Arguably becoming one of the best film fest showcases for documentary film, over the years we’ve seen a generous oupput of Oscar and Cinema Eye Honors nominated docs. This year’s dozen (a handful find themselves on our recently dropped What’s Up Doc? list) include the likes of Marco Proserpio’s The Man Who Stole Banksy, Daniel Patrick Carbone’s Phantom Cowboys and PJ Raval’s Call Her Ganda. Here is the list of twelve:
Blowin’ Up, directed and written by Stephanie Wang-Breal. Produced by Carrie Weprin. (USA) – World Premiere. In a courtroom in Queens, women facing prostitution charges may earn a chance at redemption thanks to an experimental program established by a team of rebel heroines working to change the system.
Call Her Ganda, directed by PJ Raval, written by PJ Raval, Victoria Chalk. Produced by PJ Raval, Lisa Valencia-Svensson, Marty Syjuco, Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala. (USA, Philippines) – World Premiere. When a transgender Filipina woman is found dead in the motel room of a U.S. Marine, grassroots activists demand accountability. The ensuing case lays bare a constellation of social and political tensions between the United States and the Philippines.
Island of the Hungry Ghosts, directed and written by Gabrielle Brady. Produced by Alexander Wadouh, Samm Haillay, Alex Kelly, Gizem Acarla, Gabrielle Brady. (Australia, Germany, UK) – World Premiere. Christmas Island, Australia is home to one of the largest land migrations on earth—that of forty million crabs journeying from jungle to sea. But the jungle holds another secret: a high-security facility that indefinitely detains individuals seeking asylum.
The Man Who Stole Banksy, directed by Marco Proserpio, written by Marco Proserpio, Filippo Perfido, Christian Omodeo. Produced by Marco Proserpio, Filippo Perfido. (Italy) – World Premiere. In 2007, the anonymous graffiti artist Banksy painted a series of political works around Palestine, only to have them cut down and sold off to the highest bidder. A stylish examination of public space and the commodification of street art, narrated by Iggy Pop.
Momentum Generation, directed and written by Jeff Zimbalist, Michael Zimbalist. Produced by Jeff Zimbalist, Michael Zimbalist, Colby Gottert, Greg Little, Justine Chiara, Karen Lauder, Laura Michalchyshyn, Lizzie Friedman, Tina Elmo. (USA) – World Premiere. In the 1990s, a motley band of teen surfers from the north shore of Oahu brought professional surfing to new heights. But as their stars rose, the competition threatened to tear their group apart. With Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, Shane Dorian, Taylor Knox, Benji Weatherley, Kalani Robb, and Ross Williams.
No Greater Law, directed by Tom Dumican, written by Tom Dumican, Jesse Lichtenstein. Produced by Jesse Lichtenstein. (UK, USA) – World Premiere. In Idaho’s rugged Treasure Valley, the Followers of Christ believe in God, family, and faith healing. As an investigation into the community’s high infant mortality rate closes in on the church, one patriarch fights for his right to his faith. An A&E release.
Phantom Cowboys, directed by Daniel Patrick Carbone. Produced by Ryan Scafuro, Annie Waldman, Daniel Patrick Carbone. (USA) – World Premiere. This searing documentary, which spans nearly a decade, is a meditation on youth, tradition, and the evolving hopes and dreams of modern adolescents in the forgotten industrial towns across America.
The Rachel Divide, directed by Laura Brownson, written by Laura Brownson, Jeff Gilbert. Produced by Laura Brownson, Bridget Stokes, Khaliah Neal. (USA) – World Premiere. Rachel Dolezal became infamous when she was unmasked as a white woman passing for black so thoroughly that she had become the head of her local N.A.A.C.P. chapter. This portrait cuts through the very public controversy to reveal Dolezal’s motivations. A Netflix release.
Tanzania Transit, directed by Jeroen van Velzen, written by Jeroen van Velzen, Esther Eenstroom. Produced by Digna Sinke. (Netherlands) – World Premiere. A train journey across Tanzania captures a microcosm of contemporary African society in Tribeca alum Jeroen van Velzen’s captivating and visually stunning road movie.
United Skates, directed and produced by Dyana Winkler, Tina Brown. (USA) – World Premiere. Credited with incubating East Coast hip-hop and West Coast rap, America’s roller rinks have long been bastions of regional African-American culture, music, and dance. As rinks shutter across the country, a few activists mount a last stand.
When Lambs Become Lions, directed by Jon Kasbe. Produced by Jon Kasbe, Innbo Shim, Tom Yellin, Andrew Harrison Brown. (USA) – World Premiere. In the Kenyan bush, a crackdown on ivory poaching forces a silver-tongued second-generation poacher to seek out an unlikely ally in this fly-on-the-wall look at both sides of the conservation divide.
Yellow is Forbidden, directed and written by Pietra Brettkelly. Produced by Pietra Brettkelly, Richard Fletcher, Naomi Wallwork. (New Zealand) – World Premiere. Celebrated Chinese couturier Guo Pei is perhaps best known for designing the brilliant gold gown Rihanna wore to the Met Ball in 2015. But Guo’s quest to be recognized by the gatekeepers of Paris haute couture goes beyond the red carpet and taps into global power dynamics and the perpetual tension between art and commerce.