DOC NYC announces line-up

Factual film showcase to feature 23 world premieres

by Amber Wilkinson

The Final Year
The Final Year Photo: Courtesy of DOC NYC

The line-up for the eighth DOC NYC film festival has been announced. The festival, which runs from November 9 to 16 in Manhattan, will feature 23 world premieres, with more than 350 filmmakers and special guests expected in person to present their films or participate on panels.

The festival will open with The Final Year - Greg Barker's documentary about the final year of president Barack Obama's foreign policy administration - and close with musical profile Eric Clapton: Life In 12 Bars, with the guitarist and songwriter in attendance.

The Centerpiece Film, will be the world premiere of Far From the Tree, director Rachel Dretzin’s adaptation of Andrew Solomon’s bestselling book about parental love in many forms.

World premieres at the festival include A Murder in Mansfield, by Barbara Kopple (Miss Sharon Jones!), which explores the impact of a 1989 murder on a family; Maynard, by Sam Pollard (Two Trains Runnin’), about Atlanta’s first black mayor, Maynard Jackson and Naila and the Uprising, by Julia Bacha (Budrus), about the hidden role women played in the First Intifada, a project that won last year’s DOC NYC Pitch Perfect competition.

Director of programming Basil Tsiokos said: “Documentary storytellers help us make sense of the tumultuous times we’re living in with artistry, humour and inspiring characters.

“This year’s DOC NYC line-up gives audiences fresh insight into high profile figures and shines a light on lesser-known individuals who leave a big impression."

The festival is curated in 18 sections that include two new strands: New World Order, with six films about global issues in the news, and Centerstage, an eight-title section focused on performing and performers.

As in previous years, the festival has two feature film competitions. Viewfinders celebrates distinct directorial visions and Metropolis, which is dedicated to stories set in New York City.

There will be a number of special events running throughout the festival, including the DOC NYC PRO conference, which focuses on panels and masterclasses.

Notable documentarians will also be honoured at a Visionaries Tribute Awards event on November 9: Sheila Nevins and Errol Morris will receive Lifetime Achievement Awards while Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady will receive the Robert and Anne Drew Award for observational filmmaking. Cara Mertes, director of the JustFilms initiative at the Ford Foundation, will receive the Leading Light Award for distinguished service to documentary in a role outside filmmaking.

The competition line-up is below (synopses provided by the festival):

Viewfinders Competition

The Judge, Dir: Erika Cohn (US premiere)
A vérité legal drama about the first woman appointed to a Shari’a court in the Middle East, providing rare insights into both Islamic law and gendered justice.

Love, Cecil, Dir: Lisa Immordino Vreeland (NYC premiere)
An affectionate portrait of Cecil Beaton, a multi-talented photographer, writer and painter who also designed sets and costumes for films like My Fair Lady.

Love Means Zero, Dir: Jason Kohn (NYC premiere)
Infamous and influential tennis coach Nick Bollettieri has trained champions that include Andre Agassi and Boris Becker, but greatness comes at a personal price.

Mole Man, Dir: Guy Fiorita (world premiere) An autistic man is faced with the possibility of losing the only home he has ever known—and the remarkable 50-room structure he's built in the backyard.

Naila And The Uprising, Dir: Julia Bacha (world premiere)
Filmmaker Julia Bacha (Budrus) reveals the hidden history of the key role women played in the Palestinian uprising known as the First Intifada.

Silas, Dirs: Anjali Nayar, Hawa Essuman (US premiere)
A rousing profile of Liberian activist Silas Siakor, a tireless crusader against illegal logging and a symbol of resistance for a new generation.

The Stranger, Dir: Nicole N. Horanyi (international premiere)
Amanda, a 25-year-old single mother, meets the man of her dreams on Facebook... but she soon discovers that the charming, worldly Casper has secrets.

This Is Congo, Dir: Daniel McCabe (NYC premiere)
Filmmaker Daniel McCabe examines multiple sides of the fractious war in the Democratic Republic of Congo in this stunningly shot film.

Metropolis Competition

Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco, Dir: James Crump (North American premiere)
A portrait of the most influential fashion illustrator of 1970s New York and Paris, known for discovering talents such as Pat Cleveland and Grace Jones.

Cradle Of Champions, Dir: Bartle Bull (NYC premiere)
Three amateur boxers compete for glory and life-changing opportunities in New York City's legendary Golden Gloves tournament.

The Iron Triangle, Dirs: Prudence Katze, William Lehman (world premiere)
Workers and owners of auto repair shops in Queens' Willets Point face off against gentrification and urban renewal for the future of their livelihoods and community.

Miracle On 42nd Street, Dir: Alice Elliott (world premiere)
The surprising history of Manhattan Plaza and its embrace of the performing arts, featuring famed former residents including Alicia Keys, Terrence Howard and Angela Lansbury.

Screening with Lucy Walker’s Oh, What A Beautiful City (A City Symphony). A celebration of summertime in NYC.

Oh, Rick!, Dirs: Dustin Sussman, Aaron Rosenbloom (world premiere)
A profile of comedian Rick Crom, long-running emcee at Greenwich Village's Comedy Cellar, featuring Ray Romano, Colin Quinn, Sarah Silverman and Wanda Sykes.

Still Waters, Dir: Peter Gordon (world premiere)
In Bushwick, where rapid gentrification is pushing out Latino families, a unique alternative after-school program serves as a haven for the community.

Vigilante: The Incredible True Story Of Curtis Sliwa And The Guardian Angels, Dir: David Wexler (world premiere)
An unfiltered look back at 1970s and '80s NYC through the eyes of Curtis Sliwa, founder of the controversial crime prevention patrol the Guardian Angels.

Read our coverage of the 2016 festival here, 2017 coverage coming soon.

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