DOC NYC 2020 Overview: Part One

Festival:
The 11th DOC NYC

Dates:
November 11-19

About:
This year, DOC NYC will be available online and nationwide – including US territories – allowing us to reach more nonfiction lovers than ever before. As the Director of Programming of America’s largest documentary festival, I’ll be highlighting our lineup here, over a few posts to try to cover as many titles as possible. First up, a look at the various feature premieres, appearing in different sections throughout the festival.

World Premieres:

A LA CALLE
Viewfinders Competition
Director: Nelson G. Navarrete and Maxx Caicedo
Venezuela’s recent political upheavals are made vivid through this epic work exploring multiple perspectives in the national movement against the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro.

THE MEANING OF HITLER
Viewfinders Competition
Director: Petra Epperlein, Michael Tucker
This provocative consideration of the lasting influence and draw of Hitler provides insight into the resurgence of white supremacy, antisemitism, and the weaponization of history.

CALENDAR GIRL
Metropolis Competition
Director: Christian D Bruun
Ruth Finley, the nonagenarian queen of the fashion industry through her pink Fashion Calendar, founded in 1945, faces the end of an era as her iconic publication changes ownership. 

CAN YOU BRING IT: BILL T. JONES AND D-MAN IN THE WATERS
Metropolis Competition
Director: Rosalynde LeBlanc
Co-Director: Tom Hurwitz
An engrossing examination of dance, love, and loss through the story of Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane’s signature performance piece on the devastation of AIDS.

A COPS AND ROBBERS STORY
Metropolis Competition
Director: Ilinca Calugareanu
A decorated NYPD officer’s career is threatened when his political stances lead to revelations about his former life of crime.

LA MADRINA: THE SAVAGE LIFE OF LORINE PADILLA
Metropolis Competition
Director: Raquel Cepeda
The “first lady” of the Savage Skulls reflects on the pivotal role of women in the 1970s New York City gang and her later shift to community activism.

MOMENTS LIKE THIS NEVER LAST
Metropolis Competition
Director: Cheryl Dunn
In post 9/11 New York City, Dash Snow rejected a life of privilege to make his own way as an artist for a too brief but unforgettable time.

WOJNAROWICZ 
Metropolis Competition
Director: Chris McKim
A powerful elegy to the late New York artist, writer, and filmmaker David Wojnarowicz, who embraced a defiant queer identity and fought against indifference to the AIDS crisis.

ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES
Masters
Director: Abigail Child
Abigail Child offers an eerie and exciting look into the present and future of artificial intelligence through the perspectives of robotics scientists, entrepreneurs, and a Black lesbian robot named BINA48.

CHASING CHILDHOOD
American Perspectives
Director: Eden Wurmfeld, Margaret Munzer Loeb 
Reformed “helicopter” parents and education professionals reveal the benefits of allowing kids to have freedom to play unencumbered by schedules and structure.

THE OIL WAR
American Perspectives
Director: David Schisgall
Iconoclastic historian Andrew Bacevich delivers an anti-colonial critique of US foreign policy in the Middle East, which he sees as one long Oil War.

RESTAURANT HUSTLE 2020: ALL ON THE LINE
American Perspectives
Director: Frank Matson
Executive produced by Guy Fieri, this is an intimate chronicle of the impact of the pandemic on the restaurants of four celebrity chefs: Antonia Lofaso, Marcus Samuelsson, Maneet Chauhan, and Christian Petroni. 

A CRIME ON THE BAYOU
Investigations
Director: Nancy Buirski
In 1966 Louisiana, a lasting bond is formed between an unjustly arrested Black man, Gary Duncan, and Richard Sobol, his young Jewish attorney.

NEITHER CONFIRM NOR DENY
Investigations
Director: Philip Carter
At the height of the Cold War, the CIA is tasked with an audacious covert mission: recovering a sunken Soviet nuclear submarine from the bottom of the ocean.

YOUTH V GOV
Fight the Power
Director: Christi Cooper
Young activists from across the nation file a groundbreaking lawsuit against the United States for endangering their constitutional rights by creating the climate crisis.

DUTY FREE
Portraits
Director: Sian-Pierre Regis
As his recently laid off mother struggles to find a new job at the age of 75, the filmmaker takes her on an adventure to help reclaim her life. 

IN SILICO
Portraits
Director: Noah Hutton
Director Noah Hutton embarks on a 10-year project following a visionary neuroscientist’s quest to build a computer simulation of a brain.

RED HEAVEN
Portraits
Director: Lauren DeFilippo, Katherine Gorringe
In this prescient exploration of self-imposed quarantine, six volunteers embark on a one-year mission in a Mars simulation to further research for space exploration.

TELEVISION EVENT
Behind the Scenes
Director: Jeff Daniels
The improbable behind-the-scenes story of the 1983 nuclear apocalyptic made-for-TV film THE DAY AFTER, made against the backdrop of an escalating nuclear arms race between the US and the Soviet Union.

CRUTCH
Arts & Culture
Director: Sachi Cunningham, Vayabobo
Dance, art, performance, and disability politics converge in this entertaining and enlightening portrait of Bill Shannon.

ON POINTE
Arts & Culture
Director: Larissa Bills
A sneak preview of the pilot episode of the upcoming Disney+ docuseries capturing a season in New York City at the School of American Ballet. 

IN MY OWN TIME: A PORTRAIT OF KAREN DALTON
Sonic Cinema
Director: Robert Yapkowitz, Richard Peete
The unconventional life of blues and folk singer Karen Dalton, a prominent figure in the 1960s New York music scene.

International Premieres:

BLUE CODE OF SILENCE
Metropolis Competition
Director: Magnus Skatvold, Greg Mallozz
iIn the 1970s, NYPD Detective Bob Leuci turned informant on his own squad, becoming a hero to some, pariah to others.

KINGS OF CAPITOL HILL
Investigations
Director: Mor Loushy
An eye-opening look at the powerful pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC, through the perspectives of disaffected insiders concerned about the union between Netanyahu and Trump.

RONNIE’S
Sonic Cinema
Director: Oliver Murray
A chronicle of the life of saxophonist Ronnie Scott, owner of the legendary London jazz club that became a prime European outpost for such performers as Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, and Chet Baker.

North American Premieres:

PARIS CALLIGRAMMES
Masters
Director: Ulrike Ottinger
German auteur Ulrike Ottinger constructs an epic memoir tracing the influence of the time she spent living in Paris in the 1960s.

THE JUMP
Investigations
Director: Giedrė Žickytė
When a Lithuanian sailor seeking asylum jumps off his Soviet ship onto a US Coast Guard vessel in 1970, he sets off an international Cold War incident.

AN IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT
Arts & Culture
Director: Jens Meurer
After Polaroid announces the closure of its last factory in 2008, an eccentric Austrian scientist makes it his mission to revive interest in all things analog.

LOST IN FACE
Arts & Culture
Director: Valentin Riedl
An extraordinary portrait of Carlotta, an elusive and multifaceted artist who has a neurological condition preventing her from recognizing faces.

SELF PORTRAIT
Arts & Culture
Director: Katja Høgset, Margreth Olin, Espen Wallin
A portrait of the haunting work of photographer Lene Marie Fossen, whose extreme form of anorexia is at the center of her artistic practice.

AMERICAN RAPSTAR
Sonic Cinema
Director: Justin Staple 
An eye-opening exploration of the SoundCloud rap phenomenon, a scene of troubled, young, lo-fi rappers that has used social media to develop a rabid fan base.

CROCK OF GOLD: A FEW ROUNDS WITH SHANE MACGOWAN
Sonic Cinema
Director: Julien Temple
The lead singer and songwriter of The Pogues tells his own story, in revealing conversations with the likes of Gerry Adams and Johnny Depp.

ELDER’S CORNER
Sonic Cinema
Director: Siji Awoyinka
This tour through the history of Nigerian music follows a young London-born Nigerian music fan to Lagos to re-record the country’s musical icons.

UNIVERSE
Sonic Cinema
Director: Sam Osborn, Nick Capezzera
Miles Davis’s protegé, Wallace Roney, is determined to record and debut a challenging orchestral suite to honor his mentor’s legacy.

US Premieres:

SMOG TOWN
International Perspectives
Director: Meng Han
The environmental protection bureau of Langfang, just outside of Beijing, is on the front lines of China’s fight against air pollution.

SUMMERWAR
International Perspectives
Director: Moritz Schulz
A quietly chilling look at the insidious nature of nationalist indoctrination through the experiences of two young Ukrainians attending a paramilitary summer camp.

SHUT UP SONA
Fight the Power
Director: Deepti Gupta
Indian singer Sona Mohapatra uses her powerful voice not only to entertain, but to speak out against sexism within the Indian music industry.

LESSONS OF LOVE
Portraits
Director: Malgorzata Goliszewska, Kasia Mateja
After 45 years, 69-year-old Jola leaves an unhappy marriage to live life on her own terms, but is she ready to open her heart to a new love? 

LIFT LIKE A GIRL
Jock Docs
Director: Mayye Zayed
In a dilapidated corner of Alexandria, Egypt, promising young athlete Zebiba and her community of young female weightlifters train for championship gold.

EL FATHER PLAYS HIMSELF
Behind the Scenes
Director: Mo Scarpelli
Fiction and reality collide in the Amazonian rainforest when a filmmaker directs his own father in a film about his unconventional life.

TINY TIM: KING FOR A DAY
Sonic Cinema
Director: Johan von Sydow
In the late 1960s, Tiny Tim was, improbably, a household name, but the eccentric performer’s fame would prove heartbreakingly fleeting.

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