DOC NYC encore highlights

David Lynch: The Art Life, The Ivory Game, Le Concours and Letters From Baghdad.

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Tilda Swinton flawlessly communicates Gertrude Bell in Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl's astute Letters From Baghdad
Tilda Swinton flawlessly communicates Gertrude Bell in Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl's astute Letters From Baghdad Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes and Olivia Neergaard-Holm's David Lynch: The Art Life with Lynch's memories including his Mulholland Drive and The Straight Story production designer Jack Fisk; Claire Simon's Le Concours (The Graduation) on the admission process to enter La Fémis; Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson's The Ivory Game which takes off from Simon Trevor's wake-up call White Gold; Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl's Letters From Baghdad, executive produced by Martin Scorsese's favourite editor Thelma Schoonmaker with Tilda Swinton are four more highlights of this year's DOC NYC.

David Lynch: The Art Life

David Lynch: The Art Life
David Lynch: The Art Life

Although the world of his childhood was no larger than two blocks, it contained it all. There is the traumatic, "otherworldly" encounter with a naked woman on the street, David Lynch talks about, while we see a big moth wanting to get out by the window. "You can live in one place and have everything," is his motto. Time seems to fold in on itself. Lynch begins to talk about a neighbour, Mr. Smith, then pauses, takes a deep breath and says "I can't tell the story. I never talked to Mr. Smith, ever." Instead he scribbles something down on his yellow legal pad. The mystery remains and lives on in our own monstrous minds. He talks about his view of his father and how it shifted from embarrassing to "super cool." Virginia "seemed like always night," and Philadelphia, where Lynch studied art and became a father himself for the first time, was a city of "thick, thick fear". His roommate and friend at the time was Jack Fisk. The documentary, directed by Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes and Olivia Neergaard-Holm leaves wonderfully grand room to form your own opinion.

Art & Design - Sunday, November 13 at 9:30pm - SVA Theatre; Expected to attend: tbc

The Ivory Game

The Ivory Game
The Ivory Game

Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson structure their film like a thriller and why not? Whatever it takes to have people stop pleading ignorance. The investigations the documentary combines take place on different continents and are all interconnected. China is the greatest mark for ivory, Hong Kong, the harbor of entry. Loopholes of legality allow for fraud on a massive scale. In Tanzania, the head of a poaching syndicate, a man called Shétani, which translates as "The Devil", employs an army of men to kill elephants for their ivory on a massive scale and cross country borders. Only a sketch of him exists. An international band of advocates work together to put a stop to the abomination the ivory trade is. If we do not stop the massive poaching of ivory, elephants in Africa will be extinct in the next 15 years. That is the bitter prognosis in The Ivory Game.

Short List - Thursday, November 10 at 8:45pm - Cinepolis Chelsea; Tuesday, November 15 at 11:45am - Cinepolis Chelsea;Expected to attend: Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson on November 10

Le Concours

Le Concours
Le Concours

Unlike so many films chronicling a competition - for an award, a job, or in this case, admission to La Fémis, the prestigious French film school in Paris, Le Concours does not follow a handful of applicants to reveal in the end if they got in or not. Instead, we are plopped, without much background information into the machinations of the selection process. A number of professionals from the various branches of the movie industry in France, not the state film school itself, pick and discuss and dispute who will get in and who won't. A big auditorium is filled to the last seat with candidates watching a clip from a film and writing about it. The deliberation process and commentary about candidates we see and sometimes don't see, is a gem for the art of decision-making. Claire Simon's behind-the-scenes look is fascinating on many levels and not only for people interested in cinema. The film shimmers and provokes where it is least expected.

Behind the Scenes - Saturday, November 12 at 9:15pm - IFC Center; Expected to attend: Claire Simon

Letters From Baghdad

Letters From Baghdad
Letters From Baghdad

Fluent in Arabic, Oxford educated Gertrude Bell, turned archeologist, explorer, writer, photographer, cartographer and suspected spy to be appointed Iraq's Honorary Director of Antiquities following the First World War, had a fascinating life that far too few know about. Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl through an excellent selection of archival footage mixed with Bell's photographs take us on a journey with a woman who was determined to make a difference. And she did on her own terms. Tilda Swinton gives her voice to Gertrude, reading her letters sent back to her father in England and those whom she admired (mostly men). The unusual and in this case very effective choice to have impeccably dressed actors talk to the camera in their roles as Bell's contemporaries, gives the documentary a charming playfulness. From being confronted by TE Lawrence to being an Ottoman Empire concern, she overcame a remarkable number of barriers put in front of her. Gertrude Bell left her formidable mark on the world.

International Perspectives - Saturday, November 12 at 11:15am - SVA Theatre; Expected to attend: Zeva Oelbaum, Sabine Krayenbühl, composer Paul Cantelon and executive producer Thelma Schoonmaker.

The seventh annual DOC NYC runs from November 10 through November 17.

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