Most of the cosmo and coffee talk about the festival concerns its still undefined identity, although it’s too early to say if this year’s event will help define the festival’s future. The focus on the downtown community remains strong, but the films are what need to move the event forward if it’s to compete with the likes of Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival. First time filmmakers and festival virgins Hugo Berkeley and Chai Vasarhelyi, at Tribeca with their one-hour documentary A Normal Life, said they felt a bit lost in the volume of films showing – a comment also echoed by festival veterans. Their film screens publicly this evening. Overall, the festival had 49,0000 in advance ticket sales, compared with 19,000 in its inaugural year. The nearly 400 screenings this year will include two programs of documentaries. For more information, go to //www.tribecafilmfest.com.
Organizers of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival breathed a sigh of relief in Toronto on May 4, the closing night of its 10th anniversary edition. The festival was able to boast about record-level audience attendance in spite of ongoing concerns both internationally and locally about Toronto’s reputation as a hotbed of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). A travel advisory from the World Health Organization triggered cancellations from countless numbers of international guests. The Toronto Documentary Forum, which ran concurrent to Hot Docs, was reduced from two days of pitching to one as a result of no-shows (both pitchers and commissioning editors), but forum organizers staged a last-minute technological coup, enlisting the help of sponsors to put together a live Internet webcast of the pitch session. Adding phone teleconferencing to the mix, broadcasters from the U.K., France, Germany and the U.S. were able to participate, offering comments and sometimes expressing their interest in projects.
A bevy awards capped off the 10-day Toronto festival. The winning films were: Rage Against the Darkness by John Kastner (best Canadian feature-length doc); The Last Round, by Joseph Blasioli (special jury prize); Squat!, by Eve Lamont (best direction, feature length, and humanitarian award); Power Trip, by Paul Devlin (best international doc feature); State of Denial, by Elaine Epstein (special jury prize); The Other Final, by Johan Kramer (best first documentary, feature); and War Babies by Raymonde Provencher (audience favorite award, feature). An award for outstanding achievement was presented to U.K. director Nick Broomfield (Kurt and Courtney; Biggie and Tupac), whose films were featured in a retrospective. For a full list of the awards, visit //www.hotdocs.ca.
The Small Screen Big Picture TV Conference (May 7 to 9) is under way in Perth, Australia. Among the event’s invited guests is Alex Graham, chief executive of U.K. prodco Wall to Wall. Go to //www.screenwest.com.au/ssbp for more information.
Organizers of the World Education Market (May 20 to 23), held this year in Lisbon, Portugal, announced the schedule for the TV forums that will be part of the Broadcasters Village, which is being launched this year (see RealScreen Plus, April 24 ,2003). Among those who are expected to lead some of the forums are France 5′s head of acquisitions and coproductions, Ann Julienne (science and natural history), and Boston, U.S.-based WGBH Interntional‘s head of distribution, Tom Koch (multimedia and online learning).
The BAPLA Picture Buyers’ Fair (May 15 to 16, 2003) is being held in London, U.K. Exhibitors include stock agencies from around the world For further information, visit //www.pbf.org.uk.
The organizers of MIPCOM (October 10 to 14), the international television market, announced that this year’s 19th edition will begin on a Friday rather than run throughout the week, as it usually does. For more information, go to //www.mipcom.com.
Winnipeg, Canada-based indie film and doc producer Jamie Brown of Frantic Films will be honored with the 2003 Lions Gate Innovative Producer Award at the 24th Banff Television Festival. The award is given in recognition of ‘innovation and entrepreneurial excellence’ in the Canadian television industry. Brown is known for having created and produced the doc series Quest for the Bay and Klondike: The Quest for Gold .
Ash, Worldwide Suicide by Dutch filmmaker Walter Stokman picked up the best doc award at the Brooklyn International Film Festival (April 28 to May 4) in New York, U.S. For a complete list of winners, see //www.wbff.org.
The Beverly Hills, U.S.-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the finalists for its 30th annual Student Academy Awards competition. Members of the Academy will choose the winners. The finalists in the documentary category include All That I Perceive, Lindsay Ann Daniels, California College of Arts and Crafts, San Francisco; 4 Days, Richard Hauck, Arizona International College, Tucson; Foxhole, Franko Galoso, Florida State University, Tallahassee; Indiana Aria, Elizabeth Pollock, University of California, Berkeley; Left Behind, Christof Putzel, Connecticut College, New London; and Those Who Trespass, Renee Fischer, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California. For more information, go to //www.oscars.org.
The deadline for film and video entries to the 10th Sheffield International Documentary Festival (October 13 to 19, 2003) in the U.K. is June 1. //www.sidf.co.uk
June 1 is also the deadline for entries to the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival (September 22 to 27). //www.jhfestival.org/new/festival2003.
The early deadline for the AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival (November 6 to 16) is June 6. //www.afi.com/AFIFEST/2003/2003.asp.
The 6th annual United Nations Association Film Festival (October 22 to 26, 2003) in Stanford, U.S., is accepting entries to its festival until June 10. The theme this year is Promotion of Universal Respect. For details, go to //www.unaff.org/2003/submission.html.