DOC NYC Announces Stacked Line-up

DOC NYC opens with The Biggest Little Farm

By Pat Mullen

The USA’s biggest documentary festival, DOC NYC, just released the line-up of the year. With 300+ films and virtually every major documentary of the year on the roster for its 8th annual edition, the New York festival shows that it’s a force to be reckoned with. The line-up, spearheaded by Artistic Director Thom Powers, who curates the international documentaries for TIFF, boasts an impressive range of topical docs from around the world. The fest includes shorts, features, and serials to spotlight a range of docs as modes for delivery and audience engagement evolve.

The fest kicks off with the NYC premiere of The Biggest Little Farm, directed by John Chester, which was an audience favourite at TIFF and Telluride. Favouring the quality of the films over their premiere statuses helps DOC NYC attract many of the most interesting options for doc fans, like Morgan Neville’s Orson Welles doc They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, Sundance winner Of Fathers and Sons, Cynthia Wade and Sasha Friedlander’s exceptional environmental doc Grit, and Alba Sotorra’s festival hit Commander Arian: A Story of Women, War & Freedom. TIFF docs making their way to DOC NYC include Janus Metz and Sine Plambech’s sweeping sociological romance Heartbound, Andrey Paounov’s Christo portrait Walking on Water, Billy Corben’s riotous sports doping doc Screwball, Tom Donohue’s study of Hollywood’s gender imbalance in This Changes Everything, and Shannon Service and Jeffrey Waldron’s Ghost Fleet.

DOC NYC offers a crop of new docs in addition to festival favourites. World premieres at DOC NYC include, but are not limited to, Barbara Kopple’s New Homeland, which profiles young Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Canada; Jonathan Alter, John Block and Steve McCarthy’s Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists about liberal columnists Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill, who defined a particular voice in US journalism while writing for The New York Daily News and The New York Post — very important in the era of #FakeNews. DOC NYC debuts a portrait of Oscar-winner and passionate New Yorker Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck, Away from Her) in Olympia, directed by Harry Mavromichalis. There’s also Scott Barber and Adam Sweeney’s Nickelodeon doc The Orange Year, which profiles the youth-targeted TV channel that engaged audiences with shows like You Can’t Do That on Television and Rugrats. Tim O’Donnell and Jon Mercer’s Life Without Basketball, finally, tells the story of one young woman who confronts her love for the game when a controversial court ruling about head coverings jeopardizes her passion.

The fest also features NYC premieres of a handful of Canadian documentaries, including Maya Gallus’s women-take-back-the-kitchen doc The Heat: A Kitchen ( R)evolution, Michael Sparaga’s TV fandom doc United We Fan, the Canadian-Afghan co-production Laila at the Bridge directed by Elizabeth Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei, and Yuqi Kang’s A Little Wisdom, which won Best Canadian Feature at Hot Docs. Jennifer Law-Smith’s Climbing the Big Wall represents the maple leaf in DOC NYC’s shorts section, as does Jamie Miller’s Prince’s Tale, which won the one-two punch of the jury award for Best Canadian Short and the audience award for top short at Hot Docs.

Finally, DOC NYC gives audiences and industry peers a handy cheat sheet of the films to watch in this year’s Oscar race. The fest spotlights 15 buzz-worthy docs worth catching on the big screen as the screeners pile up. The shortlist includes Oscar frontrunners Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, RBG, and Three Identical Strangers, along with late-breaking hits like Free Solo and Fahrenheit 11/9. There’s also studio hopefuls like Pope Francis: A Man of His Word and Quincy that can expect the fest to reignite campaigns heading into award season. Other docs in the shortlist spotlight are Crime + Punishment, Hale County This Morning, This Evening, Jane Fonda in Five Acts, Minding the Gap, On Her Shoulders, Reversing Roe, The Sentence, and Shirkers. Keep tabs on how these and other films play at DOC NYC to see how the season might shape up.

DOC NYC runs Nov. 8-15, 2018. Get the full DOC NYC line-up here.