Only In New York – Class of 2021
ONLY IN NEW YORK
DOC NYC’s Only In New York program facilitates face-to-face meetings between leading industry decision-makers and filmmakers with works-in-progress. This program is co-presented by Showtime Documentary Films.
The selection process for Only In New York starts with an open call for submissions. The final list of 45 projects was chosen by DOC NYC Director of Filmmaker Development Caitlin Boyle.
The film teams participating in this year’s Only In New York include first-time directors and long-time industry veterans from across the world, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, New Zealand and Norway. More than 75% of the selected film teams are helmed by filmmakers who identify as women, non-binary or genderqueer; 37% are headed by first-time directors; and 62% are director and/or produced by filmmakers who indentify as Black, Indigenous or people of color.
Companies and organizations participating in Only In New York meetings include A&E, American Documentary / POV, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Cinetic Media, discovery+, ESPN, The Film Collaborative, The Film Sales Company, Hot Docs Festival, Hulu, IFC Films, Imagine Documentaries, Impact Partners, International Documentary Association, NBC News Studios, The New Yorker, Participant, Submarine Entertainment, Topic, TIME Studios, Vice Studios, Women Make Movies and more.
Selected projects include:
15th Parish recounts the dancehall music scene that reverberated across Brooklyn in the 90s, and brings justice to the community of Jamaican immigrants who helped build a globally celebrated subculture.
Directed by Ben Digiacomo and Dutty Vannier
Produced by Amy Hillock and Jay Will
1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted A Culture
1946: The Mistranslation that Shifted a Culture chronicles the moment a never-before-seen document was discovered, bringing doubt to the Bible translation that condemns all LGBTQIA+ people to hell. It investigates how the word “homosexual” was incorrectly entered into the Bible and the grave consequences this mistranslation has had on religion, culture, politics and the LGBTQIA+ community over the last century.
Directed by Sharon “Rocky” Roggio
Produced by Jenna Serbu and Sharon “Rocky” Roggio
A Double Life
A radical lawyer once accused of murder spends 13 years underground with an assumed identity and returns home to clear his name and resume his life.
Directed by Catherine Masud
Produced by Abby Ginzberg
The film explores the history of indigenous collections, the laws passed to ensure return of human remains and funerary objects, and portraits of the righteous and courageous individuals doing the hard and emotional work of bringing our ancestors back home.
Directed by Zack Khalil and Adam Khalil
Produced by Steve Holmgren and Francesca Alfano
Adam’s Apple is an intimate exploration of what characterizes “maleness” for today’s gender-redefining youth, filmed from the perspectives of Director Amy Jenkins and her teenage transgender son, Adam, each with a camera in hand.
Directed by Amy Jenkins
Produced by Amy Jenkins
Addicted to Life
Marieke Vervoort, a Belgian Paralympic athlete, takes control of her painful decline by planning for legal medical aid-in-dying. Empowered by her choice, Marieke becomes a celebrated, inspiring world-champion and lives with humor and exuberance up until her final, irreversible decision.
Directed by Pola Rapaport
Produced by Pola Rapaport and Rebecca Borden, Esq.
An Unclenched Fist
An Unclenched Fist tells the story of the historic negotiations that led to the Iran nuclear deal, from the perspective of the negotiators who worked to bring the deal together – and the spoilers intent on its demise.
Directed by Michael Kleiman
Produced by Michael Kleiman and Trita Parsi
B. F. Skinner Plays Himself
B.F. Skinner Plays Himself explores the rise of behavioral psychology from rats, pigeons and dogs to children, prisoners and communes through never-before-seen footage of the work and life of its most controversial practitioner.
Directed by Theodore Kennedy
Produced by Theodore Kennedy
Between Earth and Sky
Five years after surviving a life-changing fall from a tree, renowned rainforest ecologist Nalini Nadkarni confronts echoes of trauma across three generations of her family tree, unearths her own tangled roots, and plants new seeds with her children.
Directed by Andrew Nadkarni
Produced by Katie Schiller and Swetha Regunathan
After a draconian sequence of 1950s-era electroshock therapy, prolific artist Kendal Hanna pieces together the truth of his life story, examining the forces that threatened to erase his memory, his work and his name from history.
Directed by Laura Gamse and Kareem Mortimer
Produced by Laura Gamse and Kareem Mortimer
Demon Mineral documents life in the radioactive desert on the Navajo Reservation. Spanning a landscape perforated by orphaned uranium mines in the American Southwest, the film follows a group of indigenous scientists, elders, and activists as they work to protect a vital living space on contaminated land.
Directed by Hadley Austin
Produced by Nevo Shinaar and Tommy Rock
In an Upper East Side apartment, married couple Betty (92) and José (56) live in a complicated balance between the fantasy of their past lives and the harsh reality of the present.
Directed by Leland Palmer
Produced by Leland Palmer and Eduardo Vasconcelos
Three mothers fight to create a family: Mckenzie, a young woman in recovery who became pregnant while living in a tent; Cat, her nomadic mom; and Leslie, the social worker with her own history of addiction, housing insecurity, and losing children to foster care.
Directed by Claire Hannah Collins
Produced by Erik Himmelsbach-Weinstein and Claire Hannah Collins
How To Power A City
A diverse cast of designers, activists, elected officials, and business leaders create solar and wind projects—overcoming technology gaps, political impasses, and natural disasters along the way and giving new meaning to “energy independence.”
Directed by Melanie La Rosa
Produced by Melanie La Rosa
I of the Water: The Unwritten Life of Sia Figiel
After a painful event pushes her into self-exile, acclaimed Samoan writer Sia Figiel begins to make sense of her complicated past and the impact of childhood trauma.
Directed by Kimberlee Bassford
Produced by Kimberlee Bassford and Marilyn McFadyen
Jose and Derek
An exploration of community, memory, and image making, Jose and Derek interweaves 25 years of footage to tell the intergenerational story of a Philadelphia boxing gym and the mother-daughter pair behind the camera.
Directed by Keira Sultan
Produced by Arielle Knight
Kings of Tort: The People v. Profits
A court-side seat into the high stakes, big money consumer case ‘game’ where the top trial attorneys go head to head with the largest corporations in the world when profits are placed over the interest of people.
Directed by Jack Lofton and Jeff Dailey
Produced by Jack Lofton
Laying The Last Track
Laying The Last Track is the overlooked story of the Chinese railroad workers who built the Transcontinental Railroad, as told by their descendants and the Asian American activists like Corky Lee who are rectifying history so their legacy is remembered.
Directed by Shelley Cheung Claudon
Produced by Kira Simon-Kennedy
Life + Life
An incarcerated musician struggles for healing and peace as he comes of age in this documentary-musical odyssey composed behind bars.
Directed by Contessa Gayles
Produced by Contessa Gayles and Richie Reseda
Little Sallie Walker
As Black women from across the generations navigate a less than idyllic American landscape, they contemplate if the childhood play that once served as their lifeline is magical enough to liberate and heal them now.
Directed by Marta Effinger-Crichlow
Produced by Marta Effinger-Crichlow and Princess A. Hairston
Making La Grande Boucherie
Making La Grande Boucherie follows the ambitious architectural resurrection of Manhattan’s 6 ½ avenue into an authentic 1920s-era French brasserie, during what would come to be known as one of the hardest times in history for the restaurant industry.
Directed by Ben Digiacomo
Produced by Amy Hillock
The Meme Economy (WT)
A character-driven documentary exploring the high-stakes world of meme stocks through the eyes of young investors looking for their lucky break, The Meme Economy is a thrilling saga of hope, fear, and greed that’s transforming our financial future.
Directed by Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci
Produced by Jenna Kelly and Carrie Weprin
Malena tied her tubes after an abusive relationship and fled to Mexico City to become a domestic worker. Now she wants another baby, and a new home. Does she have a shot at a second chance?
Directed by Laura Plancarte
Produced by Iván Trujillo and Laura Plancarte
MKO: Waiting for Mr. President
Did the United States of America murder Nigeria’s president elect through Ambassador Susan Rice and senior American diplomats, or was he assassinated by the Nigerian dictators?
Directed by Ose Oyamendan
Produced by Veronique Bernard
When a debilitating illness threatens the life of the filmmaker and her daughter, her journey leads her into hidden realms, revealing patterns in her family and nature, teaching her how to heal and live in this epoch of environmental destruction.
Directed by Nicole Betancourt
Produced by Nicole Betancourt
What do you get when you combine Mahatma Gandhi, Che Guevara, Al Capone, and a 5-foot, illiterate, low-caste Indian girl? Phoolan Devi.
Directed by Hossein Martin Fazeli and Gillian Greenfeld
Produced by Jack Silberman
Queen of New York (WT)
As NYC turns apocalyptic, two first-time candidates—an activist drag queen and a tenants’ rights lawyer—compete for a New York City Council seat, racing to prove who can do the most good for their community.
Directed by Emma Fidel
Produced by Gigi Dement and Robert Profusek
Tens of thousands of tons of nuclear weapons sit in the American landscape. Rocky Flats is the story of one community’s fight to uncover the truth about the toxic legacy of the Cold War in their backyards.
Directed by Nancy Wolfe
Produced by Rabia Sultana
An urgent coming of age story, Roleplay follows a diverse group of college students confront rampant sexual violence on their campus, creating an immersive play out of their real-life experiences.
Directed by Katie Mathews
Produced by Darcy McKinnon and Jenny Mercein
A Spanish monk is expelled from his monastery when he contracts TB. He returns home and for the next 60 years, with no help or prior architectural expertise, he dedicates his life to God by building a gigantic cathedral.
Directed by Denis Dobrovoda and Matthew Bremner
Produced by Matthew Bremner
Filmed fly-on-the-wall throughout the COVID-ridden 2020-2021 academic year, School District plunges into Connecticut’s Stamford Public Schools observing what it takes to run an education system … under the most extreme circumstances.
Directed by Leigh Morfoot and Jason Morfoot
Produced by Leigh Morfoot
Siouxsie & the Virus
A pink-haired scientist becomes a rockstar in the pandemic but discovers along the way that breaking the rules and being yourself is a dangerous formula.
Directed by Gwen Isaac
Produced by Alex Reed and Phillida Perry
Skin of Glass
A journey to reckon with Brazil’s harsh inequality begins when the filmmaker discovers her father’s architectural masterpiece is occupied by homeless people.
Directed by Denise Zmekhol
Produced by Denise Zmekhol and Amir Soltani
In some of the most quickly gentrifying neighborhoods in NYC, a small group of residents, activists and nonprofit attorneys fight corrupt landlords for the basic human right to a home.
Directed by Ellen Martinez and Steph Ching
Produced by Ellen Martinez and Steph Ching
So Help You God
Over a period of 17 years, Ashley York—a filmmaker and journalist—examines a case involving six teenagers she went to high school with in rural Kentucky who are serving life in prison.
Directed by Ashley York
Produced by John Fee and Susana Ruiz
Sound of Ice
When the annual Ice music festival in Norway melts down a third time because of climate change, famous ice musician Terje Isungset decides to go on a quest to build ice instruments from the most endangered glaciers in the world.
Directed by Tommy Gulliksen
Produced by Thomas Robsahm and Renée Mlodyszewski
Filmed in a year of uprisings for racial and social justice, Stonebreakers is a documentary about the fight over monuments in the United States, the meaning of memorialization and how history can inflame present-day political action.
Directed by Valerio Ciriaci
Produced by Isaak Liptzin and Curtis John
The Beauty of Blackness
In 1973, Eunice Johnson, the founder of Ebony and Jet, launched the first national cosmetics brand created exclusively for Black women. This film chronicles Fashion Fair’s storied past, and follows its new leadership in real time as they reinvent the brand amidst our present social upheaval and intensified competition.
Directed by Tiffany Johnson and Kiana Moore
Produced by Josh Levine and Mark Book
The Entomologists (WT)
A young filmmaker from southern China captures her family’s decades-long ambitions to raise worms as a sustainable food source in an intimately personal film about family and the interconnections between humans and insects in a rapidly changing society.
Directed by Jiayu Yang
Produced by Kira Simon-Kennedy and Shahong Lee
A Chinese dissident takes her decade-long petition for land reparation from Beijing to Washington, DC while seeking asylum in the US, but instead is charged with a criminal case “United States of America v. Chunyan Wang.”
Directed by Yi Chen
Produced by Yi Chen
The Star of Hope
When Robert Indiana died, the art legend’s “LOVE” was the best-known work in the history of American art—but he left behind a bitter legal battle over his estate and a small town divided over painful questions about his past.
Directed by Jason Mann
Produced by Dallas Brennan Rexer and Lindsay Mann
Traces of Home
Through intertwining journeys with filmmaker Colette Ghunim’s parents to find the ancestral homes they were forced to flee as children in Mexico and Palestine, Colette confronts the effects of intergenerational trauma on her family in suburban America.
Directed by Colette Ghunim
Produced by Capella Fahoome
Walk By Me
Walk By Me follows evangelical artist Gabi P, twenty-five years after her gender transition was chronicled in Lisa Leeman’s groundbreaking film Metamorphosis (Sundance/POV 1990.) As Gabi, newly sober, slowly rebuilds her life, Leeman unexpectedly finds herself pulled into the story.
Directed by Lisa Leeman
Produced by Lisa Leeman and Karen Hori
We Build The Block (WT)
Brooklyn is the epicenter for innovative alternatives to policing; Dana Rachlin momentarily pivots from her activism to help plan her best friend’s memorial service.
Directed by Tristan Nash
Produced by Johnny Gaffney and Peter Reinstein
Woman on the Outside
A young woman creates a transportation service to keep Philadelphia families connected to incarcerated loved ones. But when her father and brother are released from prison, she confronts the ultimate question: can she reunite her own family?
Directed by Zara Katz and Lisa Riordan Seville
Produced by Kiara C. Jones, Zara Katz and Lisa Riordan Seville