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DOC NYC Announces Short List Titles

List is key forecast of Oscar hopefuls

14 mins read

DOC NYC has unveiled the selections for its annual Short List programme. The DOC NYC Shortlist offers fifteen feature docs and fifteen short docs that represent the most celebrated documentaries of the year. The programme is increasingly becoming one of the best bellwethers in the Oscar race for Best Documentary Feature. In the past nine years, eight of the eventual feature Oscar winners screened in DOC NYC’s Short List. Thirty-nine of the forty-five Oscar nominees in the category appeared on the list.

“We’re delighted to welcome filmmakers back into New York theaters to have conversations with audiences after a year in which many of those opportunities were lost,” said DOC NYC Artistic Director Thom Powers in a statement from the festival. “We’re also excited to bring these filmmakers to audiences worldwide through our Facebook Live conversations.”

This year’s Short List reflects many of the docs celebrated at top festivals, as well as the titles tapped in early nominations from the Critics Choice Awards and IDA Awards longlists. Summer of Soul and Flee strengthen their leads, while The Rescue and The Velvet Underground rebound after missing the cut with the IDA. Jessica Kingdon’s Ascension and Robert Greene’s Procession pop up after surprising on some of the critics’ lists. Also on the list are chef docs Julia and Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain from Betsy West and Julie Cohen and Oscar winner Morgan Neville, respectively. The nine of the fifteen Short List features credit women as directors or co-directors, while the line-up is notably diverse with talents like Stanley Nelson, Traci A. Curry (Attica), Nanfu Wang (In the Same Breath), and Jessica Beshir (Faya Dayi) recognized for docs with urgent and timely stories.

On the shorts side, DOC NYC spotlights two Canadian talents. The team of director Amar Chebib and producers Hayley Morin and Mack Stannard are recognized for Joe Buffalo, which landed on yesterday’s IDA Awards shortlist, and The Queen of Basketball, directed by Canuck Ben Proudfoot, who was nominated for an Oscar earlier this year for A Concerto Is a Conversation.


The DOC NYC Short List selections are:


Short List Features


Dir/Prod: Jessica Kingdon
Prod: Kira Simon-Kennedy, Nathan Truesdell
Winner of the Best Documentary Feature Award at the Tribeca Film Festival, Ascension is an impressionistic portrait of China’s industrial supply chain that depicts a thriving capitalism in a communist state. (Courtesy of MTV Documentary Films)

Dir/Prod: Stanley Nelson, Traci A. Curry
Filmmakers Stanley Nelson, a 2016 DOC NYC Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, and Traci A. Curry team up to revisit the 1971 New York prison uprising that was the largest in U.S. history. (Courtesy of SHOWTIME® Documentary Films)

Becoming Cousteau
Dir/Prod: Liz Garbus
Prod: Dan Cogan, Mridu Chandra, Evan Hayes
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus takes a nuanced look at Jacques Cousteau’s passions, achievements, blind spots, and tragedies. (Courtesy of National Geographic Documentary Films)

Bring Your Own Brigade
Dir/Prod: Lucy Walker
​Prod: Holly Becker, Julian Cautherley, Lyn Davis Lear, Martha Mitchell
Oscar-nominated director Lucy Walker focuses on one day in California’s 2018 megafire season to discover why these infernos are growing more common. (Courtesy of CBS/Paramount)

Faya Dayi
Dir/Prod: Jessica Beshir
Winner of multiple festival prizes, Faya Dayi takes us on an ethereal journey through Harar, Ethiopia, the hometown of director Jessica Beshir, as she follows the harvesting of the euphoria-inducing khat plant. (Courtesy of Janus Films)

Dir: Jonas Poher Rasmussen
Prod: Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen, Charlotte De La Gournerie
Denmark’s official Academy Awards submission for Best International Film, Flee uses animation to tell the story of Amin Nawabi (a pseudonym), who fled Afghanistan as a boy, relying on human smugglers to reach Denmark. (Courtesy of NEON)

Dir/Prod: Peter Nicks
Prod: Sean Havey
Director Peter Nicks, the recipient of DOC NYC’s 2021 Robert and Anne Drew Award, follows the senior class of Oakland High School through the tumultuous year of 2019-2020. (Courtesy of Hulu)

In the Same Breath
Dir/Prod: Nanfu Wang
Prod: Jialing Zhang, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn
In this penetrating film essay, filmmaker Nanfu Wang seeks to understand how governments shaped information at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic both in China and the United States. (Courtesy of HBO Documentary Films)

Introducing Selma Blair
Dir: Rachel Fleit
Prod: Mickey Liddell, Pet Shilaimon, Troy Nankin
Filmmaker Rachel Fleit documents actress Selma Blair as she adapts to living with multiple sclerosis with humor and unflinching candor.  (Courtesy of discovery+)

Dir/Prod: Betsy West, Julie Cohen
Prod: Justin Wilkes, Sara Bernstein, Holly Siegel
The Oscar-nominated directors of RBG deliver a touching portrait of the iconic television chef Julia Child who became a celebrity in her fifties, defying expectations for women of her generation. (Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)

Dir: Robert Greene
Prod: Susan Bedusa, Bennett Elliott, Douglas Tirola
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. (Courtesy of Netflix)

The Rescue
Dir/Prod: E. Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin
Prod: P.J. van Sandwijk, John Battsek
The Oscar-winning directors of Free Solo take us inside the dramatic rescue of 12 young soccer players and their coach trapped by monsoon floods inside a cave in Thailand. (Courtesy of National Geographic Documentary Films)

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain
Dir/Prod: Morgan Neville
Prod: Caitrin Rogers
Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville creates a multifaceted portrait of Anthony Bourdain, drawing upon extensive unseen footage from his travels and emotional memories from his friends. (Courtesy of Focus Features)

Summer of Soul (…Or When the Revolution Would Not Be Televised)
Dir: Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
Prod: Joseph Patel, David Dinerstein, Robert Fyvolent
Acclaimed musician Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson makes his directorial debut shaping a treasure trove of footage from the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. (Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures / Onyx Collective / Hulu)

The Velvet Underground
​​Dir/Prod: Todd Haynes
Prod: Christine Vachon, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn, David Blackman
Filmmaker Todd Haynes explores the history of The Velvet Underground and the 1960s New York scene of experimental art, music, and film. (Courtesy of Apple Original Films)

Short List: Shorts

Dir: Matt Ogens
Prod: Geoff McLean
After breaking their winning streak, Maryland School for the Deaf’s championship high school football team shares their triumphs, trials, and how they will bounce back. (Courtesy of Netflix)

The Bree Wayy: Promise Witness Remembrance
Dir: Dawn Porter
Prod: Niema Jordan, Kimberly Reynolds, Cubie King
Dawn Porter’s uplifting short takes us behind the scenes of Amy Sherald’s Breonna Taylor portrait, bringing grace and dignity to the tragic loss of her life. (Courtesy of MTV Documentary Films)

A Broken House
Dir/Prod: Jimmy Goldblum
Prod: Dick Gephardt, Matt Weaver, Harrison Nalevansky
Artist Mohamad Hafez rebuilds monuments, neighborhoods, and cities of his beloved Syria, working through his longing for home. (Courtesy of POV Shorts / The New Yorker)

Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis
Dir/Prod: Daniel Sivan, Mor Loushy
Prod: Benji Bergmann, Jono Bergmann
Camp Confidential reveals the secret government-sanctioned camp that smuggled Nazis into the United States after World War II, as camp workers come forward for the first time in history. (Courtesy of Netflix)

Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker
Dir: Ryan White
Prod: Christopher Leggett, Marc Gilbar, Jessica Hargrave, Conor Fetting-Smith, Rafael Marmor
Exploring the work of one of the grandfathers of  modern marketing, Coded unpacks illustrator J.C. Leyendecker’s advertisements that animated his male partner and became an easter egg of queer coding in art. (Courtesy of MTV Documentary Films)

Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma
Dir: Topaz Jones, rubberband
Prod. Luigi Rossi
Accompanying Topaz Jones’s album, Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma is a visual marvel documenting the Black ABCs and growing up in New Jersey.  (Courtesy of The New York Times Op-Docs)

Eagles (Águilas)
Dir/Prod: Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, Maite Zubiaurre
A raw portrait of the team of people called Aguilas del Desierto, who search for missing migrants along the southern border of Arizona. (Courtesy of POV Shorts / The New Yorker)

Joe Buffalo
Dir/Prod: Amar Chebib
Prod: Hayley Morin, Mack Stannard
Skateboard legend Joe Buffalo faces himself in this raw portrait of trauma, addiction, and finding freedom in skating. (Courtesy of The New Yorker)

Lynching Postcards: Token of a Great Day
Dir: Christine Turner
Prod: ​​Lily Plotkin
This chilling reflection examines the horrific history of lynchings as cultural events and celebrations that included souvenirs and postcards. (Courtesy of MTV Documentary Films)

Nothing to Declare
Dir/Prod: Garret Daly
Prod: Martina McGlynn
Two men laugh about their days of mischief and wonder as they remember their most iconic adventure: hopping on a one-way plane to New York.

The Queen of Basketball
Dir: Ben Proudfoot
Prod: Elizabeth Brooke, Abby Lynn Kang Davis, Gabriel Berk Godoi, Brandon Somerhalder, Sarah Stewart
Lusia Harris, the first and only woman ever officially drafted to the NBA, takes a seat and shares her story as a woman before her time and a legend in the women’s basketball community. (Courtesy of The New York Times Op-Docs)

A Ship from Guantánamo
Dir: Dara Kell, Veena Rao
Prod: Beth Jacob, Mansoor Adayfi
Unjustly stuck behind bars for more than 20 years, Moath al Alwi builds elaborately detailed ships out of scrap materials from Guantánamo Bay. (Courtesy of The New York Times Op-Docs)

Dir: Kaitlyn Schwalje, Alex Wolf Lewis
Prod: Rebecca Stern, Justin Levy
Stuck in the trenches of the family basement, the beloved family pet Snowy is about to get a new lease on life.  (Courtesy of TIME Studios)

What You’ll Remember
Dir: Erika Cohn
Prod: Marcia Jarmel
This emotional video diary profiles a family struggling with housing insecurity and what the parents hope remains in their children’s memories. (Courtesy of The New York Times Op-Docs)

They Won’t Call It Murder
Dir: Melissa Gira Grant, Ingrid Raphaël
Prod: Ruun Nuur, Chase Whiteside
A sobering chronicle of police killings in Columbus, Ohio, this documentary captures some of the countless stories of police brutality that have  never been classified as murders by law enforcement. (Courtesy of Field of Vision)

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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