Oscars 2020: Best Documentary Feature Eligibles
Okay, so three giant list of eligibles/submissions were announced the other day and so I’m just gonna go over them all. Because I like to and because I can. We’re gonna start with Documentary Feature, since it’s the list I don’t have to spend too much time with. I kind of already know which docs I want to see and which ones I’ll probably need to see when they announce a shortlist (week from today, by the way).
But I believe the number of documentaries eligible to be nominated this year is 238. Which is usually around what the Best Picture number is like. They’ll reduce this list to 15. Which means that 94% of this list will be discarded within a week. But in the interest of people who like documentaries, we’ll briefly go over what each of the 238 is about and then I’ll broadly guess which ones make the most sense as getting on the shortlist.
Since we have 238 to go over, I’ll waste no more time. Here we go:
To begin, here’s the entire shortlist:
Acasa, My Home
Addicted to Ralphie
All I Can Say
All In: The Fight for Democracy
The American Sector
American Selfie: One Nation Shoots Itself
The Art of Living in Danger
The Art of Political Murder
Babenco – Tell Me When I Die
Beastie Boys Story
Beautiful Something Left Behind
Belly of the Beast
Beyond the Visible: Hilma Af Klint
The Big Scary ‘S’ Word
Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets
Born to Be
Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn
Capital in the Twenty-First Century
Chicago: America’s Hidden War
Circus of Books
Colombia in My Arms
Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words
Creem: America’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll Magazine
Crock of Gold – A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan
Dave Grusin: Not Enough Time
David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet
Days of Cannibalism
Diana Kennedy: Nothing Special
Dick Johnson Is Dead
The Dog Doc
The Donut King
Dope Is Death
Down a Dark Stairwell
Downstream to Kinshasa
The Earth Is Blue as an Orange
Erased, ____ Ascent of the Individual
Escape From Extinction
F11 and Be There
Fandango at the Wall
Father Soldier Son
Feels Good Man
Find Your Groove
Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds
First We Eat
For They Know Not What They Do
The Forbidden Reel
40 Years a Prisoner
Freak Power: The Ballot or the Bomb
Freedia Got a Gun
The Ghost of Peter Sellers
A Glitch in the Matrix
Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind
Harry Chapin: When in Doubt, Do Something
He Dreams of Giants
House of Cardin
The Human Factor
I Am Greta
I Am Not Alone
I Owe You a Letter About Brazil
In My Skin
Indian Space Dreams
Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President
John Lewis: Good Trouble
Journey to Royal: A WWII Rescue Mission
Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl
A Kid from Coney Island
Kingdom of Silence
Kings of Capitol Hill
Kiss the Ground
La Madrina: The (Savage) Life of Lorine Padina
The Last Blockbuster
Last Call for Tomorrow
Lennox: The Untold Story
Lessons of Love
Libelu – Down With the Dictatorship
Life Is Deadly
Lift Like a Girl
Lost in Face
Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art
Man in the Arena
Martin Margiela: In His Own Words
The Mole Agent
The Monster Inside Me
A Most Beautiful Thing
Mother to Earth: The Untold Story of Earth Bound
Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado
My Darling Vivian
My Darling Supermarket
My Octopus Teacher
My People: The Jews of Greece
My Psychedelic Love Story
Narciso Em Ferias
The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel
9to5: The Story of a Movement
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
On the Record
Once Upon a Time in Venezuela
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band
Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles
Our Time Machine
The Painter and the Thief
A Pandemic: Away From the Motherland
Planet of the Humans
The Plot Against the President
The Power of Movement
Pray: The Story of Patrick Peyton
Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack
The Reason I Jump
The Right Girls
River City Drumbeat
Searching for Mr. Rugoff
17 Blocks the Final Cut
Slay the Dragon
The Social Dilemma
Some Kind of Heaven
Songs of Repression
Stars and Strife
The State of Texas vs. Melissa
Strip Down, Rise Up
They Call Me Babu
This Is Not a Movie
This Is Paris
A Thousand Cuts
Through the Night
The Times of Bill Cunningham
Totally Under Control
The Truffle Hunters
#Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump
The Walrus and the Whistleblower
The Way I See It
WBCN and the American Revolution
We Are the Radical Monarchs
We Don’t Deserve Dogs
Welcome to Chechnya
Who Is Gatsby Randolph
Wim Wenders, Desperado
With Drawn Arms
A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem
Women in Blue
You Cannot Kill David Arquette
Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn
And now, here’s a brief log line for all 238 docs:
Acasa, My Home — In the wilderness of the Bucharest Delta, nine children and their parents lived in perfect harmony with nature for 20 years until they are chased out and forced to adapt to life in the big city.
Addicted to Ralphie — A raw and intimate portrait of a family dealing with addiction was originally intended to be a weight loss documentary. A wife coming to terms with her inability to change the person she loves, and a tragically flawed comedian breaking down during one of the last years of his life.
Aggie — An exploration of the nexus of art, race and justice through the story of art collector Agnes Gund who sold Roy Lichtenstein’s painting “Masterpiece” in 2017 for $165 million to start the Art for Justice Fund to end mass incarceration.
All I Can Say — An archive of ’90s culture and a philosophical study of fame via the intimate video-diary of Shannon Hoon, the late lead singer of alt-rock band Blind Melon.
All In: The Fight for Democracy — The documentary takes a look at the history, and current activism against voter suppression; barriers to voting that most people don’t even know is a threat to their basic rights as citizens of the United States.
The American Sector — The American Sector is a film about panels of the Berlin Wall scattered across the United States. It captures how monuments to our country’s past resonate into the present.
American Selfie: One Nation Shoots Itself — Filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi travels across the United States chronicling the unprecedented social and political upheaval of 2020 as it unfolds.
America’s Forgotten — Film reveals the staggering human and material cost of illegal immigration to the U.S.A. Documentary is a raw depiction of death, torture and hardship suffered by Americans and foreigners due to illegal immigration.
The Antidote — Stories of Kindness, Decency and the Power of Community in America. Made in response to the times we are living in. It weaves together stories of kindness, decency, and the power of community in America.
Apocalypse ’45 — Documentary Presents Never-Before-Seen Footage of the Grisly End of World War II.
The Art of Living in Danger — Director Mina Keshavarz recently discovered a family secret about her grandmother’s death. Her grandmother, forced to marry at a young age, gave birth to seven children and took her own life at the age of 35 during her eighth pregnancy. Domestic violence against women is an impractical concept under Iranian law that regards daughters and wives as the property of patriarchs. Mina sees her grandmother’s suicide as “revenge for all injustice” and goes out onto the streets with five female lawyers who have raised their voices on gender equality and criminalization of domestic violence.
The Art of Political Murder — An investigation into the truth behind the murder of Guatemalan Bishop, Juan Gerardi, who was killed in 1998 just days after trying to hold the country’s military accountable for the atrocities committed during its civil war.
Assassins — An account of the two women convicted of assassinating Kim Jong-un’s half-brother, Kim Jong-nam. The film follows the women’s trials in an attempt to understand whether they are trained killers or simply pawns.
Aswang — When Rodrigo Duterte is voted president of the Philippines, he sets in motion a machinery of death to execute suspected drug dealers, users, and small time street criminals.
Athlete A — Follow the Indianapolis Star reporters that broke the story about USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar‘s abuse and hear from gymnasts like Maggie Nichols.
Babenco – Tell Me When I Die — “I have already lived my death and now all that is left is to make a film about it.” So said the filmmaker Hector Babenco to Bárbara Paz when he realized he did not have much time left. She accepted the challenge to fulfill the last wish of her late partner: to be the main protagonist in his own death. In this tender immersion into the life of one of the greatest filmmakers from South America, Babenco himself consciously bares his soul in intimate and painful situations. He expresses fears and anxieties, and also memories, reflections, and fantasies, in this face-off between his intellectual vigor and physical frailty, which were the hallmarks of his career. From the onset of cancer at the age of 38 until his death at 70, Babenco made of the cinema his medicine and the nourishment that kept him alive. “Babenco – Tell me when I Die” is Barbara Paz’s first feature film, but is also in a way Hector’s last work: a film about filming so never to die.
Be Water — Rejected by Hollywood, Bruce Lee returned to Hong Kong to complete four films. Charting his struggles in two worlds, Be Water explores questions of identity and representation through rare archive, intimate interviews, and his writings.
Beastie Boys Story — Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz of Beastie Boys tell you an intimate, personal story of their band, and their 40 years of friendship together.
Beautiful Something Left Behind — At Good Grief groups, children meet to understand the passing of a parent or a sibling through play, giving in to rage in ‘the volcano room’ and saying goodbye to a dying teddy bear patient in ‘the hospital room’. Over the course of a year, we follow the weekly meetings and get close to Kimmy, Nicky, Peter, Nora, Nolan and Mikayla and their close companion: grief. It is sometimes heartbreaking, but also humorous, to experience the questions about life and death through their open and curious minds. Grief is high and heavy as a mountain, but it helps you understand what has happened, and that death is irreversible.
Becoming — Join former first lady Michelle Obama in an intimate documentary looking at her life, hopes and connection with others during her 2019 book tour for ‘Becoming.’
Bedlam — A psychiatrist makes rounds in ERs, jails, and homeless camps to tell the intimate stories behind one of the greatest social crises of our time. A personal and intense journey into the world of the seriously mentally ill.
Belly of the Beast — When an unlikely duo discovers a pattern of illegal sterilizations in women’s prisons, they wage a near impossible battle against the Department of Corrections.
Belushi — Using previously unheard audiotapes recorded shortly after John Belushi’s death, director R.J. Cutler’s documentary examines the too-short life of once-in-a-generation talent who captured the hearts and funny bones of devoted audiences.
Beyond the Visible: Hilma Af Klint — The first abstract artist was a woman, misjudged and concealed, Hilma Klint rocks the art world with her mind-blowing oeuvre.
The Big Scary ‘S’ Word — After documenting the taboo word that it shows Socialism has historically been in the US, the film argues it is way past time to replace the failed capitalist economic system.
Billie — Documentary on the famed jazz singer Billie Holiday.
Black Boys — Illuminates the spectrum of black male humanity in America. An intimate, inter-generational exploration, BLACK BOYS strives for insight to black identity and opportunity at the nexus of sports, education and criminal justice.
Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets — A look at the final moments of a Las Vegas dive bar called ‘The Roaring 20s’.
The Booksellers — A behind-the-scenes look at the New York rare book world.
Born to Be — Follows the work of Dr. Jess Ting at the groundbreaking Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York City-where, for the first time ever, all transgender and gender non-conforming people have access to quality transition-related health and surgical care. With extraordinary access, this feature-length documentary takes an intimate look at how one doctor’s work impacts the lives of his patients as well as how his journey from renowned plastic surgeon to pioneering gender-affirming surgeon has led to his own transformation.
Boys State — A thousand 17-year-old boys from Texas join together to build a representative government from the ground up.
Bulletproof — A documentary about the response of American schools to gun violence.
Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn — A look at the life and work of New York power broker Roy Cohn.
Capital in the Twenty-First Century — Adapting one of the most groundbreaking and powerful books of our time, Capital in the 21st Century is an eye-opening journey through wealth and power, that breaks the popular assumption that the accumulation of capital runs hand in hand with social progress, shining a new light on the world around us and its growing inequalities. Traveling through time from the French Revolution and other huge global shifts, to world wars and through to the rise of new technologies today, the film assembles accessible pop-culture references coupled with interviews of some of the world’s most influential experts delivering an insightful and empowering journey through the past and into our future.
Chicago: America’s Hidden War — Chicago America’s Hidden War pulls back the curtain to expose the pervasive genocidal-like behavior, explain what birthed and contributed to this war and why so little is done to stop it, and ultimately inspires a clear path toward change. It’s time for us all to unite and take a stand, because this is no longer America’s Hidden War. This is Our War.
Childhood 2.0 — The mental health of our children is statistically at an all-time low. Kids spend more time online and less engaging in real life, free play and autonomy. Childhood was more or less unchanged for a millennia, this is Childhood 2.0.
Chuck Berry — I’m not really sure what this is about. If only there were clues.
Circus of Books — In 1976, Karen and Barry Mason had fallen on hard times and were looking for a way to support their young family when they answered an ad in the Los Angeles Times. Larry Flynt was seeking distributors for Hustler Magazine. What was expected to be a brief sideline led to their becoming fully immersed in the LGBT community as they took over a local store, Circus of Books. A decade later, they had become the biggest distributors of gay porn in the US. The film focuses on the double life they led, trying to maintain the balance of being parents at a time when LGBT culture was not yet accepted. Their many challenges included facing jail time for a federal obscenity prosecution and enabling their store to be a place of refuge at the height of the AIDS crisis. Circus of Books offers a rare glimpse into an untold chapter of queer history, and it is told through the lense of the owners’ own daughter, Rachel Mason, an artist, filmmaker and musician.
City Dream — Follows the conflicts between urban management staff, or chengguan, and illegal street vendors in Wuhan, showing that the relationship between these two groups is not simple.
City Hall — A look at Boston’s city government, covering racial justice, housing, climate action, and more.
Coded Bias — An exploration of the fallout of MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini’s startling discovery of racial bias in facial recognition algorithms.
Collective –Director Alexander Nanau follows a crack team of investigators at the Romanian newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor as they try to uncover a vast health-care fraud that enriched moguls and politicians and led to the deaths of innocent citizens.
Colombia in My Arms — The peace agreement between FARC guerrillas and the Colombian Government throws the country into chaos. What happens to a fragile peace in an unequal country if doing the ‘wrong’ thing may easily be justified as the only means of struggle?
Coming Clean — Examines America’s opioid crisis through the eyes of the recovering addicts and political leaders on the frontlines. These unlikely allies emerge from the darkness to face their pain, bring the profiteers to justice, and rebuild in the wake of the deadliest drug epidemic in our history.
Coronation — A team directed by Activist and artist Ai Weiwei films inside the hospitals, homes, and quarantine sites of Wuhan, the first city hit in the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Coup 53 — Theatrical feature documentary on the story of Operation Ajax, the CIA/MI6 staged coup in 1953 in Iran that overthrew Prime Minister Mossadegh.
Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words — A controversial figure, loved by some, reviled by others, few know much more than a few headlines and the recollections of his contentious confirmation battle with Anita Hill. A story truly and fully, without cover-ups or distortions.
Creem: America’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll Magazine — Explores the seminal music magazine from its 1969 launch in Detroit to the untimely death of its publisher Barry Kramer in 1981.
Crip Camp — Down the road from Woodstock, a revolution blossomed at a ramshackle summer camp for teenagers with disabilities, transforming their lives and igniting a landmark movement.
Crock of Gold – A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan — A look at the life of Irish singer/songwriter and Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan.
The Curve — An investigative documentary examining America’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dads — Director Bryce Dallas Howard teams up with her father, Ron Howard, to explore contemporary fatherhood through anecdotes and wisdom from famous funnymen such as Will Smith, Jimmy Fallon, Neil Patrick Harris, and more.
Dave Grusin: Not Enough Time — Millions of people all over the world love the music of Dave Grusin but most do not realize the full extent of his extraordinary career.
David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet — One man has seen more of the natural world than any other. This unique feature documentary is his witness statement.
Days of Cannibalism — The contradictions of the country of Lesotho today.
Dear Santa — Shines a light on the 100-year-old ‘Operation Santa’ Program of the United States Postal Service. Each year, hundreds of thousands of letters to Santa arrive at Post Offices around the country. Through Operation Santa, the United States Postal Service makes it possible for the public to safely adopt these letters and make children’s dreams come true. The film invites audiences along for the magic of this massive endeavor. Traveling the country, much like Santa does on Christmas Eve, the film focuses on select ‘Operation Santa’ Centers: some in metropolitan areas like the massive operation in New York City and others in small towns where the Post Office is the heart of the community.
Death Protocol — (Honestly couldn’t figure out what this is.)
Descent — Dutch ice freediver Kiki Bosch swims in the world’s coldest waters without a wetsuit as therapy for a trauma she experienced, and to inspire others.
Desert One — Using new archival sources and unprecedented access, master documentarian Barbara Kopple reveals the story behind one of the most daring rescues in modern US history: a secret mission to free hostages of the 1979 Iranian revolution.
Diana Kennedy: Nothing Special — Cookbook author and environmental activist Diana Kennedy reflects on an unconventional life spent mastering Mexican cuisine.
Dick Johnson Is Dead — A daughter helps her father prepare for the end of his life.
Disclosure — An in-depth look at Hollywood’s depiction of transgender people and the impact of those stories on transgender lives and American culture.
The Dissident — When Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappears in Istanbul, his fiancée and dissidents around the world piece together the clues to a murder and expose a global cover up.
The Dog Doc — Called a maverick, a miracle-worker, and a quack, Dr. Marty Goldstein is a pioneer of integrative veterinary medicine. By holistically treating animals after other vets have given up, Goldstein provides a last hope for pet owners with nothing left to lose.
The Donut King — This documentary tells Ted Ngoy’s story that is one of fate, love, survival, hard knocks, and redemption.
Dope Is Death — In 1973, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, along with fellow Black Panthers and the Young Lords, combined community health with radical politics to create the first acupuncture detoxification program in America. This form of radical harm reduction was a revolutionary act toward the government programs that transfixed the lives of black and brown communities throughout the South Bronx. Dope is Death utilizes an abundant archive while giving us insight into how the acupuncture clinic rose to prominence and, despite funding challenges, still functions to this day. Some of those who benefited from the program became acupuncturists themselves. Dr. Mutulu’s legacy is cemented within this profound story of community healing and activism.
Down a Dark Stairwell — On a fall day in 2014, Peter Liang, a Chinese American police officer, shot and killed an innocent, unarmed black man named Akai Gurley. Unfolding in the dark stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project, the shooting inflamed the residents of New York City and thrust two marginalized communities together into the uneven criminal justice system. Gurley’s death sparked cries of police brutality and a raging, anguished debate about racial bias in criminal prosecution of law enforcement officers.
Downstream to Kinshasa — Invalids devastated by war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo make the trek to the capital to make their voices heard, to demand dignity and some kind of compensation.
The Earth Is Blue as an Orange — To cope with the daily trauma of living in a war-zone, Anna and her children are making a film together about their life in the most surreal surroundings.
Elementa — A black-and-white visual meditation of wilderness and the elements. Wildlife filmmaker Richard Sidey returns to the triptych format for a cinematic experience like no other.
Ending Disease — A documentary that follows patients and their doctors in the first generation of FDA-approved clinical trials for stem cell, CAR-T cell, and antibody therapies.
Epicentro — An immersive portrait of Cuba, its people, and the role of cinema in political myth-making.
Erased, ____ Ascent of the Individual — Thirty-five years ago, I witnessed the event of someone I’ve known since, he was gone. Ten years ago, I saw his face in the street but I was not sure it was him. Part of his face was missing. however, something was different as it was not the same person.
Escape From Extinction — Rare footage of endangered animals and interviews with the world’s leading animal welfare specialists and conservation scientists working to protect animals from all seven of Earth’s continents, and its mighty oceans, lakes, and rivers.
Everybody Flies — Every day, 11 million people fly across the globe, unaware that the air in the cabin may contain dangerous toxins.
F11 and Be There — For 65 years and counting, Burk Uzzle has created some of the most iconic photographs in American history. From Martin Luther King Jr. to Woodstock to America’s small towns and back roads, Uzzle’s photographs have provided a breathtaking commentary on American civil rights, race, social justice, and art. Initially grounded in documentary photography when he was the youngest photographer hired by Life magazine at age 23, his work grew into a combination of split-second impressions reflecting the human condition during his tenure as a member of the international Magnum cooperative founded by one of his mentors, Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Fandango at the Wall — Follows Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra founder/conductor Arturo O’Farrill to the remotest regions of Veracruz, Mexico, where he meets and jams with the masters of son jarocho. Son jarocho is 300-year-old folk music rooted in the land that combines African, Indigenous and Spanish traditions. After Arturo’s inspiring journey to a place where time seems to stands still, he and his orchestra join the masters of son jarocho at the border between the United States and Mexico for a son jarocho music and dance festival called Fandango Fronterizo (founded by Jorge Francisco Castillo). The festival takes place simultaneously on both sides of the United States/Mexican border transforming this object that divides to one that unites. With a poetic musical approach inspired by the son jarocho tradition, Fandango at the Wall reveals a Mexico seldom depicted, and delves into the current mass human migrations spurred by violence, poverty, and corruption.
Father Soldier Son — When Sgt. First Class Brian Eisch is critically wounded in Afghanistan, it sets him and his sons on a journey of love, loss, redemption and legacy.
Feels Good Man — Artist Matt Furie, creator of the comic character Pepe the Frog, begins an uphill battle to take back his iconic cartoon image from those who used it for their own purposes.
The Fight — An inside look at the legal battles that lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union are facing during the Trump administration.
Find Your Groove — In this inspiring and uplifting documentary, stars and musicians from across the industry speak to the power and importance of music in society, the lack of support for music education in our schools, and how music affects us in every way. With special appearances and powerful performances by legends and icons of the music world, the film deeply explores how music touches the soul, scientists reveal how it organically transforms and inspires the mind, enlightens the human spirit, is a great healer, the soundtrack to our lives, and the international language of humanity. This emotional documentary examines how close we came to not having many of the incredible artists who we cherish today had it not been for arts programs. Music has the power to inspire and change the world, and that starts with supporting youth via arts education.
Finding Yingying — After a young Chinese student goes missing on an American university campus, her family travels to the U.S. for the first time, hoping to unravel the mystery of her disappearance.
Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds — A new documentary from Werner Herzog about meteors and comets and their influence on ancient religions and other cultural and physical impacts they’ve had on Earth.
First Vote — A vérité look at Asian American voters in battleground states.
First We Eat — What happens when an ordinary family, living just south of the Arctic Circle, bans all grocery store food from their house for one year? Add 3 skeptical teenagers, 1 reluctant husband, no salt, no caffeine, no sugar, -40 temperatures.
Flannery — “Anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic…” Flannery O’Connor, 1958. Shy, funny, devout, disabled–words that describe one of the most acclaimed American short story writers of all time. Flannery O’Connor’s stories about the southern U.S. have inspired writers, artists and musicians for decades with their dark humor and “gothic” sensibilities. “Flannery” tells the life story of a brilliant, young woman who died before she was forty through the eyes of contemporary writers and artists with cartoons, animations, never-before-seen archival footage and great music. Tommy Lee Jones, Alice Walker, Mary Karr, Tobias Wolff, Hilton Als, Alice McDermott, Bill T. Jones, Lucinda Williams–all share their opinions, their art and their music in this feature-length, NEH-funded documentary. How can people go to church AND commit murder, she wonders…?
For They Know Not What They Do — When the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality, the backlash by the religious right was swift, severe, and successful. Karslake’s documentary looks at four faith-based families with LGBTQ children caught in the crosshairs of sexuality, identity, and scripture.
The Forbidden Reel — Afghan filmmakers gave birth to an extraordinary national cinema and protected it from extremists. Afghan-Canadian director Ariel Nasr crafts a thrilling and utterly original story of modern Afghanistan.
40 Years a Prisoner — Philadelphia native Tommy Oliver follows the efforts of Mike Africa Jr. to exonerate his parents, both incarcerated members of the revolutionary group MOVE.
Freak Power: The Ballot or the Bomb — Inspired by Daniel J. Watkin’s book “Freak Power: Hunter S. Thompson’s Campaign for Sheriff” – Aspen 1970
Freedia Got a Gun — A New Orleans performer fights the rampant gun violence in her city.
The Ghost of Peter Sellers — A comedy genius, a hot new director and a 17th Century pirate film. What could possibly go wrong?
Giving Voice — This film follows the annual August Wilson Monologue competition and the thousands of high schoolers who enter the competition for the opportunity to perform on Broadway.
A Glitch in the Matrix — Documentary filmmaker Rodney Ascher tackles this question “are we living in a simulation?” with testimony, philosophical evidence and scientific explanation in his for the answer.
The Go-Go’s — The Go-Go’s are the most successful female rock band of all time. This documentary chronicles the meteoric rise of a band born of the LA punk scene that not only captured but created a zeitgeist.
Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind — The iconic Canadian musician, Gordon Lightfoot, reflects on his life and career.
Gunda — Documentary looks at the daily life of a pig and its farm animal companions: two cows and a one-legged chicken.
Harry Chapin: When in Doubt, Do Something — A documentary that tells the story of singer/songwriter/activist Harry Chapin’s dedication to trying to end world hunger before his tragic passing.
He Dreams of Giants — 15 years after Lost in La Mancha (2002), Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe come back to follow Terry Gilliam’s new (successful) attempt at filming The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018).
House of Cardin — A rare peek into the mind of a genius, chronicling the life and design of Cardin. Exclusive access to his archives and his empire, and unprecedented interviews at the sunset of a glorious career.
The Human Factor — The epic behind-the-scenes story of the United States’ 30-year effort to secure peace in the Middle East. Recounted from the unique perspective of the American mediators on the frontlines.
Human Nature — A breakthrough called CRISPR opens the door to curing diseases, reshaping the biosphere, and designing our own children. A provocative exploration of its far-reaching implications, through the eyes of the scientists who discovered it.
I Am Greta — The documentary follows Greta Thunberg, a teenage climate activist from Northern Europe, on her international crusade to get people to listen to scientists about the world’s environmental problems.
I Am Not Alone — On Easter 2018, a man puts on a backpack to walk all over Armenia. His mission is to inspire a velvet revolution which can overthrow the corrupt regime that enjoys absolute power in this post-Soviet nation.
I Owe You a Letter About Brazil — In search of her father, an ex-political prisoner who refuses to talk about the past, the filmmaker untangles her grandmother’s intimate writings in an attempt to understand the story of their family against the brutal backdrop of the Brazilian military dictatorship (1964 – 1985).
iHuman — The documentary follows the booming artificial intelligence industry, what opportunities and challenges it brings and its impact on the global community.
In My Skin — Brazil was the last Western nation to abolish slavery, in 1888. Social segregation based on background and skin color continues to this day, partly as a result of the massive influx of Europeans—they had access to jobs, land, and cheap loans, while the Black population was left to fend for themselves. Filmmaker Toni Venturi, a Brazilian with Italian roots, interviews a large number of his compatriots about their experiences with racism: a doctor describes how he was mistaken for a thief, and a domestic worker tells of being treated like a slave by her employer. As if these stories weren’t shocking enough, the tragic account of a woman from São Paulo reminds us of what racism can ultimately lead to: police officers beat her son to death on the street because he didn’t have his identity card. Venturi’s poetic sequencing of finely lit interviews, philosophical reflections, archive footage, and musical intermezzos yields a multifaceted picture of deeply rooted everyday racism—including consideration of the director’s own position.
Indian Space Dreams — Space scientists in Mumbai dream of launching the country’s first astronomical satellite. Meanwhile the children living next door to the Space Centre are inspired to have dreams of their own.
Influence — NY Times Best Selling Author Carl Weber introduces us to the Hudsons, a family of African-American lawyers lead by famed attorney Bradley Hudson. They are handed the task to defend Grammy Award Winning singer Savannah who has been charged with the murder of her husband Kyle Kirby.
Irmi — The inspiring life story of Irmi Selver, a Jewish refugee who escaped from her hometown of Chemnitz, Germany in the 1930s during the rise of Nazism.
The Infiltrators — A rag-tag group of undocumented youth – Dreamers – deliberately get detained by Border Patrol in order to infiltrate a shadowy, for-profit detention center.
(In)visible Portraits — Shatters the too-often invisible otherizing of Black women in America and reclaims the true narrative as told in their own words.
Irradies (Irradiated) — A film about people who have survived the irradiation of war and is recommended to those who believe they are immune to it. An extreme, necessary film that penetrates the eye and heart with unyielding force.
Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President — Jimmy Carter’s election to the presidency of the United States in 1977 was helped by the links that this fan of pop music had with stars.
John Lewis: Good Trouble — The film explores Georgia representative’s, 60-plus years of social activism and legislative action on civil rights, voting rights, gun control, health care reform, and immigration.
Journey to Royal: A WWII Rescue Mission — WWII hero with the 4th Emergency Rescue Squadron, Lt. Royal Stratton, leads a deadly mission to save the lives of nine downed airmen adrift in enemy waters of a war-torn South Pacific. Immersive cinematography and gripping action, mixed with firsthand accounts and historical images, showcase the valor of this squadron who faced overwhelming odds to bring their brothers home.
Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl — Kate Nash reaches the stratosphere of pop music at 18. Ten years later she is nearly homeless: dropped by her music label and defrauded by her manager, Kate rises from the darkness through her music, fighting back.
A Kid from Coney Island — Feature documentary about the rise and fall, and rebirth of ex-NBA star, Stephon Marbury.
Kingdom of Silence — An in-depth look at Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s life, work, and murder. Featuring interviews and footage that explore his personal and professional relationships with Saudi rulers, jihadists and fellow global journalists.
Kings of Capitol Hill — AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) is the spearhead of the pro-Israeli lobby in the U.S. What started out as a liberal grassroots organization, has become one of the most influential lobby organizations in America. For the past 60 years, AIPAC has maintained a strict “no interview” policy, but now, for the first time, the founding fathers of AIPAC are speaking out – granting us full access to the untold story of the organization and to the turbulent relationship between Israel and the US.
Kiss the Ground — A revolutionary group of activists, scientists, farmers, and politicians band together in a global movement of “Regenerative Agriculture” that could balance our climate, replenish our vast water supplies, and feed the world
La Madrina: The (Savage) Life of Lorine Padina — About a beloved South Bronx matriarch and former “First Lady” of the Savage Skulls gang struggling to remain visible in a rapidly gentrifying community she helped rebuild in the 1980s.
Lance — A personal examination of the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong.
Landfall — Documentary chronicles the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and the fraught relationship between the US and Puerto Rico.
The Last Blockbuster — A documentary on the last remaining Blockbuster Video in Bend, Oregon.
Last Call for Tomorrow — Reflects on the crises facing all life on Earth.
Lennox: The Untold Story — An inside look at the career of Lennox Lewis from his rough upbringing to the Olympics and the professional ranks where he established himself as one of the greats in the history of the sport.
Lessons of Love — Thirty-year-old Yuri and his father run the last farm left in a small, remote mountain village. Desperate to find love, Yuri meets a young woman in a strip club. Chiara Campara’s fiction film debut takes a hyperreal approach to portray forgotten members of society, giving the story an incredibly authentic feel.
The Letter — A young man visits his grandmother’s village to find out she has been accused of witchcraft.
Libelu – Down With the Dictatorship — The student trend Liberdade e Luta, Libelu, emerged in 1976 and gained fame for being the first group to resume the slogan “below the dictatorship” after the AI-5.
Life Is Deadly — The incredible story of a world famous scientist, Cesare Maltoni, who devoted his entire life to study dangerous chemical substances in order to help workers and implement cancer prevention. He introduced in Italian health care system the pap test for women and built the first Italian hospice.
Lift Like a Girl — From a scrappy, vacant-lot training site in Alexandria, Egypt to the Olympic Games, 14 year-old Zebiba (“raisin” in Arabic) stands at the precipice between childhood and weightlifting champion – guided only by her dedicated yet relentless coach, Captain Ramadan, and her own competitive edge. Can she make the leap?
Lost Course — Chronicles a grassroots democratic movement in the southern Chinese village of Wukan. The villagers protest against the corrupt local officials before ousting them and organising elections of their own. However, after taking control of their destiny, the villagers find themselves beset by the same corruption and cynicism endemic. Following three main characters, Li reveals the complexities of their struggles, triumphs and setbacks from the inside.
Lost in Face — Carlotta cannot recognize faces, not even her own. For her, human faces are no bastion of trust, but places of fear and confusion. She is one of the 1% of all people whose part of the brain responsible for facial recognition does not work properly. With his film LOST IN FACE, neuroscientist Valentin Riedl travels through Carlotta’s universe, full of anthropomorphic animals, lucid dreams and bumpy false paths. He peels back her charming, idiosyncratic solutions that she employs to be able to join the masses of human conformity, until she one day decides to build a ship and leave her fellow humans. Her never-ending search for answers leads her to art-and thus an avenue to her own face and back to humanity.
Love Child — A poignant portrait of a family of asylum seekers desperate to start a new life, but stalled in bureaucratic limbo.
Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art — Made You Look is an American crime documentary about the largest art fraud in American history set in the super rich, super obsessed and super fast art world of New York.
Man in the Arena — Biography of Roger Ailes, the iconic and controversial founder of FOX News, told with his never-before-revealed private archives, and insightful interviews with leading political and media figures of the past decades. Narrated by Jon Voight.
Martin Margiela: In His Own Words — Documentary offering a view on Maison Martin Margiela during Martin Margiela’s helm.
Mayor — A look at the life of Musa Hadid, the charismatic mayor of Palestinian city Ramallah, who aspires to lead the city into the future.
Mighty Ira — Ira is one of America’s unsung champions of civil rights and liberties. As his generation retires from the barricades, Ira reminisces on his life at the forefront of defending the rights of all Americans.
Miss Americana — A look at iconic pop artist Taylor Swift during a transformational time in her life as she embraces her role as a singer/songwriter and harnesses the full power of her voice.
MLK/FBI — Based on newly declassified files, Sam Pollard’s resonant film explores the US government’s surveillance and harassment of Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Mole Agent — A private investigator in Chile hires someone to work as a mole at a retirement home where a client of his suspects the caretakers of elder abuse.
The Monster Inside Me — A couple turns the cameras towards themselves showing an intimate side of Lyme Disease the world has yet to see. They also take the viewer on a journey researching the truth, lies and healing behind our modern era’s most misunderstood chronic illness.
A Most Beautiful Thing — Chronicles the first African American high school rowing team in this country (made up of young men, many of whom were in rival gangs from the West Side of Chicago, coming together to row in the same boat).
Mother to Earth: The Untold Story of Earth Bound — The untold story of Japanese cult classic video-game “Mother”, its international release, and the secret black market of unreleased games.
Mr. Soul! — From 1968 to 1973, the public-television variety show SOUL!, guided by the enigmatic producer and host Ellis Haizlip, offered an unfiltered, uncompromising celebration of Black literature, poetry, music, and politics-voices that had few other options for national exposure, and, as a result, found the program an improbable place to call home. The series was among the first to provide expanded images of African Americans on television, shifting the gaze from inner-city poverty and violence to the vibrancy of the Black Arts Movement.
Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado — Every day for decades, Walter Mercado — the iconic, gender non-conforming astrologer — mesmerized 120 million Latino viewers with his extravagance and positivity.
My Darling Vivian — The story of Vivian Liberto, Johnny Cash’s first wife and the mother of his four daughters.
My Darling Supermarket — This documentary follows the day to day of employees who are just cogs in the wheel of a large supermarket store. As their journey subverts the mundane, we learn their pains and joys, their unlikely dreams and most profound existential questionings.
My Octopus Teacher — A filmmaker forges an unusual friendship with an octopus living in a South African kelp forest, learning as the animal shares the mysteries of her world.
My People: The Jews of Greece — The story of the Greek Jews during the Holocaust,the Axis occupation,the resistance,the role of the Christian clergy;a hymn to love and courage as it is discovered by a young woman in her quest to uncover her Greek Jewish family’s history.
My Psychedelic Love Story — An examination of the high priest of LSD Timothy Leary through the eyes of famed lover Joanna Harcourt-Smith. Was Leary’s “perfect love” a CIA plant or was she simply a rich, beautiful young woman out for the adventure of a lifetime?
My Rembrandt — This is set in the world of the Old Masters and offers a mosaic of gripping stories in which unrestrained passion for Rembrandt’s paintings leads to dramatic developments and unexpected plot turns.
Napoli Eden — All that you will see has really happened . Napoli Eden is an inspirational cinematic odyssey that highlights environmental protection through the theme of transforming recycled aluminum into works of art. Napoli Eden conveys a vision of redemption, social inclusion and the ethical and cultural rebirth for the city of Naples, Italy through the eyes of artist and filmmaker Annaluara di Luggo.
Narciso Em Ferias — Brazilian singer-songwriter Caetano Veloso reflects on his imprisonment in 1968, during the military dictatorship.
Nasrin — An immersive portrait of one of the world’s most courageous human rights activists and political prisoners, Nasrin Sotoudeh, and of Iran’s remarkably resilient women’s rights movement.
The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel — Exposes how companies are desperately rebranding as socially responsible – and how that threatens democratic freedoms.
9/11 Kids — Filmmakers follow up with the students who were with President George W. Bush when he learned of the 9/11 attacks.
915 — A graphic documentary about the 2019 Cielo Vista Walmart Shooting in El Paso, Texas.
9to5: The Story of a Movement — A campaign against the abuse of female workers by their male bosses, which starts in early 1970s Cleveland, leads to a popular fiction film with Fonda, Parton and Tomlin.
Notturno — Gianfranco Rosi’s new documentary is an immersive portrait of those trying to survive in the war-torn Middle East.
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life — The life and career of the renowned neurologist and author, Dr. Oliver Sacks.
Olympia — An uncompromising truth-seeking rebel, Olympia Dukakis refuses to yield to social norms while pushing forward her own subversive narrative.
On the Record — A former hip hop executive decides whether to make public her rape by one of the most powerful men in the music industry.
Once Upon a Time in Venezuela — Villagers in the Venezuelan community of Lake Maracaibo fight against pollution, corruption and neglect to keep homes and way of life.
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band — A confessional, cautionary, and occasionally humorous tale of Robbie Robertson’s young life and the creation of one of the most enduring groups in the history of popular music, The Band.
Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles — Follows chef Yotam on his quest to bring the sumptuous art and decadence of Versailles to life in cake form at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Our Time Machine — When influential Chinese artist Ma Liang (a.k.a. Maleonn) realizes that his father Ma Ke, an accomplished Peking Opera director, is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, he invites his father to collaborate on his most ambitious project to date – a haunting, magical, autobiographical stage performance featuring life-size mechanical puppets called “Papa’s Time Machine”. Through the creation of this play, the two men confront their mortality before time runs out and memories are lost forever.
Pahokee — In a small agricultural town in the Florida Everglades, hopes for the future are concentrated on the youth. Four teens face heartbreak and celebrate in the rituals of an extraordinary senior year.
The Painter and the Thief — An artist befriends the thief who stole her paintings. She becomes his closest ally when he is severely hurt in a car crash and needs full time care, even if her paintings are not found. But then the tables turn.
A Pandemic: Away From the Motherland — As the Pandemic breaks, 5 doctors in the USA treat COVID-19 away from their Motherland. Shot entirely during the lockdown, it will take you into the lives of the healthcare workers and their families from the early days of the Pandemic.
The Phenomenon — This documentary examines unidentified aerial phenomenon. With testimony from high-ranking government officials, and NASA Astronauts, Senator Harry Reid says it “makes the incredible credible.”
Planet of the Humans — Planet of the Humans takes a harsh look at how the environmental movement has lost the battle through well-meaning but disastrous choices.
The Plot Against the President — Follows the story of the biggest political scandal in U.S. history. Based on Lee Smith’s book.
The Pollinators — A cinematic journey around the United States following migratory beekeepers and their truckloads of honey bees as they pollinate the flowers that become the fruits, nuts and vegetables we all eat.
The Power of Movement — The documentary follows radiation oncologist and choreographer Dr. Niraj Mehta on his mission to increase cancer awareness and treatment as he embarks on healing cancer through movement. Dr. Mehta started Making Moves Universal a couple of years ago to help promote his message to the world. The movement programs have helped in the healing process with his past and present patients, and these programs he’s designed have helped cancer patients deal with the disease, including the mental and physical aftermath of treatment.
Pray: The Story of Patrick Peyton — Follows an Irish immigrant dreaming with becoming a millionaire but ending up championing a family message.
Public Trust — In a time of growing inequality in America, there is one asset that remains in the hands of the American people: the 640 million acres of America’s Public Lands. Given its status as the last large-scale public asset on the planet, powerful forces have aligned to attempt the largest land grab in modern history, rob Americans of this unique birthright, and make modern day vassals of the American people.
Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack — This film is about the abstract and photorealist artist Audrey Flack.
The Reason I Jump — Based on the book by Naoki Higashida this immersive film explores the experiences of nonspeaking autistic people around the world.
Rebuilding Paradise — The community of Paradise, California, a town in the Sierra Nevada foothills, attempts to rebuild after devastating wildfires in 2018.
Red Penguins — Tells a story of capitalism and opportunism run amok – complete with gangsters, strippers and live bears serving beer on a hockey rink in Moscow. Shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the famed Red Army hockey team formed a joint-venture that showed anything was possible in the new Russia. Eccentric marketing whiz, Steve Warshaw, is sent to Russia and tasked to transform team into the greatest show in Moscow. He takes the viewer on a bizarre journey highlighting a pivotal moment in U.S. Russian relations in a lawless era when oligarchs made their fortunes and multiple murders went unsolved.
Reunited — Two Syrian refugees deal with the hardships of being separated from their children.
Rewind — Digging through the vast collection of his father’s home videos, a young man reconstructs the unthinkable story of his boyhood and exposes vile abuse passed through generations.
The Right Girls — Three young transgender women from El Salvador and Honduras – Valentyna, Joanne and Chantal – travel through Southern Mexico within the high-profile “Migrant Caravan”. They develop a deep friendship as they walk and hitch rides northwards; coping with long journeys, limited funds, and regular harassment.
Ringside — This award-winning documentary chronicles the dramatic upbringing of boxing prodigies Kenneth Sims Jr. and Destyne Butler Jr., and their aspirations of surviving on the dangerous South Side of Chicago to achieve boxing glory.
Rising Phoenix — The history and current standing of the Paralympic Games, which has grown to become the world’s third largest sporting event.
River City Drumbeat — Edward “Nardie” White devoted his life to leading the African-American drum corps he co-founded with Zambia Nkrumah in Louisville, Kentucky three decades ago. Together they inspired youth from their West Louisville neighborhood to thrive by connecting them with the art and cultural traditions of their African ancestors. Now Albert Shumake, whose destiny was shaped by the drumline, must take up the mantle for the next generation. Meanwhile, student drummers Imani, Jailen, and Emily navigate adolescence and life changes.
River Tales — While a Chinese businessman wants to take control of the interoceanic route in Nicaragua, actor and teacher Yemn creates a play with the local kids to reflect on their history, their identity and the country’s future.
Runner — A refugee marathoner strives to raise his new country’s flag at the Olympics.
Searching for Mr. Rugoff — The feature documentary Searching for Mr. Rugoff is the story of Donald Rugoff, who was the crazy genius behind Cinema 5, the mid-century theater chain and film distribution company. Rugoff was a difficult (some would say impossible) person but was also the man who kicked art films into the mainstream with outrageous marketing schemes and pure bluster. Rugoff’s impact on cinema culture in the United States is inestimable, and his influence on the art film business-from the studio classics divisions to the independent film movement to the rise of the Weinsteins-is undeniable. Yet, mysteriously, Rugoff has become a virtually forgotten figure. The story is told through the eyes of former employee Ira Deutchman, who sets out to find the truth about the man who had such a major impact on his life, and to understand how such an important figure could have disappeared so completely.
Self Portrait — The Norwegian artist Lene Marie Fossen (32) is an up and coming, unique talent in the world of photography, facing an international breakthrough. Critics claim she is among the best still photographers in our present time. At the same time she appears to be dying from anorexia. Lene Marie stopped eating when she was ten years old. She didn’t want to grow up. Over time the disease has gained control over her body and poisoned her thoughts. The main conflict of the film is the one within Lene Maries’s mind, always waging war on itself. Galleries in several countries want to exhibit her art. Lene Maries biggest goal is to have a solo exhibition. Will she be able to travel the world? Can she rid herself of shame by exposing it? The use of Lene Marie’s self portraits in this film will offer a unique perspective on the complexity of this illness. The anxiety. Death just a breath away. Raw, naked, honest. Lene Marie has come to a turning point. She has realized that she needs help to control her disease. If not, she will die. Her sensitivity made her ill, but will that also be what saves her?
17 Blocks the Final Cut — Using two decades of intimate home video, the story of the Sanford family, whose struggles with addiction and gun violence eventually lead to a journey of love, loss, and acceptance.
76 Days — Raw and intimate, this documentary captures the struggles of patients and frontline medical professionals battling the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan.
Sky Blossom — A raw, uplifting window into 24.5 million children and millennials stepping forward as frontline heroes. Caring for family with tough medical conditions, they stay at home doing things often seen only in hospitals. They are cheerleaders, work part time, and go to college – but also live double lives – quietly growing up as America’s next greatest generation. The filmmaker, veteran journalist and award-winning CNN/MSNBC news anchor Richard Lui says the interviews were so honest they genuinely surprised him, as they revealed insights into the lives of young people across America. Troops used to look up and say, “Here come the Sky Blossoms”-paratroopers rushing to their aid. Today, there is a new generation answering that call. These are their stories.
Slay the Dragon — It influences elections and sways outcomes-gerrymandering has become a hot-button political topic and symbol for everything broken about the American electoral process. But there are those on the front lines fighting to change the system.
The Social Dilemma — Explores the dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations.
Softie — Political activist Boniface “Softie” Mwangi runs for office in a regional Kenyan election, which puts pressure on his young family and his convictions.
Some Kind of Heaven — Behind the gates of a palm tree-lined fantasyland, four residents of America’s largest retirement community, The Villages, FL, strive to find solace and meaning.
Songs of Repression — The inhabitants of a German colony in Chile share a dark past with violence and sexual abuse, but react in widely different ways when confronted with it today.
Soros — Soros follows one of the most influential and controversial figures of our time as he fights against the rising tide of authoritarianism around the world.
Spaceship Earth — A look at the group of people who built the Biosphere 2, a giant replica of the earth’s ecosystem, in 1991.
Stars and Strife –Documentary examines the rise of anger and hate swelling in American culture featuring interviews with activists, elected officials and business leaders.
The State of Texas vs. Melissa — Melissa Lucio was the first Hispanic woman sentenced to death in Texas. For ten years she has been awaiting her fate, and now faces her last appeal.
Stray — The world of Zeytin, a stray dog living life on the streets of Istanbul.
Strip Down, Rise Up — Academy Award Nominated director Michèle Ohayon’s Verite film follows women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds who heal trauma and body image shame through sensual dance and daring pole dance artistry.
System K — In the urban jungle of Kinshasa, amid social and political chaos, an eclectic and bubbling street art scene is emerging.
They Call Me Babu — A documentary entirely composed of unique archive footage, which tells the story of a young woman who worked as a nanny in the former Dutch colony of Indonesia.
This Is Not a Movie — The groundbreaking and often game-changing reporting of legendary foreign correspondent and author Robert Fisk is profiled in the latest from acclaimed documentarian Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze).
This Is Paris — The untold story of Paris Hilton.
A Thousand Cuts — A look at how Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte uses social media to spread disinformation.
Through the Night — Exploring the personal cost of our modern economy through the stories of two working mothers and a child care provider – whose lives intersect at a 24-hour daycare center.
Time — Fox Rich fights for the release of her husband, Rob, who is serving a 60-year sentence in prison.
The Times of Bill Cunningham — A new feature film documentary about legendary NYTimes photographer Bill Cunningham.
Totally Under Control — An in-depth look at how the United States government handled the response to the COVID-19 outbreak during the early months of the pandemic.
Transhood — Filmed over five years in Kansas City, this documentary follows four kids – beginning at ages 4, 7, 12, and 15 – as they redefine “coming of age.” These kids and their families reveal intimate realities of how gender is re-shaping the family next door in a never-before-told chronicling of growing up transgender in the heartland. The film is a nuanced examination of how families tussle, transform, and sometimes find unexpected purpose in their identities as transgender families. Lighthearted and deeply moving, this story teaches us something new about being human.
The Truffle Hunters — Deep in the forests of Piedmont, Italy, a handful of men, seventy or eighty years young, hunt for the rare and expensive white Alba truffle-which to date has resisted all of modern science’s efforts at cultivation.
Trust Me — Uses stories, facts and experts to explain how our lack of media literacy is hurting us and how the media is negatively affecting our perspective of the world.
Uncle Tom — An oral history of the American black conservative.
#Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump — An eye-opening and shattering analysis of the behavior, psyche, condition, and stability of Donald J. Trump.
Us Kids — Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida speak out against the national gun-violence epidemic after a mass shooting at their school kills 17 people.
The Walrus and the Whistleblower — An animal trainer becomes an unlikely whistleblower and is sued for $1.5 million for plotting to steal a walrus, falling down the rabbit hole of a personal quest while a larger movement grows to end marine mammal captivity.
The Way I See It — Former Chief Official White House Photographer Pete Souza’s journey as a person with top secret clearance and total access to the President.
WBCN and the American Revolution — The incredible story of how a radio station, politics, and rock and roll changed everything.
We Are the Radical Monarchs — Documents an Oakland-based alternative to the Girl Scouts – specifically for girls of color, ages 8-13. The girls earn badges for units on social justice, such as Black Lives Matter, Radical Beauty, Disability Justice, and being an LGBTQ ally. Filmed over three years, we follow the dynamic Co-Founders as they face challenges in growing the organization, both pre-and-post the 2016 election.
We Don’t Deserve Dogs — A contemplative odyssey across our planet, looking at the simple and extraordinary ways that dogs influence our daily lives.
Welcome to Chechnya — A group of activists risk their lives fighting for LGBTQ+ rights in Chechnya.
White Noise — Tracks the rise of far-right nationalism by focusing on the lives of three of its main proponents: Mike Cernovich, a conspiracy theorist and sex blogger turned media entrepreneur; Lauren Southern, an anti-feminist, anti-immigration YouTube star; and Richard Spencer, a white-power ideologue.
Who Is Gatsby Randolph — Based on the meteoric rise of (the director)’s alter ego; Gatsby Randolph, the film follows Gatsby as he flies on a one-way ticket from Tennessee to LA for a once-in-a-lifetime deal, only to watch it fall apart and he is left standing on the sidewalk in Hollywood with no options. Ever the chameleon, Kobie invents Gatsby Randolph, and quickly sets a course to conquer the city that had all but slammed the door on his dreams.
Wild Daze — This feature-length documentary was forged by a fierce desire to save the African wildlife, while protecting its exploited women, children and forest peoples.
Wim Wenders, Desperado — Traces iconic locations and decisive moments in Wenders’ work as director, producer, photographer and author.
With Drawn Arms — Filmmaker Glenn Kaino partners with Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith as he looks back 50 years to the moment that helped define a movement and changed the course of his life forever.
A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem — Football and feminism collide in this documentary that follows former NFL cheerleaders battling the league to end wage theft and illegal employment practices that have persisted for 50 years.
Women in Blue — Documentary follows the stories of the women police officers in Minneapolis who try to reform the department and restore trust in the community after a high-profile police shooting forces its first female chief to resign.
You Cannot Kill David Arquette — Actor David Arquette attempts a rocky return to the sport that stalled his promising Hollywood career.
Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn — A look at the events surrounding the murder of Yusuf Hawkins, a black teenager in Brooklyn, who was killed in by a group of white youths.
Zappa — An in-depth look into the life and work of musician Frank Zappa.
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Okay, so this was a lighter year than normal. Lot of… you know, actual shit going on in the world and I watched less than I normally would, which means little to no documentaries. So, at the moment, I’ve only seen six of these docs (Beastie Boys Story, Belushi, The Ghost of Peter Sellers, Once Were Brothers, Totally Under Control and Zappa). I plan to see more of them just out of pure interest, and then I’ll try to watch as many of the 15 shortlisted docs as I possibly can before nominations. So I’ll try to update that part as I go.
But for now — I’m just gonna, based on my gut, see if I can narrow this list down to what probably will be a shortlist. I haven’t looked at anything before now. I’m just going by the sound of each log line, the ones that have felt like I’ve come across them the most and the ones that just feel like they’ll be shortlisted. There’s no science to this. I do this same thing for International Feature even though I’ve seen almost none of those (and will again later today). I’ll probably be wrong. But it’s fun for me to do and gets me used to each of the potential nominees for later in the season.
So, looking through those 236 docs up there, here are the ones that I feel, generally, have a remote chance at being shortlisted (before I compile this list, I’m gonna hope that this list comes in under 35):
- All In: The Fight for Democracy
- Athlete A
- Beastie Boys Story
- Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets
- Boys State
- City Hall
- Crip Camp
- Dick Johnson Is Dead
- The Dissident
- The Fight
- Giving Voice
- The Human Factor
- Human Nature
- I Am Greta
- John Lewis: Good Trouble
- Kingdom of Silence
- The Mole Agent
- On the Record
- The Painter and the Thief
- Rebuilding Paradise
- Searching for Mr. Rugoff
- The Social Dilemma
- Stars and Strife
- Totally Under Control
- The Truffle Hunters
- The Way I See It
- Welcome to Chechnya
Well that was right on the money. I probably could have had an extra 15 or so that I could make cases for, but I don’t care about being 100% right. But, based on what I’ve seen, I feel like at least 12 of these will make the shortlist.
The important thing to note: some of these that seem like sure things will not make the shortlist. It happens every year. Fortunately this year, I’m not sure there’s that runaway populist choice that will get left off, a la Won’t You Be My Neighbor, Life Itself, etc.
In terms of which 15 I’d pick, off the top of my head, as most likely to make it, let’s go with:
All In: The Fight for Democracy
Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets
Dick Johnson Is Dead
The Human Factor
John Lewis: Good Trouble
The Mole Agent
The Painter and the Thief
The Truffle Hunters
I can guarantee one thing: I will not guess all fifteen of these correctly, and in all likelihood, at least one of these top tier contenders won’t even be shortlisted. Probably 2-4 at least. But hey, it’ll be good to see and now at least I’ve got about 40 docs in my head so I’ll know which ones, if any, come onto the shortlist as surprises.
Animated Feature and International Feature coming later.
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