DOC NYC unveils “Short List” selections of awards contenders

Ascension (pictured), Flee and Summer of Soul are just a few of the notable documentaries included in DOC NYC’s features short list for this year. The festival has unveiled the 15 features and 15 short ...
October 26, 2021

Ascension (pictured), Flee and Summer of Soul are just a few of the notable documentaries included in DOC NYC’s features short list for this year.

The festival has unveiled the 15 features and 15 short films selected as leading award contenders that are playing at this year’s event. All of these films will have theatrical screenings at the festival, often with the directors in person, and many will be available on the festival’s online platform.

DOC NYC will also hold two days of free online panels on Facebook Live with the Short List: Shorts filmmakers on Nov. 22, co-presented by MTV Documentary Films, and the Short List: Features filmmakers on Nov. 23. Audiences will be able to watch and submit questions or comments.

The shortlisted films are included in the full list of 127 feature and 125 short films in the 12th edition of DOC NYC, running in-person from Nov. 10-18 and continuing online until Nov. 28.

DOC NYC touts its short list for documentary features as being a reliable predictor of other accolades including critics’ prizes, top 10 lists and the Oscars. In eight of the last nine years, DOC NYC has screened the documentary feature that went on to win an Academy Award, and it’s screened 39 of the last 45 Oscar-nominated documentary features.

The Short List: Features selections are overseen by artistic director Thom Powers in consultation with the festival’s programming team. The selected films will vie for juried awards in four categories: directing, producing, cinematography and editing. The three-person awards jury for the shortlisted feature films contest are Nadia Hallgren (Becoming), Kimberly Reed (Dark Money) and Hao Wu (76 Days).

The Short List: Shorts section is overseen by shorts programmer Samah Ali. Last year, five of the 10 films selected were named to the Oscars shortlist for documentary shorts, with three going on to be nominated. The three-person jury for this shortlist are filmmakers Mirra Bank (The Last Dance), Kristine Barfod (The Cave) and Alison Klayman (Jagged).

This year’s selections for Short List: Features are (with edited synopses from DOC NYC):

Ascension, directed and produced by Jessica Kingdon, produced by Kira Simon-Kennedy and Nathan Truesdell. Winner of best documentary feature at the Tribeca Film Festival, it’s a portrait of China’s industrial supply chain. Courtesy of MTV Documentary Films.

Attica, directed and produced by Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curry. Nelson, a DOC NYC Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, and Curry revisit the 1971 New York prison uprising, the largest in U.S. history. Courtesy of Showtime Documentary Films.

Becoming Cousteau, directed and produced by Liz Garbus, produced by Dan Cogan, Mridu Chandra, Evan Hayes. A look at Cousteau’s passions, achievements, blind spots and tragedies. Courtesy of National Geographic Documentary Films.

Bring Your Own Brigade, directed and produced by Lucy Walker, produced by Holly Becker, Julian Cautherley, Lyn Davis Lear and Martha Michell. The film focuses on one day in California’s 2018 megafire season to understand why infernos like this are becoming more common. Courtesy of CBS/Paramount.

Faya Dayi, directed and produced by Jessica Beshir. Already a winner of multiple festival prizes, the film is a journey through Harar, Ethiopia, Beshir’s hometown, as she follows the harvesting of the euphoria-inducing khat plant. Courtesy of Janus Films.

Flee, directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen, produced by Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen, Charlotte De La Gournerie. Denmark’s official submission for the Best International Feature Film Academy Award, the film uses animation to tell Amin Nawabi’s (a pseudonym) story after he fled Afghanistan as a boy, relying on human smugglers in Denmark. Courtesy of Neon.

Homeroom, directed and produced by Peter Nicks, produced by Sean Havey. The film follows the senior class of Oakland High School through the 2019-20 school year. Courtesy of Hulu.

In the Same Breath, directed and produced by Nanfu Wang, produced by Jialing Zhang, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements and Carolyn Hepburn. A film essay where Wang tries to understand how governments shaped information at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in China and the U.S. Courtesy of HBO Documentary Films.

Introducing, Selma Blair, directed by Rachel Fleit, produced by Mickey Liddell, Pet Shilaimon and Troy Nankin. The film follows Blair as she adapts to living with multiple sclerosis. Courtesy of Discovery+.

Julia, directed and produced by Betsy West and Julie Cohen, produced by Justin Wilkes, Sara Bernstein and Holly Siegel. The film is a portrait of TV chef Julia Child. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

Procession, directed by Robert Greene, produced by Susan Bedusa, Bennett Elliott and Douglas Tirola. The film follows six Midwestern men who survived childhood sexual assault at the hands of Catholic priests and clergy, and come together for a drama therapy-inspired experiment to work through their trauma. Courtesy of Netflix.

The Rescue, directed and produced by E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, produced by P.J. van Sandwijk and John Battsek. The film covers the rescue of 12 young soccer players and their coach who are trapped by monsoon floods inside a cave in Thailand. Courtesy of National Geographic Documentary Films.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, directed and produced by Morgan Neville, produced by Caitrin Rogers. The film is a portrait of Bourdain, using extensive unseen footage from his travels and memories from his friends. Courtesy of Focus Features.

Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), directed by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, produced by Joseph Patel, David Dinerstein and Robert Fyvolent. The film uses archival footage to tell the story of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures/Onyx Collective/Hulu.

The Velvet Underground, directed and produced by Todd Haynes, produced by Christine Vachon, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn and David Blackman. The doc explores the history of revered avant-rock band The Velvet Underground and the 1960s New York experimental art, music and film scene. Courtesy of Apple Original Films.

This year’s Short List: Shorts selections are:

Audible, directed by Matt Ogens and produced by Geoff McLean, about Maryland School for the Deaf’s championship high school football team. Courtesy of Netflix.

The Bree Wayy: Promise Witness Remembrance, directed by Dawn Porter, produced by Niema Jordan, Kimberly Reynolds and Cubie King. The short goes behind the scenes of Amy Sherald’s Breonna Taylor portrait. Courtesy of MTV Documentary Films.

A Broken House, directed and produced by Jimmy Goldblum, produced by Dick Gephardt, Matt Weaver and Harrison Nalevansky. Artist Mohamad Hafez rebuilds monuments, neighborhoods and cities of Syria, working through his longing for home. Courtesy of POV Shorts/The New Yorker.

Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis, directed and produced by Daniel Sivan and Mor Loushy, produced by Benji Bergmann and Jono Bergmann. The short reveals the secret government-sanctioned camp that smuggled Nazis into the U.S. after World War II. Courtesy of Netflix.

Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker, directed by Ryan White, produced by Christopher Leggett, Marc Gilbar, Jessica Hargrave, Conor Fetting-Smith, Rafael Marmor. The short explores Leyendecker’s work as an illustrator and queer coding in art. Courtesy of MTV Documentary Films.

Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma, directed by Topaz Jones and rubberband, produced by Luigi Rossi. The film documents growing up in New Jersey, accompanying Jones’ album of the same name. Courtesy of The New York Times Op-Docs.

Eagles (Águilas), directed and produced by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and Maite Zubiaurre. A portrait of the Aguilas del Desierto who search for missing migrants along Arizona’s southern border. Courtesy of POV Shorts/The New Yorker.

Joe Buffalo, directed and produced by Amar Chebib, produced by Hayley Morin and Mack Stannard. A portrait of skateboarding legend Joe Buffalo. Courtesy of The New Yorker.

Lynching Postcards: Token of a Great Day, directed by Christine Turner and produced by Lily Plotkin. A reflection on the horrific history of lynchings as cultural events and celebrations. Courtesy of MTV Documentary Films.

Nothing to Declare, directed and produced by Garret Daly, produced by Martina McGlynn. Two men reflect on their adventure taking a one-way plane to New York.

The Queen of Basketball, directed by Ben Proudfoot, produced by Elizabeth Brooke, Abby Lynn Kang Davis, Gabriel Berk Godoi, Brandon Somerhalder and Sarah Stewart. Lusia Harris, the only woman ever drafted to the NBA, shares her story. Courtesy of The New York Times Op-Docs.

A Ship from Guantánamo, directed by Dara Kell and Veena Rao, produced by Beth Jacob and Mansoor Adayfi. Moath al Alwi builds elaborately detailed ships out of scrap materials after being unjustly stuck behind bars for more than 20 years. Courtesy of The New York Times Op-Docs.

Snowy, directed by Kaitlyn Schwalje and Alex Wolf Lewis, produced by Rebecca Stern and Justin Levy. A beloved family pet is stuck in the trenches of a family basement. Courtesy of Time Studios.

What You’ll Remember, directed by Erika Cohn, produced by Marcia Jarmel. A video diary profiling a family struggling with housing insecurity. Courtesy of The New York Times Op-Docs.

They Won’t Call It Murder, directed by Melissa Gira Grant and Ingrid Raphaël, produced by Ruun Nuur and Chase Whiteside. A chronicle of police killings in Columbus, Ohio that have never been classified as murders by law enforcement. Courtesy of Field of Vision.



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