DocWeek, the Adelaide International Documentary Conference’s public program, returns in 2014, expanding on 2013’s inaugural event with a tantalising line-up of guests including Oscar winner Alex Gibney and two-time Oscar nominee Marshall Curry.
Gibney, the director of acclaimed films Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Wikileaks: We StealSecrets, Silence in the House of God and his Oscar winner Taxi to the DarkSide, will be a guest of DocWeek, either in person or via a video-link for an industry session (conference) or a screening (public). DocWeek will premiere Gibney’s new film The Armstrong Lie, about disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. Joining Gibney will be fellow Oscar nominated director Marshall Curry, a Canadian director who stunned the documentary world with his incredibly raw political debut, Street Fight. DocWeek Director Joost den Hartog’s professional relationship with Curry stretches back to his debut feature, as den Hartog attended the film’s premiere. “I absolutely loved it,” he enthuses. “At the time I was working for the Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam and I pushed that film through the program department and it did really well at our festival. A few months later it got nominated for an Oscar. Getting him out here to celebrate his work is a very nice thing to do.” DocWeek will screen three of his films with the others being If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation and Racing Dreams. Curry will also be part of a panel and preview his upcoming and incomplete film. The big name guest, however, is Alex Gibney. The prolific investigative filmmaker, who in the past 12 months has released Silence in the House of God and We Steal Secrets, is one of documentary’s most consistent talents. DocWeek will screen nine of his films in a stream, which den Hartog is hesitant to call a retrospective given that Gibney is still in his prime and releasing films at a rapid rate. “Gibney has been on my list for a long time. I always wanted to invite him to a conference and ask him to do some sort of keynote speech or something like that. Every year I have been trying and now with the festival [DocWeek] we have an opportunity to share his work, which makes it a lot more attractive for filmmakers to come. The problem is Gibney’s ferocious schedule, so we’ve tried to negotiate around that.” DocWeek will open with The Armstrong Lie and the Australian premiere of Gracie Otto’s [daughter of Barry, sister of Miranda] new film, The Last Impresario, about the notorious London theatre and film producer Michael White, promoted by the film as the most famous person you’ve never heard of. “It’s a great film, it’s very fast-paced. There’s a whole string of celebrities giving their two cents, and it sort of fits in with festival season in Adelaide – it’s big, it’s extravagant and it’s quite a nice film.” An interesting DocWeek stream is Kick out the Jams, which features five films about Detroit. This is a program that is close to Adelaide’s heart given the recent Holden announcement but aside from the motor industry, Detroit is famous for its rich musical history, which stretches from jazz to Motown to the MC5 (hence the Kick out the Jams title) to techno. “We present it as a five-part documentary series but they’re all stand alone films – they have nothing to do with each other except they are all about Detroit. The story that you can extract from these five films is actually very uplifting. It’s about resilience, it’s about creativity, it’s about what people do when their livelihood is at stake and in this case they come up with fantastically creative ideas… basically they use their space creatively because they see an opportunity that they can’t have anywhere else.” Also of note is the emerging filmmakers competition, the Asia Pacific New Documentary Program, an expansion of the F4 competition, which was only open to Australian filmmakers. “We still at the heart of it have four Australian films. Gracie Otto’s film is one of them, and Clare Young’s From the Bottom of the Lake which is about Jane Campion’s creative process and how she encountered making Top of the Lake [her recent mini-series]. Then we have Blush of Fruit, which was in the Adelaide Film Festival and won the documentary prize for the Adelaide Film Festival. I was on the jury and I was really blown away by that film. It was shown twice at the festival – once there were 15 people in the audience and the other time there were 12 or so, so I thought only 27 people in Adelaide have seen this film, I’m just going to give it another run. It’s a very important film and it needs to be seen. The fourth Australian film is Valley Kicks. It’s about a suburb in Brisbane and the Youth Services Department there. We have added films from New Caledonia, Vanuatu, New Zealand, India, Cambodia, Malaysia and China and all the filmmakers will come to Adelaide.” Films announced The Armstrong lie The Last Impresario Magic Trip Taxi To The Darkside Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room Silence in the House of God: Mea Maxima Culpa Cannibal Tours Who Do You Think You Are? Jacki Weaver DocWeek’s full program will be released in 2014 DocWeek runs from March 4 to 9 docweek.org.au