Six Canadian features headline DOC NYC’s Voices of Canada section. The New York festival offers the world premiere of Steven Hoffner and AJ Messier’s The Cannons, which profiles youth hockey coach Neal Henderson and his longtime mission to provide teens in the Washington, DC area a positive outlet through sports. The film also screens in DOC NYC’s Sports sidebar devoted to “docs on jocks.”
Having their US premieres at DOC NYC are Bobbi Jo Hart’s rockdoc Fanny: The Right to Rock, which won the Rogers Canadian Audience Award at Hot Docs earlier this year, Shannon Walsh’s study of ghost workers and the gig economy in The Gig Is Up, Jennifer Holness’s portrait of Black beauty and the cosmetics industry in Subjects of Desire, Inés Toharia’s tribute to film archivists in Film, The Living Record of Our Memory, and Rita Leistner’s portrait of tree planters in Forest for the Trees.
This year’s DOC NYC, for which TIFF Docs programmer Thom Powers serves as artistic director, screens docs both in-theatre and nationwide online this year. The festival opens with Penny Lane’s acclaimed Listening to Kenny G and closes with Matthew Heineman’s COVID-19 doc The First Wave. Centrepiece screenings include Sam Pollard’s Citizen Ash and Dave Wooley and David Heilbroner’s Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over.
“After pivoting in 2020 to present a completely online festival, we’re thrilled to be bringing films and filmmakers in person to New Yorkers again. But we’re very happy that we’ll also continue to serve our new audience across the country by once again presenting films online this year,” said DOC NYC artistic director Thom Powers in a statement from the festival. “We’re proud to showcase such a wide spectrum of documentary representing the diverse perspectives of our programming team.”
DOC NYC’s US Competition includes Holly Morris’s Exposure, which chronicles an all-female trek to the North Pole; Constance Mark’s Grandpa Was an Emperor, which sees the great-granddaughter of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie examine her family’s fate following the 1974 coup in the country; Be Our Guest, Diane Tsai’s study of addiction, empathy, and recovery; and The Slow Hustle from The Wire star Sonja Sohn, which appropriately investigates the dark side of the Baltimore police department.
The festival’s “Winners’ Circle” selection offers some of the most acclaimed films from the circuit. On the list this year are Maria Speth’s Berlin Audience Award winner Mr. Bachmann and His Class, Alonzo Ruizpalacios’s Berlin Silver Bear winner A Cop Movie, Payal Kapadia’s l’Œil d’Or winner A Night of Knowing Nothing, Theo Anthony’s acclaimed Sundance debut All Light, Everywhere, among others. DOC NYC’s popular Short List—an increasingly influential forecast of the top docs in the Oscar race—will be announced soon and bring the overall number of feature documentaries at the fest to just over 120 titles.
The films screening at DOC NYC are as follows:
LISTENING TO KENNY G (NYC Premiere)
Dir: Penny Lane
Prod: Gabriel Sedgwick
A witty and provocative profile of Grammy-winning saxophonist Kenny G that also asks a bigger question: what makes music good or bad?
THE FIRST WAVE (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Matthew Heineman
Prod: Jenna Millman, Leslie Norville
A powerful look at the doctors, nurses, and patients on the frontlines during the “first wave” of Covid-19 in New York City from March to June 2020.
CITIZEN ASHE (NYC Premiere)
Dir: Sam Pollard
Dir/Prod: Rex Miller
Prod: Beth Hubbard, Anna Godas, Steven Cantor, Jamie Schutz, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe
This penetrating biography of the tennis legend Arthur Ashe charts how he navigated between a conservative sports culture and the activist politics of the Civil Rights movement.
DIONNE WARWICK: DON’T MAKE ME OVER (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Dave Wooley
Dir: David Heilbroner
In this career-spanning portrait, richly illustrated with vintage musical performances, Dionne Warwick is a marvelous raconteur sharing candid stories behind her hit songs.
14 PEAKS: NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Torquil Jones
Prod: Drew Masters, Barry Smith, John McKenna, Catherine Quantschnigg
In 2019, Nepalese mountain climber Nirmal “Nims” Purja set out to do the unthinkable by climbing the world’s fourteen highest summits in less than seven months.
THE AUTOMAT (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Lisa Hurwitz
Led by the irrepressible Mel Brooks, this lighthearted trip through the history of the iconic eateries features an impressive roster of celebrities (Colin Powell, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Carl Reiner, to name a few) waxing nostalgic on their experiences at the nickel-driven restaurants.
KEVIN GARNETT: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Daniel B. Levin, Eric W. Newman
Prod: Mike Marangu
Over the course of a Hall of Fame NBA career, Kevin Garnett transformed from a brash kid fresh off the prep circuit into a grizzled veteran lauded for his trademark passion for the game.
IN CONVERSATION WITH JOAN CHURCHILL
DOC NYC’s 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient reflects on a prodigious career, from her work as a cameraperson on Gimme Shelter through her collaborations with Nick Broomfield and beyond, and shares her new short documentary, Shoot from the Heart.
ANONYMOUS SISTER (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Jamie Boyle
Prod: Marilyn Ness, Elizabeth Westrate
Filmmaker Jamie Boyle turns the camera on her own family when her mother and sister become dependent on opioids.
BE OUR GUEST (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Diane Tsai
A family in a small New Hampshire town learns to balance their needs with their unconventional home life when they open their doors to those recovering from addiction.
BOYCOTT (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Julia Bacha
Prod: Suhad Babaa, Daniel J. Chalfen
Award-winning filmmaker Julia Bacha (Budrus) looks at the recent explosion of laws designed to penalize Americans who push boycotts against Israel.
EXPOSURE (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Holly Morris
Prod: Eleanor Wilson, Michael Kovnat, Jill Mazursky
Eleven women, many from Arab countries, embark on a long, dangerous trek to the North Pole.
GRANDPA WAS AN EMPEROR (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Constance Marks
Prod: Corinne LaPook
Yeshi, great granddaughter of famed Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, investigates what happened to her beloved father after the 1974 coup that landed most of her family in prison.
NEWTOK (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Andrew Burton, Michael Kirby Smith
As the effects of climate change become ever more apparent throughout the world, the Yup’ik people and their lands on the western outskirts of Alaska face a much more imminent threat.
OBJECTS (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Vincent Liota
An NPR correspondent, a literary author and a graphic designer let us in on the secret life of the special objects they keep as a way to preserve memories, conjure experiences and find meaning in their lives.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN UGANDA (US Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Cathryne Czubek, Hugo Perez
Prod: Gigi Dement, Matt Porwoll, Kyaligamba Ark Martin
Two men from opposite sides of the world (Uganda and New York) come together over a shared love for action cinema and start making films together in the slums of Kampala.
REFUGE (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Erin Berhardt, Din Blankenship
In a small, uncommonly diverse town in Georgia, a successful Kurdish doctor and a Muslim-hating white supremacist form an unlikely and healing friendship.
THE SLOW HUSTLE (NYC Premiere)
Dir: Sonja Sohn
Prod: Mahrya Macintire
Actress and filmmaker Sonja Sohn (The Wire, Baltimore Rising) delves into a detective’s mysterious death and unearths the seedy underbelly of a Baltimore police unit.
A TREE OF LIFE (World Premiere)
Dir: Trish Adlesic
Prod: Susan Margolin, Geeta Gandbhir
Survivors of the deadly white supremacist attack at a Pittsburgh Synagogue in 2018 recount their harrowing experience.
UNITED STATES VS. REALITY WINNER (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Sonia Kennebeck
Producers: Ines Hofmann Kanna
Award-winning filmmaker Sonia Kennebeck (National Bird, Enemies of the State), supported by executive producer Wim Wenders, digs into the case of Reality Winner, the whistleblower who leaked a classified document about Russian attacks on the infrastructure of U.S. elections.
AFTER THE RAIN (US Premiere)
Dir: Jian Fan
Prod: Richard Liang, S. Leo Chiang
After the sudden deaths of their daughters, two families set out to “replace” their children and rebuild their lives over the course of ten years.
BE MY VOICE (US Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Nahid Persson
Prod: Setareh Lundgren
Filmmaker Nahid Persson (Prostitution Behind the Veil, The Queen and I) follows journalist and activist Masih Alinejad, the voice of millions of Iranian women rebelling on social media against the forced use of the hijab.
THE BUBBLE (NYC Premiere)
Dir: Valerie Blankenbyl
Prod: Dario Schoch, Rajko Jazbec
A deeper look at the inner workings of Florida’s The Villages, the world’s largest retirement community, which offers everything that a pensioner’s heart desires but hides some darker secrets.
Dir/Prod: Gian Cassini (US Premiere)
Prod: Gabriel Guzmán S., Ana Medellín
Filmmaker Gian Cassini investigates the legacy of his father, El Jimmy, who was a hitman in Tijuana, in this a profound meditation on healing family wounds.
COME BACK ANYTIME (NYC Premiere)
Dir: John Daschbach
Prod: Wataru Yamamoto
A year in the life of a tiny neighborhood noodle shop in Tokyo, its master chef owners, and the loyal patrons who come for the camaraderie as much as the food.
THE DEVIL’S DRIVERS (NYC Premiere)
Dir: Mohammed Abugeth,
Dir/Prod: Daniel Carsenty
Despite the risk of jail, drivers Hamouda and his cousin Ismail smuggle Palestinian workers by car into Israel where labor is in high demand.
F@CK THIS JOB (US Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Vera Krichevskaya
Prod: Mike Lerner
Russian journalist Vera Krichevskaya covers several tumultuous years inside Dozhd, the only independent TV channel in Russia.
THE FORGOTTEN ONES (US Premiere)
Dir: Michale Boganim
Prod: Marie Balducchi
The Mizrahim —North African and Eastern European Jews—struggle for full rights of citizenship denied them by the Israeli government.
GO THROUGH THE DARK (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Yunhong Pu
Prod: Jean Tsien
A blind boy in China being raised by a struggling single father displays great skill at the ancient board game Go.
THE MOLE (US Premiere)
Dir: Mads Brügger
Prod: Peter Engel, Bjarte Mørner Tveit
Mads Brügger’s (Cold Case Hammarskjöld, The Ambassador) latest tells the impossible story of a spy who uncovers the worst of North Korea’s secrets.
ON THE OTHER SIDE (US Premiere)
Dir: Iván Guarnizo
Prod: Jorge Caballero
The filmmaker and his brother explore their late mother’s curious bond with one of the guerrillas who held her captive for more than 600 days.
YOUNG PLATO (World Premiere)
Dir: Neasa Ní Chianáin, Declan McGrath
Prod: David Rane
A visionary headmaster at a Catholic primary school in Belfast teaches ancient Greek wisdom as an antidote for pessimism, violence and historical despair.
NEW YORK STORIES
CHARM CIRCLE (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Nira Burstein
Prod: Betsy Laikin
A family wedding forces a Queens-bred filmmaker to explore a lifetime of tension between herself, her parents and her siblings.
END OF THE LINE (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Emmett Adler
Prod: Ian Mayer
A heartfelt and scrupulous look into NYC’s massive, troubled subway system, this film poses the question: what happens when that life line of the city goes flat?
HOLD YOUR FIRE (US Premiere)
Dir: Stefan Forbes
Prod: Tia Wou, Fab Five Freddy, Amir Soltani
Director Stefan Forbes, producer Fab Five Freddy and their team reconstruct a bungled 1973 robbery and what became the longest hostage seige in NYPD history, uncovering racial bias whose repercussions continue to this day.
MIMAROGLU: THE ROBINSON OF MANHATTAN ISLAND (US Premiere)
Dir: Serdar Kokceoglu
Prod: Dilek Aydin, Esin Uslu
An experimental portrait of legendary Turkish pioneer of electronic music İlhan Mimaroğlu, crafted out of his own archival recordings and footage.
MR. SATURDAY NIGHT (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: John Maggio
Prod: Caroline Cannon, Seth Bomse
The untold story of Robert Stigwood, the impresario behind Saturday Night Fever and its record-breaking disco soundtrack.
THE PHOTOGRAPH (US Premiere)
Dir: Sherman De Jesus
Prod: Cécile van Eijk, Sherman De Jesus
Filmmaker Sheman De Jesus illuminates the legacy of prolific photographer James Van Der Zee and his portraits of the Black community during the Harlem Renaissance.
THE REVEREND (US Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Nick Canfield
A hard-rocking reverend finds faith and connection to community through his powerful revivalist style musical performances.
NEW DOCUMENTARY VISIONS
COW (NYC Premiere)
Dir: Andrea Arnold
Prod: Kat Mansoor
Acclaimed director Andrea Arnold’s intimate observational portrait of bovine life as experienced on a farm in rural England through the eyes of Luna the cow.
EDNA (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Eryk Rocha
Prod: Gabriela Carneiro da Cunha
A woman living in Brazilian Amazonia uses her diary to recount memories of those she lost and stories of her own resilience during the military dictatorship.
INVISIBLE DEMONS (US Premiere)
Dir: Rahul Jain
Prod: Iikka Vehkalaht, Heino Deckert
Director Rahul Jain adeptly captures the effects of climate change in Delhi and the environmental cost of India’s fast-growing economy, while meditating on the aesthetics of human disconnection with the natural world.
THE MAN WHO PAINTS WATER DROPS (US Premiere)
Dir: Oan Kim, Brigitte Bouillot
Prod: Clarisse Tupin
An essayistic exploration of the complex relationship between the filmmaker and his father, Kim Tschang-Yeul, one of the most recognized Korean artists of his generation.
NOTHING BUT THE SUN (US Premiere)
Dir: Arami Ullón
Prod: Pascal Trächslin
In Paraguay, Mateo, a native Ayoreo, has been using an old tape recorder for decades to capture the stories, songs and testimonies of his ancestral culture which was ravaged by white missionaries.
NUDE AT HEART (US Premiere)
Dir: Yoichiro Okutani
Prod: Asako Fujioka, Eric Nyari
An intimate look at the lives of the Odoriko dancers who perform in the slowly disappearing variety theaters of Japan.
THREE MINUTES – A LENGTHENING (NYC Premiere)
Dir: Bianca Stigter
Prod: Floor Onrust
A fascinating film exploring the only moving images left of the Jewish inhabitants of Nasielsk, Poland, before the Holocaust.
INTERNATIONAL AWARD WINNERS
ALL LIGHT, EVERYWHERE
Dir: Theo Anthony
Prod: Riel Roch-Decter, Sebastian Pardo, Jonna McKone
Winner: U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Nonfiction Experimentation, Sundance Film Festival
A riveting essay film that explores the shared histories of cameras, weapons, policing and justice.
CHILDREN OF THE ENEMY (US Premiere)
Dir: Gorki Glaser-Muller
Prod: Kristofer Henell, Erika Malmgren
Winner: FIPRESCI Award, Krakow Film Festival
The heart-rending story of a grandfather reclaiming his grandchildren from the neglect and hate that await the children of ISIS members.
A COP MOVIE
Dir: Alonzo Ruizpalacios
Prod: Daniela Alatorre, Elena Fortes
Winner: Silver Bear, Berlin International Film Festival
A thoroughly original and unpredictable documentary that immerses the audience into the human experience of police work within Mexico’s dysfunctional system.
MR. BACHMANN AND HIS CLASS (US Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Maria Speth
Winner: Audience Award, Berlin International Film Festival
An immersive, intimate look inside the classroom of an inspiring teacher at a German primary school for immigrant students.
A NIGHT OF KNOWING NOTHING
Dir: Payal Kapadia
Prod: Thomas Hakim, Julien Graff
Winner: L’Œil d’Or Award for Best Documentary Film, Cannes Film Festival
A stack of love letters lay out the map to a brave, new world emerging from the dying embers of the world we know.
OPTION ZERO (US Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Marcel Beltrán
Prod: Paula Gastaud
Winner: Best Documentary Feature Award, Trinidad + Tobago Film Festival
Over 100 hours of personal cell phone footage traces a group of Cuban migrants as they journey from Colombia to Panama seeking refuge.
WRITING WITH FIRE (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Rintu Thomas, Sushmit Ghosh
Winner: World Cinema Documentary Competition Audience Award, Sundance Film Festival
In India, a group of Dalit women journalists pick up their pens and raise them against the many swords that endanger their lives.
WORK BY DOCUMENTARY LEGENDS
100UP (US Premiere)
Dir: Heddy Honigmann
Prod: Rogier Kramer
A peek into the vibrant lives of an assortment of 100+ year-olds from across the globe, reminding us all that there is indeed life after 99.
THE ENERGY WAR: “FILIBUSTER” (New Restoration)
Dir: Chris Hegedus, D. A. Pennebaker, Pat Powell
Prod: Pat Powell, Nathalie Seaver
The first NYC screening of a newly restored episode from D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus and Pat Powell’s ground-breaking 1978 public TV doc series about a Washington DC legislative battle.
LIFE OF CRIME 1984-2020 (NYC Premiere)
Dir: Jon Alpert
Prod: Tami Alpert, Duncan Cameron, Maurice Crenshaw, Maryann DeLeo
Filmmaker Jon Alpert chronicles the lives of street criminals in Newark, NJ, following them for 36 years in a remarkable act of longitudinal filmmaking.
FIGHT THE POWER
STORIES OF ACTIVISM
BURNING (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Eva Orner
Prod: Jonathan Schaerf, Jason Byrne
Oscar-winning filmmaker Eva Orner (Taxi to the Dark Side) focuses on the “Black Summer” of 2019-2020 when bushfires ravaged her home country of Australia and on the political climate that helped fuel the crisis.
THE BUSINESS OF BIRTH CONTROL (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Abby Epstein
Producers: James Costa, Anna Kolber, Holly Grigg-Spall
Filmmaker Abby Epstein and executive producer Ricki Lake re-team after The Business of Being Born to explore the controversial secret history of the birth control pill.
A DECENT HOME (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Sara Terry
Prod: Alysa Nahmias
Filmmaker Sara Terry looks at the changing economy of mobile home parks being bought by private equity firms, closing out one of the last affordable housing options in America.
THE GIG IS UP (NYC Premiere)
Dir: Shannon Walsh
Prod: Ina Fichman, Luc Martin-Gousset
Uber, DoorDash, Citi Bikes and the like offer modern conveniences to consumers across the globe, but at what cost to the enterprising gig workers doing these jobs?
INHOSPITABLE (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Sandra Alvarez
Prod: Jaime Burke, Stacy Goldate, Amy S. Kim, Veronica Nickel
Filmmaker Sandra Alvarez follows patients and activists as they band together to fight a multi-billion dollar nonprofit hospital system that limits vital care for vulnerable patients.
LADY BUDS (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Chris J. Russo
Prod: Michael J. Katz, Christian Bruno
Six plucky women turn the cannabis industry into a community and become modern-day pioneers along the way.
A SONG FOR CESAR: BEWARE A MOVEMENT THAT SINGS (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Abel Sanchez, Andres Alegria
A unique and stimulating view of the life and legacy of American labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez and the farmworker movement he spearheaded.
WE ARE RUSSIA (US Premiere)
Dir: Alexandra Dalsbaek
Prod: Maria Ibrahimova
Young activists in Russia campaign for Alexei Navalny, the opponent of Vladimir Putin, in the lead-up to the Presidential election of 2018.
WHO WE ARE: A CHRONICLE OF RACISM IN AMERICA (NYC Premiere)
Dir: Emily Kunstler, Sarah Kunstler
Prod: Jeffery Robinson, Emily Kunstler, Sarah Kunstler, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Andrea Crabtree, Vanessa Hope, Susan Korda, Katharine Nephew, Jayashri Wyatt
This SXSW Audience Award winner delivers a potent immersion into history through the perspective of ACLU attorney Jeffrey Robinson—a dynamic speaker who makes the past come alive in his interviews, travels, and personal stories.
NEWSMAKERS AND NEWSBREAKERS
THE CAVIAR CONNECTION (US Premiere)
Dir: Benoît Bringer; Prod: Laurent Richard
Journalist Khadija Ismayilova courageously exposes the corruption tactics of the rulers of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan in this thrilling investigation into how easily power is bought.
THE SILENCE OF THE MOLE (US Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Anais Taracena
Prod: Rafael González
Filmmaker Anais Taracena unravels a decades-long conspiracy within the Guatemalan government and the bravery of the man who unveiled it all.
STORM LAKE (NYC Premiere)
Dir: Jerry Risius
Dir/Prod: Beth Levison
A small-town Iowa paper, The Storm Lake Times, led by editor Art Cullen, struggles for survival despite its journalistic excellence that garnered a Pulitzer Prize.
MOVIES ABOUT MUSIC
FANNY: THE RIGHT TO ROCK (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Bobbi Jo Hart
In the early 70s, Fanny was the first rock band of women to release an LP with a major label, breaking barriers of race, gender, and sexuality. Fifty years later, they reunite.
I’M WANITA (NYC Premiere)
Dir: Matthew Walker
Prod: Carolina Sorensen, Clare Lewis, Tait Brady
Australia’s boisterous “Queen of Honky Tonk” sets out on a pilgrimage to country music’s spiritual home: Nashville.
JAGGED (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Alison Klayman
Prod: Jaye Callahan, Kyle Martin
A look at Alanis Morissette’s 1995 Jagged Little Pill, the album that made her a cultural phenomenon.
THE JOBS OF SONGS (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Lila Schmitz
Prod: Fengyi Xu, Anika Kan Grevstad
Next to the breathtaking cliffs of an Irish coastal village, a tight-knit group of musicians finds joy and community through traditional Irish folk songs.
OMARA (World Premiere)
Dir: Hugo Perez
Prod: Dana Kuznetzkoff, Frida Torresblanco, Ann Lewnes
Omara Portuondo, internationally beloved grande dame of Cuban music best known from the Buena Vista Social Club, continues to delight audiences on her final world tour.
THE RUMBA KINGS (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Alan Brain
Prod: Monica Carlson
The Congolese rumba, an upbeat blend of Congolese traditional music and sounds from Cuba, is showcased as a vessel for cultural self-expression and joy.
STAY PRAYED UP (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: D.L. Anderson, Matt Durning
Prod: Lena C. Williams, Phil Cook, Mikel Barton, Leslie Raymond
After 50 years leading the dynamic, down-home gospel group The Branchettes, octogenarian powerhouse Lena Mae Perry, armed with her unwavering faith, shows no signs of slowing down.
YUNG PUNX: A PUNK PARABLE (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, Jeremy Newberger
The Color Killers, a hard-rocking punk group of tweens, must overcome infighting and jealousies to ace their biggest live-performance ever.
PROFILES OF SINGULAR INDIVIDUALS
ADRIENNE (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Andy Ostroy
The death of acclaimed actress-filmmaker-screenwriter Adrienne Shelly sends her husband on a search for answers.
DEAN MARTIN: KING OF COOL (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Tom Donahue
Prod: Ilan Arboleda
This in-depth biography explores Dean Martin’s varied career, including his complicated relationships with Jerry Lewis, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, and others.
DMX: DON’T TRY TO UNDERSTAND (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Christopher Frierson
Producers: Robert Alexander, Sean Gordon-Loebl, Clark Slater, Pat Gallo, Steve Rifkind, Barak Moffitt, Daniel Seliger
An intimate look at Earl “DMX” Simmons’ final year, highlighting the complex man, father and musician behind the raucous rapper persona.
KURT VONNEGUT: UNSTUCK IN TIME (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Robert B. Weide
Dir: Don Argott
Decades in the making, this biography of Kurt Vonnegut covers his years as a struggling writer to his eventual superstardom. The film makes its world premiere on what would have been his 99th birthday on November 11.
LET ME BE ME (World Premiere)
Director: Dan Crane, Katie Taber
Producers: Joe Plummer
Kyle Westphal grows up as an isolated autistic boy whose life is transformed by his fascination with fabric, leading him to become a fashion designer.
LIFE OF IVANNA (US Premiere)
Dir: Renato Borrayo Serrano
Prod: Vlad Ketkovich, Mette Cheng Munthe-Kaas
In the Russian Arctic tundra, a hearty Indigenous woman raises her five children in a house on skis.
PUNCH 9 FOR HAROLD WASHINGTON (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Joe Winston
Prod: Raymond Lambert, Sonya Jackson
Long before Barack Obama, Mayor Harold Washington galvanized a multiethnic progressive coalition and became the signal bearer for black politicians in Chicago.
ART + DESIGN
PROFILES OF ARTISTS & DESIGNERS
THE ART OF MAKING IT (NYC Premiere)
Dir: Kelcey Edwards
Prod: Debi Wisch
The Art of Making It profiles young artists at pivotal moments in their careers, revealing the secret sauce that thrusts some into the stratosphere and leaves others struggling to survive.
BAD ATTITUDE: THE ART OF SPAIN RODRIGUEZ (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Susan Stern
Spain Rodriguez, a leader of the underground comix movement along with Robert Crumb and Art Spiegelman, is profiled by his wife, filmmaker Susan Stern.
KRIMES (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Alysa Nahmias
Prod: Amanda Spain, Benjamin J. Murray
While locked up for six years in federal prison, artist Jesse Krimes secretly creates monumental works of art, smuggling them out in pieces and seeing the final product only when he’s released.
SING, FREETOWN (US Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Clive Patterson
Sierra Leone’s best-known investigative journalist, Sorious Samura, joins playwright Charlie Haffner to create an epic work of national theatre that tests their friendship.
WHITE CUBE (US Premiere)
Dir: Renzo Martens
Prod: Pieter van Huystee
Imagining a world where museums serve the people from whom they extract art, instead of the many corporations who continue their legacy of exploitation
PHOTOGRAPHY & FILM
BEHIND THE CAMERA
ALIEN ON STAGE (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Danielle Kummer, Lucy Harvey
In Dorset, England, local bus drivers stage an ambitious adaptation of Ridley Scott’s Alien, which leads to a surprise invitation to London’s West End.
EXPOSING MUYBRIDGE (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Marc Shaffer
Producers: Elisabeth Haviland James, Serginho Roosblad
A complex look into the compelling life and times of the father of cinema: Eadweard Muybridge.
FILM, THE LIVING RECORD OF OUR MEMORY (US Premiere)
Dir: Inés Toharia
Prod: Isaac Garcia, Paul Cadieux
Much of our audiovisual heritage has been lost forever, but film archivists, curators, technicians, and filmmakers from around the world are hard at work to preserve what still remains.
FOREST FOR THE TREES (US Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Rita Leistner
War photographer Rita Leistner turns her lens onto a community of tree planters who overcome grueling conditions to bring back the forest one tree at a time.
GRAIN (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Alex Contell, Tommaso Sacconi
Professional and amateur photographers join lab technicians in sharing the stories of those committed to shooting on real film in the digital era.
MCCURRY: THE PURSUIT OF COLOUR (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Denis Delestrac
Prod: Marieke Van Der Bersselaar, Carles Brugueras
Travel the world through Steve McCurry’s eyes and discover what these journeys can teach us about our place in the universe.
THE NEW GOSPEL (US Premiere)
Dir: Milo Rau
Prod: Arne Birkenstock, Olivier Zobrist, Sebastian Lemke
Art and activism blend in an Italian village where a film shoot on the life of Jesus parallels the struggles of African migrant workers.
THE REAL CHARLIE CHAPLIN (NYC Premiere)
Dir: Peter Middleton, James Spinney
Prod: Ben Limberg, John Battsek, Mike Brett, Steve Jamison, Jo-Jo Ellison
Combining previously unheard audio recordings and personal archives, the film traces Charlie Chaplin’s meteoric rise to superstardom and then his rapid fall from grace.
THE ROSSELLINIS (US Premiere)
Dir: Alessandro Rossellini
Prod: Raffaele Brunetti, Maria Teresa Tringali, Uldis Cekulis
Filmmaker Alessandro Rossellini explores his complex family and the complicated legacy of his legendary grandfather, director Roberto Rossellini, the “father of Neorealism.”
STORIES OF DISCOVERY AND TRANSFORMATION
THE BENGALI (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Kavery Kaul
Prod: Lucas Groth
Fatima, a New Orleans dwelling descendant of African Americans and Indian immigrants, ventures to Kolkata, India, in search of her long-lost family.
BLACK AND MISSING (World Premiere)
Series Dir: Geeta Gandbhir, Nadia Hallgren, Samantha Knowles, Yoruba Richen
Prod: Samantha Knowles, Nimco Sheikhaden
Sisters-in-law Derrica and Natalie Wilson have dedicated their lives to locate Black people who are missing by bringing awareness to their cases, which have often been marginalized by law enforcement and traditional media. The festival will preview one episode of this upcoming series executive produced by Soledad O’Brien.
GO HEAL YOURSELF (US Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Yasmin C. Rams
Prod: Rodney Charles
Director Yasmin C. Rams embarks on a journey to heal her epilepsy, trying a variety of therapies—including ones frowned upon by her own family.
SUBJECTS OF DESIRE (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Jennifer Holness
Prod: Sudz Sutherland
Participants of the 50th Anniversary of the Miss Black America Pageant discuss what it means to be Black and beautiful, and the role of historical representation in creating today’s image of Black women.
COMING OF AGE
TALES OF GROWING UP
BROTHERHOOD (US Premiere)
Dir: Francesco Montagner
Prod: Pavla Janoušková Kubečková
Three young Bosnian brothers are left on their own to work as shepherds while their father goes to prison for making recruitment videos for ISIS.
COLORS OF TOBI (US Premiere)
Dir: Alexa Bakony
Prod: Gábor Osváth, Dr. Ildikó Szūcs
Hungarian teen Tobi looks beyond the gender binary as their supportive family wades into the complexities of language and identity in the LGBTQIA+ community.
CUSP (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Parker Hill, Isabel Bethencourt
Prod: Zachary Luke Kislevitz
A trio of Texas teens navigate the realities of life as their adolescence hurtles toward womanhood.
TRY HARDER! (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Debbie Lum
Prod: Nico Opper, Lou Nakasako
Seniors at an elite San Francisco public high school vie for the few open spots at their dream colleges. With humor and heart, director Debbie Lum explores the intersection of class, race, and educational opportunity.
ZERO GRAVITY (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Thomas Verrette
A diverse group of middle-school students go on the journey of a lifetime when they participate in a nationwide competition sponsored by MIT to code satellites aboard the International Space Station.
DOCS ON JOCKS
THE CANNONS (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Steven Hoffner, AJ Messier
Prod: Kwame Damon Mason
Legendary youth hockey coach Neal Henderson, an institution in the Washington, DC community, shepherds a new group of teens toward manhood through the game he loves.
HOCKEYLAND (World Premiere)
Dir: Tommy Haines
Prod: Andrew Sherburne, JT Haines
Two competing high school hockey programs fight for the pride of their communities and a coveted state championship.
THE INVISIBLE SHORE (World Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Zhao Qi
Producer: Julia Cheng
The audacious tale of Guo Chuan, the first Chinese man to embark on a solo, non-stop circumnavigation of the world—and went missing.
KEEP IT SECRET (US Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Sean Duggan
In the 1970s, a group of surfing pioneers brought an international competition to Ireland amidst the political strife of the Troubles.
MESSWOOD (World Premiere)
Dir: Emily Kuester, Brad Lichtenstein
Prod: Emily Kuester, Brad Lichtenstein
Two Milwaukee area high schools—one black and urban, the other white and suburban—combine their football programs, and tensions rise as the disparities between them become increasingly apparent over the course of the season.
TORN (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Max Lowe
Prod: Chris Murphy, Jonathan Chinn, Simon Chinn
Max Lowe explores the legacy of his father, renowned mountain climber Alex Lowe, who died in an avalanche when Max was just ten years old.
WARRIOR SPIRIT (NYC Premiere)
Dir/Prod: Landon Dyksterhouse
Prod: Jason Bowles, Nancy Murphy Bowles
After being crowned the inaugural women’s flyweight champion, Nicco Montaño fights to defend her title but is threatened by the dangerous practice of weight cutting.
VOICES OF CANADA
A showcase of the Canadian titles that are represented throughout the festival’s sections.
Co-presented by the Consulate General of Canada in New York.
FANNY: THE RIGHT TO ROCK
FILM, THE LIVING RECORD OF OUR MEMORY
FOREST FOR THE TREES
THE GIG IS UP
SUBJECTS OF DESIRE
Feelings of Invisibility
Not My Today
The Train Station
Who the Hell is Nigel?