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What’s Up Doc?: Sheffield & AFI Docs Signal the Summer Fest Drought

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What’s Up Doc?: Sheffield & AFI Docs Signal the Summer Fest Drought

Well folks, after a rather long and brutal winter (at least for me here in Buffalo), we are finally heading into the wonderful warmth of summer, but with that blast of sunshine and steamy humidity comes the mid-year drought of major film fests. After the Sheffield Doc/Fest concludes on June 10th and AFI Docs wraps on June 21st, we likely won’t see any major influx in our charts until Locarno, Venice, Telluride and TIFF announce their line-ups in rapid succession. In the meantime, we can look forward to the intriguing onslaught of films making their debut in Sheffield, including Brian Hill’s intriguing examination of Sweden’s most notorious serial killer, The Confessions of Thomas Quick, and Sean McAllister’s film for which he himself was jailed in the process of making, A Syrian Love Story, the only two films world premiering in the festival’s main competition. Out of competition, we get the likes of Benedikt Erlingsson’s opening night oddity The Greatest Shows on Earth: A Century of Funfairs, Circuses and Carnivals which was scored by Georg Hólm and Orri Páll Dýrason of Sigur Rós and the Head of the Pagan Church in Iceland, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, as well as Addicted to Sheep (see trailer below) by director Magali Pettier, a film that appears to be the aesthetic anti-thesis to Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor’s Sweetgrass.

This past month we saw Cannes set ablaze with Kent Jones and Asif Kapadia’s much anticipated films Hitchcock/Truffaut and Amy, respectively, yet in the midst of all the red carpet hub-bub filmmakers Werner Herzog, Ron Howard, Matt Tyrnauer and Jason Aron each quietly previewed snippets of their projects that are currently in production for potential buyers. Herzog screened a portion of his latest cinematic incapsulation of man vs the wild in Into The Inferno (see still above and festival flyer below), while Howard presented unseen footage of early performances from his still untitled Beatles’ touring years doc in anticipation of hot international sales. Tyrnauer and Aron on the other hand screened segments of their films, Scotty and Back in Time, both of which focus on Hollywood history – Tyrnauer’s, according to Hollywood Reporter, “An adaptation of Scotty Bowers’ sex-fueled Hollywood tell-all Full Service…that recounts the sex lives of a slew of icons including Cary Grant, Vivien Leigh and Katharine Hepburn”, while Aron’s revisits the Back to the Future film franchise.

intotheinferno

While festivals surely incite excitement about upcoming films, plenty of films on this list fly mostly under the radar, only popping up occasionally in social media or local news stories. One such film that recently resurfaced was Annie Waldman and Daniel Patrick Carbone’s Phantom Cowboys, which recently received a new trailer (see below and compare it to an initial, radically different extended trailer that was released a couple years back) that seems to revel in ethereal landscape portraiture while recalling Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo’s recent rural-living Sundance Grand Prize winner Rich Hill.

Playing on the same general tone and aesthetic as Waldman and Carbone’s production while literally touching on the idea of scenic portraiture in the title of her film, Brett Story’s The Prison in Twelve Landscapes also saw its first teaser (see below) hit the web recently. The film explores the idea of confining institutions through social observation while never actually showing an actual prison. Story was recently awarded the inaugural New Visions Award from the DOC Institute.

And finally, there are plenty of crowdfunding campaigns currently in full swing (go help finish Orson Welles’ unfinished final film right now!), a pair of which have been inching up this list for some time. After securing capital from the Sundance Documentary Fund, The Catapult Film Grant and a Jerome Foundation Grant, Justin Schein (director of No Impact Man) renamed his film Left on Purpose (formally titled The Last Go Round) and set up a Kickstarter that was almost fully funded in just a matter of days and still has several weeks to go. At the same time, director Shalini Kantayya’s needs the cash to cover the costs of archival clearances, composer fees, color, sound and mastering to have her film, Catching the Sun, ready for its LA Film Festival premiere next month and is still in dire need of help.

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 my 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
TBD
Production
⬆ #2
2
Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time
Robert Weide & Don Argott
Robert Weide
Production
⬆ #3
3
The Greatest Shows on Earth: A Century of Funfairs, Circuses and Carnivals
Benedikt Erlingsson
Vanessa Toulmin, Heather Croall, Mark Atkin, Margret Jonasdottir
Sheffield Doc/Fest Preem
⭑ New!
4
He Named Me Malala
Davis Guggenheim
Laurie MacDonald, Walter F. Parkes
Completed
⬆ #7
5
In Jackson Heights
Frederick Wiseman
Frederick Wiseman
Post Production
⬆ #8
6
Dear John Grierson: A Postscript to The Story of Film
Mark Cousins
TBD
Production
⬆ #9
7
LoveTrue
Alma Har’el
Alma Har’el, Christopher Leggett, Rafael Marmor and Rhea Scott
Post Production
⬆ #14
8
The Confessions of Thomas Quick
Brian Hill
Katie Bailiff
Sheffield Doc/Fest Preem
⭑ New!
9
Into the Inferno
Werner Herzog
TBD
Production
⬆ #29
10
License to Krill
David Sington
Heather Walsh
Sheffield Doc/Fest Preem
New!
11
Sarah
Tracy Droz Tragos
TBD
Production
⬇#10
12
The Babushkas of Chernobyl
Holly Morris & Anne Bogart
Holly Morris & Anne Bogart
LA Film Fest Preem
⬆ #65
13
The Promise of My Brother’s Keeper
Dawn Porter
TBD
AFI Docs Preem
⭑ New!
14
Addicted to Sheep
Magali Pettier
Jan Cawood, Magali Pettier
Sheffield Doc/Fest Preem
⭑ New!
15
The Flickering Flame
Jim Loach
TBD
Production
⬇#11
16
Salam Neighbor
Zach Ingrasci, Chris Temple
Salam Darwaza, Zach Ingrasci, Mohab Khattab, Chris Temple
AFI Docs Preem
⭑ New!
17
Diamond, Silver and Gold
Jason Kohn
Jared I. Goldman, Amanda Branson Gill
Production
 ⬇#12
18
Untitled Grateful Dead Doc
Amir Bar-Lev
Martin Scorsese, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Andrew Heller, Sanford Heller, and Rick Yorn
Post Production
⬇#15
19
A Syrian Love Story
Sean McAllister
Elhum Shakerifar, Sean McAllister
Sheffield Doc/Fest Preem
⭑ New!
20
The Settlers
Shimon Dotan
TBD
Production
⬇#16
21
Beatles Touring Doc
Ron Howard
Nigel Sinclair
Post Production
⬇#19
22
Hustlers Convention
Mike Todd
Quenell Jones, Lathan Hodge, Mike Todd, Geseth Garcia
Sheffield Doc/Fest Preem
⭑ New!
23
Mixed Feelings
Guy Davidi
Anna Somershaf, Kristian Mosvold
Production
⭑ New!
24
Catching the Sun
Shalini Kantayya
TBD
LA Film Fest Preem
⬆ #41
25
Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché
Pamela Green & Jarik van Sluijs
Robert Redford – exec producer
Post Production
⬇#18
26
Strong Island
Yance Ford
Esther Robinson
Post Production
⬇#20
27
A Better Man
Attiya Khan & Lawrence Jackman
Sarah Polley – exec producer, Christine Kleckner
Post Production
⬇#13
28
Untitled Iggy Pop doc
Jim Jarmusch
TBD
Production
⬇#25
29
Being George Clooney
Paul Mariano
Christine O’Malley, Rivkah Beth Medow
Completed
⬆ #54
30
Les Blank: A Quiet Revelation
Gina Leibrecht
Harrod Blank
Production
⬇#21
31
Home Movie
Chantal Akerman
TBD
Production
⬇#22
32
Rose
Ben Rivers
TBD
Production
⬇#24
33
Uncle Andy: The Andy Warhol Family Film
Abby Warhola & Jesse Best
TBD
Production
⬇#27
34
Rats NYC
Morgan Spurlock
Morgan Spurlock & Jeremy Chilnick – exec producers
Pre-Production
⬇#28
35
The Island and the Whales
Mike Day
TBD
Post Production
⬇#30
36
Command and Control
Robert Kenner
Robert Kenner, Eric Schlosser, Melissa Robledo
Production
⬇#31
37
Ring Girls
Amy Berg
TBD
Post Production
⬇#26
38
Untitled Missouri Doc
Rebecca Cammisa
TBD
Production
⬇#33
39
Mythical Creatures
David Charles
Lanette Philips
Post Production
⬇#36
40
The Three Hikers
Natalie Avital
Natalie Avital, Denise Bohdan, Bobby Field, Christian Johnston, Sara McCabe, Jeremy W. Ward
AFI Docs Preem
⭑ New!
41
Trapped
Dawn Porter
TBD
Production
⬆ #51
42
David Millar Project
Finlay Pretsell
Iain Smith, Sonja Henrici
Production
⬇#34
43
Driving with Selvi
Elisa Paloschi
TBD
Post Production
⬇#35
44
Janis: Little Blue Girl
Amy Berg
TBD
Production
⬇#32
45
Gun Runners
Anjali Nayar
Annette Clarke, Kat Baulu
Post Production
⬇#37
46
Left on Purpose
Justin Schein
Eden Wurmfeld
Post Production
⬆ #109
47
Ask the Sexpert
Vaishali Sinha
TBD
Production
⬆ #59
48
The Prison in Twelve Landscapes
Brett Story
TBD
Production
⬇#45
49
So Help You God
Ashley York
TBD
Post Production
⬆ #97
50
Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four
Deborah Esquenazi
TBD
Post Production
⬇#38

Legend:

New to Chart
No Change
Position Increase
Position Drop

#
Film Title 
Filmmaker(s)
Producer(s) 
Status
Last Month’s Ranking
51
Pieces of a Man
Orlando Bagwell
TBD
Production
⬇#40
52
The Lovers and the Despot
Robert Cannan & Ross Adam
TBD
Pre-Production
⬆ #57
53
Night School
Andrew Cohn
Steve Bannatyne, Jason Orans, Zachary Shields, Louis Venezia
Production
⬇#42
54
Mudflow
Cynthia Wade and Sasha Friedlander
Cynthia Wade, Sasha Friedlander, Tracie Holder (Co-Producer)
Production
⬇#43
55
Logs of War
Anjali Nayar and Hawa Essuman
Steven Markovitz, Anjali Nayar, Jonathan Stack (Executive Producer), Edward Zwick (Executive Producer)
Production
⬇#44
56
On the Outside: The Year After Prison
Matthew O’Neill
John Kennedy, Cynthia Farrar, Jon Alpert, Shannon Sonenstein Sonrouille, Reina Higashitani, Matthew O’Neill
Production
⬇#46
57
52: The Search for the Loneliest Whale in the World
Joshua Zeman
TBD
Production
⬆ #113
58
Buena Vistasocial Club – Adios
Lucy Walker
Christine Cowin and Zak Kilberg
Announced
⭑ New!
59
Cocaine Prison
Violeta Ayala
TBD
Production
⬇#47
60
El Poeta
Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega
TBD
Post Production
⬆ #136
61
Hispaniola
Michele Stephenson & Joe Brewster
Lea Marin
Pre-Production
⭑ New!
62
Unseen Enemy
Janet Tobias & Cesar Charlone
Janet Tobias, Michael Ehrenzweig, Peter W. Klein and Rogger Lopez
Production
⬇#50
63
The Murder and the Journalists
Francisco Bello
Rebecca Richman Cohen
Pre-Production
⬇#49
64
The Marion Stokes Project
Matt Wolf
TBD
Production
⭑ New!
65
Dream Away
Marouan Omara & Johanna Domke
TBD
Production
⬇#61
66
NIGHT/vision
Eva Weber
Elhum Shakerifar & Nicole Stott
Production
⬇#52
67
Phantom Cowboys
Annie P. Waldman & Daniel Carbone
Ryan Scafuro
Post-Production
 ⬇#53
68
Block Seven
Jordie Montevecchi
TBD
Production
⬇#55
69
The New Missionaries
Yoav Shamir
TBD
Production
⬇#56
70
Big Sonia
Leah Warshawski & Todd Soliday
TBD
Post Production
⬇#63
71
Road to Home
Calvin Skaggs
Cal Skaggs, Ashley Panzera (Associate Producer)
Production
⬇#60
72
The Life, The Sea and The Space Viking
Nelly Ben Hayoun
Nelly Ben Hayoun
Production
⬆ #75
73
Scotty
Matt Tyrnauer
Josh Braun
Production
⭑ New!
74
Count Me In
Ines Sommer
TBD
Production
⬇#62
75
Survivors
Banker White & Arthur Pratt
TBD
Production
⬇#64
76
Paris to Pyongyang
Helen Lee
Anita Lee
Pre-Production
⭑ New!
77
The Return
Kelly Duane de la Vega & Katie Galloway
TBD
Production
⬇#66
78
Death by Design
Sue Williams
Sue Williams, Hilary Steinman, Julie Goldman, Diana Barrett (Executive Producer), Victoria Wang (Executive Producer), Dan Cogan (Executive Producer)
Production
⬇#67
79
Untitled composer Ennio Morricone doc
Giuseppe Tornatore
Bobby Păunescu, Dragoṣ Săvulescu, George Shu and Serena Menarini
Announced
⭑ New!
80
This Changes Everything
Avi Lewis
TBD
Post Production
⬆ #130
81
People from Nowhere
Jaak Kilmi
Antra Gaile
Post Production
⬇#68
82
What Tomorrow Brings
Beth Murphy
TBD
Post Production
⬆ #133
83
Cheer The F**k Up
Christy Garland
Liisa Juntunen
Production
⬇#69
84
Les habitants
Raymond Depardon
TBD
Production
⭑ New!
85
The Oakland Police Project
Peter Nicks
TBD
Production
⭑ New!
86
Beyond Freightened
Rose Kowalski
Marieke van den Bersselaar
Production
⬇#76
87
The Brainwashing of My Dad
Jen Senko
TBD
Post Production
⬇#70
88
The Holly
Julian Rubinstein
TBD
Production
⬇#71
89
Whistle Blower
German Gutierrez
Kat Baulu
Pre-Production
⭑ New!
90
Afterglow
Noemi Veronika Szakonyi
Julianna Ugrin
Production
⬇#88
91
Return to Timbuktu
Michael Meredith
Alex Gibney
Production
⬇#72
92
Theatre of Life
Peter Svatek
Annette Clarke
Pre-Production
⭑ New!
93
Down By Law
George Amponsah
TBD
Post Production
⬇#73
94
Miller’s Justice League Mortal
Ryan Unicomb
Aaron Cater, Steven Caldwell
Announced
⭑ New!
95
Playing God
Karin Jurschick
TBD
Production
⬇#74
96
Proposition for a Revolution
Khushboo Ranka & Vinay Shukla
Ruchi Bhimani, Anand Gandhi, Joris van Wijk
Post Production
⬇#77
97
The Skin of the Sky is Burning
Tom Radford
Bonnie Thompson
Pre-Production
⭑ New!
98
The Jazz Ambassadors
Hugo Berkeley
TBD
Production
⬇#81
99
Grassroots In Drylands
Helene Klodawsky
Kat Baulu
Production
⭑ New!
100
Learning to Forget
Kaspar Astrup Schröder
Katherine Sahlstrom
Production
⭑ New!

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