DOC NYC has announced the lineup of work-in-progress documentaries chosen from submissions to participate in its Only In New York program. Part of DOC NYC PRO, our industry and educational programming component, Only In New York presents an opportunity for filmmakers with works-in-progress to take one-on-one meetings with industry figures from the fields of distribution, financing, publicity, marketing, and more. The program curates the most promising documentaries of the future for industry consideration, and this year we have selected 33 projects from a very competitive pool of more than 130 submissions. In addition to these works-in-progress teams, we also open Only In New York meetings to the up-and-coming filmmakers honored in our 40 Under 40 List (co-presented by HBO Documentary Films and Topic Studios).

Only In New York is co-presented by SHOWTIME® Documentary Films for the fifth year.

New York City is a media capital for documentary the way Hollywood is for fiction filmmaking. That makes DOC NYC a unique gathering place, able to leverage the city’s power to advance creative careers, as evoked in the phrase “Only In New York.” Starting in 2016, the festival has run this showcase to facilitate face-to-face meetings between industry and filmmakers with works-in-progress. As the festival moves online for the showcase’s fifth year, the phrase “Only In New York” becomes more metaphoric. The festival continues to assemble an A-list of key industry figures, but this year they’ll take their meetings online—from not only New York, but also Los Angeles, London, and beyond, expanding the program’s scope. Meetings will take place on November 17 & 18. 

Notable projects that have gone through the “Only In New York” program include Down a Dark Stairwell, The Dilemma of Desire, and Other Music, as well as the 2019 winners of DOC NYC’s two competition sections: Viewfinders Grand Jury Award, City Dream; and Metropolis Grand Jury Award, Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back.

The process for “Only In New York” selection starts with an open call for submissions. The final list of projects was chosen by the DOC NYC team of Director of Industry & Education Caitlin Boyle, Director of Filmmaker Development Opal H. Bennett, Director of Programming Basil Tsiokos, Associate Producer of DOC NYC PRO Valerie Torres, and Executive Director Raphaela Neihausen.

“This year’s Only In New York line-up represents a wide range of filmmaker voices and diverse approaches to documentary, and each of our selected teams made us eager to see the finished film,” said Boyle. “We hope to play a valuable role in helping to bring these projects to completion.”

Companies and organizations participating in Only In New York meetings include American Documentary / POV, America ReFramed, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Cinetic Media, Cora Media, Disney+, Endeavor Content, ESPN, Hulu, IFC Films, Impact Partners, First Look Media’s Topic Studios and Topic streaming service, Fork Films, The Guardian, Kickstarter, Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, NEON, Reavis Page Jump LLP, Shutterstock, Submarine Entertainment, SVA’s MFA in Social Documentary, The Film Sales Company, The New York Times, Together Films, WNET, XTR, and more.

2020 ONLY IN NEW YORK PROJECTS: 

¡Quba!
Directed by Kim Anno; Produced by Kim Anno and Kristy Guevara-Flanagan
The story of the LGBTQ community in Cuba and how their dramatic and creative activism is catapulting the country into a more humane society, despite the growing threat of the evangelical church.

Between Goodbyes
Directed by Jota Sosnowski; Produced by Blair Foster
A hybrid documentary that reframes adoption as a form of family separation through the intimate voices of a queer adoptee and her birth mother.

The Black Theatre Project
Directed by: Rome Kyn Neal; Produced by Darryl Harrison and Erika Wortham
Half a century ago, African Americans used theatre to be the “for us, by us” platform to tell unapologetically Black stories. That legacy continues today.

Born in New York, Raised in Paris
Directed by Victoria Thomas; Produced by Victoria Thomas, Jezz Vernon, and Severine Catelion
A chronicle of the role of hip hop in empowering disenfranchised Black and Arab youth in France to highlight and protest police brutality.

Bound by Blood – Echoes of the Elaine Massacre
Directed and Produced by Franziska Blome and Llewellyn Smith
When Sheila Walker and her son Marcus discover their ancestors were victims of the 1919 Elaine Race Massacre, it triggers a quest for racial reconciliation.

Breaking Boundaries
Directed by Dina Burlis; Produced by Melissa Azizi
Nastasya, 19, was poised to become the first woman of color from the USA to ever compete in rhythmic gymnastics at the 2020 Olympic Games. Our film follows the physical, financial, and emotional challenges she faced on her unprecedented journey, before she decided to leave the sport and move her life in a new direction.

Chain of Rocks
Directed by Damon Davis; Produced by Chris Renteria
After a death row inmate confesses to a crime after 30 years, the activist who once fought for his innocence is faced with the moral dilemma of whether the fight was in vain.

Contamination
Directed by Ariel Ritchin and Charlie Eckert
After discovering that her small children are being poisoned by the factory next door, a young, determined mother does all she can to protect them from a manufacturing giant accused of polluting her community’s entire water supply.

Cusp
Directed by Parker Hill and Isabel Bethencourt; Produced by Zachary Kislevitz
In a small Texas town, four wild-spirited teenage girls search for freedom and navigate early adulthood as they each break away from their past traumas. This raw vérité portrait dives down the rarely seen rabbit hole of modern girlhood, where adolescence clashes with personal agency.

Cycle: The Right to Remain Violent
Directed by Laura Dyan Kezman and William Howell; Produced by Vianca Fuster
The killing of Ty’rese West propels the narrative of police violence forward by exposing what is beneath an unquestioned police report when an incident is not captured for the world to see.  Cycle: The Right to Remain Violent actively investigates this systemic whitewashing and gives a voice to the countless names that have not yet been said.

Happy Campers
Directed and Produced by Amy Nicholson
Working-class families escape their ordinary routines to live like kings in a scrappy seasonal trailer park. As market forces threaten to turn their shabby Shangri-La into a playground for the beautiful people, the denizens of Inlet View reveal the secrets to a rich life.

Heart & Soul
Directed by Kenny Vance; Produced by Bronwyn Berry and Liz Nickles
A Brooklyn music star’s lifelong search for the soul of doo-wop, a new kind of music that sprang out of his hometown in the 1950s, uniting a generation and creating a cultural revolution that endures today.

Hero Pilot
Directed by Neelu Bhuman
Set in idyllic Kerala, this story of hope and defiance reveals the epic journey of India’s first transman pilot, 21-year-old Muslim Adam Harry.

How the Monuments Came Down
Directed by Hannah Ayers and Lance Warren; Produced by Michelle Taylor
Virginia has more Confederate monuments than any other state—including five tributes on a mansion-lined stretch of the capital. Discover who built them, and who took them down.

Imagining the Indian
Directed by Aviva Kempner and Ben West; Produced by Kevin Blackistone and Sam Bardley
A documentary film examining the movement that is ending the use of Native American names, logos, and mascots in the world of sports and beyond.

It Takes Guts: The Microbiome Revolution
Directed and Produced by Adrienne Grierson
An investigative and character-driven documentary exploring the origins and impact of the destruction of the human microbiome and the willingness of patients to try fecal transplants to restore their health.

Los Sandy’s
Directed by Jaime Puerta; Produced by Jaime Puerta and Alan Thompson
Julia, a Mexican immigrant currently living in California, has raised a family of talented Mexican folk musicians who play under the name of “Los Sandy’s.” The stability of the family is threatened by the sudden death of her husband Enrique, the harsh working conditions to which immigrants are subjected, and the notice that they must leave the home where they’ve lived for 18 years.

martha
Directed by Anne Alvergue and Debra McClutchy; Produced by Debra McClutchy and Judith Mizrachy
An archival documentary portrait of the unlikeliest of whistleblowers: Martha Mitchell, wife to President Nixon’s right hand man, who was despised by the administration, adored by a hungry truth-seeking press, and ultimately discredited when she threatened to expose Nixon’s dirty tricks in the notorious Watergate scandal.

Middle School 243
Directed and Produced by Camilla Calamandrei
An intimate, face-to-face exploration of a high-performing public school that requires 10-14 year olds to collaborate in almost all classes, and somehow it actually works. Shot in the years just before the current COVID19 experiment in remote learning began, it is a chaotic and glorious reminder of what school can be.

The New Extinction
Directed by Kyle Arpke; Produced by Jessica Knap and Jessica Farrell
In this modern-day bone war, vigilant paleontologist Dr. Thomas Carr and controversial commercial collector Alan Detrich hunt for rare fossils in an America torn between science and capitalism.

One of Ours
Directed by Yasmine Mathurin; Produced by Laura Perlmutter, Andrew Nicholas McCann Smith and Jennifer Kawaja
A poetic observational look at reconciliation and belonging through the eyes of a young Haitian-born Indigenous adoptee in Canada.

Our Daughters
Directed by Chithra Jeyaram; Produced by Chithra Jeyaram and Nico Opper
A single white mother makes a bold move and chooses an Indian American couple as her twin daughters’ adoptive parents. The twins, now 8, want to reconnect with their birth mother. Our Daughters captures what unfolds.

The Philadelphia Eleven
Directed by Margo Guernsey and Nikki Bramley; Produced by Margo Guernsey
When eleven women defy church leadership and become the first women Episcopal priests, they hit a chord in a deeply divided world about who speaks the word of God, and learn what it takes to challenge patriarchy.

Sanctuary Rising
Directed by Theo Rigby
An exploration of families staying together in the face of deportation and communities turning faith into action.

Song of Salt
Directed by Emma Baiada and Nicolas Snyder; Produced by Emma Baiada
A haunting and intimate glimpse into the everyday life of Trona, California as it grapples with waning American industry, isolation, and a series of powerful earthquakes.

Sons of Detroit
Directed by Jeremy Xido; Produced by Amanda Burr
A family forged in 1970s Detroit. Two boys—one white, one black—raised as cousins. When tragedy strikes, the boys are propelled on radically different paths, each shaped by violence, opportunity, and race. Now, 20 years later, they return to reckon with the loss of home and family—and their roles in the destruction.

Storming Caesars Palace
Directed by Hazel Gurland-Pooler; Produced by Hazel Gurland-Pooler and Jamila Wignot
The untold story of Black women who took on presidents, the mob, and everyday Americans, challenging the pernicious lie of the “welfare queen” and launching one of the most extraordinary yet forgotten feminist, anti-poverty movements in our history.

Tandem
Directed by Dana Kalmey; Produced by Dana Kalmey and Nori Mizukami
Two Hawaiian world champion tandem surfing pioneers fight to keep their endangered sport and its Hawaiian roots alive by making Olympic history.

That’s How We Roll
Directed by Sara Terry; Produced by Alysa Nahmias
When housing on the lowest rung of the American dream is being devoured by the wealthiest of the wealthy, whose dream are we serving? That’s How We Roll addresses urgent issues of class and economic (im)mobility through the lives of mobile home park residents who can’t afford housing anywhere else. 

Untitled 2020 Weddings Documentary
Directed and Produced by Ellen Martinez and Steph Ching
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted almost everything on the planet, but it can’t stop some 2020 couples from throwing the wedding of their dreams. This documentary follows couples, planners, and other members of the industry as they navigate the challenges of planning a wedding in 2020.

Untitled China Surf Film
Directed and Produced by Jessica Chen and Jeremiah Bogert
Inside a state-run sports academy in tropical Hainan, China molds its first generation of surfers as the sport makes its Olympic debut. Team members navigate the tension between surfing as a quintessentially anti-authority pursuit and a culture that values collective achievement.

Untitled Rio Grande Valley Project
Directed by George Lerner; Produced by Julie Bridgham and Patricia Benabe
On the Texas border, a civil rights worker battles against the possible deportation of her mother, and a DACA recipient who strives to become the next Pavarotti finds his dreams boxed in by Border Patrol checkpoints. Despite the unprecedented militarization of the border, these residents of Texas’ Rio Grande Valley are determined to fight for their civil rights, and call on the United States to fulfill its promise of equal justice under the law.

Welcome To Jay
Directed and Produced by Jeffrey Morgan
When a Black teenager is shot and killed attending a party in a predominantly white Southern town, the community’s racist past becomes its present.

Past Participants