DOC NYC is set to mark its fourth annual return from November 14-21 at the IFC Center in Greenwich Village and Chelsea’s SVA Theatre.
Having swiftly expanded into the largest documentary festival in the U.S., the week-long lineup will showcase 131 films and events including 72 feature-length film screenings, 39 shorts in addition to 20 panel discussions and master classes. The festival’s highlights will include the opening night premiere of Errol Morris’s “The Unknown Known” and a closing night world premiere of Michel Gondry’s “Is The Man Who is Tall Happy?” DOC NYC will also feature a panel discussion with guest attendee Noam Chomsky as one of its main highlights.
Echoing the anticipated special guest appearances Errol Morris, Noam Chomsky, Michel Gondry, Oliver Stone, Sarah Polley, Kathleen Hanna, Ricki Lake, Jonathan Franzen, Grace Lee Boggs, Chuck Workman, Donna McKechnie, Nat Hentoff, Doug Pray and more, DOC NYC artistic director Thom Powers remarked, “New Yorkers love memorable characters and this festival is overflowing with them.”
Check out the full lineup schedule here as well as some of the festival’s highlights below:
GALAS – Opening Night (Nov. 14): the NYC premiere of The Unknown Known, presented by director Errol Morris, in which he engages in a verbal duel with former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld over recent history. Centerpiece (Nov. 17): the US premiere of Finding Vivian Maier (dirs. John Maloof & Charlie Siskel) which uncovers one of the 20th century’s greatest photographers who kept her work secret. Closing Night (Nov. 21): the world premiere of Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? An Animated Conversation with Noam Chomsky, presented by director Michel Gondry and Noam Chomsky, in which Gondry interviews the esteemed linguist and brings his ideas to life with drawings. Also playing as a gala: the NYC premiere of Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did for Love (Nov. 17, dir. Dori Berinstein) about the hit-making songwriter behind “The Way We Were,” “A Chorus Line” and more, presented by the director along with Broadway star Donna McKechnie and songwriter Rupert Holmes.
SPECIAL EVENTS – Five standout films coupled with high-profile conversations with the directors and special guests. Oliver Stone presents the never-broadcast prologue to his epic Showtime series The Untold History of the United States, which looks at events leading up to World War II. Two world premiere events: White Gold is a frontline expose of the modern-day ivory trade, presented with an extended conversation with director Simon Trevor and producer Arne Glimcher (founder of Pace Gallery); and Inside the Mind of Leonardo 3D (dir. Julian Jones) is a hybrid documentary featuring the actor Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who) performing passages from the notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci. Two NYC premieres:Emptying the Skies (dir. Douglas Kass) chronicles the rampant poaching of migratory birds in Europe, based on the New Yorker essay by Jonathan Franzen who will participate in a Q&A; and What is Cinema? (dir. Chuck Workman) creates a visual essay from film clips of boundary-pushing cinema combined with eclectic interviews. In addition to the above special events, four free panels will be announced in the days to come.
VIEWFINDERS COMPETITION – Seven films notable for their distinct directorial visions including the world premiere of WEB (dir. Michael Kleiman), which follows Peruvian children in remote regions who participate in the One Laptop per Child program. US premiere: The Dark Matter of Love (dir. Sarah McCarthy) looks at an American family that adopts Russian children prior to Vladimir Putin’s ban. Five NYC premieres: Sole Survivor (dir. Ky Dickens) profiles four people who were the only survivors of major airline crashes. Uranium Drive-In(dir. Suzan Beraza) focuses on a Colorado town with its economic hopes pinned on a new uranium mine. A Will for the Woods (dirs. Amy Browne, Jeremy Kaplan, Tony Hale & Brian Wilson) highlights the green burial movement. We Always Lie to Strangers (dirs. AJ Schnack & David Wilson) portrays the lives of performers in the popular family tourist destination of Branson, Missouri. A World Not Ours (dir. Mahdi Fleifel) brings a humorous and personal perspective on a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon.
METROPOLIS COMPETITION – Nine films rooted in New York City including the world premiere of Patrolman P (dir. Ido Mizrahy), which re-opens a controversial NYPD corruption case from the 1970s. Two US premieres: Exposed (dir. Beth B) delves into the world of modern burlesque performers; and The Sarnos: A Life in Dirty Movies (dir. Wiktor Ericsson) profiles Joe Sarno who flourished making softcore porn in the 1960s and ’70s. Six NYC premieres: A Fragile Trust: Plagiarism, Power and Jason Blair at The New York Times(dir. Samantha Grant) interviews the main players behind the 2003 newspaper scandal. Here One Day (dir. Kathy Leichter) uncovers a box of hidden audiotapes by the director’s mother, the wife of a New York State Senator, illuminating a troubled history. I Learn America (dirs. Jean-Michel Dissard & Gitte Peng) goes inside a Brooklyn public high school dedicated to newly arrived immigrants. Lucky (dir. Laura Checkoway) follows a homeless single mother who dreams of bettering her life. Misfire: The Rise and Fall of the Shooting Gallery (dir. Whitney Ransick) examines the history of the New York film company responsible for Sling Blade and other indie hits. The Pleasures of Being Out of Step (dir. David L. Lewis) profiles Nat Hentoff, the renowned jazz critic and free speech advocate.
AMERICAN PERSPECTIVES – Eleven films that represent the country’s diversity including the world premiere of Kids for Cash (dir. Robert May), which uncovers the shocking story of a Pennsylvania judge who incarcerated young people at an alarming rate; and the US premiere ofHow to Lose Your Virginity (dir. Therese Shechter), a humorous look at ideas around virginity in modern culture. Eight NYC premieres: Breastmilk (dir. Dana Ben-Ari), presented by executive producer Ricki Lake in person, uses humor and candor to explore misconceptions around mother’s milk. American Commune (dirs. Rena Mundo Croshere & Nadine Mundo) follows the filmmaker siblings back to the counterculture commune, The Farm, where they were born. American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs (dir. Grace Lee) profiles the 98-year-old social activist from Detroit who will attend in person. Citizen Koch(dirs. Carl Deal & Tia Lessin) examines the Wisconsin standoff between state employees and Governor Scott Walker who was bankrolled by rightwing billionaires David and Charles Koch.Geraldine Ferraro: Paving the Way (dir. Donna Zaccaro) traces the history of the first-ever female vice-presidential candidate. Toxic Hot Seat (dirs. James Redford & Kirby Walker) uncovers disturbing claims about products containing flame retardants that have become commonplace. Unorthodox (dir. Anna Wexler & Nadja Oertelt) examines three diverse Modern Orthodox American Jews who spend a year studying at a Yeshiva in Israel. Town Hall (dir. Sierra Pettengill & Jamila Wignot) looks at two Pennsylvania Tea Party activists in the lead-up to the 2012 election. The final title is Rebuilding the World Trade Center (dir. Marcus Robinson), which captures the six-year task of construction at Ground Zero.
INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES – Doubling in size from last year, this section has eight titles that take us around the globe, including the US premieres of Things Left Behind (dir. Linda Hoaglund), which focuses on a Japanese art exhibit about the atomic bomb; and The Traces of Dr. Ernesto Guevara (dir. Jorge Denti), which draws from Che Guevara’s personal journals to trace his second journey across Latin America in 1952-53. Six NYC premieres: The Abominable Crime (dir. Micah Fink) examines violent homophobia in Jamaica. Brave Miss World (dir. Cecilia Peck) follows an Israeli former Miss World campaigning against sexual violence. The Manor (dir. Shawney Cohen) looks at a dysfunctional family that runs a Canadian strip club. The Road to Fame (dir. Hao Wu) captures Beijing students adapting the Broadway musical Fame. Touba (dir. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) uses breathtaking cinematography to document a Senegalese pilgrimage. The Stuart Hall Project (dir. John Akomfrah) blends Miles Davis music and eclectic archival footage to profile the British cultural theorist.
SONIC CINEMA – Five films that explore a wide range of music, including three world premieres: Revenge of the Mekons (dir. Joe Angio) explores the endurance of the punk band the Mekons over four decades; We Don’t Wanna Make You Dance (dir. Lucy Kostelanetz) captures a white funk band over a long span of time, like a rock version of Michael Apted’s 7 Up; and Harlem Street Singer (dirs. Trevor Laurence & Simeon Hutner) profiles the blind guitar player Reverend Gary Davis who influenced a generation of folk and blues musicians. NYC premieres: The Punk Singer (dir. Sini Anderson) focuses on Kathleen Hanna, a leader of the Riot Grrrl movement with bands like Bikini Kill and Le Tigre; and Mercedes Sosa: The Voice of Latin America (dir. Rodrigo H. Vila) goes deep into the history of the singer who became a 20th century icon.
ART + DESIGN – In this new section, we present seven films engaging with artists, including the world premiere of Men of the Cloth (dir. Vicki Vasilopoulos), which looks at master tailors whose craft is in danger of vanishing; and the US premiere of Grey City (Cidade Cinza) (dirs. Marcelo Mesquita & Guilherme Valiengo), which explores the work of renowned graffiti artists Os Gemeos, Nunca, and Nina. Three NYC premieres: Magical Universe (dir. Jeremy Workman) takes us inside the world of an outsider artist who builds Barbie doll dioramas.Levitated Mass: The Story of Michael Heizer’s Monolithic Sculpture (dir. Doug Pray) chronicles the artist Michael Heizer’s attempt to transport a 340-ton boulder for an installation.In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter (dir. Tomas Leach) profiles one of the pioneers of the New York school of photography from the ’40s and ’50s. If You Build It(dir. Patrick Creadon) documents the impact of a design class in an impoverished North Carolina town. Tiny: A Story About Living Small (dirs. Merete Mueller & Christopher Smith) tracks a couple building a small house as part of an environmentally conscious movement.
MIDNIGHT DOCS – Four films selected to keep you awake late. Kink (dir. Christina Voros) goes behind the scenes of the world’s most popular sexual fetish site in a film produced by James Franco. The Final Member (dirs. Jonah Bekhor & Zach Math) takes a funny and bizarre look at the Icelandic Phallological Museum. Hungry (dirs. Jeff Cerulli & Barry Rothbart) delves into the world of competitive eating and one of its controversial stars, Takeru Kobayashi. Shooting Bigfoot (dir. Morgan Matthews) follows attempts by cryptozoologists to track down the legendary man-beast.
SHORTS PROGRAMS – Six thematic groupings of short documentaries will be presented in the programs “Blood is Thicker,” on the bonds of family; “The Kids are All Right,“ on the honesty and wisdom of youth; “Man & Beast,“ on people and animals; “Obsessions,” on collectors, curiosity seekers and compulsives; “People & Places,“ on unexpected environments; “Then & Now,“ on nostalgia and changing times.
DOC-A-THON PANELS – Sixteen masterclasses and panels with esteemed filmmakers and industry leaders are organized into four thematic days. Shoot Your Doc day (Nov. 18) has masterclasses on “Cinematography,” “Producing,” “Filming Outside Your Turf,” plus “Cara Mertes In Conversation” with the head of the Ford Foundation JustFilms program. Finish Your Doc day (Nov. 19) has masterclasses on “Editing,” “Dig Into Archives,” “Your Subjects at Risk,” and “Graphics & Animation.” Fund Your Doc day (Nov. 20) has panels entitled “Lessons in Crowd-Funding,” “Tap Into TV,” plus masterclasses on “Get Funded & Stay in Control,” and “Advice From the Experts.” Reach Your Audience day (Nov. 21) features the panels “Meet the Distributors,” “How to Maximize Digital Distribution,” “Leveraging Your Press” and “Making the Most of Festivals.”
SHORT LIST – Ten films selected by DOC NYC programmers as ones to watch this awards season (* indicates director in person): 20 Feet From Stardom (dir. Morgan Neville*); The Act of Killing (dir. Joshua Oppenheimer*); Blackfish (dir. Gabriela Cowperthwaite); The Crash Reel (dir. Lucy Walker*); Dirty Wars (dir. Richard Rowley*); First Cousin Once Removed (dir. Alan Berliner*); Gideon’s Army (dir. Dawn Porter*); God Loves Uganda (dir. Roger Ross Williams*); The Square (dir. Jehane Noujaim*); Stories We Tell (dir. Sarah Polley*).
AWARDS – Juries for the Viewfinders competition and Metropolis competition will pick one film from each section to receive a prize. The winners will receive a Digital Cinema Package courtesy of Technicolor-PostWorks New York, offering comprehensive post services including data workflows, multi-format conform, color grading, duplication and digital cinema. Films in those two sections will also be eligible for the SundanceNOW Audience Award. The winner, determined by audience balloting at a film’s first screening, will receive a collection of 50 films on DVD from the IFC Films and Sundance Selects library. SundanceNOW is the home of Doc Club, which features a monthly selection of films curated by DOC NYC artistic director Thom Powers. A jury will also select one film from the 39 shorts in the festival for the Short Film Prize.