Covid may have stopped the in person screenings but it hasn't stopped the truly great DOC NYC from going virtual. All hail the true life goodness they have programmed.
While they have gone virtual they haven't skimped on their programming. This year they are screening over 200 film and having personally seen close to half I can honestly say that they have some fantastic things in store for you. The fest has so much good stuff that like last year I have grabbed Ariela Rubin and BC Wallin to help report on it all for you.
While I could talk about the history of the fest or how it gets better and better each year, this year I simply want to take a moment to say that where other virtual fests have cut back or have leaned too heavily on other fests for their material, DOC NYC has put together a selection of films that give no quarter. Where I had a sense with every other festival from New York to Toronto to Fantasia that there was a couple of films that were chosen because they had to fill a slot, With DOC NYC I never felt that. Even if I didn't like a film, I knew damn sure it would have been in the mix had this been an in person fest.
BRAVO for actually programming a festival that honestly and truly is what the fest would have been without Covid.
I also want to applaud the organizers for allowing everything to run the whole festival. Everything starts screening on the 11th and goes straight to the end so you can watch everything when it suits you, you just have to buy a ticket. (Details here) Nothing sells out and you don't have to worry abut scheduling. This is going to be hellish since I am forced to post some reviews during the fest (I can't post 100 reviews on the 11th). However it doesn't matter since it's all good so just buy a ticket and watch a film or two.
A couple of quick notes before I turn you over to the links to earlier reviews and the list of must sees....
We will be reviewing some of the short films, however since we watched the shorts in random manner we will be posting the reviews in groupings of how we saw them. The reason for this is that the films were watched around and between the features and not as the way the festival collected them. I know this makes filmmakers crazy, but it allows us to not fully focus on the films and not wonder what is next or how many more do I have to watch.
I'm going to apologize to every filmmaker and every PR person connected to the festival in advance.
Because in a normal year I can pace the reviews to the date and time they premiere at the festival, this year everything goes live on November 11 at the same time. As I said above there is no way I can post the reviews for what will be a hundredish films all at once. I would start posting early but I am not allowed. The result is I am going to space the pieces out through the festival (and possibly after since we will be watching until the bitter end) so there is a chance that the pieces get read. And there is going to be a lot of pieces.
Because of the way things are going this year I can not promise that as in other years I would get reviews of almost every film, however we are going to make an effort. More importantly if we specifically asked to screen the film I promise you will get a review.
Here are links to reviews of the films we saw at other festivals through the year
THINGS WE DARE NOT DO
THROUGH THE NIGHT
DOPE IS DEATH
DOWN A DARK STAIRWELL
TINY TIM: KING FOR A DAY
TO CALM THE PIG INSIDE
WHEN I WRITE IT
And now some pointers towards some films you'll want to make sure to see. Reviews will be coming for all once the embargo lifts.
At the top I need to tell you to see 76 DAYS. This portrait of Covid in Wuhan China during its 76 day lockdown is one of the most moving films of the year. From it's soul crushing opening to it's heartbreaking closing it will move you to tears. One of my very best films of 2020, a capsule review will follow on the 11th.
The short film THE CHANGING OF NARRATIVE: The Vision of Oscar Micheaux is magnificent look at a filmmaker who changed all of cinema and needs to be expanded
NO ORDINARY MAN is an excellent portrait of musician Billy Tipton ad viewed by the trans community It was a film that has a lot of threads running though it and it's a film I can't wait to see again
Alex Winter's ZAPPA is as good a bio of the musician as we are ever likely to see short of a multipart PBS series. And even if you aren't a fan this is still a great film.
UNIVERSE is an amazing look at Wallace Roney working to finally perform a piece written by Wayne Shorter for the Miles Davis Quintet. Great time with great people.
I have to hold my review until the film hits HBO at the end of the moth but THE MYSTERY OF DB COOPER is very good (it's one of the best on the mystery I've seen)
WOJNAROWICZ is a killer biography of artist David Wojnarowicz. It's a challenging look at an artist, his work and the politics of art. One of the best films and great finds at DOC NYC and probably the year as well
NEITHER CONFIRM NOR DENY may not be the best film at DOC NYC but it is a blast. The story of the CIA efforts to steal a sunken Soviet submarine it's a film to curl up with on the couch.
ASSASSINS is the crazy story of the North Korean plot to kill Kim Jong-un's brother and the two women caught in the middle. I couldn't look away.
THE REASON I JUMP is a cinematic attempt to explain what it's like to be autistic. It will change how you see the world.
And lastly some notes on some films I'm not doing formal reviews for:
Having seen it prior to the festival and passing on writing it up previously, I revisited the film for DOC NYC and decided that I am still not going to review THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE. Not because it is bad, it is not, it is in fact really good, rather, however because a discussion I had about whether I, a male, should be reviewing the film about female sexuality went banana shaped, I am going to leave it at- this is really good and make effort to see it.
I did watch some of BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING LEFT BEHIND, however I had to stop watching it. The film about children learning to deal with the death of a loved one is very good, but having lost my dad a short time ago I found it was kicking up emotions I couldn't deal with right now.
For tickets and more information on DOC NYC and the films go here