Weekly Roundup: Oct 17, 2020

Your handy one-stop-shop for film news, interviews, articles, and videos from the week that was.

With our 39th edition of VIFF now successfully wrapped, we turn our attention back to our year-round activities, including getting the Weekly Roundup back up and running.

The New York Film Festival also recently drew the curtain on their annual showcase of cinema. With movie theatres in the city that never sleeps remaining dark, the event largely played out online and at drive-ins. Left in its wake is an impressive trove of podcast interviews with the likes of Steve McQueen, Spike Lee, Chloé Zhao, Sofia Coppola and countless others talking about their latest work.

Meanwhile, DOC NYC has just announced their expansive 2020 lineup, which includes 107 feature length docs, 23 of which are world premieres. Basil Tsiokos, the festival’s Director of Programming, said, “Documentary film has never felt so vital as in these tumultuous times.”

Some of you might recall that VIFF launched our pandemic-era online programming with a VIFF Talk featuring acclaimed documentarian Alex Gibney. In the months since, Gibney teamed with co-directors Suzanne Hillinger and Ophelia Harutyunyan and worked in secret to produce Totally Under Control, an incendiary examination of the Trump administration’s mismanagement of the current crisis. As Gibney tells Variety, “This film was made to investigate and hold to account public officials on how they handled the coronavirus.” He goes on to explain how the collaborators worked to ensure that the documentary could be launched in time for the upcoming American election so that people can “vote accordingly.”

November 3 also looms large in the thoughts of Astra Taylor, director of What Is Documentary? (an official selection at VIFF 2018). Writing for the NFB blog, she reflects on how she wishes she’d paid more attention to the role of pandemics in democracy when making her film. “What Is Democracy? repeatedly harks back to ancient Athens and pre-Renaissance Siena… Guess what befell both those cities, Athens and Siena, during the periods I examine? Plagues.”

On a more optimistic note: Ted Hope boasts one of the most dynamic resumes in the film world, having served as an independent film producer, Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society and head of production at Amazon Original Movies. So, it carries some weight when he exclaims, “We are on the verge of the best time for filmmakers that we’ve ever had.”

That proclamation came at a recent London Film Festival session entitled “Where Do We Go From Here?” The industry-centric panel also touched on issues of gender equality, diversity and inclusion. These values form the foundation of Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY, a distribution and advocacy collective focused on films by people of colour and women. ARRAY Releasing has just snapped up the rights to Funny Boy, VIFF mainstay Deepa Mehta’s adaptation of Shyam Selvadurai’s novel.

Finally, this past week saw the release of Don Hertzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow Episode Three: The Absent Destinations of David Prime. As Hertzfeldt tells IndieWire, a good amount of the extensive world building for his animated opus was actually erased by his playful cat. The finished film is now available to rent on Vimeo. We leave you with a preview.

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