By Gregory Crofton
In its 13th edition, DOC NYC continues as the largest nonfiction film festival in the country with more than 110 feature-length movies set to screen theatrically and online Nov. 9-27.
What sets this festival apart from others is its online viewing portal, something first offered during the pandemic. But even as COVID-19 has eased, this new venue and “hybrid” festival model continues to be an essential part of DOC NYC.
For opening night at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan, DOC NYC will premiere “Maya and the Wave,” which looks at the life of Brazilian surfer Maya Gabeira. She survived a crushing wave in Portugal to come back, after many surgeries and years of recovery, and ride again.
I’m most looking forward to “Lost Angel: The Genius of Judee Sill,” a free-spirited singer-songwriter who recorded with musicians like Graham Nash in 1970s Los Angeles. She led a storied life and became the first artist signed to David Geffen’s Asylum Records.
Werner Herzog will also screen his “Theater of Thought,” a cinematic study of the intersection of science and the human mind. “Brain-computer interfaces, this will change the world,” says Herzog with his incomparable voiceover narration. He continues later: “Do fish have dreams?”
“2nd Chance” examines the life of Richard Davis. He owned two Detroit pizzerias that burned down, and then was shot in side of the head and leg during an armed robbery. After his injuries, and with one year of engineering school under his belt, he decided to invent the bullet proof vest. And it worked. He tested it on himself 192 times.
“Loan Wolves” is the result of a six-year investigation into the student loan crisis in America. Director Blake Zeff has identified the 1998 law that made it impossible for students to declare bankruptcy to eliminate college debts.
“How to Save a Dead Friend” is a dark but wonderful take on the lives of a young Russian couple dealing with drug addiction and mental illness. Shot over 12 years during Putin’s reign, director Marusya Syroechkovskaya is featured in this moody, beautifully shot film.
“The End of the World” directed by Matt Trynauer (Where’s My Roy Cohn?, Studio 54) documents a generation of American writers, include Bret Easton Ellis, that attended a college in Vermont in the 1980s.
Then there’s “Jerry Brown: The Disrupter” as directed by Marina Zenovich (Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired). Brown, a four-term California governor, is always compelling on camera and someone known for his progressive and interesting lifestyle.
But there are many, many more films to choose from! Be sure to visit the DOC NYC website to buy tickets for in-person and online screenings, and continue to check back with Channel Nonfiction for festival film reviews.