A Preview of DOC NYC 2012

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You wouldn’t know by chatting with DOC NYC co-founder and doc czar Thom Powers that he just came out of a week of not being to sell tickets for his film festival. On top of that, he and his family were without power in their Montclair, New Jersey, home when Hurricane Sandy made landfall. But with undiminished zeal, Powers continues his agenda of forcing documentary entertainments on the New York populace, happily presenting the DOC NYC Season 3, which begins this week (November 8-15, 2012). Tickets are now selling quite well and with little wonder, considering the exceptional line up in the 2012 slate.

Opening night includes two films, the first of which, Artifact, follows the actor/musician/director Jared Leto and his band Thirty Seconds to Mars as they duke it out with their label in a contract dispute. The second opening night film, Venus and Serena by Maiken Baird & Michelle Major, follows the tennis star sisters from a prolonged period of unbelievable success to a difficult time when they were both contending with life-threatening medical problems to a return to the top of their games. Powers expressed much enthusiasm over the film. “There’s a great message in this film about two women who have achieved remarkable success 100% on their own terms,” Powers told me. “What I say to anyone who has a daughter is, ‘You’re competing with a billion dollar industry whose job it is to make your daughter feel bad about herself.’”

Two other films in this year’s line-up, Informant and West of Memphis, both return to subjects of well known recent documentaries.

Informant takes a look at secondary character from the Gotham Award-winning Better This World, which aired on POV in 2011 and 2012. Their film follows a pair of childhood friends from Texas who wind up being arrested on terrorism charges for planning to bomb the 2008 Republican National Convention.  During the course of their story we’re introduced to the charismatic but complicated Brandon Darby, who is the focus of the new film directed by Jamie Meltzer. Both Darby and the documentary are fascinating in their own right.

In the case of West of Memphis, director Amy Berg revisits the terrible child murders and prolonged legal battles of the Paradise Lost trilogy. Why another documentary? Powers continues, “According to Damien Echols, one of the ‘West Memphis Three,’ it was an opportunity to tell the story in his own words.”  It’s worth noting that Echols and his wife Lorri Davis whom he married while on death row, both share producing credits. The film, at the very least, acts as a companion to the earlier trilogy.

Getting the festival back on track, considering the vast planning required to pull something like this off in a city just besieged by Mother Nature, is no small task.  But clearly Thom Powers and his team are up for the job.  Speaking of his team, I will be moderating a number of events this weekend.  Since I would enjoy having your company at those screenings in particular, DOC NYC is offering a pair of tickets for Saturday night’s 7:30 PM screening of Men at Lunch at the SVA Theater in Manhattan, and a second pair for the Saturday 9:30 PM screening of Amy Nicholson‘s Zipper at the same venue. Fill out the form below to enter the giveaway (and read full list of rules) by Thursday, November 8, at 4PM. We will announce the winners soon after.

For the full schedule of events and to purchase tickets, visit docnyc.net.

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Adam Schartoff
Adam Schartoff
Guest blogger Adam Schartoff is a freelance film journalist living in Brooklyn, New York. He's the founder and programmer of the Brooklyn-based film series Filmwax.