island
Yance Ford
Esther Robinson
Post Production
⬇#18
24
All Rise
Jay Shapiro, Jeffrey Saunders
Jeffrey Saunders
DOC NYC Preem
⭑New!
25
Sarah
Tracy Droz Tragos
TBD
Production
⬇#11
26
Getting Personal
Doug Block
Doug Block
Production
⭑New!
27
The Ties That Bind
Thom Zimny
Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau, Barbara Carr, Thom Zimny, Zachary Russo, Glen Zipper
DOC NYC Preem
⭑New!
28
Bluespace
Ian Cheney
Ian Cheney
DOC NYC Preem
⭑New!
29
The Dying of the Light
Peter Flynn
Peter Flynn
DOC NYC Preem
⭑New!
30
Les Blank: A Quiet Revelation
Gina Leibrecht, Harrod Blank
Harrod Blank
Production
⬇#22
31
Checks and Balances
Malek Bensmaïl
Malek Bensmaïl
IDFA Preem
⭑New!
32
Buena Vista Social Club: Adios
Lucy Walker
Christine Cowin, Zak Kilberg. EP: Wim Wenders
Pre-Production
⬆#52
33
The Sunshine Maker
Cosmo Feilding Mellen
George Chignel, Nicole Stott, Connie Littlefield
DOC NYC Preem
⭑New!
34
The Settlers
Shimon Dotan
TBD
Production
⬇#14
35
Bo66y the Movie
Ron Scalpello
Matt Lorenzo and Bennett McGhee
Production
⭑New!
36
Ask the Sexpert
Vaishali Sinha
TBD
Production
⬆#45
37
Unseen Enemy
Janet Tobias & Cesar Charlone
Janet Tobias, Michael Ehrenzweig, Peter W. Klein and Rogger Lopez
Production
⬆#59
38
Dick Gregory: How to Survive in America
Andre Gaines
TBD
Production
⭑New!
39
Trapped
Dawn Porter
Marilyn Ness, Summer Damon
Post Production
⬆#23
40
Sky Line
Miguel Drake-McLaughlin, Jonny Leahan
Robert Wood
DOC NYC Preem
⭑New!
41
Uncle Andy: The Andy Warhol Family Film
Abby Warhola & Jesse Best
TBD
Production
⬇#25
42
David Millar Project
Finlay Pretsell
Iain Smith, Sonja Henrici
Production
⬇#26
43
Rats NYC
Morgan Spurlock
EP: Morgan Spurlock & Jeremy Chilnick
Pre-Production
⬇#27
44
The Reagan Years
Pacho Velez
Sierra Pettengill
Post Production
⬇#28
45
A Better Man
Attiya Khan & Lawrence Jackman
Christine Kleckner, EP: Sarah Polley
Post Production
⬇#19
46
Sour Grapes
Jerry Rothwell and Reuben Atlas
TBD
Production
⭑New!
47
A Family Affair
Tom Fassaert
Wout Conijn
IDFA Preem
⭑New!
48
The Anthropologist
Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, Jeremy Newberger
Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, Jeremy Newberger
DOC NYC Preem
⭑New!
49
Command and Control
Robert Kenner
Robert Kenner, Eric Schlosser, Melissa Robledo
Production
⬇#30
50
Kusama: Life in Polka Dots
Heather Lenz
Dan Braun, Karen Johnson, David Koh, Heather Lenz
Post Production
⭑New!

Legend:

New to Chart
No Change
Position Increase
Position Drop

 

#
Film Title 
Filmmaker(s)
Producer(s) 
Status
Last Month’s Ranking
51
Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four
Deborah Esquenazi
Deborah Esquenazi and Sam Tabet
Post Production
⬇#47
52
Ring Girls
Amy Berg
TBD
Post Production
⬇#50
53
Ukrainian Sheriffs
Roman Bondarchuk
Uldis Cekulis, Darya Averchenko, Tanja Georgieva
IDFA Preem
⬆#180
54
Diamond, Silver and Gold
Jason Kohn
Jared I. Goldman, Amanda Branson Gill
Production
⬇#12
55
Cheer Up
Christy Garland
Liisa Juntunen
Production
⬆#92
56
The Lovers and the Despot
Robert Cannan & Ross Adam
Sandra Whipham
Post Production
⬇#34
57
Hispaniola
Michele Stephenson & Joe Brewster
Lea Marin
Production
⬆#58
58
The Bad Kids
Keith Fulton, Lou Pepe
Keith Fulton, Lou Pepe, Molly O’Brien
Post Production
⬆#98
59
Can We Take a Joke?
Ted Balaker
Courtney Balaker, Ted Balaker, Zach Weissmueller
DOC NYC Preem
⭑New!
60
Mudflow
Cynthia Wade and Sasha Friedlander
Cynthia Wade, Sasha Friedlander. Co-Prod: Tracie Holder
Production
⬇#55
61
The Island and the Whales
Mike Day
TBD
Post Production
⬇#27
62
The Maya Angelou Documentary
Bob Hercules, Rita Coburn Whack
Chris Gardner, Raymond Lambert
Post Production
⭑New!
63
My Own Private River
Gus Vant Sant, James Franco
Unknown
Unknown
⭑New!
64
Big Sonia
Leah Warshawski, Todd Soliday
TBD
Post Production
⬇#60
65
The Prison in Twelve Landscapes
Brett Story
TBD
Post Production
⬇#37
66
Vivienne Westwood: Get a Life
Lorna Tucker
TBD
Production
⬇#37
67
The Corridors of Power
Dror Moreh
TBD
Production
⭑New!
68
So Help You God
Ashley York
TBD
Post Production
⬇#46
69
To the Amazon
Clare Weiskopf
Nicolas Van Hemelryck
Production
⬆#75
70
Night School
Andrew Cohn
Steve Bannatyne, Jason Orans, Zachary Shields, Louis Venezia
Production
⬇#53
71
Cocaine Prison
Violeta Ayala
TBD Producer 21
Post Production
⬇#54
72
My Curious Documentary
Adam Low
TBD
Production
⭑New!
73
Stolen Innocence
Chris Davis
Casey Allred
Production
⬆#143
74
Gun Runners
Anjali Nayar
Annette Clarke, Kat Baulu
Post Production
⬇#44
75
What Tomorrow Brings
Beth Murphy
Beth Murphy
Post Production
⬇#67
76
Untitled Frank Zappa Docu
Alex Winter
Alex Winter, Glen Zipper
Announced
⭑New!
77
Fixing Dad
Ian and Anthony Whitington
TBD
Completed
⬇#43
78
Young
Magnus Gertten, Fredrik Gertten
TBD
Production
⭑New!
79
The Arrivals
Heidi Ewing
TBD
Production
⬆#95
80
League of Exotique Dancers
Rama Rau
Ed Barreveld
Post Production
⬆#132
81
Untitled Missouri Doc
Rebecca Cammisa
TBD
Production
⬇#32
82
Out of Mind
Kristi Jacobson
TBD
Post Production
⬆#113
83
The Earth Moves
John Walter
Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Russell Smith
Production
⬇#78
84
For the Love of Spock
Adam Nimoy
David Zappone, Kevin Layne, Joseph Kornbrodt
Pre-Production
⬇#66
85
The Immortal Diana Kennedy
Elizabeth Carrol
TBD
Production
⭑New!
86
The Marion Stokes Project
Matt Wolf
Kyle Martin
Production
⬇#57
87
The Nine
Katy Grannan
TBD
Post Production
⬆#108
88
This is America
Amy Berg
TBD
Production
⬆#138
89
Mythical Creatures
David Charles
Lanette Philips
Post Production
⬇#35
90
Dense City
Michael Bernard & Gavin Froome
Leah Mallen
Production
⬆#163
91
Chris Burden: Double Bind
Tim Marrinan, Richard Dewey
TBD
Production
⭑New!
92
Mammoth
Chad Gracia
Mike Lerner
Pre-Production
⭑New!
93
The Road from Hainan
Nanfu Wang
Nanfu Wang
Post Production
⬆#128
94
Forgiveness
Elizabeth Stopford
TBD
Production
⭑New!
95
Raising Bertie
Margaret Byrne
Margaret Byrne, Jon Stuyvesant
Post Production
⬆#134
96
This is Congo
Daniel McCabe
Geoff McLean
Post Production
⭑New!
97
The Bill Nye Film
David Alvarado, Jason Sussberg
Seth Gordon, Nick Pampenella
Production
⭑New!
98
Selling Our Daughters
Josie Swantek & Dave Adams
TBD
Post Production
⬆#162
99
Notfilm
Ross Lipman
Amy Heller, Dennis Doros
Post Production
⭑New!
100
The Oakland Police Project
Peter Nicks
TBD
Production
⬇#69