DOC NYC Award Winners 2019

November 12, 2019
Two days before the festival’s close, DOC NYC announced its 2019 award-winners at an evening ceremony at the Flatiron Room in Manhattan.

This year’s event, running November 6-15 at IFC Center, the SVA Theatre and Cinépolis Chelsea, featured 135 feature-length films and 126 short documentaries. Included were 28 world premieres and 27 U.S. premieres among over 300 films and events.  

Three juries selected films from each of the festival’s Viewfinders, Metropolis and Shorts sections to recognize for their outstanding achievements in form and content. A panel of industry professionals voted to select the winner of this year’s DOC NYC PRO Pitch Perfect Award, given to a work-in-progress.

For the first year, the Short List: Features program—a selection of nonfiction films that the festival’s programming team considers to be among the year’s strongest contenders for Oscars and other awards—vied for awards in four categories: Directing, Producing, Cinematography and Editing, with a Best Director prize also awarded in the Short List: Shorts section. The Short List awards were voted on by two juries of filmmaker peers.

The Audience Award, voted on by DOC NYC audiences from all new features in the regular lineup screening in the festival, will be announced on Friday, November 15.

The Viewfinders, Metropolis, Shorts and Audience Award winners will all have special public encore  screenings on Friday, November 15 at IFC Center as part of the final day of the festival.


Viewfinders Competition: The jury selected from among seven films in this section, chosen by the programmers for their distinct directorial visions.

(Image: City Dream)

Grand Jury Prize Winner: City Dream, directed by Weijun Chen, is a documentary comedy that looks at a street vendor in China who clashes with the authorities trying to shut down his stall.

Jurors’ statement: “City Dream is an incisive and compassionate look at the disconnect between authority and democracy and its impact on the day to day lives of ordinary civilians.”

Special Mention: Love Child, directed by Eva Mulvad.

Jurors: Bill Guentzler, Artistic Director of the Cleveland International Film Festival; Carolyn Hepburn, producer; Denae Peters, Senior Director of Impact Distribution at Picture Motion.

Films featured in the Viewfinders section: Chéche Lavi (Looking For Life), dir. Sam Ellison; City Dream, dir. Weijun Chen; The Human Factor, dir. Dror Moreh; Love Child, dir. Eva Mulvad; Sing Me a Song, dir. Thomas Balmès; Symphony of the Ursus Factory, dir. Jaśmina Wójcik; The Wind. A Documentary Thriller, dir. Michal Bielawski. 


Metropolis Competition: The jury selected from among seven films in this section, which is  dedicated to stories set in New York City.


(Image: Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back)

Grand Jury Prize Winner: Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back, directed by John Carluccio, looks at charismatic song-and-dance man Maurice Hines, who reflects on his life on stage from Broadway to Hollywood, as well as his tumultuous relationship with superstar brother Gregory Hines.

Jurors’ statement: “Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back beautifully captures one of the many fabulous stories NY has to offer, but transcends easy assumptions to become an emotional meditation on the universal theme of love, loss, family, art, aging and more.”

Jurors: Lindsay Crouse, producer, Op-Docs; Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, Filmmaker; Jenni Wolfson, Executive Director, Chicken and Egg Pictures.

Films featured in the Metropolis section: Brooklyn Inshallah, dir: Ahmed Mansour; The Grand Unified Theory Of Howard Bloom, dir: Charlie Hoxie; I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, dir: Karen Bernstein; Lydia Lunch: The War Is Never Over, dir: Beth B; Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back, dir: John Carluccio; On Broadway, dir: Oren Jacoby; Pier Kids, dir: Elegance Bratton.


Winners of the 2019 Grand Jury Prize in the Viewfinders and Metropolis competitions receive a deliverables package provided by Technicolor PostWorks New York as well as a one-week awards-qualifying theatrical run at the IFC Center in 2020.


Shorts Competition: All new short films playing at the festival were eligible for the Short Film jury prize, with the exception of special spotlight programs, DOC NYC U, and Short List: Shorts.


(Image: Bob of the Park)

Grand Jury Prize Winner: Bob of the Park, directed by Jake Sumner, follows Robert “Birding Bob” DiCandido, a friendly Central Park bird walk leader to some, archnemesis to others. 

Jurors’ statement: “Bob of the Park is a surprising, complex and involving character study that looks beyond the subject to raise bigger questions about humanity and its effect on nature.

Jurors: Monica Castillo, Film Critic and Writer; June Cross, Filmmaker; Bill Curan, Senior Producer, The Paley Center for Media.  

Special Mentions: A Childhood on Fire, directed by Jason Hanasik, and Yves & Variation, directed by Lydia Cornett.

The 2019 winning Short film qualifies for consideration in the Documentary Short Subject category of the annual Academy Awards®without the standard theatrical run (provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules).


Audience Award Winner

I Am Not Alone, directed by Garin Hovannisian, follows Armenia’s Nikol Pashinyan—a former political prisoner turned Member of Parliament—who leads a peaceful protest that transforms his country in 2018.

The winner of the DOC NYC Audience Award receives an FX9 full-frame camera, courtesy of Sony, as well as a screening as part of the IFC Center’s Pure Nonfiction screening series in 2020.


DOC NYC PRO Pitch Perfect Award: This award recognizes the best pitch given during DOC NYC PRO’s Pitch Perfect Day, and was determined by industry professionals taking part in the daylong pitch event. Documentary pros who selected the winner were Elise McCave, Cheerleader in Chief, Kickstarter; Judith Helfand Filmmaker and Co-founder, Chicken & Egg Pictures; Tracie Holder, Means of Productions Films.

(Image: After Sherman)

Winner: After Sherman, directed by Jon-Sesrie Goff, is a film about our collective American inheritance that is in part a conversation between an African American father and his son about spiritual survival as a black American, a representation that is rarely seen in popular culture.

The winner of the 2019 Pitch Perfect Award receives a mentorship and consultation from DOC NYC artistic leadership.


Kanopy DOC NYC U Award Winner
Kostya, directed by Oxana Onipko (School of Visual Arts)


Short List: Features Awards: DOC NYC’s Short List for Features puts the spotlight on 15 documentaries representing the best of the year. Also new this year, we have brought together a jury of documentary filmmakers to recognize the films in this category for directing, producing, editing and cinematography.


Short List: Features


(Image: The Edge of Democracy)

Directing Award: The Edge of Democracy, directed by Petra Costa

Jurors’ statement: “The Directing Award goes to a film that is at once intimate in access and epic in scope. It is audacious and personal, tragic and hopeful, committed to history and urgently engaged with the present.”


Short List: Features


(Image: American Factory)

Producing Award: American Factory, produced by Steven Bognar, Julie Parker Benello, Jeff Reichert and Julia Reichert (directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert)

Jurors’ statement: “The Producing Award goes to filmmakers whose long-term commitment to people and to place brings integrity and depth to every frame they put on screen.”


Short List: Features


(Image: Apollo 11)

Editing Award: Apollo 11, edited by Todd Douglas Miller (directed by Todd Douglas Miller)

Jurors’ statement:The Editing Award goes to a film that took a staggering amount of archival footage and used it to craft an engaging story of the triumph of science, and a time when this country was united by the spirit of curiosity and endless possibility.”


Short List: Features


(Image: The Elephant Queen)

Cinematography Award: The Elephant Queencinematography by Mark Deeble (directed by Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble)

Jurors’ statement: “The Cinematography Award goes to a film that breathtakingly captures the interdependence of creatures large and small and their life and death reliance on the world’s most precious resource.”


Short List: Features

Special Jury Recognition for Courage in Filmmaking 

(Image: For Sama)

Special Recognition: For Sama, director Waad al-Kateab (directed by Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts)

Jurors’ statement: “Special recognition for exceptional bravery goes to a filmmaker who put her body and her camera in the path of death and didn’t flinch. She produced a moving, human portrait of the human will to survive and the refusal to surrender.”

Jurors: Filmmakers Gary Hustwit, Tia Lessin, Richard Rowley.


Short List: Shorts: DOC NYC’s Short List for Shorts highlights 12 doc shorts that impress us as the year’s leading awards contenders. New this year, we assembled a jury of filmmakers to recognize one film from this section for excellence in directing.


(Image: Stay Close)

Directing Award: Stay Close, directed by Luther Clement and Shuhan Fan

Jurors’ statement: “The Directing Award goes to Stay Close, a work of inspired filmmaking that features a brilliant mix of live action and animation to tell an intensely human story. Both filmmakers and subject display a whimsical, playful sensibility.”
Jurors: Filmmakers Kristi Jacobson, Thomas Lennon, Stephanie Wang-Breal