By Indiewire | Indiewire May 27, 1998 at 2:00AM
First New York Docfest Set to Kick Off Tonight; "Kurt & Courtney"
Screening Added; Reknowned Doc-makers Set to Participate in Festival
by Eugene Hernandez
The first New York International Documentary Festival -- docfest -- kicks off
tonight at the Sony Lincoln Square on the Upper West Side, prior to moving over
to the DGA Theater on 57th Street for a four-day run. Tonight's opening night
screening of the Oscar-nominated film, "Fires of Kuwait", will be presented
by filmmaker Michael Moore ("The Big One", "Roger & Me"). Also, indieWIRE
has learned that festival organizers have added a special preview screening
of Nick Broomfield's latest film, "Kurt & Courtney". The Friday midnight
showing at the DGA will mark the film's first public showing in New York
City. It opens in Manhattan next month following successful runs in other
cities, and on the heels of being bumped from the 1998 Sundance Film
Festival as a result of alleged pressure from grunge-rocker turned actress
Courtney Love ("The People Vs. Larry Flynt").
Master documentarian D.A. Pennebaker ("The War Room", "Don't Look Back")
will be on hand this Sunday to host a seminar entitled, "Half a Century of
Documentary Making: Dialogues with Jean Rouch and Other docfest Directors."
Pennebaker will lead a discussion with groundbreaking verite filmmaker
Jean Rouch (on his 82nd birthday) in connection with the screening of
Rouch's landmark "Chronicle of a Summer" this Friday. Other docfest
filmmakers will join the discussion during the second half of the seminar.
On Saturday, Festival Program Director David Leitner will moderate a panel
discussion exploring the impact of new digital technologies on low-budget
doc-making. Entitled "Documentary Making in the Digital World", the
seminar will welcome individuals representating an array of new digital
tools, including digital editing systems, DVD distribution options, test
projections from the Sony High Definition Center, and sample showings
of film to video transfers. Two docfest films that were created utilizing
digital tools were Ulrike Koch's "The Saltman of Tibet", a Zeitgeist release
that debuts later this summer at Manhattan's Film Forum after having its
New York premiere on Friday night, and Bennett Miller's "The Cruise" which
debuted at the LAIFF and has its NYC bow on Saturday.
Five docfest films are U.S. Premieres, they are: Mark Daniels' Melvin Van
Peebles exploration, "The Running Man"; Paul Wilmshurst's gangster lawyer
exploration, "Mob Law"; Dmitri Falk's look at Cuban youth, "Midnight in
Cuba"; Maggie Hadleigh-West's Berlin-debut, "War Zone", and Susan Muska
and Greta Olafsdottir's anticipated, "Brandon Teena Story". Also, a
recently added Saturday event -- DOCBLAST -- will include a screening
of Einar Westerland's visual poem, INDIASONG and offer an ambient mix
by DJ Jacob Craycroft. The midnight celebration, which is presented with
KINOTEK and the FILM BYTES series will is open to all docfest attendees.
Finally, two awards will be presented at docfest: the Independent Film
Channel Documentary Vision Award to one participating docfest filmmaker,
the prize is a cash award in the amount of $2,000 and the Zuma Digital
DVD Award, allowing one docfest filmmaker (selected randomly by Michael
Moore) the opportunity to create one complete DVD of a film -- the prize
is valued at $15,000.
[For more information on docfest, call the festival hotline at 212/668-1575,
visit their website at:
<www.docfest.org>, or send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those interested in guaranteeing admission to the DOCBLAST event should
RSVP to 212-332-9874. Doors open 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, at 600 Broadway
(Southeast Corner of Broadway and Houston) 6th Floor.]