Next week is DOC NYC – New York’s premier documentary film festival starting November 8th. Sadly, I cannot go to experience the many great films that are part of the festival but below please find a great list of films to see either in NYC, or to put on your NEXTFLIX list. Thanks to Impact Partners, which I am thrilled to be a member, for this incredible list. Enjoy!
5 BROKEN CAMERAS
This deeply personal, first-hand account of non-violent resistance was shot almost entirely by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat in a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements. Burnat’s footage was turned into a galvanizing cinematic experience in collaboration with co-director Guy Davidi. Structured around the violent destruction of a succession of Burnat’s video cameras, the film follows one family’s evolution over five years of village turmoil. “I feel like the camera protects me,” Burnat says, “but it’s an illusion.” I saw this film at SUNDANCE last year and loved it!!!
No documentary project has rivaled the scope and longevity of Michael Apted’s epic group portrait. Starting in 1964, a film crew interviewed a collection of British 7 year olds from different social backgrounds. Apted has returned every 7 years to update their lives through successes, disappointments, births and deaths. Now at the age of 56, the individuals open up again to assess whether their lives have been ruled more by circumstance or self determination.
Director Jamie Meltzer takes a penetrating look at Brandon Darby, a radical activist turned FBI informant who has been both vilified and deified, but never fully understood. Darby was known as a hero of leftwing activists organizing in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, but later he allied himself with rightwing forces helping to entrap protestors at the 2008 Republican convention (depicted in the documentary Better This World). Darby opens up in this film to explain his mysterious motives.
RAFEA: SOLAR MAMA
Rafea is a Bedouin woman who lives with her daughters in a village near the Jordan-Iraq border. She is given a chance to travel to India to attend the Barefoot College, where illiterate women from around the world are trained in six months to be solar engineers. If Rafea succeeds, she will be able to electrify her village, train more engineers, and provide for her daughters. But can she overcome all the obstacles that stand in her way?
THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE
In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers were arrested and charged for brutally attacking and raping a white female jogger in Central Park. News media swarmed the case, calling it “the crime of the century.” But the truth about what really happened didn’t become clear until after the five had spent years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit. This story of injustice finally gets the telling it deserves. The film recently made headlines when lawyers for New York City attempted to subpoena its outtakes for an ongoing lawsuit. A story whose aftershocks continue to shape the city, this promises to be one of the most high-profile documentaries of the year.
Unforgettable, chilling and emotional, The Imposter tells the gripping true story of a Texan boy who went missing in 1994 and was miraculously found three and a half years later thousands of miles away in southern Spain. Despite glaring inconsistencies in his physical appearance, the boy’s family brought their long-lost “son” home to restart his life in Texas. Questions soon arose: how could the Barclay’s blonde, blue-eyed son have returned with darker skin and eyes? How could his personality and even accent have changed so dramatically? Truth soon proves stranger than fiction as the real story emerges.
VENUS AND SERENA
Venus and Serena gains unprecedented access into the lives of the tennis-conquering Williams sisters during the most intimidating year of their careers. Over the course of 2011, Venus grappled with an energy-sapping autoimmune disease while Serena battled back from a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. But neither sister let adversity hold her back. Filmmakers Maiken Baird and Michelle Major (who worked in Peter Jennings’ documentary unit at ABC News) join forces with esteemed collaborators including editor Sam Pollard (When the Levees Broke) and musician Wyclef Jean. The film “gives a better sense of the sisters than do reams of sports reportage” (Variety).
WONDER WOMEN! THE UNTOLD STORY OF AMERICAN SUPERHEROINES
Tracing the fascinating origins, evolution and legacy of Wonder Woman, this lively documentary takes you from the birth of the comic book superheroine in the 1940s to the blockbusters of today. A look behind the scenes with Lynda Carter (TV’s Wonder Woman), Lindsay Wagner (The Bionic Woman), comic book writers and artists, and reallife superheroines such as Gloria Steinem, Kathleen Hanna and others, this film offers an enlightening and entertaining counterpoint to the male-dominated superhero genre. I gave a small grant to this film am excited to see the final cut!
A feature-length documentary about the remarkable life of Ethel Kennedy, this film is a revealing portrait through the eyes of those who know her best—her family. Directed by her Emmy Award-winning daughter, Rory Kennedy, and featuring candid interviews with Ethel and seven of her children, Ethel is a deeply personal look inside a political dynasty strengthened by family bonds, a compassion for others, and a wisdom forged from both hardship and triumph. Again I saw this awesome film at Sundance and had the opportunity to spend some time with the filmmaker, Rory Kennedy. It was a beautiful, intimate film of a legendary family.
Every day, dozens of decommissioned school buses leave the United States and migrate to Guatemala, where they are repaired, repainted, and resurrected as the brightly-colored camionetas that bring most Guatemalans to work. This lyrical film follows the migration of one American bus as well as the personal stories of five individuals whose lives become intertwined with its transformation. What slowly emerges is a vivid and rich meditation on the universal quest for mobility.
The full line-up is here