DOC NYC 2017: encore highlights

Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story, Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me, Rebels On Pointe, Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Bill Cunningham's last interview is in Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco
Bill Cunningham's last interview is in Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Greg Barker's The Final Year (documenting members of Barack Obama's administration, including Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, Secretary of State John Kerry and speechwriter Ben Rhodes in 2016) opened DOC NYC last night. Tiffany Bartok's Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story (with Paulina Porizkova, Kate Moss, Brooke Shields, Cher, Isabella Rossellini, Naomi Campbell, Isaac Mizrahi, Tori Amos, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Linda Wells); James Crump's Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco (Jessica Lange, Grace Jones, Jerry Hall, Juan Ramos, Yves Saint Laurent, Donna Jordan, Karl Lagerfeld, Grace Coddington, Bob Colacello, Bill Cunningham); Bobbi Jo Hart's Rebels on Pointe, and Samuel D Pollard's Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me are four more of this year's DOC NYC highlights.

Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story
Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story

Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story

Kevyn Aucoin's maxim that by showing someone else their beauty, you find the beauty in yourself, is alluringly illustrated by Tiffany Bartok's documentary on the famous makeup artist's life and legacy. Bullied while growing up in Louisiana in the Sixties, Aucoin's early years were split between a world that put a target on his back, and one where he made up his sister and friends, listening to Barbra Streisand. Linda Wells explains how, to launch his career, he installed himself in the lobby at Vogue and ultimately "changed the face of makeup." Not only supermodels such as Paulina Porizkova, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss or Christy Turlington were his fans. Isabella Rossellini sings his praises and we can see for ourselves in the footage that Liza Minnelli never looked as good as she does after Aucoin did his magic to her face. That the destabilizing power of transformation and the never-ending striving for beauty can feed a dangerous game is best summed up by Tori Amos: "Some of us were addicted to him making us beautiful and he was addicted to making us beautiful." Fickle fashion meets shifting loyalties, painkillers and what seems to be fearlessness. Aucoin's wisdom about beauty as the ultimate uplifter remains.

Art & Design - Thursday, November 16 at 7:15pm - SVA Theatre; Expected to attend: Tiffany Bartok, producers Jayce Bartok, Bronwyn Cosgrave, Troy Surratt

Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me
Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me

Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me

From being a showbiz baby in Harlem and never going to school (he says not even a day in his life) to his sometimes counterproductive political demonstrations of allegiance (Sammy hugging Nixon on stage in 1972) - this is the portrait of a trailblazer who with his many contradictions always held up a mirror to America. Samuel D Pollard's documentary serves as a splendid reminder of just how good Sammy Davis, Jr was in so many sectors of entertainment. He was a world-class tap dancer, had a powerful singing voice, and the talent to mimic his Hollywood colleague's foibles to perfection and get away with it. What enraged, puzzled, and ultimately changed the country at a particular time in terms of race has more than once come to notice for the general public because of him. A black man doing impersonations of white entertainers, a black man marrying a white woman (Swedish actress May Britt) caused controversy. What was his role as a member of the Rat Pack with Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Peter Lawford? How are audiences of today handling racist jokes of yesterday? Being seriously entertaining, the film is also aflutter with important questions like these.

Centerstage - Sunday, November 12 at 11:30am - SVA Theatre; Tuesday, November 14 at 9:30pm - IFC Center; Expected to attend: Sam Pollard, producers Michael Kantor, Sally Rosenthal, writer Lawerence Maslon, editor Steve Wechsler

Rebels On Pointe
Rebels On Pointe

Rebels On Pointe

Yet another extraordinary documentary from the land of the performative that goes beyond the inspirational, Bobbi Jo Hart's Rebels On Pointe, lovingly investigates the microcosm of a frequently touring dance troupe, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, the famous all-male ballet company founded in 1974. Vested Interests, Marjorie Garber's study on cross-dressing and cultural anxiety, is a book you can spot on the bookshelf during one of the film's many behind-the-scenes interviews. Subversive in breaking gender codes with a lot of humor and spectacular in its craft, the diverse company under the joyful artistic direction of Tory Dobrin keeps exploring boundaries that we as society at large still have to push. While male feet in pointe shoes might still not be the norm, the trouble of having a meaningful relationship when you are traveling a lot with your work is universal. Rebels On Pointe shows some of the private and the public, where they overlap and where love of dance comes up against love of family.

Centerstage - Saturday, November 11 at 9:15pm - SVA Theatre; Expected to attend: Bobbi Jo Hart, co-producer Robbie Hart, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo company members

Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco
Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco

Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco

"Magical", "cat-like", "irresistible", "so sexy", "extremely seductive", "wide-open and free as a bird" and "an incredible flirt" - this is how Antonio Lopez is described. Folks were "mesmerized" by his "magnetism", had a "wild crush on him" or were "absolutely crazy about him". Bill Cunningham, who found Lopez and his art director and creative partner, Juan Ramos, an apartment in Carnegie Hall (they became his neighbors and neighbours of Norman Mailer there) talks about their close friendship. We learn from supermodel Pat Cleveland what he was like at Parsons in 1968 and what went on around the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park.

James Crump (director of Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art and Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe) takes us on a tumultuously entertaining journey through the fashion world of the late Sixties, early Seventies and lets us discover a man far too few know about. As the images unfold, we marvel at the diversity, the fun, the celebratory mood.

Metropolis - Friday, November 10 at 9:30pm - SVA Theatre; Expected to attend: James Crump, Corey Tippin, Pat Cleveland, Donna Jordan, Patti D'Arbanville, Joan Juliet Buck, and producer Ronnie Sassoon

The eighth annual DOC NYC runs through November 16.

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