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Spotlight on Documentary

Dispatches from the front lines of today's nonfiction.

See three or more films in Spotlight on Documentary and save with a Discount Package!

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

  • Steve James
  • 2016
  • USA
  • 88 minutes
  • In English, Mandarin, and Cantonese with English subtitles

Q&As with Steve James

Steve James’s latest is a vivid chronicle of the legal battle between the Manhattan DA’s Office and Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, the only bank that was actually prosecuted in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography

  • Errol Morris
  • 2016
  • USA
  • 76 minutes
Errol Morris’s masterful and surprising new film, about the 20x24 Polaroid photographer Elsa Dorfman, is a portrait of an extraordinary woman whose work is a heartbreaking embodiment of the passing of time.

Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

  • Alexis Bloom, Fisher Stevens
  • 2016
  • USA
  • 96 minutes

Q&As with Carrie Fisher*, Alexis Bloom, and Fisher Stevens

Unlike today’s newly minted celebrities, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds are open books. Bright Lights is an affectionate, often hilarious and unexpectedly moving valentine to the mother-daughter act to end all mother-daughter acts.

The Cinema Travellers

  • Shirley Abraham, Amit Madheshiya
  • 2016
  • India
  • 96 minutes
  • In Hindi and Marathi with English subtitles

U.S. Premiere • Q&As with Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya

A colorful, five-years-in-the-making documentary about two itinerant film projectionists in the Central Eastern Indian province of Maharashtra, this is a melancholy but joyful experience, about the wonder of still images coming to life at 24 frames per second.

Dawson City: Frozen Time

  • Bill Morrison
  • 2016
  • USA
  • 120 minutes

North American Premiere · Q&As with Bill Morrison

Bill Morrison’s new film is a history in still and moving images charting the transformation of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in fishing camp at the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers.

Hissein Habré, A Chadian Tragedy

  • Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
  • 2016
  • France/Chad
  • 82 minutes
  • In French, Chadian and Arabic with English subtitles
Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s stately documentary focuses on victims of Chad’s notorious Hissein Habré, who recently became the first world leader convicted of crimes against humanity by the court outside of his own country.

I Am Not Your Negro

  • Raoul Peck
  • 2016
  • USA/France/Belgium/Switzerland
  • 93 minutes

An elegantly precise and bracing film essay on the still tragic state of race in America from Raoul Peck, based on James Baldwin’s final, unfinished manuscript, Remember This House, in which the author recalled his friends Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.

I Called Him Morgan

  • Kasper Collin
  • 2016
  • Sweden
  • 91 minutes

Ends April 27

A beautifully crafted and deeply affecting film about the brilliant but erratic jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan and his relationship with Helen Morgan, his common-law wife, which ended in tragedy on the night of February 19, 1972 in an East Village bar.

Karl Marx City

  • Petra Epperlein, Michael Tucker
  • 2016
  • USA/Germany
  • 89 minutes
  • In English and German with English subtitles

Q&As with Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker

The filmmaking team of Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker turn their attention to the former East Germany of Epperlein’s childhood, and specifically to the possibility that her father might have been one of the many thousands of citizens recruited as informers by the Stasi.

Patria O Muerte: Cuba, Fatherland or Death

  • Olatz López Garmendia
  • 2016
  • Cuba/USA
  • 57 minutes
  • In English and Spanish with English subtitles

Q&As with Olatz López Garmendia

Olatz López Garmendia’s film is a sharp, vivid portrait of Cuba as it is right now, on the verge of change, seen through the eyes of citizens who are struggling to live freely.

Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan

  • Linda Saffire, Adam Schlesinger
  • 2016
  • USA
  • 90 minutes
The extraordinary Wendy Whelan, principal dancer at New York City Ballet for 23 years, is followed throughout a passage of life that all dancers must face, when she must confront the limits of her own body and adapt to a different relationship with the art form she loves so madly.

The Settlers

  • Shimon Dotan
  • 2016
  • France/Canada/Israel
  • 106 minutes

Q&As with Shimon Dotan

Shimon Dotan’s film takes a good, hard look at the world of the Israeli settlers on the West Bank: the way they live, the worldview that many of them share, and, most crucially, the relaxed attitude of the Israeli government to their presence since the first settlements in the aftermath of the Six-Day War.

Two Trains Runnin’

  • Sam Pollard
  • 2016
  • USA
  • 80 minutes

Q&As with Sam Pollard, Common, and film team

Two North-to-South quests of the “Freedom Summer” of 1964—one to take part in the Civil Rights movement, the other to find Blues legends Skip James and Son House—converge in Sam Pollard’s inventive, musically and historically rich film.

Uncle Howard

  • Aaron Brookner
  • 2016
  • UK-USA
  • 96 minutes

Q&As with Aaron Brookner and cast and crew members

In a work of love and scholarship, Aaron Brookner breathes new life into the recently discovered archival film and video images in which his adored uncle, Howard Brookner, captured the downtown New York, post-Beat mosaic of writers, filmmakers, performers, and artists during the 1970s and 1980s.

Whose Country?

  • Mohamed Siam
  • 2016
  • Egypt/USA/France
  • 60 minutes

Q&As with Mohamed Siam and crew members

A remarkable, one-of-a-kind film from Egypt, Whose Country? has a point of view that grows in complexity as it proceeds, witnessing a nation’s turmoil from the point of view of a Cairo policeman.