News in Brief

TIFF announces Doc Salon; IFP reveals its doc lineup; The rebuilding of Ground Zero is recorded for posterity
August 22, 2002

The complete program has been announced for the Toronto International Film Festival, which takes place from September 5 to 14. The details were revealed at a press conference in Toronto, Canada held August 20, and although the documentary lineup had been previously released (see RealScren Plus, August 8), there was still news for the factual community. Most significantly, this year’s festival will debut Telefilm Canada News and Views, an intimate forum for discussing the issues and trends effecting the film industry. Within this forum is a special program titled Doc Salon (sponsored by the National Film Board of Canada), which will focus on the factual film industry. Additionally, Michael Moore>‘s Bowling for Columbine will enjoy its North American premiere as a festival Special Presentation. A total of 344 films will screen in the festival’s 27th year (3,024 submissions were received). Features screening in a language other than English number 143, or 54 per cent of the feature film lineup.

The films chosen to participate in the Spotlight on Documentaries section of this year’s IFP Market (September 27 to October 4) have been announced. A total of 92 docs were selected, 60 of which are works-in-progress that will screen in 30-minute slots at New York’s Angelika Film Center. The completed films count 12 shorts and 20 features. The Spotlight on Documentaries program focuses on emerging filmmakers, but is not exclusive to them. Among the established filmmakers with projects at IFP are Liz Garbus with Girl Hood, Ross McElwee with Bright Leaves, Peter Friedman with The Big Pictur, Tony Silver with Arisman Facing the Audience, and Tod Lending with Abandoned: The True Story of the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and its Survivors. Emerging filmmakers attending the Market include Matthew Buzzell with Jimmy Scott: If You Only Knew, which also screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in May; Katja Esson, who returns to IFP this year with Ferry Tales; Jon Shenk and Megan Mylan, who will attend with their work-in-progress film The Lost Boys of Sudan; and actor-turned-filmmaker Josh Pais, who will screen 7th Street, produced by Catherine Scheinman.

Several remote 35 mm film cameras are recording the rebuilding of Ground Zero in New York, leading to an immense film archive that the project’s producers hope will accumulate until 2009. Capturing images every five minutes, Hollywood, U.S.-based Imagine Entertainment intends to install the films at a museum, possibly even at the site. The project began in May with three cameras; three more will be added by September 11, The New York Times says. Each camera can produce 735,000 hours of footage in seven years. The producers hope to make 20-minute films from each camera, and air them simultaneously on six screens. The observations of 10 New Yorkers affected by 9/11 will also be recorded once a year, and inserted in the stories.

A nation-wide poll of 1,100 people in the U.S. has found that consumers are not put off by the idea of television ads on September 11. USA Today, citing results by RoperASW, reports that 36 per cent of respondents say ads should run ‘as usual,’ and 25 per cent says they are comfortable with marketing spots as long as they don’t appear during commemoration programs. Twenty per cent say no ads are acceptable, and another 13 per cent say only public service advertisements should appear. Broadcasters say they face loosing up to US$60 million in revenue if ads are embargoed completely. The New York Times reports that cable channels such as A&E and The History Channel will go black for much of the morning, while Discovery Networks and BBC America plan to air commercial-free programs.

A suit has been filed against Discovery Communications in connection with a television docudrama the Discovery Channel aired between 1998 and 2002 titled Behind Enemy Lines: The Scott O’Grady Story. Scott O’Grady, the shot-down U.S. pilot that escaped from Bosnia and filed the suit, claims he did not authorize the program. He alleges the company profited from his story without securing the proper rights, and damaged the commercial value of his name. Movie studio Twentieth Century Fox is also named in the suit for its film Behind Enemy Lines. Discovery declined to comment.

Jericho, N.Y.-based IFC Entertainment has closed its Next Wave Films division and moved Next Wave’s projects to its IFC Films and InDigEnt units. The change was effective immediately. In a prepared statement, Jonathan Sehring, president of IFC Entertainment, said ‘Unfortunately, the domestic and international marketplace for low budget independent films has changed dramatically in the past few years.’ Next Wave Films provided funds for the Academy Award nominated doc Sound and Fury.

Seattle, U.S.-based digital media company Corbis is launching a unit that specializes in film footage. Starting September 1, Corbis Motion will open for business managing rights and royalty fees for properties such as Hot Shots, Action Sports Adventure and Film Bank. The unit is built upon the assets Corbis received through the purchase of footage company Sekani earlier this year.

The Gurin Company, the U.S. prodco that exec produces The Weakest Link, has signed a non-exclusive agreement with Carlton Television in the U.K. to develop and produce TV projects for their domestic markets. Last May, the two companies partnered with British prodco Action Time, to produce the dating series It’s a Love Thing and the reality show Ransacked.

The kick-off episode of the six-part BBC living-history program that recreates Captain Cook’s 18th century voyage to Australia drew 3.4 million viewers in the U.K. August 20, according to early statistics. The audience for The Ship beat BBC2′s average ratings, drawing 2 million more viewers than in the same 9 p.m. time slot a week earlier, reports The Guardian. The show follows 41 volunteers ranging from scientific experts to pure adventurers on their sail on a historically accurate Endeavor. Despite the strong turn out, the newspaper cited figures that showed The Ship failed to sink ITV‘s Tourists From Hell reality show about Brits behaving badly on foreign soil; Hell drew 6.3 million people, netting a 29 per cent audience share.

BBC1‘s fall productions cost £243 million (US$369 million), and is highlighted by a live broadcast from a submersible for The Abyss – Live . Other factual highlights include Cracking Crime, which the Beeb says, ‘Is a detailed investigation into the true picture of crime in the U.K.’ As part of the focus, BBC1 is dedicating most of one day’s airtime to the topic. Lastly, in the vein of Pop Idol, Fame Academy is billed as ‘the ultimate training academy for raw, undiscovered talent.’

BBC2 also announced its £106 million (US$161 million) fall lineup. What’s Your Problem? will link dramas and documentaries that look at disabilities such as hearing impairment, blindness and surviving thalidomide. Great Britons seeks to find out who viewers in the U.K. think are the standout citizens of their country; it is hosted by Anne Robinson and will end with a live program in which viewers decide who are the 10 best of the best. True Spies, presented by investigative reporter Peter Taylor, takes a look at the world of British secret services. The Entertainers (w/t) follows the daily grind of ‘suburban celebrities.’ Arena: Harold Pinter is a two-part ‘filmic’ biography of Pinter’s life and work.

BBC4 has commissioned several programs for the fall to mark the Earth Summit being held in Johannesburg, South Africa at the end of August. The shows investigate how much progress has been made on the environmental front since the 1992 summit in Rio. In The Skeptical Environmentalist, Danish scientist Bjorn Lomborg explains why he has turned his back on the environmental campaigners; The Bushmen’s Last Dance takes a look the lives of aboriginal groups living in Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve; Children of Rio documents the lives of a dozen ten-year-olds from around the world born at the time of the 1992 summit; State of the Planet, with David Attenborough, is a two-hour version of the three-part series State of the Planet, first broadcast in November 2000. The Earth Summit package includes a series of six 10-minute docs: Rainforest Refugees, Death on the Reef, Desert Revival, Killer Shrimps, The End of the River and The Flacon’s Warning.

Freeview is the name of the new, free-to-view terrestrial digital television service born of the alliance between the BBC and Crown Castle. Unveiled this week, the service should be launched in the fall, and carry The History Channel U.K., and BBC4, the Beeb says.

In yet further BBC news, the U.K. pubcaster has entered into a deal with its Japanese equivalent to coproduce a series of classical music performances in high definition. NHK has already recorded a performance of Mahler’s 8th Symphony and Carmen in HD. Future programs include opera and ballet from The Royal Opera House in the U.K.

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