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Spotlight on Documentary

This year’s series of dispatches from the front lines of nonfiction cinema features intimate portraits of artists, depictions of social upheaval, and much more. Presented with support from The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Inc.

Arthur Miller: Writer

  • Rebecca Miller
  • 2017
  • USA
  • 101 minutes

Q&As with Rebecca Miller on 10/9, 10/10, and 10/14

Rebecca Miller’s film, a portrait of her father, his times and insights, built around impromptu interviews shot over many years in the family home, is a celebration of the great American playwright different from what the public has ever seen.

BOOM FOR REAL The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat

  • Sara Driver
  • 2017
  • USA
  • 79 minutes

U.S. Premiere · Q&As with Sara Driver on 10/8 and 10/11

Sara Driver’s documentary is both a celebration of and elegy for the downtown New York art/music/film/performance world of the late 1970s and early ’80s, through which Jean-Michel Basquiat shot like a rocket.


  • Alison McAlpine
  • 2017
  • Canada/Chile
  • 78 minutes

World Premiere · Q&As with Alison McAlpine on 10/6 and 10/7

The first feature from Alison McAlpine is a dialogue with the heavens—in this case, the heavens above the Andes and the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, where she alights on the desert- and mountain-dwelling astronomers, fishermen, miners, and cowboys who live their lives with reverence and awe for the skies.

Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?

  • Travis Wilkerson
  • 2017
  • USA
  • 90 minutes

Q&As with Travis Wilkerson on 9/29 and 10/1

Filmmaker Travis Wilkerson turns his sights on his own family and the small town of Dothan, Alabama, where his white supremacist great-grandfather S.E. Branch once shot and killed Bill Spann, an African-American man.

El mar la mar

  • Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki
  • 2017
  • USA
  • 94 minutes

Q&As with J.P Sniadecki & Joshua Bonnetta on 9/29 + 10/1

In this lyrical and highly topical film, the Sonoran Desert, among the deadliest routes taken by those crossing from Mexico to the United States, is depicted a place of dramatic beauty and merciless danger.


  • Tony Zierra
  • 2017
  • USA
  • 94 minutes

Q&As with Tony Zierra and Leon Vitali on 10/3 (joined by Elizabeth Yoffe) and 10/4

Stanley Kubrick’s loyal, work-obsessed right-hand man Leon Vitali is chronicled in this fascinating portrait of awe-inspired devotion burning all the way down to the wick.

Hall of Mirrors

  • Ena Talakic, Ines Talakic
  • 2017
  • USA
  • 87 minutes

World Premiere · Q&As with Ena Talakic and Ines Talakic on 10/2 and 10/4

The great nonpartisan investigative reporter Edward Jay Epstein, still going strong at 81, takes us through his most notable articles and books, including close looks at the findings of the Warren Commission, the structure of the diamond industry, the strange career of Armand Hammer, and the inner workings of big-time journalism itself.


  • Brett Morgen
  • 2017
  • USA
  • 90 minutes

U.S. Premiere · Q&As with Brett Morgen on 10/5 (with Jane Goodall) and 10/6

Filmmaker Brett Morgan has created a vibrant film experience utilizing recently rediscovered footage from the years in which Jane Goodall first established contact with the chimpanzee population in Gombe Stream National Park near Lake Tangyanika.

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold

  • Griffin Dunne
  • 2017
  • USA
  • 92 minutes

World Premiere

Griffin Dunne’s years-in-the-making documentary portrait of his aunt Joan Didion moves with the spirit of her uncannily lucid writing: the film simultaneously expands and zeroes in, covering a vast stretch of turbulent cultural history with elegance and candor.

No Stone Unturned

  • Alex Gibney
  • 2017
  • Northern Ireland/USA
  • 111 minutes

World Premiere · Q&As with Alex Gibney on 9/30 and 10/1

Oscar-winning Investigative documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney turns his sights on the 1994 Loughinisland massacre, a cold case that remains an open wound in the Irish peace process.

Piazza Vittorio

  • Abel Ferrara
  • 2017
  • Italy/USA
  • 69 minutes

North American Premiere · Q&As with Abel Ferrara on 10/12 and 10/13

Abel Ferrara’s new documentary is a vivid mosaic/portrait of Rome’s biggest public square, Piazza Vittorio, featuring talks with African musicians and restaurant workers, Chinese barkeeps and relocated eastern Europeans, homeless men and women, artists, actors, and many others.

The Rape of Recy Taylor

  • Nancy Buirski
  • 2017
  • USA
  • 90 minutes

North American Premiere · Q&As with Nancy Buirski on 10/1 (with Cynthia Erivo & more) and 10/3

This passionate documentary shines a light on a case that became a turning point in the early Civil Rights Movement: in 1944, a young African-American mother from Abbeville, Alabama, bravely spoke up and pressed charges against the seven white men who abducted and raped her.

Sea Sorrow

  • Vanessa Redgrave
  • 2017
  • UK
  • 72 minutes

North American Premiere · Q&As with Vanessa Redgrave and Carlo Nero on 10/7 and 10/8

Vanessa Redgrave's debut as a documentary film director is a plea for a western response to the world’s refugee crisis based on the international human rights laws signed and ratified after World War II.

A Skin So Soft

  • Denis Côté
  • 2017
  • Canada/Switzerland/France
  • 93 minutes

U.S. Premiere · Q&As with Denis Côté on 9/30 and 10/1

Studiously observing the world of male bodybuilding, Denis Côté crafts a multifaceted portrait of six latter-day Adonises through the lens of their everyday lives: extreme diets, training regimens, family relationships, and friendships within the community.

Speak Up

  • Stéphane de Freitas
  • 2017
  • France
  • 99 minutes

North American Premiere · Q&A with Stephane de Freitas on 10/13

Each year at the University of Saint-Denis in the suburbs of Paris, the Eloquentia competition determines the best orator in the class. Speak Up follows the students, who come from a variety of family backgrounds and academic disciplines, as they prepare.

The Venerable W.

  • Barbet Schroeder
  • 2017
  • France/Switzerland
  • 100 minutes

Q&As with Barbet Schroeder on 10/13 and 10/14

Barbet Schroder’s portrait of an Islamophobic Burmese monk who has led hundreds of thousands of his Buddhist followers in a hate-fueled, violent campaign of ethnic cleansing is revelatory and horrifying.


  • Myles Kane, Josh Koury
  • 2017
  • USA
  • 96 minutes

World Premiere · Q&As with Myles Kane, Josh Koury, and Gay Talese

This documentary chronicles the relationship between veteran New York journalist Gay Talese and the enigmatic subject of his controversial book The Voyeur’s Motel, Gerald Foos, who bought a motel in Colorado in the 1960s, and furnished the rooms with louvered vents that allowed him to spy on his guests.

Three Music Films by Mathieu Amalric

  • Mathieu Amalric

Q&As with Mathieu Amalric on 10/13 and 10/14

These three movies from Mathieu Amalric are musicals, from the inside out: they move with the mental and physical energies of the wildly prolific John Zorn, and the great Canadian-born soprano/conductor/champion of modern classical music Barbara Hannigan.