Sunday, June 15, 2008

Docs In Progress Alums Rock!

While this blog has been set up primarily to provide commentary on the world of documentary, we can't help but take a moment to provide some shameless promotion for a number of alums of the Docs In Progress programs. As many of you already know, we screen documentary works in progress in Washington DC six times a year and in Baltimore, MD once a year and also provide one-on-one customized story consultations to indie doc-makers. Ever wonder what's become of some of those films? Well's here's a sample...

BALLOU (an alum of our one-on-one story advising services) is making its theatrical debut in Washington DC in June 2008 with an exclusive run at Landmark's E Street Theatre. Washington Post critic Ann Hornaday has called the film "lively and affecting." The film looks at a year in the life of Washington DC's Ballou High School's famed marching band and how students and teachers use the power of music to deal with the challenges of coming of age in an at-risk neighborhood. Docs In Progress will be sponsoring one of the screenings for BALLOU's premiere week with team-members Adele Schmidt and Sam Hampton introducing the film and leading a Q&A with filmmakers Michael Patrei and Casey Callister. More on the film here.

THE MATADOR (rough cut screened in June 2007) by Stephen Higgins and Nina Seavey continues to dazzle critics through its festival screenings. The film, about legendary Spanish bullfighter "El Fandi," premiered in competition at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin in March 2008 and screened at FilmFest DC a month later. National film critic Jeffrey Lyons called the film "a thrilling look at Spain's most passionate art." called it "fabulous." And noted film blogger AJ Schnack pegged it as one of the best films of the year so far, calling it "gorgeously photographed, tightly edited and featuring an impressive score." More on the film here.

BLACK DIAMONDS (rough cut screened in July 2006) by Catherine Pancake was featured in the 2008 Documentary Fortnight at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The film, about the impact of mountaintop removal on people and the environment in Appalachian West Virginia, has played dozens of festivals across the country, won awards from the Paul Robeson Fund and the Spadaro Documentary Award, and is available for purchase from Bullfrog Films. More on the film here.

(rough cut screened in October 2007) by Aaron Rockett premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and has gone on to play the Newport International Film Festival in Rhode Island. This short film looks at the life of a journalist fixer in post-9/11 Afghanistan. More on the filmmaker here.

UNRAVELING MICHELLE (rough cut screened in October 2007) by Dan Shaffer and Michelle Farrell won Best Local Film in Shaffer's hometown of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at the Artsfest Film Festival where Farrell had a chance to receive praise from fellow Baltimore-native John Waters. The film, a personal story about Farrell's journey from man to woman and how this impacts her friends, family, and place in the indie film world, premiered at the DC Independent Film Festival and has also screened at the Rosebud Film Festival, one of the best established independent film festivals in the Mid-Atlantic. More on the film here.

REDEMPTION STONE: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF TOM LEWIS (rough cut screened in January 2007) by Tom Dziedzic won Best Documentary at the Cape Fear Independent Film Festival in Wilmington, North Carolina. The film about the life and legacy of an African-American policeman, has also screened at the Atlanta Film Festival and was one of the few short documentaries chosen for the 2007 IFP Market in New York. More on the film here.

BEAUTY: IN THE EYES OF THE BEHELD (rough cut screened in January 2008) by Liza Figueroa was screened at the Indie Spirit Film Festival in Colorado Springs. The film looks at society's vision of female beauty by talking to ordinary women who have been called beautiful. A trailer for the film can be seen here.

Congratulations to these and our many other Docs In Progress alumni. May all your films continue to thrive!

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