DOC NYC opens and the city will be documentary crazy. For me it is manna from heaven since it means I get to see an endless parade of great films. I say this because the festival is so well programmed that even the films I don’t like are always interesting.(And out of the literally hundreds of films I've seen at the festival I probaly have seen less truly bad films then I have fingers on one hand)
Normally I will wax poetic about the festival for a half dozen paragraphs but if you have been reading Unseen Films you know how I feel…. This is the best of the best and the place you go either to see the films that everyone is talking about (They have a knack for showing Oscar contenders and year end award winners) or alternately to see the films that everyone will be talking about by picking all the right films to world premiere. All the great films go through DOC NYC.
The easiest thing to say about the fest is look at the list of films and then just go buy lots of tickets….(they can be had here) Odds are whatever looks interesting will be and even those that are one you don't want to see will become a favorite (I had that hapen a couple of times this year already)
However since the fest cherry picks the best from around the world we’ve already seen a number of the films. If you want to read the reviews of some of the best films playing at DOC NYC then check out this list where not only I but Ariella Rubin, Joe Bendel and Nate Hood talk about why these films should be on your viewing list for the festival. Pretty much everyone of these films is worth your time and money.
SHOOTING THE MAFIA
THIS IS NOT A MOVIE
ERNIE AND JOE CRISIS COPS
THE SEER AND THE UNSEEN
CHANGIN TIMES OF IKE WHITE
ASK DR RUTH'
ONE CHILD NATION
LEARNING TO SKATEBOARD IN A WARZONE
AI WEIWEI YOURS TRULY
LITTLE MISS SUMO
But wait there is more…. We've already seen over an additional 50 films with even more on the way. While all of the films we've seen are good, there are some that we immediately begin talking about when asked "what should I see" - And to that end we have our regular list of films that are must sees. Reviews of all of them are coming but if you want to get ahead of the curve just buy tickets to any of these films and you’ll be happy.
IN THE ABSENCE- A rock your world look at the sinking of a Korean passenger ferry made up of actual footage, phone calls and texts from when it happened. Its chilling how bad things went.
WE BELIEVE IN DINOSAURS- A change of head space as the true believers in the Bible (they intentionally believe every word because otherwise it means you may doubt something important doubt) build a replica ark. If you want to know why America is full of people blindly following what they are told, this film will clue you in.
LOVE LETTERS FROM EVEREST- utterly charming love story of the filmmaker's grandparents. As one person said to me this is a cure for cynicism.
ON BROADWAY- the history of the last 50 years of Broadway told by great people. If you want to know how we got to the modern age of Broadway and hear a lot of great stories then see this film.
I'M GONNA MAKE YOU LOVE ME- Gay man becomes an army wife, an entertainer and then back to a gay man in one of the most charming films at DOC NYC. By the time the film is done you are going to not only love Brian Belovitch, but want to take him home with you.
WHAT WE LEFT UNFINISHED-A side of Afghanistan you never knew as viewed through unfinished communist films and the people who made them. Not only will it chnge how you see the country but it will make you want to hunt out other films from the country.
HE DREAMS OF GIANTS- The saga of the MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE brought to its conclusion had me smiling from ear to ear and raising the hair on the back of my neck. A wondrous summing up of the decades long quest, that is also a glorious exploration of the obsessive need to create as viewed via the life of director Terry Gilliam.
IN BRIGHT AXIOM- one of a kind film about a one of a kind social experiment/group that will blow your mind. Not only is what the film about an absolute trip- the sheer act of watching it is as well. Buy a ticket and take a ride
FOR SAMA- Almost certain Oscar nominee follows one woman's video record of life during Syria's war time made for her daughter. This is not as good as you've heard, it's better.
LYDIA LUNCH THE WAR IS NEVER OVER- a kick ass film about a kick ass woman. Its all about the power.
PERSONHOOD- the frightening story of how the far right wants the just conceived considered a person so they can end abortion...and force women to do whatever they want while claiming it is best for the fetus.
HOUSE OF CARDIN- the life and times of Pierre Cardin told by his friends and admirers is a great deal of fun.
I AM NOT ALONE- how one man inspired a nation to over throw a dictator peacefully. Even if you know how it ends you will still be on the edge of your seat waiting for the next unexpected twist.
AMERICAN MUSLIM- the place and treatment of Muslims in America is examined by talking to some wonderful people. This is the film that needs to be shown to anyone who only sees Islam in hateful terms and needs to have their views corrected.
THE MORTICIAN OF MANILA- Chilling short film shows graphically the cost of Philippine President Duterte's declaration of open season on addicts and drug dealers (and anyone they don't like who can be claimed to be one). I was rocked by the film and I am still trying to process it.
LIFELINE CLYFFORD STILL- incredible look at an artist who influenced Pollack, Rothko and others and along the way changed the way we see the world
MOTHER- a haunting look at a woman who has left her child to take care of patients with dementia. In an age where we all may need caregivers this raises a lot of questions we need to consider
A word of warning because we are going to try to review a larger chunk of the fest than normal not only are the usual doc fans reviewing films (Joe, Nate, Ariela and myself) but I’ve roped in Leslie Melville and the one and only BC Wallin to help. Additionally coverage is going to run past the end of the fest. We are looking at covering between of 90 to 100 films from the festival so we simply can’t get them all in during the fest (besides we have things scheduled in the closing days of the fest) so look for things to run for a few days past the end.
I'm done talking so -- GO BUY TICKETS