DOC NYC encore highlights

Gunda, Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide, Calendar Girl, The Meaning Of Hitler and In My Own Time: A Portrait Of Karen Dalton

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Robert Yapkowitz and Rich Peete’s In My Own Time: A Portrait Of Karen Dalton executive producer Wim Wenders on Nick Cave and Karen Dalton: “Just like Nick, Karen’s music had a profound effect on me.”
Robert Yapkowitz and Rich Peete’s In My Own Time: A Portrait Of Karen Dalton executive producer Wim Wenders on Nick Cave and Karen Dalton: “Just like Nick, Karen’s music had a profound effect on me.” Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Victor Kossakovsky’s Gunda, co-written with Ainara Vera, executive produced by Joaquin Phoenix, co-produced by Anita Rehoff Larsen from Sant & Usant with Joslyn Barnes and Susan Rockefeller of Louverture Films (Nadine Labaki's Capernaum, Yance Ford's Strong Island, RaMell Ross's Hale County This Morning, This Evening) and a Main Slate selection of the 58th New York Film Festival; Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker’s ever more timely The Meaning Of Hitler (with Saul Friedländer and Francine Prose on Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph Of The Will, Martin Amis on political tactics and characterology, Klaus Theweleit on strangers, Deborah Lipstadt, Beate Klarsfeld, Serge Klarsfeld, and 94-year-old Yehuda Bauer getting the last word); Malia Scharf and Max Basch’s intimate portrait, Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide, produced with David Koh (featuring remembrances from Kenny of Keith Haring, Klaus Nomi, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, clips from Jim Jarmusch’s Permanent Vacation, Edo Bertoglio’s Downtown 81, Charlie Ahearn’s Wild Style, interviews with Jeffrey Deitch, Yoko Ono, Dennis Hopper, Edward Ruscha); Christian D Bruun's Calendar Girl on Ruth Finley, creator of the Fashion Calendar, and Robert Yapkowitz and Rich Peete’s In My Own Time: A Portrait Of Karen Dalton are five encore highlights of DOC NYC.

Gunda
Gunda

Gunda

Gunda is an extraordinarily impactful, loving, and urgent film and the more people stumble upon it, because they are lured by a magnificent pig with the cutest piglets, shot in poised black and white, the better off they will be. We meet Gunda, it seems, while she is giving birth to her 13 piglets. The camera stays respectfully outside the small barn structure at first. A bit later we get very very close - one of the newborns is still wet - and we see what Gunda has to do to keep everything under control. We see them sleep, huddled together, and feed and play. Watching them makes you think of life and death and how absolutely wondrous it is that we are here. Piglets, hay, mud, the sky above, the earth below. Kossakovsky brings us to what it’s actually all about. And we play a part in it, daily, with our decisions for every meal. In 2020 with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic we know more than ever before about conditions at wet markets and processing plants all over the world, not far away at all, that deliver cheap meat and poultry, packaged up in plastic to make it least resemble a living soul with a face and a heart. It’s time to stop pretending. Gunda sends a most forceful message about gratitude, respect and humility and the horrors that humans unleash on the world everyday, every hour, becoming complicit in every meal where convenience is king.

Gunda is screening virtually in the Short List: Features program at DOC NYC through Thursday, November 19.

Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide
Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide

Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide

Kenny Scharf says that he knew he had come to the right place, SVA (School of Visual Arts) in 1978 New York, upon hearing Devo blasting from Keith Haring’s studio. “I remember thinking when I saw him this is the person I’ve been looking for.” “I always felt a little isolated” growing up in Los Angeles, Scharf says, “my fuel for moving to New York was learning about Andy.” That is Warhol of course and the scene at The Factory. Kenny recalls telling Andy “we are in the same show”, referring to the 1981 New York / New Wave exhibition at MoMA PS1, organised by Diego Cortez. The documentary by Max Basch (also the editor and co-writer) and Scharf’s daughter Malia covers decades of artistic endeavours and family joys and travails through a loving lens. Although Yoko Ono calls Kenny Scharf’s work “from another planet” and “not of this Earth”, the relaxed and focused artist we see is very much concerned with what is happening to our environment. The discarded and the unwanted are his materials - Kenny diagnoses himself with a syndrome that makes him see faces in everything; his is a universe where inanimate objects have personality and where the Jetsons and Flintstones can help make sense for us all of the bewildering chaos we face in this time.

Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide will screen virtually in the Arts & Culture program at DOC NYC through Thursday, November 19.

Calendar Girl
Calendar Girl

Calendar Girl

Ruth Finley (who died in 2018 at the age of 98), had been an organisational maven of the fashion industry since 1941. She is lauded and celebrated for her life’s work behind the scenes in Christian D. Bruun's Calendar Girl. It is 2014, two weeks before Fashion Week in New York and she and her team of two are on the phones working out the scheduling, and by the copier to print the Fashion Calendar on pink paper. Calendar Girl, features interviews with the who’s who of the fashion world (including Bill Cunningham; Carolina Herrera, who designed the white pantsuit and pussy-bow blouse Vice President-elect Kamala Harris wore last Saturday on stage with President-elect Joe Biden; Thom Browne; Fern Mallis; former curator-in-chief of the Anna Wintour Costume Center at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harold Koda; Diane von Furstenberg; CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Steven Kolb; and an Andrew Bolton (the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art) stroll with Finley through the China: Through the Looking Glass exhibit. Most interestingly, the documentary takes us back in time to when Ruth Finley was hired as a girl Friday by the number-one fashion publicist for American designers, Eleonor Lambert. During the war, Lambert started “Press Week” at The Plaza or The Pierre in New York. In order to avoid scheduling conflicts of the shows for the buyers and press, the calendar was born. “Ruth was Oz-like,” Steven Kolb says, working behind the scenes unlike Diana Vreeland (famed Editor-in-Chief of Vogue and curator at The Met Museum’s Costume Institute) or Lambert.

DOC NYC Live event: Tuesday, November 17 at noon (EST) on Facebook Live - The legacy of fashion legend Ruth Finley is explored by fashion designer Nicole Miller; creator of New York Fashion Week Fern Mallis; former InStyle editor Eric Wilson; director Christian D Bruun; Christina Neault, Fashion and Event Producer, former Executive Producer of IMG Fashion and Calendar Girl producer Natalie Nudell. Calendar Girl will screen virtually in the Metropolis competition at DOC NYC through Thursday, November 19.

The Meaning Of Hitler
The Meaning Of Hitler

The Meaning Of Hitler

Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker’s kaleidoscopic investigation into the past and our future takes us on the road of history and the state of the world at this moment in time. The filmmakers start with a commuter train ride into New York City in 2017, and then on to a subway - Epperlein is seen reading books that mark the moment by the likes of Timothy Snyder, Hannah Arendt, George Orwell, Klaus Theweleit, and the one by Sebastian Haffner that gives the film its name. Books and thoughts and movement. Martin Amis on camera talks about how Hitler “resists understanding” and explains some of the tactics used: ”You undermine the institutions of the state because that magnifies your own position. Everything is dependent on you.” A little avalanche of movie clips, from Mel Brooks’s The Producers to Bruno Ganz in Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Downfall, shows what is called “Hollywood’s love for Hitler”, which leads to Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, a film that Francine Prose calls “performance art”, “pure kitsch”, “gorgeous pageantry”, pointing to the formations which she compares to The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. Saul Friedländer calls it “performance for eternity.” The Meaning Of Hitler does not want to add to the propaganda that is, the more time passes, taken for reality, quite the opposite. Beate and Serge Klarsfeld are interviewed in Paris and he echoes what a tour guide earlier on in the Führerbunker in Berlin said, namely that “young people don’t understand war.” He also says that “history has no precise direction.” This thread is taken up by Saul Friedländer in the car in Berlin, about to speak in front of the Bundestag in 2019, when he says that “memory moves in its own direction.” Yehuda Bauer gets the last word: “The Nazi ideas were acted out by people who were absolutely normal.”

DOC NYC Live event: Monday, Nov. 16 at 2:00pm (EST) on Facebook Live– Francine Prose joins the head of Hannah Arendt Center Roger Berkowitz, Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein for a conversation about Hitler’s legacy today. The Meaning of Hitler will screen virtually in the Metropolis competition at DOC NYC through Thursday, November 19.

In My Own Time: A Portrait Of Karen Dalton
In My Own Time: A Portrait Of Karen Dalton

In My Own Time: A Portrait Of Karen Dalton

Robert Yapkowitz and Rich Peete’s soul-searching documentary on singer/songwriter Karen Dalton (who died from AIDS in 1993), features interviews with The Holy Modal Rounders’ Peter Stampfel, The Ice Storm novelist Rick Moody, Nirvana manager Danny Goldberg (who says Dalton was “idolised by Bob Dylan”), Woodstock founder Michael Lang, Dalton’s daughter Abbe (Rebecca) Baird, and various boyfriends, who became collaborators on her musical journeys. The tone is set right at the start. We hear and see up-close Karen Dalton performing Blues Jumped the Rabbit with the lyric “I’m like a newborn child” cutting to her out in the landscape she seemed to feel most at home in. Nick Cave states on camera: “With Karen Dalton there’s a sort of demand made upon the listener, it’s not background music. Whether you like it or not you have to enter her world. And it’s a despairing world.” Wim Wenders, who became executive producer in support of the film told me that “Just like Nick, Karen’s music had a profound effect on me and I knew every song she ever published.” Tim Hardin, seen in archival footage is talked about being a strong influence on Dalton.

DOC NYC Live event: Thursday, November 19 at 3:00pm (EST) on Facebook Live– Blues and folk singer Karen Dalton remembered by Peter Stampfel and others. In My Own Time: A Portrait of Karen Dalton will screen virtually in the Sonic Cinema program at DOC NYC through Thursday, November 19.

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