New films by Barbara Kopple, Dawn Porter, and Maxim Pozdorovkin lead the list of world premieres for this year’s DOC NYC. The festival announced its spotlight screenings today, including the US premiere of Maya and the Wave as the Opening Night presentation. Directed by Stephanie Johnes, Maya and the Wave premiered to wide acclaim earlier this year at the Toronto International Film Festival where it scored the runner-up prize for the People’s Choice Award for documentary. Maya and the Wave is an inspiring portrait of Brazilian big wave surfer Maya Gabeira and her fight against sexism in sports.
“We are elated to open DOC NYC with Stephanie Johnes’s inspiring testament to self-empowerment and boundary-breaking, in a visually spectacular arena,” said DOC NYC Artistic Director Jaie Laplante in a statement from the festival. This year’s DOC NYC is Laplante’s first year as Artistic Director after taking the reigns from long-time programmer Thom Powers, who has shifted over to serve as DOC NYC’s Director of Special Projects.
While Maya and the Wave promises a rousing kick-off to the festival, the trio of world premieres announced today will be major titles to watch. All three are seeking worldwide distribution, as is Maya. Kopple will have the first of DOC NYC’s two Centrepiece presentations with Gumbo Coalition. The latest film from the two-time Academy Award winning director of Harlan County, USA and American Dream observes civil rights leaders Marc Morial and Janet Murguía. The film follows their efforts to empower African American and Latino American communities as the U.S. undergoes a reckoning amid the murder of George Floyd and amplified calls for racial equality against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and the chaotic 2020 presidential election. Kopple was last at the festival with Desert One and received DOC NYC’s 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award.
DOC NYC’s second Centerpiece presentation is Cirque du Soleil: Without a Net, directed by Dawn Porter (John Lewis: Good Trouble, The Way I See It). The film features unique access to the popular acrobatic troupe as Cirque du Soleil readies its Las Vegas production O. The doc also deals with the effect of the pandemic on live performances and the artistic community. Performers from Cirque du Soleil will attend the DOC NYC premiere.
Finally, Maxim Pozdorovkin’s The Conspiracy will screening as the Closing Night selection. The latest film from the director of Our New President and Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, The Conspiracy is an animated doc that explores the family tree of three Jewish dynasties and the anti-Semitism that rose in their wake. The Conspiracy features vocal talents from actors including Liev Schreiber, Jason Alexander, Lake Bell, Ben Shenkman, and Mayim Bialik.
This year’s DOC NYC festival runs Nov. 9 to 27. Additional programming announcements to follow.