DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, returns for its ninth edition with 135 feature-length documentaries among over 300 films and events overall. The festival takes place November 8 to 15 at in New York at the IFC Center in Greenwich Village and Chelsea’s SVA Theatre and Cinepolis Chelsea.
Special Events include Closing Night Film, the world premiere of HBO’s Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists, about the beloved New York City journalists Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill, directed by Jonathan Alter, John Block and Steve McCarthy; and the festival’s Centerpiece presentation, the world premiere of Original Cast Album: Co-op, an episode in the upcoming season of IFC’s Documentary Now! series inspired by D.A. Pennebaker’s Original Cast Album: Company, followed by a conversation with creators Seth Meyers and Rhys Thomas, director Alex Buono, writer and star John Mulaney, and star Renee Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton). The NYC premiere of John Chester’s Telluride and Toronto hit The Biggest Little Farm will open the festival.
World premieres at the festival include Lady Parts Justice in the New World Order, following The Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead on a “Vagical Mystery Tour” to fight for reproductive rights; New Homeland, the newest film from two-time Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple, following refugee boys to a summer camp; Cracked Up, a revealing portrait of Saturday Night Live alumnus Darrell Hammond; Olympia, on Academy Award winning actress Olympia Dukakis; Buzz, about Friday Night Lights author Buzz Bissinger; Afterward, a candid exploration of complex tensions between Germans, Jews and Palestinians; Creating a Character: The Moni Yakim Legacy, on the legendary Juilliard drama teacher who trained Meryl Streep and Viola Davis among countless other talents; Beyond the Bolex, a personal history of the iconic camera; and The Show’s the Thing: The Legendary Promoters of Rock, which reveals an untold chapter of rock history.
Among this year’s U.S. premieres are Screwball, a hilarious exposé of Alex Rodriguez’s doping scandal; The Insufferable Groo, on a prolific low-budget filmmaker who recruits Jack Black for his latest opus; Evelyn, Oscar-winner Orlando von Einsiedel’s reckoning with a family tragedy; Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records, the fascinating tale about the popularization of Jamaican music worldwide; Barbara Rubin & the Exploding NY Underground, on an influential but little-recognized member of the 1960s film and art world; and The Artist & the Pervert, on the controversial relationship between a world renowned composer and a sex educator.
The festival is curated in 21 sections that include five new strands:
Series Showcase, offering world premieres of new episodic programs, including Showtime’s Enemies: The President, Justice & the FBI, exploring the contentious relationship between U.S. presidents and the FBI; and SundanceTV’s Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre.
Photography on Film, which includes the world premiere of Last Stop Coney Island: The Life and Photography of Harold Feinstein, on the seven-decade career of the NYC photographer.
Portraits, which presents the world premieres of The Great Mother, a profile of a woman serving as the legal guardian for 2,000 children of undocumented immigrants; and Welcome to the Beyond, the surprising story of a fashion model and a cult.
In the System, offering an inside look at institutions, including sexism in the restaurant world in The Heat: A Kitchen (R)evolution; and the financial industry on the cusp of the economic recession in Inside Lehman Brothers.
True Love, which presents the world premiere of Dennis and Lois, about a punk rock-loving older couple; and the U.S. premiere of China Love, which explores China’s $80 billion pre-wedding photo industry.
In the festival’s two feature competition sections, nine films appear under the Viewfinders section for distinct directorial visions. They include the world premieres of Cooked: Survival by Zip Code, a radical reframing of natural disasters and their link to poverty; Out of Omaha, a coming-of-age story executive produced by musician J. Cole; The Smartest Kids in the World, an exploration of the shortcomings of the U.S. education system; and The Kleptocrats, an investigation of the Malaysian financial scandal that helped finance The Wolf of Wall Street.
In the Metropolis competition section, seven films are dedicated to stories set in New York City. They include the world premieres of Jay Myself, about acclaimed photographer Jay Maisel; Decade of Fire, on the notorious series of fires that devastated the Bronx in the 1970s; See Know Evil, about a young photographer who left an indelible mark on fashion in the 1990s; and The Candidates, which follows an elaborate mock U.S. presidential election at a Queens high school.
Other returning sections include high-profile Special Events; national and global takes inAmerican Perspectives and International Perspectives; and thematic sections Centerstage (on performance), Jock Docs (on sports), Science Nonfiction (on science and technology), Wild Life (on animals), Modern Family (on unconventional families), Behind the Scenes (on filmmaking), Fight the Power (on activism), Sonic Cinema (on music) and Docs Redux (revisiting classic nonfiction). Short-form content (92 films in total) is represented by the festival’s Shorts Competition and DOC NYC U (showcasing student work), selected by Programmer Opal H. Bennett.
These sections join the Short List: Features titles, highlighting 15 of the year’s award contender documentary features; Short List: Shorts, an inaugural list of 12 of the year’s leading nonfiction shorts; and the eight-day DOC NYC PRO conference, doubled in size from 2017, focusing on panels and masterclasses.
DOC NYC will welcome over 500 filmmakers and special guests in attendance for Q&As after most screenings and for DOC NYC PRO panels. Among the notable guests expected to appear in person are Jakob Dylan for Echo in the Canyon, Darrell Hammond for Cracked Up, Jeffrey Wright for We Are Not Done Yet, Sandra Lee for RX: Early Detection, J.Cole for Out of Omaha, Christo for Walking on Water, Alex Sharp for Creating a Character, Lizz Winstead for Lady Parts Justice in the New World Order and more to be announced in the coming weeks.
For this year’s Short List section of awards season frontrunners, filmmakers presenting their work in person at the festival include Rashida Jones and Alan Hicks (Quincy), Wim Wenders (Pope Francis: A Man of His Word), Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 11/9), Morgan Neville (Won’t You Be My Neighbor?), Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (Free Solo), Betsy West and Julie Cohen (RBG), Rudy Valdez (The Sentence), Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg (Reversing Roe), Susan Lacy (Jane Fonda in Five Acts), Bing Liu (Minding the Gap), Tim Wardle (Three Identical Strangers), Sandi Tan (Shirkers), Alexandria Bombach (On Her Shoulders), RaMell Ross (Hale County This Morning, This Evening) and Stephen Maing (Crime + Punishment). Filmmakers will also take part in the Short List Day of panel conversations on Nov. 9 at DOC NYC PRO.
Notable documentarians will also be honored at the Visionaries Tribute Awards event on Nov. 8: Wim Wenders and Orlando Bagwell will receiveLifetime Achievement Awards while Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin will receive the Robert and Anne Drew Award for observational filmmaking. Tabitha Jackson, director of the Documentary Film Program at Sundance Institute, will receive theLeading Light Award for distinguished service to documentary in a role outside filmmaking.
The following is a breakdown of programming by section:
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM
Dir: John Chester (NYC PREMIERE)
For over eight years, John and Molly Chester struggle to work with nature to establish a biodynamic farm, like a modern-day Little House on the Prairie.
BRESLIN AND HAMILL: DEADLINE ARTISTS
Dirs: Jonathan Alter, John Block and Steve McCarthy (WORLD PREMIERE)
Legendary newspaper columnists Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill are profiled in this essential look at journalism in New York City.
Documentary Now! Presents ORIGINAL CAST ALBUM: CO-OP
Dir: Alex Buono (WORLD PREMIERE)
IFC’s comedy series Documentary Now!, which pays homage to nonfiction classics, presents an episode inspired by D.A. Pennebaker’s Original Cast Album: Company.
COOKED: SURVIVAL BY ZIP CODE
Dir: Judith A. Helfand (WORLD PREMIERE)
Director Judith A. Helfand (Blue Vinyl) investigates the victims and profiteers in extreme weather catastrophes like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.
Dirs: Shannon Service, Jeffrey Waldron (NYC PREMIERE)
This suspenseful high-seas adventure follows a team of activists who rescue modern-day slaves in Thailand’s illegal fishing industry.
Dirs: Janus Metz, Sine Plambech (NYC PREMIERE)
Janus Metz (Borg vs McEnroe) and Sine Plambech explore the surprising cross-cultural marriages between Danish men and Thai women over a decade.
Dirs: Havana Marking, Sam Hobkinson (WORLD PREMIERE)
Investigative journalists uncover how $3.5 billion was plundered from the Malaysian government for a spending spree that included funding The Wolf of Wall Street.
A LITTLE WISDOM
Dirs: Yuqi Kang (NYC PREMIERE)
In a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, young novice monks try to balance rituals and discipline with the distractions of modern life and childhood.
OUT OF OMAHA
Dir: Clay Tweel (WORLD PREMIERE)
A coming-of-age tale of twin African-American brothers filmed over eight years by director Clay Tweel (Gleason) and executive produced by musician J. Cole.
THE SMARTEST KIDS IN THE WORLD
Dir: Tracy Droz Tragos (WORLD PREMIERE)
Based on Amanda Ripley’s bestselling book, four American teenagers go abroad to study in nations that outperform the US in education.
UNDER THE WIRE
Dir: Chris Martin (NYC PREMIERE)
A gripping, first-hand account of the mortal peril faced by war correspondent Marie Colvin and photographer Paul Conroy while reporting from within Syria.
WALKING ON WATER
Dir: Andrey Paounov (NYC PREMIERE)
After the death of his partner, Jeanne-Claude, the visionary artist Christo, known for The Gates of Central Park, realizes his dream of The Floating Piers in Italy.
BARBARA RUBIN & THE EXPLODING NY UNDERGROUND
Dir: Chuck Smith (U.S. PREMIERE)
The untold story of an influential figure who defied sexist conventions and enabled surprising connections in the 1960s New York underground film scene.
Dirs: Alexandra Stergiou, Lexi Henigman (WORLD PREMIERE)
In a Queens high school, a mock Presidential election sees a Russian-American as Donald Trump face off against a Pakistani-American as Hillary Clinton.
CREATING A CHARACTER: THE MONI YAKIM LEGACY
Dir: Rauzar Alexander (WORLD PREMIERE)
Legendary Juilliard acting teacher Moni Yakim, who taught Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, Patti LuPone and countless others, gets his time in the spotlight.
DECADE OF FIRE
Dirs: Vivian Vazquez, Gretchen Hildebran (WORLD PREMIERE)
The true, inside story behind the burning of the Bronx in the 1970s and how the community resisted, remained and rebuilt.
Dir: Stephen Wilkes (WORLD PREMIERE)
For five decades, photographer Jay Maisel created an artistic wonderland in a six-story building on the Bowery, but now it’s time to move.
SEE KNOW EVIL
Dir: Charles Curran (WORLD PREMIERE)
At a young age, photographer Davide Sorrenti took New York City by storm in the 1990s and left an indelible imprint on the fashion world.
THE WORLD BEFORE YOUR FEET
Dir: Jeremy Workman (NYC PREMIERE)
This charming portrait captures urban explorer Matt Green on his mission to walk every block of New York City.
Dirs: Hunter Robert Baker, Jordan Fein (NYC PREMIERE)
Deep in the Navajo Nation, one family struggles with contradictions as a coal company offers employment while destroying the community’s sacred homeland.
CITY OF JOEL
Dir: Jesse Sweet (NYC PREMIERE)
In Monroe, NY, 50 miles north of NYC, a fast-growing Hasidic community sets off a turf war with political, economic and religious implications.
THE CITY THAT SOLD AMERICA
Dir: Ky Dickens (NYC PREMIERE)
A playful and informative look at the key role Chicago has played in modern advertising and its impact on pop culture.
Screening with Ross Kauffman’s short Still Plays with Trains:
John reconstructs his idyllic 1950s childhood through one of the world’s largest model train sets.
Dir: Brian Ivie (NYC PREMIERE)
In the aftermath of the 2015 church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, a community grapples with justice, faith and forgiveness.
Dir: Bernardo Ruiz (NYC PREMIERE)
Set in California’s Napa and Sonoma Valley wine country, this film celebrates the unsung workers and small producers, from vine to vintage.
Dirs: Sally Rubin, Ashley York (NYC PREMIERE)
Ashley York returns to her hometown in Appalachia where, contrary to dismissive stereotypes, she shows a diverse, complex and proud community.
NORTH POLE, NY
Dir: Ali Cotterill (NYC PREMIERE)
Upstate New York’s Santa’s Workshop theme park struggles to overcome economic challenges and a con man who tries to steal Christmas.
Dirs: Anna Moot-Levin, Laura Green (NYC PREMIERE)
In rural New Mexico, healthcare workers serve a community hard hit by the opioid crisis and still reeling from the 2008 recession.
VERY SENIOR: ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING
Dir: Susan Gluth (WORLD PREMIERE)
In Sun City, Arizona, seniors in a retirement community demonstrate the art of aging gracefully while making one’s own choices.
Screening with Rachel Mills and Maya Tippett’s short Magnitudinous Illuminous:
Meet Pete, a 66-year-old Brooklyn bartender and self-proclaimed philosopher.
WHILE I BREATHE, I HOPE
Dir: Emily Harrold (NYC PREMIERE)
Young, African-American and a Democrat, Bakari Sellers faces an uphill struggle as he runs for lieutenant governor in South Carolina.
Dir: Ofra Bloch (WORLD PREMIERE)
Disturbed by the resurgence of anti-Semitism worldwide, the filmmaker travels to Germany, Israel and Palestine to confront lasting tensions and contradictions.
Dirs: Yashaswi Desai, Ellie Walton (WORLD PREMIERE)
Three young Indian women in a conservative Muslim town seek to change their futures through education and self-determination.
Screening with Guille Isa and Angello Faccini’s short Dulce:
A mother teaches her daughter how to swim, essential to survival in their Colombian village.
Dir: Karen Winther (NYC PREMIERE)
What makes someone join neo-Nazis, Jihadists or other hate groups, and what makes them decide to leave?
Dirs: Andres Caballero, Sofian Khan (NYC PREMIERE)
Interpreters who worked for US military forces in Afghanistan and Iraq face retribution while they await promised but long-delayed special visas into the US.
Dir: Barbara Kopple (WORLD PREMIERE)
Refugee boys from war-torn Syria and Iraq attend a Canadian summer camp where some thrive while others struggle.
OF FATHERS AND SONS
Dir: Talal Derki (NYC PREMIERE)
In this Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, director Talal Derki (Return to Homs) gains access to a radical Syrian jihadist and his family for two years.
THE OTHER RIO
Dir: Émilie B. Guérette (U.S. PREMIERE)
In Rio de Janeiro, squatters live in an abandoned government building under the rule of drug dealers, but exhibit a remarkable resilience.
TAKUMI: A 60,000 HOUR STORY ON THE SURVIVAL OF HUMAN CRAFT
Dir: Clay Jeter (WORLD PREMIERE)
Profiles of devoted artisans including a chef, a traditional paper cut artist, a car factory inspector and a carpenter.
ENEMIES: THE PRESIDENT, JUSTICE & THE FBI
Dir: Jed Rothstein (WORLD PREMIERE)
A preview of the new Showtime series, inspired by Tim Weiner’s Enemies: A History of the FBI, with an episode on the Iran-Contra affair plus an extended Q&A.
JONESTOWN: TERROR IN THE JUNGLE
Dir: Shan Nicholson (WORLD PREMIERE)
Based on Jeff Guinn’s book The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple, the first half of the new SundanceTV series is previewed, with an extended Q&A.
LADY PARTS JUSTICE IN THE NEW WORLD ORDER
Dir: Ruth Leitman (WORLD PREMIERE)
Lizz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show, organizes activists and comedians for a satire-infused advocacy tour for reproductive rights.
PHOTOGRAPHY ON FILM
Dir: Willem Baptist (NYC PREMIERE)
After the Polaroid company stops production, three enthusiasts are determined to keep alive the magical wonder and technology of instant cameras.
THE LAST RESORT
Dirs: Dennis Scholl, Kareem Tabsch (NYC PREMIERE)
Photographers Andy Sweet and Gary Monroe captured Miami Beach’s aging Jewish population for a decade, even as the city transformed around them.
LAST STOP CONEY ISLAND: THE LIFE AND PHOTOGRAPHY OF HAROLD FEINSTEIN
Dir: Andy Dunn (WORLD PREMIERE)
Photographer Harold Feinstein captured the beauty, joy and diversity of New Yorkers over seven decades.
WITKIN & WITKIN
Dir: Trisha Ziff (NYC PREMIERE)
Gifted twin brothers—photographer Joel-Peter Witkin and painter Jerome Witkin—reunite for a joint show after decades of estrangement.
Dir: Andrew Shea (WORLD PREMIERE)
While co-writing Caitlyn Jenner’s biography, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Buzz Bissinger (Friday Night Lights) tests his marriage with surprising revelations.
COMMANDER ARIAN: A STORY OF WOMEN, WAR & FREEDOM
Dir: Alba Sotorra (NYC PREMIERE)
Under threat from ISIS, Commander Arian gathers her all-women Kurdish battalion to rescue enslaved civilians in northern Syria.
Dir: Hampus Linder (INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE)
This starkly intimate portrait of Sweden’s feminist trailblazer politician Gudrun Schyman serves as a rallying call in today’s political climate.
THE GREAT MOTHER
Dirs: Dave LaMattina, Chad Walker (WORLD PREMIERE)
Nora Sandigo has more than 2,000 kids, acting as the legal guardian for US-born children of undocumented immigrants.
I’M LEAVING NOW
Dirs: Lindsey Cordero, Armando Croda (U.S. PREMIERE)
Felipe, an undocumented immigrant in NYC who has long struggled to support his family in Mexico, faces the limits of self-sacrifice.
LAILA AT THE BRIDGE
Dirs: Elizabeth Mirzaei, Gulistan Mirzaei (NYC PREMIERE)
Self-proclaimed badass Laila offers salvation to drug addicts in Kabul, running a clinic with her brother, himself a recovered addict.
WELCOME TO THE BEYOND
Dir: Brent Huff (WORLD PREMIERE)
The surprising story of Hoyt Richards, the world’s first male supermodel… and secretly a member of the Eternal Values cult.
WORLDS OF URSULA K. LE GUIN
Dir: Arwen Curry (NYC PREMIERE)
A moving and intimate profile of feminist sci-fi/fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin, featuring interviews with admirers like Neil Gaiman and David Mitchell.
IN THE SYSTEM
Dir: Maasja Ooms (NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE)
A gem of observational cinema, Maasja Ooms’ film portrays the emotional roller coaster experienced by a girl in foster care longing for love.
Dir: Katrine Philp (NYC PREMIERE)
A dogged defense attorney is on a crusade to put a stop to coerced false confessions, exposing their destructive consequences.
THE HEAT: A KITCHEN (R)EVOLUTION
Dir: Maya Gallus (NYC PREMIERE)
Seven female chefs are profiled in a no-holds-barred exploration of the struggles faced by women in the restaurant industry.
INSIDE LEHMAN BROTHERS
Dir: Jennifer Deschamps (NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE)
Ten years after Wall Street’s meltdown, Lehman Brothers whistleblowers look back on their efforts to sound an alarm.
OWNED: A TALE OF TWO AMERICAS
Dir: Giorgio Angelini (NYC PREMIERE)
An investigation of how greed, flawed economics and systemic racism have distorted the American dream of homeownership.
THE SCHOOL IN THE CLOUD
Dir: Jerry Rothwell (NYC PREMIERE)
The brainchild of TED Prize winner Sugata Mitra, a state of the art learning lab connects children in remote areas to teachers via the Internet.
SEE YOU TOMORROW, GOD WILLING!
Dir: Ainara Vera (NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE)
Seventeen octogenarian Franciscan nuns in Spain take care of each other in this beautifully observed and often humorous portrait.
Screening with Leah Galant’s short Death Metal Grandma:
A 97-year-old Holocaust survivor prepares a death metal audition for America’s Got Talent.
SOMEWHERE TO BE
Dir: Peter Odabashian (WORLD PREMIERE)
In NYC’s Greenwich House, seniors from all walks of life share stories in this heartwarming portrait that redefines the meaning of a good life.
THE ARTIST & THE PERVERT
Dirs: Beatrice Behn, René Gebhardt (U.S. PREMIERE)
In this provocative exploration of sexual kinks, composer Georg Friedrich Haas and sex educator Mollena Williams redefine norms of love and ownership.
Dir: Olivia Martin-McGuire (INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE)
In modern-day Shanghai, engaged couples go on a fantasy ride of glitz, excess and glamour in search of the perfect wedding photo.
DENNIS AND LOIS
Dir: Chris Cassidy (WORLD PREMIERE)
Forty years after meeting at CBGB, aging superfans Dennis and Lois still live life to its fullest, traveling all over to support their favorite bands.
Dir: Melody Gilbert (NYC PREMIERE)
Profiling individuals who form relationships with eerily lifelike dolls, this film sensitively explores the need for companionship and emotional connection.
CARE TO LAUGH
Dir: Julie Getz (NYC PREMIERE)
Jesus Trejo funnels his experiences as a caregiver to his elderly parents into disarmingly funny material for his stand-up routine.
CRAFTING AN ECHO
Dir: Marco Williams (WORLD PREMIERE)
Choreographer Andonis Foniadakis struggles to stage an ambitious work with the Martha Graham Dance Company with no shortage of behind-the-scenes drama.
Screening with Dime Davis’ short Wild Wild West: A Beautiful Rant by Mark Bradford:
A provocative artist explains where artists come from.
THE ICE KING
Dir: James Erskine (NYC PREMIERE)
A profile of 1976 Gold medal-winning figure skater John Curry, arguably the first openly gay Olympic athlete and the creator of ice dancing.
Dir: Harry Mavromichalis (WORLD PREMIERE)
Follow Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis behind the scenes in this affectionate profile of a stalwart New Yorker and beloved stage and screen treasure.
WE ARE NOT PRINCESSES
Dirs: Bridgette Auger, Itab Azzam (WORLD PREMIERE)
Refreshingly candid Syrian women find personal connections to Greek tragedy during a theater workshop in a Lebanese refugee camp.
WHEN ARABS DANCED
Dir: Jawad Rhalib (NYC PREMIERE)
Jawad Rhalib profiles artists in the Muslim world—including his mother, a Moroccan dancer—who seek freedom from stereotypes and repression.
LIFE WITHOUT BASKETBALL
Dirs: Tim O’Donnell, Jon Mercer (WORLD PREMIERE)
Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir fights the International Basketball Federation to wear the hijab during Division I competition.
Dirs: Janet Tobias, Claus Wehlisch (WORLD PREMIERE)
Inside the world championship of memory athletes, the abilities on display are unforgettable.
MY PERFECT WORLD: THE AARON HERNANDEZ STORY
Dir: Geno McDermott (WORLD PREMIERE)
Sports journalists Dan Wetzel and Kevin Armstrong track the scandal of New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez as he spiraled from stardom to infamy.
Dir: Billy Corben (U.S. PREMIERE)
From the makers of Cocaine Cowboys, this true crime comedy exposes baseball player Alex Rodriguez’s doping scandal with a hilarious profile of his drug supplier.
BEHIND THE CURVE
Dir: Daniel J. Clark (NYC PREMIERE)
A profile of passionate advocates of the Flat Earth theory reveals the deep-seated need for community and the hazards of believing in alternative facts.
PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF DESIRE
Dir: Hao Wu (NYC PREMIERE)
This SXSW Grand Jury winner goes behind the scenes of China’s live-streaming showrooms, where web stars seek fans and financial rewards.
THE TRUTH ABOUT KILLER ROBOTS
Dir: Maxim Pozdorovkin (NYC PREMIERE)
The director of Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer investigates how robots are becoming more human and humans more robotic.
THE ANCIENT WOODS
Dir: Mindaugas Survila (NYC PREMIERE)
Ten years in the making, a biologist-turned-filmmaker documents an old-growth forest with immersive cinematography and sound design.
THE CAT RESCUERS
Dirs: Rob Fruchtman, Steven Lawrence (NYC PREMIERE)
A profile of street-smart volunteers working tirelessly in Brooklyn to help save as many street cats in need as possible.
ELEPHANT PATH/NJAIA NJOKU
Dir: Todd McGrain (NYC PREMIERE)
In the forests of the Central African Republic, one of the last wild herds of elephants struggles for survival.
FIRE ON THE HILL: THE COWBOYS OF SOUTH CENTRAL LA
Dir: Brett Fallentine (NYC PREMIERE)
Three black cowboys seek to preserve a unique culture of horse-riding in the last public stable in South Central LA.
FOR THE BIRDS
Dir: Richard Miron (NYC PREMIERE)
Kathy, an obsessive bird lover in upstate New York, struggles to maintain over 200 chickens, geese, ducks and turkeys.
OF FISH AND FOE
Dirs: Heike Bachelier, Andy Heathcote (U.S. PREMIERE)
Wildlife preservation clashes with family tradition when one of Scotland’s last salmon fishing families is accused of animal rights violations.
STARS IN THE SKY: A HUNTING STORY
Dir: Steven Rinella (WORLD PREMIERE)
Set in the Alaskan wilderness, this thought-provoking film explores controversies over the sport of hunting.
Screening with Orlando Mora Cabrera’s short Olga:
After years of taking in street cats, Olga has more than she can handle.
Dir: Jonathan Schienberg (WORLD PREMIERE)
Born in the US, 15-year-old Jamil copes with the deportation to Honduras of his undocumented parents and older sister.
Dir: Orlando von Einsiedel (INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE)
Oscar-winning filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel (The White Helmets) turns the camera on his family as they cope with a tragic loss.
FAMILY IN TRANSITION
Dir: Ofir Trainin (INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE)
In a small Israeli town, a husband and father of four undergoes a gender transition that has rippling effects on the family.
Dirs: Melanie Andernach, Andreas Köhler (U.S. PREMIERE)
A family, scattered across the globe in their escape from Somalia’s civil war, faces challenges when they must find a caregiver for their matriarch.
LITTLE MISS WESTIE
Dir: Joy E. Reed, Dan Hunt (WORLD PREMIERE)
In Connecticut, Ren is the first out transgirl to compete in the Little Miss Westie Pageant, coached by her transgender brother.
Dir: Alexander J. Farrell (WORLD PREMIERE)
Syrian refugee Raf’aa seeks to be reunited with her family who are blocked by closed borders in this poignant story about today’s migration crisis.
A SISTER’S SONG
Dir: Danae Elon (NYC PREMIERE)
In this real-life psychological thriller, an Israeli woman tries to convince her sister to leave the religious order which has kept them separated for 20 years.
TO KID OR NOT TO KID
Dir: Maxine Trump (WORLD PREMIERE)
Filmmaker Maxine Trump (no relation) explores women like herself who face societal stigma for choosing not to have children.
TRE MAISON DASAN
Dir: Denali Tiller (NYC PREMIERE)
This profile of three boys cut off from parents who are in prison poses meaningful questions about the effects of mass incarceration.
Dir: Ana Joanes (NYC PREMIERE)
A young mother tries to unravel her conflicted feelings around parenthood, inviting the viewer into her counseling sessions to heal past trauma.
BEHIND THE SCENES
BEYOND THE BOLEX
Dir: Alyssa Bolsey (WORLD PREMIERE)
Alyssa Bolsey explores the iconic Bolex camera, invented by her great-grandfather, Jacques Bolsey, who was a Russian refugee during World War I.
Dir: Michelle Esrick (WORLD PREMIERE)
With courage and humor, comedian and Saturday Night Live alumnus Darrell Hammond reveals his dark history of child abuse.
THE EYES OF ORSON WELLES
Dir: Mark Cousins (NYC PREMIERE)
Mark Cousins (The Story of Film) takes a novel approach to Orson Welles by studying the legendary filmmaker’s paintings, drawings and doodles.
THE GHOST OF PETER SELLERS
Dir: Peter Medak (NYC PREMIERE)
Director Peter Medak (The Ruling Class) revisits his ill-fated 1973 pirate film with Peter Sellers in a classic insider’s tale of movie-making madness and folly.
THE GREENAWAY ALPHABET
Dir: Saskia Boddeke (NYC PREMIERE)
Peter Greenaway (The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover) is profiled with an alphabetical word association, directed by his multimedia artist wife.
Screening with Chuck Workman’s short Moments of Truth:
A masterful montage of moments from 100 documentary films.
THE INSUFFERABLE GROO
Dir: Scott Christopherson (NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE)
Stephen Groo, a Utah-based filmmaker of outlandish low-budget genre films with admirers like Jack Black, attempts an opus that may be his undoing.
THE ORANGE YEARS: THE NICKELODEON STORY
Dir: Scott Barber, Adam Sweeney (WORLD PREMIERE)
A nostalgic and entertaining look back at the early years of Nickelodeon, the TV network that let kids enjoy being kids.
THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING
Dir: Tom Donahue (NYC PREMIERE)
Meryl Streep, Jessica Chastain, Shonda Rhimes and Geena Davis join a who’s who of Hollywood in this investigation of the entertainment industry’s systemic sexism.
UNITED WE FAN
Dir: Michael Sparaga (NYC PREMIERE)
Looking at fandom culture that rallied around shows like Star Trek or Cagney and Lacey,this film reflects on the meaning of pop culture devotion.
WHAT SHE SAID: THE ART OF PAULINE KAEL
Dir: Rob Garver (NYC PREMIERE)
A nuanced portrait of controversial and influential film critic Pauline Kael revisits late-twentieth-century cinema through her words, followed by an extended Q&A.
FIGHT THE POWER
Dirs: Rose Rosenblatt, Marion Lipschutz (NYC PREMIERE)
In Indiana, the murder trial of Chinese immigrant Bei Bei Shuai poses a disturbing legal precedent for terminating a pregnancy.
Dir: Steve Burrows (WORLD PREMIERE)
In this legal drama meets medical mystery, Steve Burrows seeks justice for his mother, who suffers catastrophic complications after routine surgery.
BOYS WHO LIKE GIRLS
Dir: Inka Achté (NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE)
In the aftermath of the infamous Delhi gang rape, a man works to change the way Indian boys view females.
Screening with Thomas Winston’s short Casting in Jagüey Grande:
Cuban kids attempt to master the art of fly fishing with their mentor and father figure.
Dirs: Cynthia Wade, Sasha Friedlander (NYC PREMIERE)
In East Java, Indonesia, a mother and daughter battle a corporation over a man-made catastrophe that’s displaced more than 60,000 people.
I AM THE REVOLUTION
Dir: Benedetta Argentieri (WORLD PREMIERE)
Three women in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria lead the fight for gender equality and freedom in this empowering portrait.
Dirs: Lisa F. Jackson, Sarah Teale (NYC PREMIERE)
In Baja, Mexico, local fishermen face off against the development of a luxury resort, which will have a radical impact on the environment and on their livelihood.
THE RESCUE LIST
Dirs: Alyssa Fedele, Zachary Fink (NYC PREMIERE)
On Ghana’s Lake Volta, activists work to rescue victims of a child-slavery industry and help them transition back to normal life.
Screening with Nicholas Brennan’s short Mama:
Gertrude has dedicated her life to delivering children in her rural Ugandan village.
THE 5 BROWNS: DIGGING THROUGH THE DARKNESS
Dir: Ben Niles (NYC PREMIERE)
Siblings and Juilliard-trained piano virtuosos, the 5 Browns confront a disturbing secret and use music to recover from its impact on their family.
Dir: Samuel Bathrick (NYC PREMIERE)
Grammy winner Todd Thomas—aka “Speech” of Arrested Development—leads a unique collaborative music workshop in a Virginia state penitentiary.
ECHO IN THE CANYON
Dir: Andrew Slater (NYC PREMIERE)
Musician Jakob Dylan of The Wallflowers explores the 1960s musicians who fostered folk rock tradition in the community of Laurel Canyon.
I USED TO BE NORMAL: A BOYBAND FANGIRL STORY
Dir: Jessica Leski (NYC PREMIERE)
Profiling the ardent fans who find joy in their devotion of boy bands such as New Kids on the Block, N*Sync, One Direction and The Beatles.
IT MUST SCHWING! THE BLUE NOTE STORY
Dir: Eric Friedler (NYC PREMIERE)
Executive produced by Wim Wenders and featuring a swinging jazz soundtrack, this history of Blue Note Records profiles the company’s two Jewish German refugee founders.
RUDEBOY: THE STORY OF TROJAN RECORDS
Dir: Nicolas Jack Davies (U.S. PREMIERE)
Set to great Jamaican music, a creative exploration of the pioneering 1960s label behind “Rudy, A Message to You,” “You Can Get if You Really Want” and more.
THE SHOW’S THE THING: THE LEGENDARY PROMOTERS OF ROCK
Dir: Molly Bernstein, Philip Dolin (WORLD PREMIERE)
This untold chapter of rock history reveals the influential live music promoters behind the rise of the Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, David Bowie and more.
TEDDY PENDERGRASS: IF YOU DON’T KNOW ME
Dir: Olivia Lichtenstein (NYC PREMIERE)
This definitive bio, set to a soulful soundtrack, tells the story of Teddy Pendergrass, poised to be the biggest R&B artist ever—until tragedy struck.
A HYMN FOR ALVIN AILEY (1999)
Dir: Orlando Bagwell
A classic film by DOC NYC Lifetime Achievement Award-winner Orlando Bagwell, celebrating the legacy of pioneering choreographer Alvin Ailey.
SHORTS: THE BIG APPLE
New York, NY. It’s a helluva town. Seven films explore the city, from the lives of immigrant cabbies to the World Trade Center memorial.
The Accidental Activist (Samia Khan)
Footprint (Sara Newens)
The Sheriff of Goodtimes (Brad Hinkle)
A Sharper Sword (Olivier Bernier)
I’ve Never Been a Fisherman (Joe Stankus)
King of the Night (Molly Brass, Stephen Tyler)
Vilaayat (Ansh Vohra)
SHORTS: THE CREATIVE SPARK
On artists, performers and designers. Eight films profile graffiti to woodworking, architecture to art in Havana.
Painting the Town (William Higbie)
Barbara Kruger: Part of the Discourse (Ian Forster)
Perspective. (Allyssa Agro)
Thomas Fire Architect (Nicholas Weissman)
Cuban Canvas (Kavery Kaul)
Don’t Define Me (Don Casper)
Tapume (Hugo Faraco)
My Paintbrush Bites (Joel Pincosy, Joe Egender)
SHORTS: DRAWN TOGETHER
Life, animated. Nine films offer a creative use of animation to tell stories about Christmas, clowns, film pioneers and more.
Santa Is a Psychedelic Mushroom (Matthew Salton)
Music & Clowns (Alex Widdowson)
Obon (Andre Hoermann, Anna Samo)
Tightly Wound (Shelby Hadden)
For A Better Life (Yasmin Mistry)
Carlotta’s Face (Valentin Riedl, Frédéric Schuld)
Lon (Nina Landau)
Lotte That Silhouette Girl (Elizabeth Beecherl, Carla Patullo)
The Likes and Dislikes of Marj Bagley (Taylor Stanton)
SHORTS: GENERATION Z
The hopes and dreams of the youngest generation. Seven films detail young love, youth activism, refugee life and more.
True Love in Pueblo Textil (Horatio Baltz)
Station 15 (Kira Akerman, Sophie Tintori)
Share (Barna Szász, Ellie Wen)
Listen (Astrid Bussink)
Osama and Ayman (Sam Price-Waldman, Ben Mullinkosson, Chris Cresci)
We Became Fragments ( Luisa Conlon, Hanna Miller, Lacy Jane Roberts)
Hallo Salaam (Kim Brand)
SHORTS: I’M A SURVIVOR
Contemplating life and death and finding grace. Six films offer hope in the face of life’s curveballs, from illness to accident.
Grace (Rachel Pikelny)
Sister Hearts (Mohammad Gorjestani)
Crannog (Isa Rao)
I Was Here (Julian Dalrymple)
Prince’s Tale (Jamie Miller)
The Pull (Paul Szynol)
History is made, for better or worse. Three films explore the legacy of both private and public actions.
The Happiness Machine (Rebecca B. Blumhagen)
In the Absence (Yi Seung-Jun)
Father K (Judd Ehrlich)
SHORTS: QUEERLY BELOVED
Life, loud and proud. Four films detail the diversity of LGBTQ experience.
The Journey: Gay Officers Action League (Det. John Giretti, Andrew Sklar)
Landline (Matt Houghton)
Almost Liam (Sapir Rokach)
Transformations (Alonso Mayo)
SHORTS: SPACES UNKNOWN
Unexpected moments and unusual discoveries. Six surprising stories about fake news, rhino guardians and more.
Fake News Fairytale (Kate Stonehill)
The Traffic Separating Device (Johan Palmgren)
Tungrus (Rishi Chandna)
The Mauritania Railway: Backbone of the Sahara (MacGregor)
Black Line (Mark Olexa, Francesca Scalisi)
The Black Mambas (Bruce Donnelly)
SHORTS: THIS IS AMERICA, 2018
The states of the nation. Seven stories offer seven stories about Alabama quilters, a Texas pastor, New Orleans politicians and more.
Lonesome Willcox (Ryan Maxey, Zack Wright)
Sole Doctor (Paula Bernstein)
While I Yet Live (Maris Curran)
Cats Cradle (Jonathan Napolitano)
LA Stories (Sara Newens, Josh Polon)
Last Sermon at George’s Creek (Spencer Creigh, Bobby Moser)
All Skinfolk Ain’t Kinfolk (Angela Tucker)
SHORTS: THIS SPORTING LIFE
Athletes, on and off the field. Six portraits of boxing, climbing, football and more.
El Gallo (Michael Medoway)
Big Wall (Jennifer Law-Smith)
Concussion Protocol (Josh Begley)
This Is Yarra (Lydia Rui)
Black 14 (Darius Clark Monroe)
Junction (Brendan Young)
DOC NYC U
The festival’s long-running section offers showcases of some of the city’s top student documentary filmmaking programs. Five programs reveal the nonfiction filmmakers of tomorrow, with work from Columbia University, Hunter College, New York Film Academy, New York University and School of Visual Arts.
Columbia Journalism School’s Documentary Project showcase includes:
The Lifehouse (Heba Elorbany, Kimberly Flores Guzmàn)
Love, Mommy (Tala Hadavi, Yeong-Ung Yang)
Hunter’s MFA Program in Integrated Media Arts showcase includes:
After… After… (Access) (Jordan Lord)
Dick’s Decoys (Sean Hanley)
Cranberry Lake (Zoya Baker)
Gentrification Express: Breaking Down the BQX (Samantha Farinella, Amanda Katz)
Postcards from Miss Universe (CG Foisy)
NYFA’s Documentary Department showcase includes:
Cricket Liu (Julia Cheng)
I Love You, Wally (Simona Kubasova Prakash)
Keliling Bali (Gary Bencheghib, Aitor Mendilibar)
The Trolls & I (Charlotte Madvig Schmidt)
NYU’s NewsDoc showcase includes:
An Edited Life (Mathieu Faure)
Trafficked In Paradise (Olivia Wilson)
SVA’s MFA Social Documentary Film showcase includes:
Bird (Kate Fisher)
Bob Man (Olivia Garzon)
The Calling (Padcha Ithijarukul)
Dressed to Fight (Naijie Wang)
In the Right Frame of Mind (Veronique Engel)
Noodle Soul (Hong Shanjia)
On Track (Yunhong Pu)
SHORT LIST: SHORTS
Dir: Gordon Quinn
In 1963, more than 250,000 students boycotted Chicago’s public schools to protest racial segregation. Combining period footage with reflections from participants, ‘63 Boycott links the past with present-day concerns around inequality in the education system. Courtesy of Kartemquin.
Dir: Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee
In 1968, the first image of the Earth was captured from space, an iconic photograph that had an immediate and transformative impact around the globe. Earthrise explores the memories of the Apollo 8 astronauts responsible for the image, and their experience of awe in viewing the Earth framed against the void of space. Courtesy of New York Times Op-Docs/POV.
Dirs: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
A moving film about the passage from life to death, End Game is a portrait of the last days of those in palliative care in two San Francisco Bay Area medical facilities pioneering new paradigms for end-of-life decisions. Courtesy of Netflix.
THE GIRL AND THE PICTURE
Dir: Vanessa Roth
80 years ago, Xia Shuqin witnessed the murder of her family during the Nanjing Massacre.The Girl and the Picture uncovers how an American missionary’s camera serendipitously captured Xia and her sister, binding his family and theirs forever. Courtesy of USC Shoah Foundation/Cause & Affect Media.
THE HEAD & THE HAND
Dir: Marc Serpa Francoeur
A meditative portrait of two women who confronted great adversity with a profound bond and remarkable positivity, The Head & The Hand presents a rich exploration of disability, independence and sisterhood. Courtesy of Lost Time Media.
LESSONS FROM A SCHOOL SHOOTING: NOTES FROM DUNBLANE
Dir: Kim A. Snyder
In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting, local priest Father Bob Weiss connects with Father Basil O’Sullivan of Dunblane, Scotland, from a community which could uniquely relate to Newtown’s trauma. Kim A. Snyder’s film explores the power of resilience through the bond forged between these two priests. Courtesy of Netflix.
MY DEAD DAD’S PORNO TAPES
Dir: Charlie Tyrell
Following the death of his emotionally distant father, filmmaker Charlie Tyrell seeks to better understand him through the personal belongings he left behind… including a stack of dirty VHS tapes. Courtesy of New York Times Op-Docs.
RX: EARLY DETECTION, A CANCER JOURNEY WITH SANDRA LEE
Dir: Cathy Chermol Schrijver
After an annual mammogram results in a diagnosis of breast cancer, Emmy-winning TV host and lifestyle expert Sandra Lee sets out to discover the best options for treatment and recovery, opening up her private journey to share the importance of early detection with other women. Courtesy of HBO Documentary Films.
Dir: Galen Summer
In 1978, inspired by the popularity of NFL cheerleaders, Playboy organized a pictorial feature approved by team management happy for the media exposure. But when the resulting pictures set off a critical backlash, cheerleaders were fired, exposing society’s hypocrisy around female sexuality. Courtesy of A&E IndieFilms/Lifetime Films.
TAKE BACK THE HARBOR
Dirs: Kristi Jacobson, Roger Ross Williams
On Governor’s Island, an ambitious program works to restore once-bountiful oysters and the environmental benefits they bring to New York Harbor. Take Back the Harbor highlights students at a remarkable public high school where environmental stewardship is part of the curriculum. Courtesy of Discovery/Motto Pictures.
WE ARE NOT DONE YET
Dir: Sareen Hairabedian
US veterans and active-duty service members come together through a workshop led by poet Seema Reza to combat their traumatic military pasts via the written word. Sharing fears, vulnerabilities and victories, their writing becomes a tool for empowerment and healing culminating in the live performance of a collaborative poem under the direction of Jeffrey Wright. Courtesy of HBO Documentary Films.
Dir: Floyd Russ
Born without legs and growing up in the foster care system, Zion Clark moved from one home to another as he grew up. Floyd Russ’ inspiring portrait reveals how his discovery of wrestling in the second grade provided not only a therapeutic outlet, but a sense of family.Courtesy of Netflix.
SHORT LIST: FEATURES
CRIME + PUNISHMENT
Dir: Stephen Maing
With unparalleled access to the whistle-blowing NYPD 12, this compelling Sundance prize-winner exposes systemic police corruption. Courtesy of IFC Films/Hulu.
Dir: Michael Moore
“One of Moore’s best and most incisively funny films” (Rolling Stone) seeks to understand the rise of Donald Trump and the resistance against him. Courtesy of State Run Films/Briarcliff Entertainment.
Dirs: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi & Jimmy Chin
Alex Honnold aims to be the first climber to ascend free solo–without safety ropes–the 3,000-foot cliff of El Capitan in California’s Yosemite Park. Courtesy of National Geographic Documentary Films.
HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING
Dir: RaMell Ross
In this lyrical portrait of two young African-American men in the American South, “you witness a new cinematic language being born” (Village Voice). Courtesy of Cinema Guild.
JANE FONDA IN FIVE ACTS
Dir: Susan Lacy
This candid and entertaining portrait explores Jane Fonda’s many facets: sex symbol, Academy Award winner, controversial activist, tycoon’s wife and fitness mogul. Courtesy of HBO Documentary Films.
MINDING THE GAP
Dir: Bing Liu
Bing Liu films his skateboarding friends Zack and Keire over a decade, capturing the legacy of troubled relationships with their fathers. Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures/Hulu.
ON HER SHOULDERS
Dir: Alexandria Bombach
Before Nadia Murad was awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, this portrait captures the young Yazidi activist as she advocates for her minority community. Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories/RYOT.
POPE FRANCIS: A MAN OF HIS WORD
Dir: Wim Wenders
The Oscar-nominated director of Pina and Buena Vista Social Club now trains his camera on the Argentine pontiff who leads the Catholic Church. Courtesy of Focus Features.
Dirs: Rashida Jones, Alan Hicks
Following the now 85-year-old producer Quincy Jones over three years on the road as he reflects on collaborators, from Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson. Courtesy of Netflix.
Dirs: Betsy West, Julie Cohen
In this vivid history, we watch Ruth Bader Ginsburg go from trailblazing ACLU lawyer to the key liberal voice on the conservative Supreme Court. Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures/Participant Media/CNN Films.
Dirs: Ricki Stern, Annie Sundberg
Acclaimed filmmakers Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern trace the legacy of Roe v. Wade as reproductive rights are increasingly at risk. Courtesy of Netflix.
Dir: Rudy Valdez
For ten years, Rudy Valdez captures the lives of his nieces while their mother serves a harsh prison term due to mandatory minimum sentencing. Courtesy of HBO Documentary Films.
Dir: Sandi Tan
Sundance Directing Award winner Sandi Tan solves a mystery from her youth in Singapore, when her mysterious older mentor stole her first film. Courtesy of Netflix.
THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS
Dir: Tim Wardle
When triplets separated at birth discovered each other in 1980, it was a media sensation, but the truth behind their past proves both surprising and disturbing. Courtesy of NEON/CNN Films.
WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
Dir: Morgan Neville
Oscar-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom) tells the story of Fred Rogers, who influenced generations of children through his pioneering TV program.Courtesy of Focus Features.