As DOC NYC‘s Director of Programming, I’m excited to share this year’s just-announced lineup. Already America’s largest documentary festival as of last year, the event has been expanded for our 5th anniversary edition, adding a new venue, two additional days of Doc-A-Thon panel programming, a larger Short List section, and new thematic sidebars. In total, 153 films and events make up this year’s festival, including 92 features, of which 19 are world premieres, 7 are North American or US premieres, and 40 are NYC premieres. DOC NYC will take place at the IFC Center, SVA Theatre, and Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas between Thursday, November 13 and Thursday, November 20, with filmmakers in attendance for Q&As at nearly every program.
I’m planning to profile each section here in the weeks prior to our opening, but for the time being, check out our brand new website via the links below for more information and to purchase passes or individual tickets, which go on sale today.
High profile, must-see films bookending the festival:
DO I SOUND GAY? (pictured)
David Thorpe, 2014, US Premiere
After a breakup with his boyfriend, journalist David Thorpe embarks on a hilarious and touching journey of self-discovery, confronting his anxiety about “sounding gay.”
THE YES MEN ARE REVOLTING
Laura Nix & The Yes Men, 2014, US Premiere
A chronicle of the past five years of pranksters The Yes Men, the infamous activists known for duping the media with their impersonations of corporate shills and government stooges.
Standout films coupled with conversations with directors and special guests:
ABOVE AND BEYOND
Roberta Grossman, 2014, NYC Premiere
Reveals the hidden history behind the creation of Israel’s air force.
BACK ON BOARD: GREG LOUGANIS
Cheryl Furjanic, 2014, NYC Premiere
This strikingly candid profile explores the triumphs and tragedies of Olympian Greg Louganis, considered by many the greatest diver of all time.
BANKSY DOES NEW YORK
Chris Moukarbel, 2014, NYC Premiere
Last October, when infamous street artist Banksy revealed his New York City residency, he set off a daily scavenger hunt among curious fans, would-be art collectors and, of course, the police.
ENQUIRING MINDS: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE MAN BEHIND THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER
Ric Burns, 2014, NYC Premiere
Serving up a sensational exposé in line with his juicy subject, acclaimed multiple-Emmy Award-winner Ric Burns uncovers the strange history of the National Enquirer and the tabloid’s legendary publisher, Generoso Pope Jr.
I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY
Dave LaMattina & Chad Walker, 2014, NYC Premiere
SESAME STREET’s Big Bird may be one of the world’s most recognizable characters, but far less familiar is Caroll Spinney, the man who has brought to life the yellow-feathered Muppet—as well as the irascible Oscar the Grouch—since 1969.
AN OPEN SECRET (pictured)
Amy Berg, 2014, World Premiere
Every year, thousands of children swarm Hollywood in search of fame, but what they often find under the surface is a deep and disturbing underbelly of manipulation and abuse.
SOUL BOYS OF THE WESTERN WORLD
George Hencken, 2014, NYC Premiere
Spandau Ballet, one of the bands that defined the 1980s, tell their own story, set against a backdrop of evocative period footage, including never-before-seen home movies.
A competition celebrating distinct directorial visions:
Dan Rybicky & Aaron Wickenden, 2014, World Premiere
After the filmmakers meet octogenarian artist Peter Anton, they become enmeshed in his life, helping to stage an exhibition of his work.
Sherief Elkatsha, 2013, NYC Premiere
Shot before, during and after the revolution, this entertaining film explores Cairo from the street level through the perspectives of its drivers.
Mike Attie & Meghan O’Hara, 2014, NYC Premiere
By now, the idea of Civil War re-enactment is familiar, but the subjects of this intriguing film relive the battles of a far more surprising conflict: Vietnam.
Yuki Kokubo, 2014, World Premiere
Following the devastation of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Yuki visits her estranged parents in Kasama, Japan, a rural artist community, in the hopes of making sense of their past.
THE LIFE AND MIND OF MARK DEFRIEST
Gabriel London, 2014, NYC Premiere
Sentenced to four years in prison in 1978, Mark DeFriest’s numerous escapes have kept him incarcerated for over three decades.
MEET THE PATELS
Geeta V. Patel & Ravi V. Patel, 2014, NYC Premiere
Nearing 30, first-generation Indian-American Ravi Patel breaks up with his secret, white girlfriend to seek the Indian woman of his parents’ dreams—who should also be named Patel, keeping with tradition.
MONSIEUR LE PRÉSIDENT
Victoria Campbell, 2013, World Premiere
Volunteering in Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake, the filmmaker encounters Gaston, a charming voodoo priest who shows leadership during the emergency.
Jessica Solce, 2014, World Premiere
A provocative exploration of the contentious issue of gun control through profiles of two men at opposite ends of the debate.
SONG FROM THE FOREST
Michael Obert, 2013, NYC Premiere
An American musicologist who abandoned modern civilization to join an African pygmy tribe brings his son to New York City.
THE WOUND AND THE GIFT
Linda Hoaglund, 2014, US Premiere
All over the world, people save animals that were bred, abused, or sold on the black market, with an impact on both rescuer and rescued.
A competition highlighting quintessentially New York stories:
Viko Nikci, 2014, North American Premiere
Finally released from prison, an innocent man attempts to repair his relationship with his daughter and to confront the man who committed the crime for which he was punished.
THE HAND THAT FEEDS
Rachel Lears & Robin Blotnick, 2014, NYC Premiere
An Upper East Side Hot & Crusty bakery serves as the unlikely setting for an old-fashioned David vs. Goliath story, as service workers demand better working conditions and wages.
HOMME LESS (pictured)
Thomas Wirthensohn, 2014, North American Premiere
From all outside appearances, Mark seems to have the glamorous New York City life that many would envy… but he harbors a secret.
Johanna St Michaels, 2014, NYC Premiere
In her heyday, Swedish bombshell Agneta ruled the world from her fabulous Central Park West apartment, but times—and her finances—have changed.
Shan Nicholson, 2014, North American Premiere
Confronting a bankrupt, decaying city and the dashed hopes of the civil rights generation, African-American and Latino teenagers violently took over the streets of 1970s New York.
Screening with Fraser Munden & Neil Rathbone’s THE CHAPERONE.
THE SEVEN FIVE
Tiller Russell, 2014, NYC Premiere
NYPD officer Michael Dowd was at the center of an infamous cop corruption scandal of the early 1990s.
SOME KIND OF SPARK
Ben Niles, 2014, World Premiere
Illustrating the transformative power not only of music, but of mentorship, this film is an uplifting look at Juilliard’s Music Advancement Program for inner-city youth.
Spencer Wolff, 2014, World Premiere
After David Ourlicht was stopped and searched by the NYPD for no discernible reason, he filed a class-action suit against the City of New York, alleging racial profiling in the police department’s stop-and-frisk policy.
Stephanie Wang-Breal, 2014, NYC Premiere
Having lost custody of their children to Child Protective Services, two parents in New York City and Seattle fight to win back the trust of the courts and reunite their families.
Stories from around the US:
THE AGE OF LOVE
Steven Loring, 2014, NYC Premiere
An unprecedented speed-dating event for seniors serves as the backdrop for this alternately poignant and funny look at love among the 70+ set.
ALL AMERICAN HIGH REVISITED
Keva Rosenfeld, 2014, NYC Premiere
Thirty years after he profiled the senior class of a typical California high school, the filmmaker revisits several members of the class of 1984 to see how they turned out.
Andrea B. Scott, 2014, World Premiere
A resonant work of modern Americana, this film paints a rich and often humorous portrait of a cowboy town set in the heart of Arizona’s prison industry.
GRAZERS: A COOPERATIVE STORY
Lisa F. Jackson & Sarah Teale, 2014, World Premiere
With interest in farm-to-table food on the rise, a small band of upstate New York farmers sees an opportunity to hold on to their endangered farms by raising and selling grass-fed beef.
Tony Shaff, 2014
Even in our increasingly disconnected digital age, telephone hotlines continue to bring strangers together for a multiplicity of reasons.
LITTLE WHITE LIE
Lacey Schwartz, 2014, NYC Premiere
Growing up in an upper-middle-class Jewish household, Lacey Schwartz knew she looked different from the rest of her family, but never suspected the truth.
Screening with Danielle Schwartz’s MIRROR IMAGE.
MATT SHEPARD IS A FRIEND OF MINE
Michele Josue, 2013, NYC Premiere
While the world remembers Matthew Shepard’s death at the hands of homophobic attackers, this poignant film celebrates his life.
A MURDER IN THE PARK (pictured)
Shawn Rech & Brandon Kimber, 2014, World Premiere
A college journalism class’s re-examination of a murder case leads to the exoneration of an innocent man… or does it?
SEX AND BROADCASTING, A FILM ABOUT WFMU
Tim K. Smith, 2014, World Premiere
A portrait of New Jersey’s WFMU, which has occupied a unique position as an independent, commercial-free, listener-supported radio station since its inception in the late 1950s.
A global lens:
EVERY LAST CHILD (pictured)
Tom Roberts, 2014, World Premiere
After the Taliban bans polio vaccinations and spreads misinformation, Pakistan suffers devastating outbreaks of the disease, prompting strategic problem-solving from the World Health Organization.
THE KINGDOM OF DREAMS AND MADNESS
Mami Sunada, 2013, NYC Premiere
Offering animation fans a rare look inside Japan’s Studio Ghibli, this fascinating film profiles its most famous creators, Hayao Miyazaki (SPIRITED AWAY), and his friendly rival and business partner, Isao Takahata (POM POKO).
Mark Grieco, 2014, NYC Premiere
Exploring the intersection of economic development, environmental impact and globalization, this is an intimate and richly observed portrait of a rural Colombian mining town threatened with destruction.
MISS TIBET: BEAUTY IN EXILE
Norah Shapiro, 2014, World Premiere
A Tibetan teenager travels from Minneapolis to India to compete in a most unlikely beauty pageant.
Adam Zucker, 2014
How does one claim an identity in a vacuum? Living in Poland, the four young women in this engaging film learned of their Jewish roots after growing up Catholic.
A SMALL SECTION OF THE WORLD
Lesley Chilcott, 2014, NYC Premiere
In equal measures inspiring and endearing, this film spotlights a group of Costa Rican village women who form a coffee-growing collective—despite not knowing the first thing about growing coffee.
Screening with Luke Lorentzen’s SANTA CRUZ DEL ISLOTE.
Diana Whitten, 2014, NYC Premiere
Moved by the plight of desperate women in countries with restrictive reproductive rights, a Dutch physician uses laws governing international waters to bring much-needed abortion and contraceptive services on the high seas.
WHEN PEOPLE DIE THEY SING SONGS
Olga Lvoff, 2014, NYC Premiere
Under the watchful eyes of her dutiful daughter Sonia, Regina recalls the Yiddish and French songs of her youth through music therapy sessions following a stroke.
Screening with Lucy Walker’s THE LION’S MOUTH OPENS.
A new section that puts the spotlight on performance:
David Iverson, 2014, NYC Premiere
Recognizing that music and rhythmic activity can help those suffering from Parkinson’s disease achieve greater control of their mobility, two dancers from New York’s Mark Morris Dance Group lead a dance workshop.
Screening with Zach Jankovic’s THE ASTRONAUT’S SECRET.
THE LAST IMPRESARIO
Gracie Otto, 2014, NYC Premiere
From THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW to MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL, producer Michael White has helped bring enduring cultural touchstones to Broadway, London’s West End, and the silver screen over the last four decades, but the bon vivant may be the most famous person you’ve never heard of.
STILL DREAMING (pictured)
Hank Rogerson & Jilann Spitzmiller, 2014, World Premiere
Located just outside of Manhattan, the Lillian Booth Actors Home provides a most resonant setting for the staging of a Shakespearean play in which nothing is what it seems.
US, NAKED: TRIXIE & MONKEY
Kirsten D’Andrea Hollander, 2014, World Premiere
A pair of acrobatic burlesque performers attempt to juggle art, love and financial stability in this perceptive portrait.
A new section focused on sports and athletes.
Ursula Liang, 2014
A variant of volleyball developed by Chinese immigrants to America as both an athletic pastime and a social outlet in a time of widespread anti-Chinese sentiment now serves to unite young men with their heritage.
Rex Miller, 2014, World Premiere
In the 1950s, long before Arthur Ashe or Venus and Serena Williams, Althea Gibson was the first African-American tennis player to win Grand Slam tournaments.
Natasha Verma, 2014, NYC Premiere
Although Brooklyn’s Heather “The Heat” Hardy has only been boxing for a few years, she’s a world champion in the making—but first she has to be given the chance to prove herself in a sport that has been slow to open its doors to female athletes.
Jay Shapiro, 2014, World Premiere
In its nearly 70-year history, the Little League World Series has never hosted a team from Africa. The Ugandan team hopes to change that.
TOP SPIN (pictured)
Sara Newens & Mina T. Son, 2014, World Premiere
Three driven teenage athletes attempt to go for Olympic gold in the perpetually popular but underappreciated game of table tennis.
Fight the Power
A new section celebrating the power of activism.
BROTHERS OF THE BLACK LIST
Sean Gallagher, 2014, NYC Premiere
In the fall of 1992, despite efforts to recruit minority students, SUNY Oneonta set off a firestorm of controversy that led to the longest litigated civil-rights case in US history.
Pamela Yates, 2013, NYC Premiere
Recognizing the persistence of income inequality in South America, a group of activist economists join together to offer an alternative path to eliminating poverty.
DIVIDE IN CONCORD
Kris Kaczor, 2014, NYC Premiere
A feisty octogenarian, concerned about the environmental impact of our disposable culture, is on a mission to ban the local sale of plastic bottled water, facing off against her celebrity publicist-turned-pundit nemesis.
Thomas G. Miller, 2014, NYC Premiere
A poignant portrait of four decades of devotion despite overwhelming odds, this film follows a transnational LGBT couple’s immigration battle.
SHE’S BEAUTIFUL WHEN SHE’S ANGRY (pictured)
Mary Dore, 2014, NYC Premiere
Through a treasure trove of archival material and profiles of several outspoken pioneers of the women’s movement, we revisit the remarkable eruption of activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s that signaled the arrival of modern feminism.
SOFT VENGEANCE: ALBIE SACHS AND THE NEW SOUTH AFRICA
Abby Ginzberg, 2014, NYC Premiere
At the height of apartheid, noted South African activist, author and attorney Albie Sachs was driven into exile, yet still faced threats to his life that cost him dearly.
A diverse showcase on music and musicians:
BÉLA FLECK: HOW TO WRITE A BANJO CONCERTO
Béla Fleck and Sascha Paladino, 2014, NYC Premiere
Commissioned to create a first-of-its-kind concerto for the banjo and an 80-piece symphony orchestra, virtuoso musician Béla Fleck faces an intensely personal challenge of collaboration and composition.
DON’T THINK I’VE FORGOTTEN: CAMBODIA’S LOST ROCK & ROLL
John Pirozzi, 2014, NYC Premiere
A fascinating exploration of history as reflected through a nation’s popular culture, this film excavates Cambodia’s lost era of American-inflected music.
HEAVEN ADORES YOU
Nickolas Rossi, 2014, NYC Premiere
An artful tribute to the too-soon departed singer/songwriter Elliott Smith.
JINGLE BELL ROCKS! (pictured)
Mitchell Kezin, 2013, NYC Premiere
An entertaining quest to locate the top twelve strangest holiday songs you’re likely to ever hear, from “Santa Claus Was a Black Man” to “Christmas in Vietnam.”
SALAD DAYS: A DECADE OF PUNK IN WASHINGTON, DC (1980-1990)
Scott Crawford, 2014, US Premiere
An exploration of the development and evolution of the Washington DC punk scene, and how it shaped independent music and popular culture in the decade that followed.
SONGS FOR ALEXIS
Elvira Lind, 2014, NYC Premiere
Eighteen-year-old hopeless romantic Ryan, a young transgender man, writes songs about his sixteen-year-old girlfriend Alexis as the couple navigates a long distance relationship between Long Island and San Francisco.
A new section revisiting past nonfiction favorites, including several films by this year’s DOC NYC Visionaries Tribute recipients:
Filmmakers: Drew Associates, 1962
This classic follows the attorney Louis Nizer as he attempts to save prisoner Paul Crump from the electric chair.
Filmmakers: DA Pennebaker & William Ray, 1961
Rare 35mm screening of Drew Associates’ portrait of a jazz trumpeter struggling through drug rehab.
Frederick Wiseman, 1968
Wiseman’s classic look at an urban Philadelphia high school, capturing interactions between students, teachers, parents and administrators.
Steve James, 1994
Twentieth anniversary restoration. Two Chicago teens are followed over their four years of high school as they aspire to use their basketball skills to create better futures for their families.
KINGS OF PASTRY
Chris Hegedus & DA Pennebaker, 2009
Sixteen French pastry chefs put their reputations at stake in a prestigious competition.
METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER
Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky, 2004
Tenth anniversary. The members of the heavy metal band go through group therapy to save not only the band, but themselves.
Albert Maysles, David Maysles & Charlotte Zwerin, 1968
This breakthrough documentary follows door-to-door Bible salesmen as they ply their trade from Boston to Chicago to Miami.
Films to stay up late for:
Anthony Morrison, 2014, World Premiere
A Michigan family-run business sets out to create the scariest haunted house in the state.
LOVE AND TERROR ON THE HOWLING PLAINS OF NOWHERE (pictured)
Dave Jannetta, 2014, NYC Premiere
Imagine a THIS AMERICAN LIFE episode devoted to a real-world TWIN PEAKS, and you might approximate the stranger-than-fiction story of small-town Chadron, Nebraska.
Brenda Goodman, 2014, NYC Premiere
Revisit the health class of your awkward teenage years in this fun survey of sexual education films.
ART + DESIGN
Ways of seeing and interacting with the world, ranging from interior design and fonts to artisanal craftwork and custom yarmulkes.
LIFE + DEATH
An exploration of beginnings and endings, including the healing power of music, the recording of life’s major moments and the ethics of euthanasia.
LOST + FOUND
Unexpected discoveries and hidden histories, from secret presidential recordings and the lost payphones of NYC to fancy cats and the world’s longest yard sale.
PARTS + LABOR
A series of shorts about making a living, offering portraits of workers and their work – selling pickles, raising buffalo, stuffing animals, cobbling and casting manhole covers.
POINT + SHOOT
Views through the photographic lens, focusing on blind creators, unconventional beauty, Warhol history and war photography.
SHOW + TELL (pictured)
Kids offer their perspectives on NYC snow days, middle-school heavy metal, dog shows and North Dakota’s oil boom.
Newly expanded to re-present some of the strongest docs of the year – just in time for Awards season:
THE CASE AGAINST 8
Ben Cotner & Ryan White, 2014
Following the fight for marriage equality all the way to the Supreme Court, as former legal foes, progressive David Boies and ultra-conservative Ted Olson, join forces.
Laura Poitras, 2014
A real-life thriller chronicling how Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the massive covert surveillance programs run by the NSA and other intelligence agencies.
Katy Chevigny & Ross Kauffman, 2014
A look at the dangerous but life-affirming work performed by the Human Rights Watch Emergency Team, who enter hostile territories to document crimes against humanity that might otherwise go unreported.
FINDING VIVIAN MAIER
John Maloof & Charlie Siskel, 2013
When Vivian Maier died in 2009 at age 83, she left behind more than 100,000 negatives of her street photography—images that she’d scarcely shared with anyone.
THE GREAT INVISIBLE
Margaret Brown, 2014
An examination of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and its impact on fishermen, oilmen and survivors.
Amir Bar-Lev, 2014
An exploration of the Penn State scandal, focusing on hero worship and the court of public opinion, and their impact on everyday people caught in their wake.
KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON
Alan Hicks, 2014
Celebrating mentorship as much as music, this inspirational and poignant film explores the common bonds between a 92-year-old jazz legend and his 23-year-old protégé.
LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM
Rory Kennedy, 2014
In the final weeks of the Vietnam War, with the invasion of Saigon imminent, the White House ordered the evacuation of U.S. citizens—but their South Vietnamese allies flooded onto embassy grounds seeking help.
Steve James, 2014
Acclaimed filmmaker Steve James pays tribute to the late Roger Ebert and to the love of movies.
MERCHANTS OF DOUBT
Robert Kenner, 2014
The director of FOOD, INC reveals how corporations affect what we think, exploring the shadow world of experts who stake claims contrary to scientific consensus.
Jesse Moss, 2014
Pastor Jay Reinke offers newcomers seeking employment the chance to sleep in his church, setting off a controversy within his small North Dakota town and his congregation.
Gabe Polsky, 2014
This emotional look at the Soviet hockey team blends politics, sports and human drama.
RICH HILL (pictured)
Tracy Droz Tragos & Andrew Droz Palermo, 2014
With roots in the eponymous, impoverished Missouri town, filmmaker cousins bring a sensitive touch to this richly observed and sublimely shot portrait of three boys.
THE SALT OF THE EARTH
Wim Wenders & Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, 2014
An insider and outsider’s perspective on photographer Sebastiao Salgado and the nature preserve Instituto Terra.
TALES OF THE GRIM SLEEPER
Nick Broomfield, 2014
Nick Broomfield digs into a true crime story of a Los Angeles serial killer that raises larger questions about gender, race and class inequalities.
Newly expanded to six days, offering a total of 24 panels and masterclasses exposing filmmakers to notable non-fiction creators under the following themes:
FOR THE FIRST-TIME FILMMAKER
Essential information for new filmmakers, with panels on “Mapping Out Your Film,” “Funding,” “Post-Production” and “Distribution & Outreach.”
ALL ABOUT THE SHORT
A focus on short-form storytelling, with panels on “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Short Filmmaking But Were Afraid To Ask,” “Who’s Buying Doc Shorts,” “Shorter Forms for Ever Shorter Attention Spans” and “Nonfiction Shorts & the Festival Audience.”
SHOOT YOUR DOC
A series of masterclasses exploring production, including “Cinematography,” “Producing,” “Music Rights” and “Casting for Nonfiction.”
FINISH YOUR DOC
Masterclasses offering critical advice for post-production, including “Editing,” “How to Produce an Award-Winning Archival Documentary,” “Sound Design” and “Graphics & Animation.”
FUND YOUR DOC (pictured)
Learn who is funding nonfiction and what they’re looking for, with panels on “Lessons on Creative Funding & Audience Building,” “Social-Action Filmmaking,” Pitch Workshop” and “The ‘Documatrix’ of HBO,” a conversation with HBO Documentary Films’ Sheila Nevins.
REACH YOUR AUDIENCE
Panels illuminating the importance of audience engagement, including “Social-Media Workshop,” “How to Maximize Digital Distribution,” “Documentaries are Narrative” and “Making a Living as a Documentary Filmmaker.”