DOC NYC is planning to move its annual conference and market “primarily” to the online space, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Organizers say that as the event dates of November 11-19 draw closer, they will re-evaluate the feasibility of hosting additional events in person. In the meantime, plans are underway to migrate the event to the virtual space with a similar “size and scope as recent editions,” with the aim to program up to 100 feature docs in addition to a roster of panels, seminars and other initiatives.
The fest will offer film screenings geo-blocked within the United States on a platform specialized for festival presentations with a limited quantity of tickets available, following the examples of other festivals that moved online for 2020, such as AFI Docs, Hot Docs, and Human Rights Watch Film Festival. Classes and conversations, meanwhile, will be accessible for participants from around the world via a mix of free and ticketed events.
Programming selections will be announced in October, with the final submission deadline for features and shorts extended to July 8.
“We are adapting to difficult times, but we’re excited by the potential to reach a new global audience online,” said DOC NYC executive director Raphaela Neihausen (pictured) in a statement.
In addition, the festival has named Opal H. Bennett to the newly created position of director of filmmaker development. In that role, she will focus on expanding the festival’s efforts to support documentary careers and widen diversity in the industry through existing DOC NYC initiatives such as its Only In New York program for works-in-progress; its 40 Under 40 list for emerging talent; and the DOC NYC U section for student filmmakers. She’ll also be tasked with helping to develop new initiatives to meet those goals.
Bennett has previously served for the past five years as the festival’s programmer for its Shorts and Doc NYC U programs, and she will continue in these roles with the new post.
“Opal has been a vital part of this festival for much of our 11-year history,” said DOC NYC artistic director Thom Powers. “Having served on the selection committees for Only In New York and 40 Under 40 since the inception of both programs, as well as overseeing DOC NYC U for the past several years, she is the perfect person to lead our efforts to support new voices in the documentary field.”