October 12, 2016 | POV’s daily list of essential reading for the documentary and independent filmmaking community.

In the dazzling documentary Sky Ladder, a Chinese artist aims high
Some documentaries work as investigative journalism, while others function as slice-of-life storytelling. There’s also the subgenre of doc that’s largely experiential, inviting the audience to witness a performance or event that they’d otherwise never get to see. Kevin Macdonald’s Sky Ladder: The Art Of Cai Guo-Qiang encompasses a little bit of all of the above.
Read more | A.V. Club »

Festival of Festivals: Chicago International At Fifty-Two
At first blush, the fifty-second Chicago International Film Festival looks like it could be founder and impresario Michael Kutza’s most comprehensively programmed event since the late 1990s, focusing not only on the cream of the crop from festivals earlier in the year like Sundance, Venice, Telluride, Toronto and New York, but also organizing work into promisingly curated sections.
Read more | New City Film »

Morgan Spurlock’s New Documentary is About Rats — So Very Many Rats
Rats are everywhere — did you know that? Morgan Spurlock knows that now. His new documentary, titled simply Rats, explores that idea. Spurlock’s documentary is a “horror documentary,” he explained, inspired by childhood viewings of Jaws, The Exorcist and Scanners.
Read more | People »

Review: ‘Tower,’ About 1966, Before Mass Shootings Became Routine
The haunting documentary Tower revisits a 1966 mass shooting at the University of Texas at Austin that shocked the country. It may be difficult to comprehend the reaction to the horror of Charles Whitman, a 25-year-old student who shot more than a dozen dead, wounding more than twice as many. A cover story in Life magazine suggested just how alien the carnage seemed at the time, noting that during the rampage Whitman’s actions were “so outrageous, so hard to grasp, that people could not believe it.” Many more mass shootings later, it’s now tragically easy to believe.
Read more | The New York Times »

Q&A: Inside the Making of ‘Confronting ISIS
For more than 15 years, Martin Smith has been covering the Middle East for FRONTLINE. Back in 1998, he produced U.S. television’s first full-length documentary on Al Qaeda. Since then, he has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, made films about Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and gone inside Assad-controlled areas of Syria. But none of those films, Smith says, has compared to making his newest documentary, Confronting ISIS — a project that began one year ago with what seemed like a simple idea — tracing the U.S.-led fight against ISIS — but soon became a much larger, deeply complicated story about troubled alliances and conflicting priorities throughout the Middle East.
Read more | FRONTLINE »

Film List 2016
The full line-up for IDFA 2016 is now online. Full details on all films and programme information will be announced November 3.
Read more | IDFA »

Inaugural Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards Heap Nominations on ’13th,’ ‘O.J.: Made In America’ and ‘Gleason’
The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) have announced the nominees for their inaugural Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, taking place next month at a first-time gala event in Brooklyn, New York. Ava DuVernay’s 13th, Ezra Edelman’s O.J.: Made in America and Clay Tweel’s Gleason lead the pack of nominees, with five nominations each.
Read more | IndieWire »

Upcoming Festivals and Deadlines
This Week

  • 54th New York Film Festival Sept 30 – Oct 16
  • Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Oct 7 – 16
  • Austin Film Festival Oct 13 – 20

Next Week

  • DocLisboa: International Film Festival Oct 20 – 30
  • United Nations Association Film Festival Oct 20 – 30

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POV Staff
POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 400 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.