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BritDoc 2006.1: Start Me Up

BritDoc 2006.1: Start Me Up

The first full day of BritDoc was busy one. For me, anyhow. I had to make a mad rush from London to the train station, then to Oxford, and then to Keble College. All had to be done in enough time to make it to the very first screening of the festival, a documentary shorts program (I’m on the jury with Kate Speight and Shannon Kelley). I won’t say much about the shorts we saw, as we still have about 24 hours left before we see more and make final decisions. I also saw Dollan Cannell’s rather compelling (and fun) documentary, 638 Ways To Kill Castro, which tells the history of not only the U.S.-guided attempts to assassinate the Cuban dictator, but also gets great access to the men and women in Cuba and Miami who still work to this day for efforts to kill Fidel Castro.

What we saw was still a rough cut (the film was billed as a “world premiere,” but could not be completed in time), with timecode and everything still on the screen. Perhaps it will follow the footsteps of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised or OilCrash, where European docmakers are afforded terrific access to stories involving U.S. politics, thus telling a story that may not be dutifully depicted by American filmmakers. After that, I stuck around to watch The Bridge, Eric Steel’s controversial documentary about suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge. The film is gripping and engrossing, but obviously full of ethics questions, as Steel and his crew spent a year filming suicides and suicide attempts on the bridge. The Q&A afterwards was full of discussion, and it’s the kind of film that will surely keep people talking for a while. On to some pics:

(One of the Quads at Keble College. This is where many folks are playing games of croquet during the festival.)

(‘638 Ways to Kill Castro’ producer Peter Moore, left, and director Dollan Cannell, during the film’s Q&A at BritDoc.)

(American filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steve Bognar, at Oxford with their amazing documentary, ‘A Lion in the House.’ Julia is back on the festival circuit, after cancer treatment. It’s great to see her doing so well!)

(BritDoc programmer Maxyne Franklin shares a drink with ‘Once in a Lifetime’ docmaker, John Dower. They’ve just exited the More4 banquet, which was held in a dining hall on campus.)

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