New DoubleTake Doc Fest To Debut This Week
by Maud Kersnowski
A new documentary film festival which focuses on general audiences
and film content, instead of filmmakers and filmmaking opens this week.
The inaugural DoubleTake Documentary Film Festival kicks off on April
2 in Durham, NC. A star studded board of directors, co-chaired by Martin
Scorsese and Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Cole, have thrown their
weight behind the festival hoping to create a Sundance for documentaries.
Every part of the new festival, from the the awards to the discussion
panels ("What is Truth?" to "Television: it's role in Documentary")
aims at engaging the community in discussion and dialogue about the
films' content. This sets DoubleTake apart of many film festivals which
concentrate on the process of making films. Several special events are
planned to enliven and focus the exchange: a program on tolerance curated
by Laurence Kardish, Museum of Modern Art in New York; the North
American premiere of a collection of post-aparthide South African
films; a career award given to Michael Apted ("Moving the Mountain,"
"Incident at Oglala"); a tribute to Albert Maysles ("Salesman," "Gimme
Shelter") during opening night ceremonies. "Films are life long learning
tools," believes Festival Director Nancy Buirski. "There are very few
tools where everyone comes together...You go to a dinner party and what's
everyone talking about? The movies they've seen."
Several of the filmmakers will be present to lead discussions after the their
screenings, most notably Ken Burns ("The Civil War" ) with his newest
film "Frank Lloyd Wright." A film about atrocities against women in
Bosnia, "Calling the Ghosts" will be represented not only by the director,
Mandy Jacobson, but also one of the the documentary's subjects. "This
doesn't have as much to do with making the film as it does with what
actually happened to her in Bosnia," according Buirski.
DoubleTake's mission to make documentaries more accessible attracted
the stellar board, which boasts six Oscars and a Pulitzer. Scorsese, a
friend of Buirski's, recruited Robert Redford, Jonathan Demme, John
Sayles and Joanne Woodward. Other big names on the list include Ken
Burns, Horton Foote, Ross McElwee and Barbara Kopple. "He [Scorsese
has a real investment in documentary film making," Buirski told indieWIRE.
"I hope you will join me in supporting what promises to be an exciting
and important new international film festival," reads Scorsese's
statement in DoubleTake's press release. Backing up the claims, are
over $380,000 which has been allocated to producing the innaugural event,
making DoubleTake one of the best endowed documentary festivals.
Much of the funding came from North Carolina. Because of the large
movie industry presence in the state the population is especially film
savvy. Although, Durham may not be the filmmaking center it is a
particularly diverse and sophisticated community. The immediate
area is known as Research Triangle, which houses universities, computer
companies, pharmaceutical labs and other high tech industries. Buirski
is betting North Carolinians will not only be open to, but crave the type
of cultural and educational experience she is programming.
The festival's founding sponsor DoubleTake Magazine, published by
The Center for Documentary Studies, also calls Durham home. The
Center, the magazine and the festival are all attempting to expand
the definition and accessibility of various forms of documentary. The
magazine publishes fiction and poetry as well as non-fiction and
photography. The film festival will be screening not only traditional
documentaries, but also feature films, including Arthur Penn's "Little
Big Man" introduced by Faye Dunaway. "Documentary has levels of
fiction it in, just like fiction has levels of documentary," points out
Buirski. "Those films that are successful... become documents of our
time. And isn't that what we're talking about when we talk about
[DoubleTake Documentary Film Festival will be held in Durham, NC
April 2-5, 1998. For more information call, 919.660.3699, or visit their
website at: www.duke.edu/doubletake/filmfestival/]