Update 2/1/15: DOC NYC ran November 13–20, 2014. DOC NYC 2015 dates will be announced here later this year; submissions are currently being accepted. See social media links for each documentary below to get updates on upcoming screenings in 2015.
The ease and convenience of digital technology have led to an explosion in documentary filmmaking over the past decade. From citizen journalists with smartphones capturing events as they unfold to documentarians uncovering once hidden slivers of the globe, people are finding little stories everywhere, and a steadily widening variety of filmmakers is telling them.
Enter the DOC NYC film festival, which this year will screen some 150 films in three theaters over eight days (November 13-20). In just five years, this haven for nonfiction filmmakers has grown into the country’s largest and most wide ranging festival of documentary storytelling and become a launchpad for independent works; DOC NYC is a first stop for films that will be released in theaters nationwide.
That makes this year’s lineup especially interesting: DOC NYC 2014 includes more than a dozen films that address themes related to aging. What follows is the best of the pack. Watch for them in NYC next week and at your local theater in the months to come.
I Am Big Bird
By David La Mattina and Chad Walker. Friday Nov 14, 6:45pm. SVA Theatre.
An 80-year old who has been wowing children in virtual anonymity for more than 40 years, puppeteer Caroll Spinney created and still embodies the “Sesame Street” mainstays Big Bird and Oscar The Grouch. (Yes, he still dons the yellow-feathered suit.) The filmmakers take us behind the scenes with this surprisingly soft-spoken funny man, providing an intimate portrait that includes much never before seen footage from the set of the popular children’s show. More info and tickets | Follow I Am Big Bird on Twitter for upcoming screenings.
The Age of Love
By Stephen Loring, Saturday Nov 15, 2:15pm. SVA Theatre.
Already something of a sleeper hit when it arrives at DOC NYC 2014, “The Age Of Love” is Stephen Loring’s charmingly straightforward look at several older adults in the Rochester, NY area who are back in the singles market and have turned to senior speed-dating in hopes of finding romance. It’s by turns vulnerable, funny, clear-eyed and warm. See the Senior Planet feature. More info and tickets | Follow The Age of Love on Twitter for upcoming screenings
By Dan Rybicky and Aaron Wickenden. Saturday Nov 15, 6:45pm. Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas | Monday Nov 17, 1pm. IFC Center.
A powerful and sometimes difficult to watch film about an eccentric octogenarian, “Almost There” touches on several interwoven themes, among them the value of outsider art, the harshness of small-town decay, functioning with mental illness and the will to age with dignity. The filmmakers came across their subject, Peter Anton, while he was drawing portraits at an Indiana flea market. What they uncover upon delving into his past creates a portrait of an indomitable spirit. More info and tickets | Follow Almost There on Twitter for upcoming screenings
By Yuki Kokubo. Sunday Nov 16, 5pm. IFC Center.
Environmental disaster is the backdrop for this compelling film about an emotionally charged family reunion. The director, a New Yorker since childhood, visits Japan in hopes of rekindling the relationship with her estranged parents — both artists — as they pick up the pieces following Japan’s 2011 tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster. More info and tickets | Follow Kasamayaki on Facebook for upcoming screenings
Divide In Concord
By Kris Kaczor. Monday Nov 17, 7:30pm. IFC Center.
The now sleepy hamlet of Concord, Massachusetts prides itself on being the fiery birthplace of the American Revolution. In Kris Kaczor’s film, an unlikely 81-year old environmentalist tests the town’s revolutionary mettle by proposing a ban on the sale of plastic water bottles. Her prickly exchanges with the town council earn her an equally formidable nemesis. More info and tickets | Follow Divide in Concord on Twitter for upcoming screenings
By David Iverson. Tuesday Nov 18, 12:30pm. Bow Chelsea Cinemas | Thursday Nov 20, 5pm. IFC Center.
A group of seniors with Parkinson’s Disease discover the healing properties of dance in this well paced, uplifting film. It documents their many sessions with a choreographer from the Mark Morris Dance Company. The group progresses toward a full-blown performance that is both instructive and illuminating. More info and tickets | Follow Capturing Grace on Twitter for upcoming screenings
The Last Impresario
By Gracie Otto. Thursday Nov 20, 7:30pm. SVA Theatre.
“Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” “Oh! Calcutta!” “My Dinner With Andre.” You’ve probably heard of any number of the shows that Scottish bon vivant Michael White has gotten off the ground in a career that reaches back to the mid ‘60s. So how has the 78-year old producer remained a man of mystery? Gracie Otto’s film manages to forge something quite revealing out of a rush of jet-setting imagery and celeb talking heads (among others, John Cleese, Yoko Ono, Kate Moss, Wallace Shawn, Naomi Watts, Nell Campbell). More info and tickets | Follow The Last Impresario on Twitter for upcoming screenings
Also check out these DOC NYC films about age and aging:
Song From the Forest Fri Nov 14
When People Die They Sing Songs Sun Nov 16
The Astronaut’s Secret Tue Nov 18
Keep On Keepin’ On Tue Nov 18, Thu Nov 20
Limited Partnership Tue Nov 18
Still Dreaming Tue Nov 18, Wed Nov 19