2020 Film Lineup Revealed

October 15, 2020

The eleventh edition of DOC NYC is running online November 11-19 and available to viewers across the US. The 2020 festival includes 107 feature-length documentaries among over 200 films and dozens of events. Included are 23 World Premieres, 12 international or North American premieres, and 7 US premieres. Fifty-seven features (53% of the lineup) are directed or co-directed by women and 36 by BIPOC directors (34% of the feature program). 

While many film festivals’ 2020 editions have been forced to shrink the size of their program or cancel altogether due to the ongoing pandemic, DOC NYC has been able to transition to a completely online event for this year. DOC NYC remains one of the world’s largest documentary festivals, presenting, as it has since 2015, more than 100 feature films in its slate, along with numerous shorts programs and student film showcases.

In addition to film screenings, DOC NYC’s 2020 edition includes the five-day pre-festival “Road Trip,” October 26-30, a virtual tour on Facebook Live stopping in ten filmmaking hubs across the United States to showcase local documentary makers and organizations, along with festival films from the area. During the festival itself, conversations with festival filmmakers will take place in daily “DOC NYC Live” events, and festival screenings will also include pre-recorded filmmaker Q&As after the films. Schedule and guests for both “Road Trip” and “DOC NYC Live” to be announced. “Road Trip” is co-presented by Netflix.

The festival’s noted filmmaker development program, DOC NYC PRO, also moved online in 2020, offering webinars to emerging and established documentary markers around that globe. DOC NYC PRO is co-presented by Apple Original Films.

“Documentary film has never felt so vital as in these tumultuous times,” said Director of Programming Basil Tsiokos. “This year’s lineup represents a wide array of voices both on screen and from behind the camera, creating works of art that will resonate for years to come.” Tsiokos leads the festival’s selection team of Programmers Ruth Somalo, Karen McMullen, and Jessie Fairbanks, and Associate Programmer Brandon Harrison, in collaboration with Artistic Director Thom Powers.

World Premieres at the festival include Nelson G. Navarrete and Maxx Caicedo’s A La Calle, Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker’s The Meaning of Hitler, Gong Cheng and Yung Chang’s Wuhan Wuhan, Sian-Pierre Regis’s Duty Free, Noah Hutton’s In Silico, Nancy Buirski’s A Crime on the Bayou, Jeff Daniels’s Television Event, Ilinca Calugareanu’s A Cops and Robbers Story, Frank Matson’s Restaurant Hustle 2020: All on the Line, Rosalynde LeBlanc and Tom Hurwitz’s Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters, Cheryl Dunn’s Moments Like This Never Last, and Lauren DeFillipo and Katherine Gorringe’s Red Heaven, among others.

Among this year’s international, North American, and US premieres are Mor Loushy’s Kings of Capitol Hill, Oliver Murray’s Ronnie’s, Ulrike Ottinger’s Paris Calligrammes, Siji Awoyinka’s Elder’s Corner, Meng Han’s Smog Town, Justin Staple’s American Rapstar, Mayye Zayed’s Lift Like a Girl, Sam Osborn and Nick Capezzera’s Universe, Magnus Skatvold and Greg Mallozzi’s Blue Code of Silence, and Julien Temple’s Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane McGowan. 

DOC NYC’s feature programming is curated in 14 sections, including two competition sections. The Viewfinders Competition, recognizing 11 films demonstrating distinct directorial vision, includes Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s The Viewing Booth, Loira Limbal’s Through the Night, Cecilia Aldarondo’s Landfall, and Bruno Santamaría’s Things We Dare Not Do. The ten films of the Metropolis Competition are dedicated to stories set in New York City, and include Chris McKim’s Wojnarowicz, Christian D. Bruun’s Calendar Girl, and Raquel Cepeda’s La Madrina: The Savage Life of Lorine Padilla.

Winner’s Circle highlights 8 films that have won awards at Oscar-qualifying international festivals, and includes David Osit’s Mayor, Elizabeth Lo’s Stray, Radu Ciorniciuc’s Acasa, My Home, and Katrine Philp’s Beautiful Something Left Behind.

Other returning sections include Masters, offering a spotlight on the newest work from nonfiction auteurs like Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar (9to5: The Story of a Movement), and Errol Morris (My Psychedelic Love Story); national and global takes in American Perspectives and International Perspectives, with work like Eden Wurmfeld and Margaret Munzer Loeb’s Chasing Childhood, Deirdre Fishel’s Women in Blue, and Maia Lekow and Christopher King’s The Letter; and thematic sections Investigations (thought-provoking investigative nonfiction, including Maya Zinshtein’s ‘Til Kingdom Come and John Dower’s The Mystery of D.B. Cooper), Fight the Power (on activism, including Jeff Kaufman’s Nasrin and Ashley O’Shay’s Unapologetic), Portraits (profiling singular individuals in work like Rebecca Richman Cohen’s Weed & Wine and Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt’s No Ordinary Man), Jock Docs (on sports, in films like José Permar’s Off the Road and Sami Khan and Michael Gassert’s The Last Out), Behind the Scenes (on films and television, including R.J. Cutler’s Belushi and Mo Scarpelli’s El Father Plays Himself), Arts & Culture (on the arts, including Larissa Bills’s Disney+ series On Pointe and Sachi Cunningham and Vayabobo’s Crutch), and Sonic Cinema(on music, including Alex Winter’s Zappa and Robert Yapkowitz and Richard Peete’s In My Own Time: A Portrait of Karen Dalton). DOC NYC also puts a special Spotlight on Canada this year, celebrating work by Canadian filmmakers, co-presented by the Consulate General of Canada in New York.

Short-form content is represented by the festival’s Shorts Competition (43 films in 8 thematic programs) and DOC NYC U (46 films representing student work from 7 NYC schools), selected by Shorts Programmer Opal H. Bennett, working with Associate Programmers DeWitt Davis and Samah Ali. DOC NYC U is co-presented by HBO Documentary Films.

This year’s edition of the festival includes several filmmakers who have previously been recognized on DOC NYC’s 40 Under 40 list of promising nonfiction filmmakers: Cecilia Aldarondo (dir/prod, Landfall), Jameka Autry (prod, Through the Night), Jamie Boyle (dir/prod, Take a Vote), Sonia Kennebeck (dir/prod, Enemies of the State), Anjali Nayar (dir/prod, Oil and Water), Nico Opper (dir, When I Write It), and Izabella Tzenkova (co-prod, Moments Like This Never Last). The 2020 class of 40 Under 40 is represented in the lineup by Jessica Earnshaw (dir/prod, Jacinta), Tiffany Hsiung (dir, Sing Me a Lullaby), Elizabeth Lo (dir/prod, Stray), Nelson G. Navarrete & Maxx Caicedo (dirs, A La Calle), Tommy Oliver (dir, 40 Years a Prisoner), David Osit (dir, Mayor), Kellen Quinn (prod, In Silico and So Late So Soon), Jiyan “Jenny” Shi (dir/prod, Finding Yingying), Lesley Steele (dir, By Way of Canarsie), Christine Turner (dir, Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business), and Malika Zouhali-Worrall (editor, Through the Night). 40 Under 40 is co-presented by HBO Documentary Films and Topic Studios.

The festival also includes several completed projects that previously participated in DOC NYC’s Only In New Yorkprogram for works-in-progress: The Big Scary “S” Word, Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters, Chasing Childhood, The Dilemma of Desire, Down a Dark Stairwell, Los Hermanos/The Brothers, Red Heaven, and Truth to Power: Barbara Lee Speaks for Me. Only In New York is co-presented by SHOWTIME® Documentary Films.

“We are proud to support the 11th annual DOC NYC Film Festival, which this year will allow viewers nationwide to enjoy more than 200 documentary films online, including a number of international premieres,” said Commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Anne del Castillo. “Documentary filmmakers are an integral part of NYC’s creative economy and production community, and their ability to capture and communicate the human condition is so important during these challenging times.” 

More news about additions to the program, DOC NYC’s Visionaries Tribute honorees, competition jury members, the features and shorts named to the festival’s Short List sections, and other festival updates will be announced in the coming weeks.

Advance ticket sales begin today, October 15. See below for ticketing and pass information.

Click here to view the lineup.