DOC NYC 2021 Overview

Festival:
The 12th DOC NYC

Dates:
November 10-28

About:
America’s largest nonfiction event – and my former programming home – returns both in-person and online – with more than 125 new and recent feature documentaries, plus shorts and its wide-ranging industry program, DOC NYC PRO.

Among the offerings:
Special Events:

LISTENING TO KENNY G
Director: Penny Lane
A witty and provocative profile of Grammy-winning saxophonist Kenny G that also asks a bigger question: what makes music good or bad?

THE FIRST WAVE
Director: Matthew Heineman
A powerful look at the doctors, nurses, and patients on the frontlines during the “first wave” of COVID-19 in New York City from March to June 2020.

CITIZEN ASHE
Director: Sam Pollard, Rex Miller 
This penetrating biography of the tennis legend Arthur Ashe charts how he navigated between a conservative sports culture and the activist politics of the Civil Rights movement.

DIONNE WARWICK: DON’T MAKE ME OVER
Director: Dave Wooley, David Heilbroner 
In this career-spanning portrait, richly illustrated with vintage musical performances, Dionne Warwick is a marvelous raconteur sharing candid stories behind her hit songs.

14 PEAKS: NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE
Director: Torquil Jones
In 2019, Nepalese mountain climber Nirmal “Nims” Purja set out to do the unthinkable by climbing the world’s fourteen highest summits in less than seven months.

US Competition:

ANONYMOUS SISTER
Director: Jamie Boyle
The filmmaker turns the camera on her own family when her mother and sister become dependent on opioids.

BE OUR GUEST
Director: Diane Tsai
A family in a small New Hampshire town learns to balance their needs with their unconventional home life when they open their doors to those recovering from addiction.

BOYCOTT
Director: Julia Bacha
A look at the recent explosion of laws designed to penalize Americans who push boycotts against Israel.

NEWTOK
Director: Andrew Burton, Michael Kirby Smith
As the effects of climate change become ever more apparent throughout the world, the Yup’ik people and their lands on the western outskirts of Alaska face a much more imminent threat.

OBJECTS
Director: Vincent Liota
An NPR correspondent, a literary author, and a graphic designer let us in on the secret life of the special objects they keep as a way to preserve memories, conjure experiences, and find meaning in their lives.

REFUGE
Director: Erin Berhardt, Din Blankenship
In a small, uncommonly diverse town in Georgia, a successful Kurdish doctor and a Muslim-hating white supremacist form an unlikely and healing friendship.

International Competition:

THE BUBBLE
Director: Valerie Blankenbyl
A deeper look at the inner workings of Florida’s The Villages, the world’s largest retirement community, which offers everything that a pensioner’s heart desires but hides some darker secrets.

F@CK THIS JOB
Director: Vera Krichevskaya
Russian journalist Vera Krichevskaya covers several tumultuous years inside Dozhd, the only independent TV channel in Russia.

GO THROUGH THE DARK
Director: Yunhong Pu
A blind boy in China being raised by a struggling single father displays great skill at the ancient board game Go.

THE MOLE
Director: Mads Brügger
The impossible story of a spy who uncovers the worst of North Korea’s secrets.

YOUNG PLATO
Director: Neasa Ní Chianáin, Declan McGrath
A visionary headmaster at a Catholic primary school in Belfast teaches ancient Greek wisdom as an antidote for pessimism, violence and historical despair.

Metropolis Competition:

END OF THE LINE
Director: Emmett Adler
A heartfelt and scrupulous look into NYC’s massive, troubled subway system, this film poses the question: what happens when that life line of the city goes flat?

MIMAROGLU: THE ROBINSON OF MANHATTAN ISLAND
Director: Serdar Kokceoglu
An experimental portrait of legendary Turkish pioneer of electronic music İlhan Mimaroğlu, crafted out of his own archival recordings and footage.

MR SATURDAY NIGHT
Director: John Maggio
The untold story of Robert Stigwood, the impresario behind SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER and its record-breaking disco soundtrack.

THE PHOTOGRAPH
Director: Sherman De Jesus
An illumination of the legacy of prolific photographer James Van Der Zee and his portraits of the Black community during the Harlem Renaissance.

Kaleidoscope Competition:

INVISIBLE DEMONS
Director: Rahul Jain
An adept look at the effects of climate change in Delhi and the environmental cost of India’s fast-growing economy, while meditating on the aesthetics of human disconnection with the natural world.

THE MAN WHO PAINTS WATER DROPS
Director: Oan Kim, Brigitte Bouillot
An essayistic exploration of the complex relationship between the filmmaker and his father, Kim Tschang-Yeul, one of the most recognized Korean artists of his generation.

NOTHING BUT THE SUN
Director: Arami Ullón
In Paraguay, Mateo, a native Ayoreo, has been using an old tape recorder for decades to capture the stories, songs and testimonies of his ancestral culture which was ravaged by white missionaries.

NUDE AT HEART
Director: Yoichiro Okutani
An intimate look at the lives of the Odoriko dancers who perform in the slowly disappearing variety theaters of Japan.

Fight the Power:

THE BUSINESS OF BIRTH CONTROL
Director: Abby Epstein
The team behind The Business of Being Born explore the controversial secret history of the birth control pill.

A DECENT HOME
Director: Sara Terry
Filmmaker Sara Terry looks at the changing economy of mobile home parks being bought by private equity firms, closing out one of the last affordable housing options in America.

INHOSPITABLE
Director: Sandra Alvarez
Patients and activists band together to fight a multi-billion dollar nonprofit hospital system that limits vital care for vulnerable patients.

A SONG FOR CESAR: BEWARE A MOVEMENT THAT SINGS
Director: Abel Sanchez, Andres Alegria
A unique and stimulating view of the life and legacy of American labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez and the farmworker movement he spearheaded.

Sonic Cinema:

THE JOBS OF SONGS
Director: Lila Schmitz
Next to the breathtaking cliffs of an Irish coastal village, a tight-knit group of musicians finds joy and community through traditional Irish folk songs.

OMARA
Director: Hugo Perez
Omara Portuondo, internationally beloved grande dame of Cuban music best known from the Buena Vista Social Club, continues to delight audiences on her final world tour.

THE RUMBA KINGS
Director: Alan Brain
The Congolese rumba, an upbeat blend of Congolese traditional music and sounds from Cuba, is showcased as a vessel for cultural self-expression and joy.

YUNG PUNX: A PUNK PARABLE
Director: Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, Jeremy Newberger
The Color Killers, a hard-rocking punk group of tweens, must overcome infighting and jealousies to ace their biggest live-performance ever.

Portraits:

ADRIENNE
Director: Andy Ostroy
The death of acclaimed actress-filmmaker-screenwriter Adrienne Shelly sends her husband on a search for answers.

KURT VONNEGUT: UNSTUCK IN TIME
Director: Robert B. Weide, Don Argott
Decades in the making, this biography of Kurt Vonnegut covers his years as a struggling writer to his eventual superstardom. The film makes its world premiere on what would have been his 99th birthday on November 11.

LET ME BE ME
Director: Dan Crane, Katie Taber
Kyle Westphal grows up as an isolated autistic boy whose life is transformed by his fascination with fabric, leading him to become a fashion designer.

PUNCH 9 FOR HAROLD WASHINGTON
Director: Joe Winston
Long before Barack Obama, Mayor Harold Washington galvanized a multiethnic progressive coalition and became the signal bearer for black politicians in Chicago.

Art + Design:

KRIMES
Director: Alysa Nahmias
While locked up for six years in federal prison, artist Jesse Krimes secretly creates monumental works of art, smuggling them out in pieces and seeing the final product only when he’s released.

WHITE CUBE
Director: Renzo Martens
Imagining a world where museums serve the people from whom they extract art, instead of the many corporations who continue their legacy of exploitation.

Photography & Film:

EXPOSING MUYBRIDGE
Director: Marc Shaffer
A complex look into the compelling life and times of the father of cinema: Eadweard Muybridge.

FILM, THE LIVING RECORD OF OUR MEMORY
Director: Inés Toharia
Much of our audiovisual heritage has been lost forever, but film archivists, curators, technicians, and filmmakers from around the world are hard at work to preserve what still remains.

FOREST FOR THE TREES
Director: Rita Leistner
War photographer Rita Leistner turns her lens onto a community of tree planters who overcome grueling conditions to bring back the forest one tree at a time.

GRAIN
Director: Alex Contell, Tommaso Sacconi
Professional and amateur photographers join lab technicians in sharing the stories of those committed to shooting on real film in the digital era.

MCCURRY: THE PURSUIT OF COLOUR
Director: Denis Delestrac
Travel the world through Steve McCurry’s eyes and discover what these journeys can teach us about our place in the universe.

Personal Journeys:

THE BENGALI
Director: Kavery Kaul
Fatima, a New Orleans dwelling descendant of African Americans and Indian immigrants, ventures to Kolkata, India, in search of her long-lost family.

BLACK AND MISSING
Series Director: Geeta Gandbhir, Nadia Hallgren, Samantha Knowles, Yoruba Richen
Sisters-in-law Derrica and Natalie Wilson have dedicated their lives to locate Black people who are missing by bringing awareness to their cases, which have often been marginalized by law enforcement and traditional media.

Coming of Age:

COLORS OF TOBI
Director: Alexa Bakony
Hungarian teen Tobi looks beyond the gender binary as their supportive family wades into the complexities of language and identity in the LGBTQIA+ community.

ZERO GRAVITY
Director: Thomas Verrette
A diverse group of middle-school students go on the journey of a lifetime when they participate in a nationwide competition sponsored by MIT to code satellites aboard the International Space Station.

Sports:

HOCKEYLAND
Director: Tommy Haines
Two competing high school hockey programs fight for the pride of their communities and a coveted state championship.

THE INVISIBLE SHORE
Director: Zhao Qi
The audacious tale of Guo Chuan, the first Chinese man to embark on a solo, non-stop circumnavigation of the world—and went missing.

KEEP IT SECRET
Director: Sean Duggan
In the 1970s, a group of surfing pioneers brought an international competition to Ireland amidst the political strife of the Troubles.

MESSWOOD
Director: Emily Kuester, Brad Lichtenstein
Two Milwaukee area high schools—one black and urban, the other white and suburban—combine their football programs, and tensions rise as the disparities between them become increasingly apparent over the course of the season.

Short List: Features:

ASCENSION
Director: Jessica Kingdon
An impressionistic portrait of China’s industrial supply chain that depicts a thriving capitalism in a communist state.

ATTICA
Director: Stanley Nelson, Traci A. Curry
An examination of the 1971 New York prison uprising that was the largest in U.S. history.

BECOMING COUSTEAU
Director: Liz Garbus
A nuanced look at Jacques Cousteau’s passions, achievements, blind spots, and tragedies. 

BRING YOUR OWN BRIGADE
Director: Lucy Walker
A focus on one day in California’s 2018 megafire season reveals why these infernos are growing more common.

FAYA DAYI
Director: Jessica Beshir
An ethereal journey through Harar, Ethiopia follows the harvesting of the euphoria-inducing khat plant.

FLEE
Director: Jonas Poher Rasmussen
The story of Amin Nawabi (a pseudonym), who fled Afghanistan as a boy, relying on human smugglers to reach Denmark.

HOMEROOM
Director: Peter Nicks
Following the senior class of Oakland High School through the tumultuous year of 2019-2020.

IN THE SAME BREATH
Director: Nanfu Wang
This penetrating film essay seeks to understand how governments shaped information at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic both in China and the United States.

INTRODUCING, SELMA BLAIR
Director: Rachel Fleit
Actress Selma Blair adapts to living with multiple sclerosis with humor and unflinching candor.

JULIA
Director: Betsy West, Julie Cohen
A touching portrait of the iconic television chef Julia Child who became a celebrity in her fifties, defying expectations for women of her generation.

PROCESSION
Director: Robert Greene
Six midwestern men — all survivors of childhood sexual assault at the hands of Catholic priests and clergy — come together to direct a drama therapy-inspired experiment designed to collectively work through their trauma.

THE RESCUE
Director: E Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin
An inside look at the dramatic rescue of 12 young soccer players and their coach trapped by monsoon floods inside a cave in Thailand.

ROADRUNNER: A FILM ABOUT ANTHONY BOURDAIN
Director: Morgan Neville
A multifaceted portrait of Anthony Bourdain, drawing upon extensive unseen footage from his travels and emotional memories from his friends.

SUMMER OF SOUL (…OR, WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED)
Director: Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
A treasure trove of footage brings back to life the long-neglected 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival.

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND
Director: Todd Haynes
An exploration of the history of The Velvet Underground and the 1960s New York scene of experimental art, music, and film.

Winner’s Circle:

ALL LIGHT, EVERYWHERE
Director: Theo Anthony
A riveting essay film that explores the shared histories of cameras, weapons, policing, and justice.

CHILDREN OF THE ENEMY
Director: Gorki Glaser-Muller
The heart-rending story of a grandfather reclaiming his grandchildren from the neglect and hate that await the children of ISIS members.

A COP MOVIE
Director: Alonzo Ruizpalacios
A thoroughly original and unpredictable documentary that immerses the audience into the human experience of police work within Mexico’s dysfunctional system.

MR. BACHMANN AND HIS CLASS
Director: Maria Speth
An immersive, intimate look inside the classroom of an inspiring teacher at a German primary school for immigrant students.

A NIGHT OF KNOWING NOTHING
Director: Payal Kapadia
A stack of love letters lay out the map to a brave, new world emerging from the dying embers of the world we know.

OPTION ZERO
Director: Marcel Beltrán
Over 100 hours of personal cell phone footage traces a group of Cuban migrants as they journey from Colombia to Panama seeking refuge.

WRITING WITH FIRE
Director: Rintu Thomas, Sushmit Ghosh
In India, a group of Dalit women journalists pick up their pens and raise them against the many swords that endanger their lives.

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