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DOC NYC Announces Short List, Winner’s Circle Selections

Canada's Oscar bid Rojek gets US premiere in the Winners' Circle series

17 mins read

Canada’s Oscar submission Rojek gets its U.S. premiere as DOC NYC announces the selections for its marquee Short Lists and Winner’s Circle programmes. Rojek will play among the Winner’s Circle titles. The film, directed by Zaynê Akyol, won the Special Jury Prize for Canadian Feature Documentary at Hot Docs last year for its artful interrogation of ISIS members as they share the beliefs that inspire them to take up arms.

Rojek will screen as part of the Voices of Canada thematic thread at DOC NYC. Last week, the festival announced that feature docs in the spotlight include Zack Russell’s Someone Lives Here, Megan Wennberg’s Unsyncable, Pascale Appora-Gnekindy and Ningyi Sun’s Eat Bitter, John Curtin’s The Trials of Alan Dershowitz, and Tunde Skovran’s Who Am I Not. The festival also announced today that the short doc Witness, directed by Yasmine Mathurin, Carol Nguyen, and Amar Wala would screen in the new series Come as You Are as part of the Voices of Canada theme.

In terms of the Short List, DOC NYC spotlights fifteen features in an unusually wide open race. For 10 of the previous 11 years, DOC NYC screened the feature documentary that went on to win the Academy Award, while 12 out of 15 films from Short List ultimately made the Oscar shortlist. The list has become one of the most reliable bellwethers for docs in contention. Last year, DOC NYC also hosted the world premiere of The Elephant Whisperers, which later won the Oscar for best short doc. This year’s selection includes Sundance winners 20 Days in Mariupol and The Eternal Memory, along with Cannes l’Œil d’or winners Four Daughters and The Mother of All Lies among a notably international spectrum of docs. Mauriupol, Daughters, and Lies are all official submissions in the Oscar race for Best International Feature for Ukraine, Tunisia, and Morocco, respectively. Winners Circle selections Smoke Sauna Sisterhood and Songs of Earth are Best International Feature submissions for Estonia and Norway.


The DOC NYC Short List and Winners Circle selections are as follows:



20 Days in Mariupol
Director: Mstyslav Chernov
Producers: Mstyslav Chernov, Michelle Mizner, Raney Aronson Rath, Derl McCrudden
An AP team of Ukrainian journalists trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol struggle to continue its work documenting atrocities of the Russian invasion. (PBS Distribution/Frontline)

American Symphony (NYC Premiere)
Director: Matthew Heineman
Producers: Matthew Heineman, Lauren Domino, Joedan Okun
While undertaking his most ambitious project to date, musician Jon Batiste and his life partner Suleika Jaouad cope with the discovery that her cancer has returned after a decade in remission. (Netflix)

Bobi Wine: The People’s President
Directors: Moses Bwayo, Christopher Sharp
Producers: Christopher Sharp, John Battsek
Bobi Wine, a popular Afrobeats musician, directs his charisma to politics as he runs for office as Uganda’s presidential opposition candidate, challenging longtime leader Yoweri Museveni. (National Geographic Documentary Films)

The Disappearance of Shere Hite (NYC Premiere)
Director: Nicole Newnham
Producers: R.J. Cutler, Kimberley Ferdinando, Nicole Newnham, Molly O’Brien, Elise Pearlstein, Trevor Smith
Feminist sexologist Shere Hite, who helped change public perception toward female sexuality in the 1970s and ‘80s, mysteriously fell from prominence over time. This film explores why we don’t know more about her groundbreaking work. (IFC Films)

The Eternal Memory
Director: Maite Alberdi
Producers: Maite Alberdi, Juan de Dios Larraín, Pablo Larraín, Rocío Jadue
A wise and compassionate look at an elderly couple’s challenges, revealing their profoundly moving love and their commitment to individual and collective remembrance, via the cultural vocations of their youth, in the face of life’s tempests. (MTV Documentary Films)

Every Body
Director: Julie Cohen
Producers: Molly O’Brien, Tommy Nguyen
Capturing a new generation of intersex people who are living loudly and proudly, this film covers the history, science, and politics of a movement advocating against medically unnecessary surgeries on intersex children. (Focus Features)

Four Daughters
Director: Kaouther Ben Hania
Producer: Nadim Cheikhrouha
Filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania takes a novel approach to telling the story of the Tunisian mother Olfa Hamrouni, who spoke out about her grief when two of her four daughters ran away to join the Islamic State in Libya. (Kino Lorber)

Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Story
Directors: Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson
Producers: Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson, Tommy Oliver
Nikki Giovanni is a trailblazing poet who rose to be a key figure in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and remains just as vibrant today. (HBO Documentary Films)

Lakota Nation vs. United States
Directors: Jesse Shortbull, Laura Tomaselli
Producers: Benjamin Hedin, Phil Pinto
The Lakota Indigenous tribe’s new generations continue to stand against the U.S. government’s historic failures to honor past treaties and the Lakota’s traditional sacred land. (IFC Films)

Little Richard: I Am Everything
Director: Lisa Cortés
Producers: Robert Friedman, Lisa Cortés, Liz Yale Marsh, Caryn Capotosto
The Black queer origins of rock ‘n’ roll are revealed as the whitewashed canon of American pop music is exploded to reveal the innovator – the originator – Little Richard. (Magnolia Pictures)

The Mother of All Lies (U.S. Premiere)
Director / Producer: Asme El Moudir
On a handmade set recreating her Casablanca neighborhood, Moroccan filmmaker Asmae El Moudir enlists family and friends to help solve the troubling mysteries of her childhood.Figurines and miniatures of the filmmaker’s Moroccan family and neighborhood – built by her father – inspire moments of catharsis and unearth previously unspoken secrets and traumas.

The Pigeon Tunnel
Director: Errol Morris
Producers: Errol Morris, Dominic Crossley-Holland, Steven Hathaway, Simon Cornwell, Stephen Cornwell
Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris interviews David Cornwell aka John Le Carré, keeping the visuals as lively as the conversation, creating his own cinematic imaginings of Cornwell’s history along with clips from famous film and TV adaptations of Le Carré’s thrillers. (Apple TV+)

Silver Dollar Road
Director: Raoul Peck
Producers: Raoul Peck, Rémi Grellety, Blair Foster, Hébert Peck
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Raoul Peck focuses on the case of the Reels family in North Carolina to chronicle the way real estate developers work in blatant and subtle ways to divest Black families from inherited property. (Amazon Studios)

Stamped from the Beginning
Director: Roger Ross Williams
Producers: Alisa Payne, Roger Ross Williams, David Teague
Oscar-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams takes inspiration from author Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s work exploring the history of anti-Black racist ideas and their impact on the United States, examining those themes with an array of powerful film techniques. (Netflix)

While We Watched

Director: Vinay Shukla
Producers: Vinay Shukla, Khushboo Ranka, Luke Moody
Filmmaker Vinay Shukla gives shape to the melancholy and fear the daily news brings into our screens and lives, in India and all over the world. (BritDocs/POV)



American Santa
Director: Avi Zev Weider
Producers: Avi Zev Weider, Alexandra Berger
This haunting documentary zooms in on Black Santas and the gravity of their work during the holiday season. (The New Yorker)

Director: Marie Margolius
Producer: Marie Margolius, Connor Schell
Witness the true story of an Afghani girls’ soccer team who relocate from their home country all in the name of the sport. (MSNBC Films)

The Barber of Little Rock
DirectorJohn Hoffman, Christine Turner
Producers: Christina Avalos, John Hoffman, Christine Turner
The barbershop is the heart of the Black community, and in Little Rock, Arkansas, now the starting place of a new community lending program.

Between Earth & Sky
Director: Andrew Nadkarni
Producers: Andrew Nadkarni, Swetha Regunathan, Katie Schiller
The story of one professor’s career researching the rainforest canopy, where she was hurt, and where she also healed. (POV Shorts)

Black Girls Play: The Story of Hand Games
Directors: Joe Brewster, Michéle Stephenson
Producers: Joe Brewster, Michéle Stephenson
Learn about the impactful and joyful hand games played by Black girls from generation to generation. (ESPN Films)

Camp Courage
Director: Max Lowe
Producers: Marilyn Ness, Katy Chevigny
A profile of a young girl, her grandmother, and the camp that builds confidence for children going through big changes. (Netflix)

Director / Producer: Xelîl Sehragerd
This meditative documentary zooms in on a Kurdish carpenter as he serves his community in an unexpected way.

The Dads
Director / Producer: Luchina Fisher
This touching short captures fathers sharing the love of their children over the course of an afternoon of fishing and dining. (Netflix)

Deciding Vote
Directors: Jeremy Workman, Robert Lyons
Producers: Jeremy Workman, Robert Lyons, Melissa Jacobson
The decision to legalize abortion in the state of New York came down to one person. This is his story. (The New Yorker)

Holy Cowboys
Director: Varun Chopra
Producers: Anna Hashmi, Varun Chopra
A dedicated group of young Hindu men are encouraged to protect cows at any cost.

The Last Repair Shop
Directors: Ben Proudfoot, Kris Bowers
Producers: Ben Proudfoot, Jeremy Lambert, Josh Rosenberg, Kris Bowers
One warehouse in the Los Angeles area devotes its time and energy to repairing 80,000 instruments for city schoolchildren.

Nina & Irena
Director: Daniel Lombroso
Producer: Devon Blackwell
A grandmother shares her heart wrenching story after losing her sister in the Holocaust. (The New Yorker)

Director: Jessica Bishopp
Producers: Alice Hughes, Gannesh Rajah, Ada Benjamínsdóttir, Jessica Bishopp
Young women in a remote island of Iceland help disoriented baby puffins, who easily lose their bearings.

The Takeover
Director: Anders Hammer
Producers: Anders Hammer, Charlotte Cook
Witness the transition inside Afghanistan during the Taliban’s government takeover. (Field of Vision)

A Tattoo on my Brain
Directors / Producers: Kate Davis, David Heilbroner
A neurologist  commits himself to researching and writing about his own Alzheimer’s symptoms. (MTV Documentary Films)



Angel Applicant (NYC Premiere)
Director: Ken August Meyer
Producers: Ken August Meyer, Jason Roark
An art director afflicted with a rare life-threatening disease turns to the life and work of a famed artist who lived nearly 100 years ago, to find solace, hope and meaning. Winner, SXSW Grand Jury Prize, Documentary Feature Competition

Apolonia, Apolonia
Director: Lea Glob
Producer: Sidsel Lønvig Siersted
Over 13 years, a Danish film student and a Parisian painter weave a complex portrait of a current generation’s loves, lives, and losses. Best Feature-Length Documentary, IDFA

Bad Press (NYC Premiere)
Directors: Rebecca Landsberry-Baker, Joe Peeler
Producers: Conrad Beilharz, Garrett F. Baker, Tyler Graim
When the Muscogee Nation suddenly begins censoring their free press, a rogue reporter fights to expose her government’s corruption in a historic battle that will have ramifications for all Native American sovereign nations. Special Jury Award: Freedom of Expression, U.S. Documentary, Sundance Film Festival

Beyond Utopia
Director: Madeleine Gavin
Producers: Jana Edelbaum, Rachel Cohen, Sue Mi Terry, Daewon Choi, Janna Devinsky
The reality of life in one of the most repressive totalitarian countries on Earth is revealed through two intertwining suspenseful, nail-biting stories of dangerous escape attempts from North Korea. Audience Award, U.S. Documentary, 2023 Sundance Film Festival(Roadside Attractions)

In the Rearview (New York Premiere)
Director: Maciek Hamela
Producers: Maciek Hamela, Piotr Grawender
When Russia escalated its war against Ukraine in 2022, Polish director Maciek Hamela bought a van and volunteered to drive Ukrainian refugees on their quest to escape, making a quietly eloquent case to keep our eyes on the road ahead. Grand Jury Award, International Competition, Sheffield DocFest

Director: D. Smith
Producers: D. Smith, Harris Doran, Bill Butler
Profiling four Black transgender sex workers, these women are raw and hilarious as they celebrate their self-realization in the face of discrimination and violence. Next Innovator Award, Sundance Film Festival 2023 (Magnolia Pictures)

Name Me Lawand
Director: Edward Lovelace
Producers: Fleur Nieddu, Sam Arnold, Beyan Taher, Neil Andres, Marisa Clifford, Edward Lovelace
The family of a five-year-old deaf boy from Iraq go to extraordinary lengths to unlock his educational potential at Royal School for the Deaf Derby in England. Special Jury Prize, International Feature Documentary, Hot Docs

Rojek (US Premiere)
Director: Zaynê Akyol
Producers: Audrey-Ann Dupuis-Pierre, Sylvain Corbeil, Zaynê Akyol
An attempt to understand the Muslim fundamentalist beliefs of members of the Islamic State (ISIS), as some recount the rise and fall of ISIS through their personal stories. Special Jury Prize, Canadian Feature Documentary, Hot Docs (Icarus Films)

Smoke Sauna Sisterhood (NYC Premiere)
Director: Anna Hints
Producers: Marianne Ostrat
Amidst wood, wire, smoke, and sweat, a group of Estonian women find each other and themselves. Jury Award, Directing (World Cinema Documentary), Sundance Film Festival 2023 (Greenwich Entertainment)

Songs of Earth (NYC Premiere)
Director: Margreth Olin
Producers: Margreth Olin, Lena Faye-Lund Sandvik
A stunning cinematic experience, as a lone elderly Norwegian man shares his life journey via traditional music amid spectacular vistas of glaciers, waterfalls, and fjords. Krakow Film Festival 2023, Recommendation to European Film Awards, Documentary

DOC NYC runs November 8 to 26.

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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