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Sharon Jones

The 2015 DOC NYC taking place, November 12 to 19, 2015, will kick off with the U.S. premiere of Barbara Kopple’s new film Miss Sharon Jones! as the Opening Night selection. The film follows the rhythm & blues performer Sharon Jones as she battles cancer and prepares for a comeback with her band The Dap-Kings.

Two-time Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple (Harlan County, USA) follows R&B queen Sharon Jones over the course of an eventful year, as she battles a cancer diagnosis and struggles to hold her band the Dap-Kings together.

“Now, ladies and gentlemen,” says fast-talking Dap-Kings guitarist and announcer Binky Griptite, “the star of our show — the super soul sister with the magnetic je ne sais quoi — Miss Sharon Jones!” Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings kick in with their funky, revivalist rhythm and blues backed by hard-driving horns. And so begins this deeply soulful documentary about the singer’s year-long battle with cancer, and her struggle to hold her career together and return to what she loves most: the stage.

Jones has been called “the female James Brown,” and her energy is a wonder to behold both on and off stage. For years she struggled in her music career, being told she was “too black, too short, too old,” so she took alternate jobs as a Rikers Island corrections officer and an armoured-car guard. Her breakthrough didn’t come until midlife when she joined up with the Brooklyn-based Dap-Kings. We watch as they try to work around Jones’ treatment to complete their 2014 album Give the People What They Want and during preparation for a months-long world tour. By the end of this film, what you’ll want is more and more of Miss Sharon Jones.

The festival will also hold its second annual Visionaries Tribute where Lifetime Achievement Awards will be presented to Jon Alpert, Barbara Kopple and Frederick Wiseman.

“We’re delighted to give Lifetime Achievement Awards to three extraordinary filmmakers who continue to dazzle us with outstanding new work,” said DOC NYC artistic director Thom Powers. “On November 12, there’ll be a gathering of documentary talent like none other.”

Jon Alpert co-founded New York’s Downtown Community Television (DCTV), the country’s oldest non-profit community media center. He is the winner of 15 Emmy Awards and the recipient of three DuPont-Columbia Awards; his documentaries include One Year in the Life of Crime, Baghdad ER, and the Oscar-nominated shorts Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province and Redemption. Alpert’s latest film is Mariela Castro’s March.

Barbara Kopple  is a two-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker, having won for both Harlan County USA and American Dream. In 1991, Harlan County USA was named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Kopple’s other celebrated films include Fallen Champ: The Untold Story of Mike Tyson, Wild Man Blues, Shut Up & Sing, Running From Crazy, A Conversation With Gregory Peck, Hot Type: 150 Years of The Nation, and her latest, Miss Sharon Jones!

Frederick Wiseman is a pioneer of observational documentary filmmaking, starting with his acclaimed 1967 debut Titicut Follies. He is the recipient of the George Polk Career Award and the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion, among many honors. Wiseman has directed dozens of films, from early classics such as High School and Law and Order to recent works La Danse, Boxing Gym, Crazy Horse, At Berkeley, National Gallery, and his latest, In Jackson Heights.

Last year’s Lifetime Achievement recipients were Albert Maysles, DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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