By Gregory Crofton
This year the largest documentary film festival in the country is available to everyone with access to a computer. The Covid-19 global pandemic forced DOC NYC, typically screened in New York City theaters, to go entirely online.
Thankfully festival organizers made it easy to sling docs from your computer screen to your TV via Roku.
FESTIVAL EXTENDED for select films through Nov. 29!
Click here for available tickets.
Below find reviews of films we’ve had a chance to watch.
CRAZY, NOT INSANE
Director: Alex Gibney
Running Time: 117 Minutes
Broadcast Date: HBO, begins Nov. 18th
Rundown: Features the work of Dorothy Otnow, a pioneer in the field of criminal psychology. Otnow spoke with Ted Bundy about his family history the day before his execution in 1989. Her life’s work points to murders happening not because people are born evil, but due to the fact they’ve been sexually abused and/or their brains have been damaged or malformed. Both things can cause criminals to disassociate (develop an identity disorder) from aberrant behavior. Trailer
Director: R.J. Cutler
Running time: 108 minutes
Broadcast Date: Showtime, starts Nov. 22
Rundown: John Belushi brought Rock ‘n’ Roll to the comedy stage. He specialized in the absurd, but his insights were penetrating, at least according to my Dad. Great biopic by a talented director, a driving mind behind works as disparate as the classic doc “War Room” and the television series “Nashville.” Excellent animation and a fantastic score keeps this doc humming. A must see. Trailer
Director: Bryan Fogel
Broadcast date: In theaters, Dec. 18
Running time: 119 minutes
Rundown: The first of two documentaries (Kingdom of Silence) made about the brash, abhorrent murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate Istanbul, Turkey, while his fiancée waited outside for him. Director Fogel is best known for directing “Icarus,” winner of an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2018. This doc takes too long to get going, but ultimately it delivers the real story behind the Khashoggi assassination through interviews with his fiancée and dissident counterparts funded by the late journalist. Trailer
Director: Alex Winter
Running Time: 129 minutes
Broadcast date: Available on Demand, Nov. 29
Rundown: “Zappa” was a long-time in gestation. Alex Winter organized a million-dollar-plus effort to preserve the rocker/composer’s personal archive before he put together this film, which is worth checking out. But if you’re not a fan of Frank Zappa going in, chances are you still won’t be after you see it. Clearly he was given to obsessive work, and liked making all sorts of art. He was outspoken, but also narcissistic and not good at expressing emotion. The most interesting thing I realized from the doc was that Zappa, in many ways, had a very conservative approach to life. Trailer