2018 DOC NYC: What to expect at this year’s event

October 24, 2018

by Carla Hay

The ninth annual DOC NYC, which takes place in New York City, is one of the world’s leading documentary festivals, with a slate of more than 300 films from a diverse array of topics. The 2018 edition of DOC NYC, which takes place November 8 to November 15, has an outstanding variety of feature films and short films, with several of the movies focusing on under-represented people and marginalized communities. Most of the festival’s events take place at the IFC Center, SVA Theatre and Cinépolis Chelsea.

DOC NYC, which was co-founded by Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen, has also had an excellent track record when it comes to diversity and inclusion. The event has a larger percentage of films from female directors than most other film festivals. Beyond the gender parity issue, this year’s DOC NYC is a true definition of a “world-class” festival, since there are numerous ethnicities and cultures from around the world represented in the films at the festival. DOC NYC also offers panel discussions, with most of the discussions geared to sharing behind-the-scenes knowledge about filmmaking.

Celebrities expected to attend the event include “Documentary Now!” co-creator Seth Meyers; “Out of Omaha” executive producer J. Cole, who is also known for his successful music career; “Fahrenheit 11/9” director Michael Moore; “Quincy” co-director Rashida Jones; “Echo in the Canyon” star Jakob Dylan; “Cracked Up” star Darrell Hammond; and “Olympia” star Olympia Dukakis.

There are many films at DOC NYC that have premiered elsewhere, and some films that have already been released in theaters, including the critically acclaimed “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” “Free Solo,” “RBG,” “Fahrenheit 11/9,” “Quincy” and “Three Identical Strangers.” However, DOC NYC also has several world premieres. Here are the feature films (and some TV episodes) that will have their world premieres at DOC NYC. A complete schedule can be found here.



New York-based psychoanalyst Ofra Bloch, a native of Israel, travels to Germany, Israel and Palestine to explore anti-Semitism. World Premiere: November 12 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“Amazing Grace” UPDATE: Added on November 5, 2018

In 1972, Aretha Franklin recorded her best-selling gospel album “Amazing Grace” at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. This film,  directed by Sydney Pollack, chronicles the recording of the album. Due to legal reasons, including Franklin’s objections to the movie being made public, the release of the “Amazing Grace” documentary was delayed for decades. With Franklin’s passing in 2018 and with her family’s approval, this movie is now finally getting released. World Premiere: November 12 at SVA Theatre.

“Beyond the Bolex”

Director Alyssa Bolsey, whose great-grandfather Jacques Bolsey invented the Bolex camera, takes a personal journey examining the history behind the Bolex. World premiere: November 8 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“Bleed Out”

Comedic director Steve Burrows takes a serious look at medical malpractice, which has affected his own life: His mother underwent hip replacement surgery that  went badly, which put her in a coma that left her with permanent brain damage. World premiere: November 13 at IFC Center.

“Brave Girls”

Three young Indian women in a conservative Muslim community aim to improve their lives through education. World Premiere: November 15 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists”

A profile of famed New York journalists/columnists Jimmy Breslin (Daily News) and Pete Hamill (New York Post, Daily News). World Premiere: November 15 at SVA Theatre.


Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Buzz Bissinger, the author of “Friday Night Lights” and a frequent Vanity Fair contributor, opens up about his personal life, including his cross-dressing and how it has affected his marriage. World Premiere: November 10 at SVA Theatre.

“The Candidates”

Since 1996, Townsend Harris High School in Queens, New York, has been holding a simulation of a nationally prominent election for a semester, with students portraying the candidates and other people involved in the real-life campaigns. This documentary is about the school’s re-enactment of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, with a Ukranian-American playing Donald Trump and a Pakistani-American playing Hillary Clinton. World Premiere: November 10 at IFC Center.


The story of 15-year-old, U.S.-born Jamil Sunsin, a new Jersey resident whose family is torn apart when his undocumented parents and older sister are deported back to Honduras under the Trump Administration’s immigration policies. World Premiere: November 14 at IFC Center.

“Cooked: Survival by Zip Code”

This documentary explores how U.S. residents living in low-income zip codes get disproportionately inferior aid after natural disasters, starting with the 1995 heatwave that hit Chicago and claimed the lives of more than 700 people, and including 2005’s Hurricane Katrina and 2012’s Superstorm Sandy. World Premiere: November 11 at SVA Theatre.

“Cracked Up”

A biography of former “Saturday Night Live” comedian Darrell Hammond, who has been open about his troubled history of mental illness and drug addiction, which stem from his abusive childhood. World Premiere: November 14 at SVA Theatre.

“Crafting an Echo”

The story behind the creative conflicts between Martha Graham and choreographer Andonis Foniadakis, who was commissioned by the Martha Graham Dance Company to create a new piece. World Premiere: November 14 at SVA Theatre.

“Creating a Character: The Moni Yakim Legacy”

A biography of Juilliard School acting instructor Moni Yakim, whose former students include award-winning Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain and Patti LuPone. World Premiere: November 11 at SVA Theatre.

“Decade of Fire”

This film shows how New York City’s Bronx borough was able to rebuild after devastating fires in the 1970s displaced thousands of residents, who were mostly black and Latino. World Premiere: November 10 at SVA Theatre.

Dennis and Lois”

Dennis and Lois have had a decades-long love affair with each other and with rock music. The couple met in 1975 at New York’s famed CBGB club and have remained “superfans” of rock, even at an age when most people outgrow the fan activities that Dennis and Lois still do, such as extensive traveling to concerts, volunteering to sell band merchandise, and inviting touring musicians to stay in their home. World Premiere: November 14 at IFC Center.

“Documentary Now!” Presents “Original Cast Album: Co-Op”

IFC’s “Documentary Now!” series (created by Rhys Thomas and “Saturday Night Live” alumni Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Seth Meyers) is a show that presents a mockumentary in every episode. The “Original Cast Album: Co-Op” mockumentary, starring John Mulaney and Renee Elise Goldsberry, spoofs the 1970 D.A. Pennebaker documentary  “Original Cast Album: Company.”  World Premiere: November 9 at SVA Theatre.

“Enemies: The President, Justice & the FBI” – “That’s What Friends Are For”

The Showtime series “Enemies: The President, Justice & the FBI,” from Oscar-and-Emmy-winning documentarian Alex Gibney, will world premiere its first episode, “That’s What Friends Are For,” at DOC NYC. World Premiere: November 12 at IFC Center.

“The Great Mother”

A profile of immigration activist Nora Sandigo, who has become the legal U.S. guardian for more than 2,000 U.S.-born children whose undocumented parents have been deported. World Premiere: November 15 at IFC Center.

“I Am the Revolution”

The story of how three Middle-Eastern women are fighting for gender equality. World Premiere: November 15 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“Jay Myself”

An inside look at the sale of photographer Jay Maisel’s 72-room New York City studio building, which was one of the city’s biggest private real-estate deals. World Premiere: November 11 at SVA Theatre.

“Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle”

DOC NYC has the world premiere of the first half of this Sundance TV miniseries, which chronicles the tragedy of 1978’s Jonestown cult massacre that took place in Guyana.  World Premiere: November 9 at IFC Center.

“The Kleptocrats”

This investigative film shows how $3.5 billion dollars were stolen from a Malaysian government fund. World Premiere: November 9 at IFC Center.

“Lady Parts Justice in the New World Order”

Lady Parts Justice, an activist group founded by “The Daily Show” co-creator Lizz Winstead, fights for reproductive rights and other women’s issues by mixing politics and comedy. DOC NYC will have the world premiere of two episodes from this documentary series. World Premiere: November 11 at SVA Theatre.

“Last Stop Coney Island: The Life and Photography of Harold Feinstein”

A biography of Harold Feinstein, who specialized in photographing people in New York City, especially at Brooklyn’s Coney Island. World Premiere: November 14 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“Life Without Basketball”

This film chronicles the battles faced by Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir in her quest to have the International Basketball Federation allow players to wear hijabs. World Premiere: November 10 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“Little Miss Westie”

The story of Ren, the first transgender girl to compete in West Haven, Connecticut’s Little Miss Westie Pageant. World Premiere: November 10 at IFC Center.

“Memory Games”

This film shows the journey of four athletes as they compete for the title of World Memory Champion. World Premiere: November 10 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“My Perfect World: The Aaron Hernandez Story

The biography of disgraced football star Aaron Hernandez, who died in prison after being convicted of murder. World Premiere: November 14 at IFC Center.

“New Homeland”

Oscar-winning documentarian Barbara Kopple tells the story of five refugee children whose families have relocated from war-torn Syria and Iraq to Canada. World Premiere: November 13 at IFC Center.


A biography of actress Olympia Dukakis, who is best known for her Oscar-winning supporting role in “Moonstruck.” World Premiere: November 11 at SVA Theatre.

Operation Infektion

An investigative look at how politically motivated “fake news” was handled in the former Soviet Union, decades before it became a hot-button topic about the 2016 U.S. presidential election. World Premiere: November 10 at SVA Theatre.

“The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story”

A nostalgic look at the history of children’s TV network Nickelodeon. World Premiere: November 15 at SVA Theatre.

“Out of Omaha”

African-American twin brothers Darcell and Darrell Trotter are the subjects of this film, which chronicles the twins’ lives in racially divided Omaha, Nebraska. World Premiere: November 10 at SVA Theatre.


The story of a woman named Raf’aa, who flees war-torn Syria, leaving behind her husband and two sons. While living in a refugee camp in Germany, she hopes to reunite with them, but her husband and children are stuck in Greece. World Premiere: November 11 at IFC Center.

“See Know Evil”

A biography of fashion photographer Davide Sorrenti, who had a meteoric rise in the 1990s due to popularizing the “heroin chic” trend, but he was troubled by his own real-life heroin addiction. World Premiere: November 9 at SVA Theatre.

“The Show’s the Thing: The Legendary Promoters of Rock”

The history of how Frank Barsalona and other concert promoters impacted the careers of rock stars in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. World Premiere: November 15 at IFC Center.

“The Smartest Kids in the World”

This documentary follows four American teenagers who study abroad, each in a different country that surpasses the United States when it comes to  education ratings: Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and South Korea. World Premiere: November 11 at IFC Center.

“Somewhere to Be”

This spotlight is on the Greenwich House Senior Center in New York City and many of its quirky members and visitors. World Premiere: November 10 at SVA Theatre.

“Stars in the Sky: A Hunting Story”

The controversial activity of hunting animals for sport is explored in this film, which follows hunters in the Alaskan wilds. World Premiere: November 11 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“Takumi. A 60,000 Hour Story on the Survival of Human Craft”

“Takumi” is the Japanese word for “artisan.” This film showcases a diverse array of Japanese artisans, include a chef, a car-factory inspector, a carpenter and a traditional paper-cut artist. World Premiere: November 11 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“To Kid or Not to Kid”

Documentary filmmaker Maxine Trump (no relation to Donald Trump) turns the spotlight on herself and other women who haven chosen not to have children. World Premiere: November 11 at IFC Center.

“Very Senior: Attitude Is Everything”

A look at the energetic residents of the retirement community of Sun City, Arizona. World Premiere: November 15 at IFC Center.

“We Are Not Princesses” 

A group of Syrian women in a Lebanese refugee camp discover new freedoms through the art of acting. World Premiere: November 14 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“Welcome to the Beyond”

The story behind successful 1980s model Hoyt Richards and his secret double life as a member of the Eternal Values cult. World Premiere: November 13 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

Copyright 2017-2024 Culture Mix