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Documentary profiles, hot topics highlight DOC NYC slate

More than 120 feature documentaries are part of the slate for this year’s DOC NYC festival, running in person from Nov. 10 to 18, and continuing online until Nov. 28. This ...
October 19, 2021

More than 120 feature documentaries are part of the slate for this year’s DOC NYC festival, running in person from Nov. 10 to 18, and continuing online until Nov. 28.

This year’s festival includes more than 200 films, and will screen 32 world premieres and 34 U.S. premieres. The festival is also launching three competitive sections for feature documentaries: a U.S. competition, an international competition and the Kaleidoscope Competition for new essayistic and formally adventurous documentaries. DOC NYC’s long-standing Metropolis Competition, showcasing New York stories, will also continue.

“After pivoting in 2020 to present a completely online festival, we’re thrilled to be bringing films and filmmakers in person to New Yorkers again. But we’re very happy that we’ll also continue to serve our new audience across the country by once again presenting films online this year,” said the festival’s artistic director Thom Powers, in a news release. “We’re proud to showcase such a wide spectrum of documentary representing the diverse perspectives of our programming team.”

Previously, the festival had announced its opening night film would be Listening to Kenny G, the closing night film will be First Wave, and its two centerpiece films as Citizen Ashe and Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over (pictured).

Films that will make their world premiere at DOC NYC this year include several profiles of notable figures such as 14 Peaks on mountain climber Nirmal Purja, DMX: Don’t Try To Understand, Dean Martin: Exposing Muybridge on photographer Eadweard Muybridge, Kevin Garnett: Anything Is Possible, King of Cool, Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck In Time, McCurry: The Pursuit of Color, Mr. Saturday Night about Robert Stigwood, and The Invisible Shore about the disappearance of Chinese sailor Guo Chuan.

Several current hot topics will be explored in documentaries at DOC NYC too. These include Black and Missing, about Black missing people cases; Boycott, on new American laws around boycotts; The Business of Birth Control, about the history of the birth control pill; End of the Line, about New York’s subways; InHospitable, concerning hospitals driving up health care costs; Messwood, about racial tension in a high school football program; Newtok, about an Indigenous community in Alaska suffering the effects of climate change; Refuge, about a friendship between a Kurdish doctor and a white supremacist; and Tree of Life, focusing on the survivors of a deadly 2018 attack at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Documentaries such as Anonymous Sister and Be Our Guest, telling stories of families dealing with addiction, will both make their world premieres at DOC NYC. Go Through the Dark, a profile of a blind boy talented in the game Go; Grandpa Was an Emperor, a story of the family of Haile Selassie; and Let Me Be Me, about a child with severe autism who becomes a fashion designer, will also have their world premieres at DOC NYC.

The festival’s Sonic Cinema section of music documentaries will include the world premieres of The Job of Songs, about Irish folk musicians; Omara, featuring Buena Vista Social Club singer Omara Portuondo; and Yung Punx: A Punk Parable, about a tween rock band. A pair of stories about mentoring youth hockey teams in The Cannons and Hockeyland will also both have world premieres, as well as Young Plato, a film about a headmaster at an Irish school.

Other world premieres include Objects, a film about the meaning of possessions, and Grain, which is about the love of film stock.

The festival will also feature 70 short films in 12 thematic programs as part of DOC NYC’s Shorts Competition, as well as 39 films representing student work from seven New York schools as part of DOC NYC U.

DOC NYC’s Kaleidoscope Competition will be overseen by Ruth Somalo, while the Metropolis and Sonic Cinema sections will be overseen by Karen McMullen, and the Sports section will be overseen by Brandon Harrison. Feature associate programmers Bedatri Choudhury and Kim Garcia will also select titles throughout the festival. Samah Ali is DOC NYC’s Shorts programmer, working with associate programmers DeWitt Davis and Elyse Wang. The programming team is supported by program manager Anita Raswant.

The festival’s full 2021 lineup can be found on its website.

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