A Snapshot of the 2018 Awards Submissions So Far
We thought that we’d whet your appetite and reveal a small selection of some of the amazing productions that we have received so far for the FOCAL International Awards 2018. Thank you to all the submitters – it is going to be another tough competition!
*Please note the new extended deadline – Monday 5 February, 2018
Battle of the Ancre and Advance of the Tanks (Blu-ray)
UK | British Topical Committee For War Films
The Battle of the Ancre and Advance of the Tanks (1917), is the official film of the British Army’s autumn campaign on the Somme, which ran from 15 September to 18 November 1916. The sequel to Battle of the Somme, Battle of the Ancre, has been overlooked. However, Battle of the Ancre was popular with audiences and a critical success. Many consider it the better film cinematically, and it contains haunting images of trench warfare, notably of the mud that beset the battlefields, the waves of troops advancing into no man’s land and the first views of the ‘Tank’.
Birth of a Movement
USA | Northern Light Productions
In 1915, Boston-based African American newspaper editor and activist William M. Trotter waged a battle against D.W. Griffith’s technically groundbreaking but notoriously Ku Klux Klan-friendly The Birth of a Nation, unleashing a fight that still rages today about race relations, media representation, and the power and influence of Hollywood.
Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat
USA | Hells Kitten Productions, Faliro House, Le Pacte, Leopardo Filmes, Bunny Lake Films
The documentary is a window into the life of the painter Jean-Michel Basquiat and the City of New York, 1978-81. It is a comprehensive look at the movements that touched and inspired him as well as the influence a bankrupt violent city had on this seminal artist. Jean-Michel has become, over the years the ultimate representation of this period. All the many things that were going in the city fed through him – politics, hip-hop, punk rock, race issues and the art scene.
Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds
USA | Bloomfish Pictures, HBO Documentary Films, Insurgent Docs, RatPac Documentary Films
Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds star in a tender portrait of Hollywood royalty in all its eccentricity. From the red carpet to the back alleys behind it, the documentary is about the bonds of family love, which are beautifully bittersweet.
David Bowie: The Last Five Years
UK | BBC Studios
In the last years of his life, David Bowie ended nearly a decade of silence to engage in an extraordinary burst of activity, producing two groundbreaking albums “The Next Day” (2013) and “Blackstar” (2016) and Broadway musical “Lazarus”. David Bowie: The Last Five Years explores this unexpected end to a remarkable career.
David Stratton: A Cinematic Life
Australia | Stranger Than Fiction Films
Critic David Stratton’s love affair with Australian cinema led him to understand himself and his adopted country. This is the glorious story of Australian cinema and its creators, told through the very particular gaze of a national treasure.
Dawson City: Frozen Time
USA | Hypnotic Pictures & Picture Palace Pictures
Dawson City: Frozen Time, pieces together the bizarre true history of a collection of some 500 films dating from 1910s – 1920s, which were lost for over 50 years until being discovered buried in a sub-arctic swimming pool deep in the Yukon Territory, in Dawson City, located about 350 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Using these permafrost protected, rare silent films and newsreels, archival footage, interviews and historical photographs to tell the story, and accompanied by an enigmatic score by Sigur Rós collaborator and composer Alex Somers (Captain Fantastic), Dawson City: Frozen Time depicts a unique history of a Canadian gold rush town by chronicling the life cycle of a singular film collection through its exile, burial, rediscovery, and salvation – and through that collection, how a First Nation hunting camp was transformed and displaced. This exceptional documentary had 11 nominations and won 5 Awards.
Diana: In Her Own Words
UK |1895 Films
Diana: In Her Own Words is a documentary designed to reach a worldwide audience of people interested in Princess Diana and the British Royal Family, late-20th century history, and the birth of modern celebrity culture. The documentary uses only archival footage, audio, and photos—including audio tapes made by Diana herself for the use of her biographer, Andrew Morton—to make a “movie” of Diana’s life and times. The filmmakers relied heavily on deep research to uncover rarely seen or heard material, which details how and why one person dominated news cycles and defined how we all saw the world.
Greece, France and Canada | Anemon Productions
Dolphin Man draws us into the world of Jacques Mayol, capturing his compelling journey and immersing viewers into the sensory and transformative experience of free-diving. From the Mediterranean to Japan and from India to the Bahamas, we meet Mayol’s closest friends and family, to reveal the portrait of a man who reached the limits of the human body and mind, not just to break records but hoping to discover the deeper affinity between human beings and the sea. The film weaves together rare film archive from the 1950s onwards, with stunning contemporary underwater photography, to discover how the ‘dolphin man’ revolutionized free-diving and brought a new consciousness to our relationship with the sea and our inner-selves.
Glasgow 1967: The Lisbon Lions
UK | IMG Productions Scotland
Fifty years after Celtic became the first British team to win the European Cup, we tell the amazing stories of the men who claimed it. All 11 team members came from within 30 miles of Celtic Park, and this evocative film weaves together the social and footballing history of that era in Glasgow. With beautiful, unseen archive footage, funny fan stories and moving testimony from Bertie Auld, Bobby Lennox, Jim Craig, John Clark, Willie Wallace, Rangers captain John Greig and from players’ families.
I am not your Negro
France, USA, Switzerland | Velvet Film
In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, “Remember This House.” The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and assassinations of three of his close friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only 30 completed pages of this manuscript. Filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished.
In the Intense Now
Brazil | Videofilmes
Made following the discovery of amateur footage shot in China in 1966 during the first and most radical stage of the Cultural Revolution, the film speaks to the fleeting nature of moments of great intensity. Scenes of China are set alongside archival images of the events of 1968 in France, Czechoslovakia, and, to a lesser extent, Brazil. In keeping with the tradition of the film-essay, they serve to investigate how the people who took part in those events continued onward after passions had cooled.
UK | Pitch International
The day after the Heysel disaster, Kenny Dalglish became manager of Liverpool Football Club. Six years later he resigned from the club, shell-shocked in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster. In between he created one of the most exciting football teams of all times. ‘Kenny’ explores more than just the roller-coaster career of an iconic footballer and manager. It goes behind the scenes to reveal an intimate portrait of a man who sacrificed all in the service of his club, his family and the people of Liverpool.
Long Strange Trip
USA | AOMA Sunshine Films
The tale of the Grateful Dead is inspiring, complicated, and downright messy. A tribe of contrarians, they made art out of open-ended chaos and inadvertently achieved success on their own terms. Never-before-seen footage and interviews offer this unprecedented and unvarnished look at the life of the Dead.
USA | STALKR
Oscar-winning writer Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut “Molly’s Game” stars Jessica Chastain as the title character, Molly Bloom. The film is based on Bloom’s memoir, which recounts her experiences running an underground poker empire and becoming the target of an FBI investigation. The film includes several creative montages and a huge variety of content- professional sports, news, depictions of extreme wealth, gambling, pop culture and art. The end result is an authentic portrayal of Molly’s story and voiceover that places the audience in moments they recognize, rather than a Hollywood portrayal of a specific time and place.
UK | Raymi Hero Productions Ltd / XIX Entertainment
Narrated by and starring Caine, MY GENERATION is a perceptive and entertaining journey through the “Swinging Sixties” and the societal upheaval that still resonates today in the UK and around the world. It is told with film clips, archival footage, music of the era, and the participation of Paul McCartney, Roger Daltrey, Mary Quant, Marianne Faithfull, David Bailey, Twiggy and many other pop culture legends. With his unique viewpoint and gifts as a raconteur, Caine serves as our guide through the cultural revolution that rocked the world in the ’60s with an insider’s unique, humorous and moving insights.
Queen: Rock the World
UK | Eagle Rock Films
Behind the scenes archive documentary following Queen’s Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon as they record their sixth album, “News of the World”, and embark on a ground breaking tour of North America. Filmed by BBC presenter Bob Harris in 1977, but never completed, the footage has now been carefully restored and compiled to mark the album’s 40th anniversary. Against a backdrop of an increasingly hostile music press, enamoured by the rise of Punk, this extraordinary footage provides an intimate snapshot of a pivotal moment in Queen’s history.
Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World
Canada | Rezolution Pictures
A feature documentary that brings to light a profound and missing chapter in the history of American music: the Indigenous influence. Featuring music icons Charley Patton, Mildred Bailey, Link Wray, Jimi Hendrix, Jesse Ed Davis, Buffy SainteMarie, Robbie Robertson, Randy Castillo, and Taboo, RUMBLE shows how these pioneering Native musicians helped shape the soundtracks of our lives.
Glasgow 1967: The Lisbon Lions
Spain in two trenches, the Civil War in colour
Spain | Minoría Absuluta
The documentary reflects the events that occurred during years of Civil War between 1936 and 1939 that bled the country and left 300,000 dead, half a million prisoners and another half a million exiles. A team of over 50 people worked for a year and a half under the direction of Francesc Ecribano and Luis Carrizo to produce an audiovisual work that narrates in an objective way one of the darkest periods of contemporary Spanish history. The film was made possible by a laborious process of selection, digitalisation and colourising of the more than 450 films surviving from the Spanish Civil War.
Telegraph – Words Chosen Well (advert)
UK | STALKR
The sentiment that that words are powerful, and we must choose them well is the backbone to this new campaign. Initially the idea was to uncover “iconic scenes from recent history,” over which titles would be written and then re-written into truer statements right before our eyes. Over the course of our work on the spot that scope broadened to include new possibilities given current events. Familiar moments with heroes like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Muhammad Ali stand alongside more modern moments in the UN, the White House, and on the streets of the UK.
Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities
USA | Firelight Films
A haven for Black intellectuals, artists and revolutionaries-and path of promise toward the American dream-Black colleges and universities have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field. They have been unapologetically Black for 150 years. For the first time ever, their story is told. Directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson.
The Defiant Ones
USA | HBO Entertainment and Silverback 5150 Pictures in association with Alcon Television Group
An intensive and inspiring, 4-part documentary series that chronicles the legendary careers and unlikely partnership of music producers and moguls Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, and the constellation of musical stars, hits, and controversy they inspired from the late ‘70s through today. With candid interviews, compelling performances, and rare footage, it shows how these men rose to prominence and profoundly changed music history, and eventually launched a billion-dollar headphone company, Beats by Dre: all by staying true to themselves, loyal to their friendship, and always defiant.
Ireland | Crossing the Line Productions
It is one of humankind’s greatest achievements. More than 12 billion miles away a tiny spaceship is leaving our Solar System and entering the void of deep space – the first human-made object ever to do so.
The Tokyo Trials: The Battle for the Truth
China | Shanghai Media Group
Lasting more than two-and-a-half years, the Tokyo Trials became the longest legal proceedings in human history, leaving behind piles of data and records that set precedent for military tribunals of today. Shanghai Media Group aired the 3-episodes documentary series, The Tokyo Trials. Our camera crew travelled to the USA, Germany and Japan for exclusive video clips and interviews with scholars and politicians to reproduce this watershed period of history.
The Vietnam War
USA | Florentine Films
Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s ten-part, 18-hour documentary series, The Vietnam War, tells the epic story of one of the most consequential, divisive, and controversial events in American history as it has never before been told on film. Visceral and immersive, the series explores the human dimensions of the war through revelatory testimony of nearly 80 witnesses from all sides-Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as combatants and civilians from North and South Vietnam. Ten years in the making, the series includes rarely seen and digitally re-mastered archival footage from sources around the globe, photographs taken by some of the most celebrated photojournalists of the 20th Century, historic television broadcasts, evocative home movies, and secret audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations. The Vietnam War features more than 100 iconic musical recordings from greatest artists of the era and haunting original music from.
Trump: An American Dream
UK | 72films
The story of modern America, told through the biography of Donald Trump, a man irrefutably shaped by history. A Gatsby-esque tale, where excess, politics, primogeniture and pop culture propel an ambitious young developer into the regeneration of New York City as it struggles through a period of crime, racial inequality, strikes and corruption. Hours of unseen archive footage plus profound interviews with 50 of Trump’s closest friends and associates reveal how his own brand of the American Dream successfully permeated American culture and propelled him into the White House.
Restoration & Preservation include:
National Film Archive
After the film premiered in 1964, it stayed in circulation for more than a year. Since then, occasional cinema screenings made use of the gradually more and more worn-out prints or, later, of prints newly struck from duplication materials. Černý Petr could also have be seen on a television screen and was distributed on DVD´s, but in a substantially lower quality, often with non-original aspect ratio and generally in a form unrepresentative of its original look and feel
The Film Foundation
The original elements of “Lucía” were in severe danger of being lost for ever by advanced vinegar syndrome which had attacked the film stock. The Film Foundation had to quickly move forward with raising funds. Accessing and shipping was a major obstacle since no courier was available to transport a total of 18 reels and 125 kg outside of Havana. A technician from L’Immagine Ritrovata had to hand-carry the film elements and bring them to Bologna.
A young sailor falls in love with a mysterious woman, performing as a mermaid at the local carnival. He soon comes to suspect the girl might be a real mermaid, who draws men to a watery death during the full moon. The original 35MM material of Night Tide, directed by Curtis Harrington in 1961, is stored at the Academy Film Archive in Los Angeles. The negative was so damaged it needed to be saved urgently. Nicolas Winding Refn decided to rescue one of his favorite film by launching a 4K restoration within its ByNWR film restoration project.
Digitally restored in 4K for the first time, Scarface (1932) is described as one of the most controversial gangster films made during the Great Depression. Loosely based on Al Capone’s life and banned in Italy under Fascism, the film is also said to have helped set the standard for the genre. The restoration of this title was particularly complex given the physical condition of the source elements. Sophisticated digital tools designed specifically for this purpose and applied judiciously, were required in order to render the film watchable. This restoration is an excellent example of what is now possible digitally.
Voyage au Congo
In 1925, Marc Allégret accompanied André Gide on his trip to French Equatorial Africa. In connection with this trip, André Gide wrote a journal called “Voyage au Congo”. Marc Allégret put the trip in images and used the same title to make his first silent feature film. The images are made of pure beauty. Voyage au Congo has always been very rare on screens, whereas the film always had a very strong impact on French cinema. The film restoration was completed in 2017 by Les films du Jeudi, Les films du Pantheon and the Cinémathèque française, with the support of the CNC, and with the collaboration of the BFI National Archive.