All that Breathes

DOC NYC Announces 2022 Short List Titles

Fest lists offer reliable forecast for Oscar favourites

14 mins read

One of awards season’s best guides to the docs to watch has landed with the release of DOC NYC’s Short List programs. Many of the frontrunners reaffirmed their leads with the announcement, which came on the heels of yesterday’s Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards nominations. Fire of Love, which led the Critics’ Choice nominations, made the cut at DOC NYC for Sara Dosa’s archival portrait of volcanologists Maurice and Katia Krafft. The film’s top rival at the Critics’ Choice nominations, Good Night Oppy, did not make the Short List for features at DOC NYC, but director Ryan White did make the cut for the short doc State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith.

“Award season voters truly have an amplitude of outstanding documentaries to consider this year,” said DOC NYC Artistic Director Jaie Laplante in a statement from the festival. “DOC NYC’s Short Lists represent our picks for those films that should go on to year-end glory.”

Two films that came up short yesterday with the Critics’ Choice Awards’ top category, All that Breathes and All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, directed by Shaunak Sen and Laura Poitras, respectively, both made DOC NYC’s list. All that Breathes won the Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema at Sundance and the l’Œil d’or at Cannes, while All the Beauty and the Bloodshed won the Golden Lion at Venice. The former is a portrait of a bird clinic in India, while the latter observes photographer Nan Goldin in her fight to hold Big Pharma to account. Other expected favourites, including Daniel Roher’s festival hit Navalny, Brett Morgen’s kaleidoscopic David Bowie doc Moonage Daydream, and Alex Pritz’s collaborative doc The Territory made the list. Navalny and The Territory won the Audience Awards at Sundance.

Films that made breakthroughs with the DOC NYC list include a reminder to voters for Rebeca Huntt’s debut feature Beba. The film wowed audiences at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival with poetic exploration of selfhood. Ondi Timoner’s compelling end-of-life portrait, Last Flight Home, also made the list. On the shorts front, Canadian Ben Proudfoot is in the hunt with The Best Chef in the World after winning the Oscar for The Queen of Basketball this year.

Curated by DOC NYC Artistic Director Jaie Laplante and Director of Special Projects Thom Powers, along with shorts programmer Samah Ali for the short doc category,  the Short List programs are among the most reliable bellwethers for the Academy Awards races in the documentary field. Over the past decade, nine of the ten films that won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature screened in the program. 88% of the Oscar nominees in the category screened in the Shorts List during this same period. The contenders will compete for juried awards in the categories of Directing, Producing, Cinematography, and Editing.


The films in the Short List are:


Short List – Features

All that Breathes
Director: Shaunak Sen
Producers: Shaunak Sen, Aman Mann, Teddy Leifer
Winner of prizes at Cannes and Sundance, All That Breathes follows two brothers in New Delhi dedicated to caring for birds. (Sideshow/Submarine Deluxe/HBO Documentary Films)

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
Director: Laura Poitras
Producers: Nan Goldin, Yoni Golijov, Laura Poitras
Oscar-winning director Laura Poitras (Citizenfour) profiles artist and activist Nan Goldin as she leads protests against the Sackler family and their company Purdue Pharma. (NEON/Participant/HBO Documentary Films)

Director: Rebeca Huntt
Producer: Sofia Geld
Director Rebeca Huntt makes a stunning debut in this personal documentary that traces her Dominican and Venezuelan roots as she comes of age in New York City. (NEON)

Director: Margaret Brown
Producers: Kyle Martin, Essie Chambers, Margaret Brown
Filmmaker Margaret Brown returns to her hometown of Mobile, Alabama to reflect on the legacy of the last known ship carrying enslaved Africans to enter the United States. (Netflix/Participant)

Fire of Love
Director: Sara Dosa
Producers: Shane Boris, Ina Fichman, Sara Dosa
Narrated by Miranda July, Fire of Love is an essayistic portrait of the French volcanologists Maurice and Katia Krafft. (National Geographic Documentary Films)

The Janes
Director: Tia Lessin, Emma Pildes
Producers: Emma Pildes, Daniel Arcana, Jessica Levin
The Janes explores the hidden history of a Chicago grassroots organization that helped women end unwanted pregnancies in the years before Roe v. Wade. (HBO Documentary Films)

Last Flight Home
Director: Ondi Timoner
Producer: Ondi Timoner, David Turner
Award-winning filmmaker Ondi Timoner (Dig!, We Live in Public) creates a deeply personal family portrait about her 92-year-old father Eli as he chooses to end his own life. (MTV Documentary Films)

Louis Armstrong’s Black and Blues
Director: Sacha Jenkins
Producers: Sacha Jenkins, Sara Bernstein, Jason Wilkes, Julie Anderson
Filmmaker Sacha Jenkins (Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men) gains access to Louis Armstrong’s personal archives, which reveal multiple dimensions of the jazz pioneer. (Apple Original Films)

Director: Isabel Castro
Producers: Isabel Castro, Tabs Breese, Yesenia Tlahuel
Mija takes us into the world of Chicano pop music through the eyes of young Mexican American talent manager Doris Muñoz. (Disney Original Documentary)

Moonage Daydream
Director / Producer: Brett Morgen
Drawing upon a wealth of unseen material from his archive, this film explores David Bowie’s career with an approach as bold and visually inventive as he was. (NEON/HBO Documentary Films)

Director: Daniel Roher
Producers: Diane Becker, Shane Boris, Melanie Miller, Odessa Rae
This real-life thriller follows the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny as he attempts to identify the agents sent to assassinate him. (Warner Bros./CNN Films/HBO Max)

Director: Matthew Heineman
Producers: Matthew Heineman, Caitlin McNally, Javed Rezayee
Matthew Heineman documents the last days of American occupation through the eyes of Afghanistan witnesses and records a country’s doomed descent into terror. (National Geographic Documentary Films)

The Return of Tanya Tucker – Featuring Brandi Carlile
Director: Kathlyn Horan
Producers: Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn, Julie Goldman, Kathlyn Horan
Years after the trailblazing country music star Tanya Tucker stopped recording, her superfan Brandi Carlile brings her back to the studio to record an album Carlile has written to restore her rightful place in the country music pantheon. (Sony Pictures Classics)

Director: Chris Smith
Producers: Emily Barclay Ford, Kevin Ford, Robert Downey Jr., Susan Downey
A lovingly irreverent portrait of the life and career of maverick filmmaker Robert Downey Sr. that evolves into a larger meditation on art, mortality, and healing generational dysfunction. (Netflix)

The Territory
Director: Alex Pritz
Producers: Darren Aronofsky, Sigrid Dyekjær, Lizzie Gillett, Will N. Miller
Filmmaker Alex Pritz collaborates with the Uru-eu-wau-wau community indigenous to Brazil’s Amazonian rainforest to document their conflict with farmers seeking to clear the land. (National Geographic Documentary Films)



Director: Sarah McCarthy
Producers: Sasha Odynova, Sarah McCarthy
Russian activist Anastasia Shevchenko comes to grips with the loss of her daughter after two years of house arrest for speaking out against the government. (MTV Documentary Films)

Angola Do You Hear Us? Voices from a Plantation Prison
Director: Cinque Northern
Producer: Catherine Gund
When Liza Jessie Peterson performs her one-woman play at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, she activates the men incarcerated in America’s largest prison-plantation. (MTV Documentary Films)

As Far As They Can Run
Director: Tanaz Eshaghian
Producers: Tanaz Eshaghian, Christoph Jörg
Three young adults join a running program for disabled youth in Pakistan, hoping to shift perspectives in their rural community. (MTV Documentary Films)

The Best Chef in the World
Director / Producer: Ben Proudfoot
Oscar winner and DOC NYC alum Ben Proudfoot profiles Sally Schmidt, the underrecognized progenitor of California Cuisine. (The New York Times Op-Docs)

The Elephant Whispheres
Director: Kartiki Gonsalves
Producers: Guneet Monga, Achin Jain
Beautiful and tender, The Elephant Whisperers features a family as they raise two young elephants in a sanctuary in South India. (Netflix)

The Flagmakers
Directors / Producers: Cynthia Wade, Sharon Liese
Flags at the largest American flag factory in the country are stitched by refugees and immigrants whose stories redefine what it is to be American. (National Geographic Documentary Films)

In Flow of Words
Director: Eliane Esther Bots
Producer: Manon Bovenkerk
An experimental film about three language interpreters at the Yugoslavia Tribunal in The Hague and the wrenching moments they translate. (The New Yorker)

Long Line of Ladies
Directors: Rayka Zehtabchi, Shaandiin Tome
Producers: Garrett Schiff, Rayka Zehtabchi, Sam Davis, Pimm Tripp-Allen
A girl and her community prepare for her Ihuk, the once-dormant coming of age ceremony of the Karuk tribe of Northern California.

The Martha Mitchell Effect
Directors: Anne Alvergue, Debra McClutchy
Producers: Beth Levison, Judith Mizrachy
She was once as famous as Jackie O. And then she tried to take down a president. The Martha Mitchell Effect is an archival documentary portrait of the unlikeliest of whistleblowers. (Netflix)

My Disability Roadmap
Directors: Samuel Habib, Dan Habib
Producer: Dan Habib
Samuel Habib has one goal: to be an independent adult without the support of his parents. He travels across America and interviews key figures in the disability rights movement in order to create his own playbook. (The New York Times Op-Docs)

Directors: Nasir Bailey, Jackson Kroopf
Producer: Jackson Kroopf
The DOC NYC 2021 Shorts Grand Jury Prizewinner captures the tender story of Nasir as he opens up to his family about his transition. (L.A. Times Studios)

The Panola Project

Directors / Producers: Rachael DeCruz, Jeremy S. Levine
This subtle yet engaging documentary features Dorothy Oliver as she organizes to keep her rural Alabama town safe from COVID-19 by vaccinating everyone. (The New Yorker)

Shut Up and Paint
Directors: Titus Kaphar, Alex Mallis
Producer: Chloe Gbai
Celebrated artist Titus Kaphar takes the mic and camera to share his thoughts on race and the art market. (POV Shorts)

State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith
Director: Ryan White
Producers: Jessica Hargrave, Ryan White
Unfolding in real time by focusing on the experience of one women on trial for murder, the film is a layered examination of gender, the American south, domestic and sexual violence and the failures of our criminal justice system. (Netflix)

You Can’t Stop Spirit
Directors: Vashi Korin
Producers: Jazzi McGilbert, Sean Kilgore-Han
This mesmerizing portrait of the “baby dolls” of Mardi Gras explores the storied tradition as a spiritual and artistic practice among a group of New Orleans women. (The New York Times Op-Docs)


Pat Mullen is the publisher of POV Magazine. He holds a Master’s in Film Studies from Carleton University where his research focused on adaptation and Canadian cinema. Pat has also contributed to outlets including The Canadian Encyclopedia, Paste, That Shelf, Sharp, Xtra, and Complex. He is the vice president of the Toronto Film Critics Association and an international voter for the Golden Globe Awards.

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