December is proving to be a good month for filmmaker Lucy Walker and The Crash Reel
Walker's affecting sports documentary about champion snowboarder Kevin Pearce's recovery from a near-fatal accident has taken its place on the 2014 Oscars shortlist.
The film opens at NYC's IFC Center on Friday, December 13.
Additionally, Walker and the film have won two awards at Whistler Film Festival -- which is particularly appropriate because snowboarding is such a popular sport at Whistler, a favorite ski resort.
The Crash Reel won the juried Best Mountain Culture Film Award, presented by Whistler Blackcomb. The jury statement: "Unafraid to point her lens at the culture, hard truths, director Lucy Walker's The Crash Reel delivers a refreshingly intimate and disturbing look at the surreal world of high performance action sports."
Walker also won the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Documentary At Whistler Film Festival 2014, presented by the Alliance of Women Film Journalists. The jury statement: In a compelling documentary about a valiant young athlete who fights his way back from a near-fatal accident, filmmaker Lucy Walker pays tribute to Kevin Pearce's strength of character and determination and points to the need for greater safety measures in the thrilling and extremely dangerous sport at which Kevin excelled. Using archival footage of 15 years in Kevin's life, Walker examines the clash between the seemingly insatiable appetite for risks among participants in extreme sports and the chilling reality of how dangerous their pursuits are. Walker's doc has a strong narrative arc that interweaves the intense rivalry between Pearce and fellow half-pipe champion Shaun White, the tragic accident and a supportive family's pain as they watch their brain-damaged son recover and announce he will take to the slopes again, unable to process the fact that another blow to the head could kill him."
The Whistler Film Festival took place from December 4 to 8.
Disclaimer: I was a juror for the AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Documentary at Whistler Film Festival.
Members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Documentaries Branch are looking closely at the fifteen films on Oscars 2014 documentaries shortlist to determine which five of the fifteen shortlisted films will become actual nominees for the 2014 Oscar for Best Feature-Length Documentary.<p>
Everybody who watches documentaries has an opinion about which films deserve to be finalists for the award that really does make a difference in the distribution and shelf life of a nonfiction feature film.<p>
The official final five will be announced on January 16, 2014. Meanwhile, for my choices, Read on....
Ally Derks has been the director of IDFA for a quarter of a century, and has grown the renown documentaries festival into an established and essential event on the documentary film industry's annual calendar. In this exclusive interview, Derks chats about the current state of documentary filmmaking and documentary film festivals. Read more...
(PHOTO: Ally Derks. Courtesy IDFA.)
Even if you travel all the way to Amsterdam to attend IDFA, it's impossible to see all of the more than 200 documentaries that are screened during the documentary festival's eleven days.
Luckily, the festival has its own IDFA.tv Website where you can watch documentaries on demand, and its own IDFA YouTube Channel, where you can see a selection of the films screened theatrically at the festival for free.
Among the feature length documentaries currently playing for free:
- Rafea Solar Mama, an inspiring documentary about Rafea, a Jordanian woman who gains financial independence and relieves some of the poverty in her village by becoming a solar engineer. You can see the film by clicking here.
- Planet of Snail, an exquisitely insightful documentary about Young-Chan, a blind Korean man, and Soon-Ho, his soul mate, who together discover the beauties of their lives and the world in which they live. You can discover those beauties with them by clicking here.
- Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream, Alex Gibney's profoundly confounding and irony-clad comparison of the lifestyles of the rich who reside on Manhattan's posh Park Avenue with those of their impoverished neighbors who life just a few miles north, on Park Avenue in the Bronx, New York. You can see the film by clicking here.
Make checking the IDFA.tv site and YouTube Channel a habit. The featured films change, and you'll always something very interesting to watch.