Television thrives on the neurotic lunacy of hoarders, but rarely do we experience the passion and purpose of a methodical collector, who really made a difference. Matt Wolf’s masterful documentary, Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project takes us into the visionary psychic and cluttered physical worlds of a woman who turned her acquiring fury into a unique archive of contemporary history. Recorder had its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival 2019 and starts its national theatrical release November 15, 2019.
DOC NYC 2019 will run from November 6 – 15 and include more than 300 films and events, with 28 world premieres and 27 US premieres. Films are curated into 21 different Sections, or categories. It’s an overwhelming amount of content to contemplate, and I’ll do my best to help you sort through it. I would have liked to offer a catchy headline such as “Top Ten Docs to See,” but ten barely scratches the surface. Even twenty seems to leave out films that warrant a mention. So… without counting, here are the films that Helen feels Highly Compelled to suggest — my DOC NYC Picks, or DOC NYC Highlights.
We have a special program to thank for two excellent indie films in the past two years – “Lucky Grandma,” by Asian-American filmmakers Sasie Sealy and Angela Cheng, and “Nigerian Prince,” by young, Nigerian-American filmmaker Faraday Okoro. Both films were winners of AT&T Presents: Untold Stories, which is an alliance between AT&T and the Tribeca Film Institute. Now in its third year, the program awards a $1 million cash prize, mentorship and distribution to under-represented filmmakers with a story to tell. Helen Highly Recommends both “Lucky Grandma” and “Nigerian Prince.” Helen also Highly Contemplates the benefits and drawbacks of corporate sponsorship in filmmaking and in Pride parades.
It’s Gay Pride month, and we’re coming up to July 4th and Independence Day, so HelenHighly discusses three new documentaries whose hearts beat the drums of freedom, passion and change, and how in each film, art is the catalyst that brings those concepts to life. Helen Highly Recommends “A Night at Switch n’ Play,” “Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes,” and “Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation.”
Walking on Water, directed by Andrey Paounov, is a new documentary about the latest exhibit / production by Christo, the renowned installation artist who transforms environments into experiential artwork, on an epic scale. The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, was acquired by Kino Lorber and is getting a theatrical run in the U.S. this spring (beginning this weekend at Film Forum in NYC). Helen Highly Recommends you see it – in a theater, ideally, on as large a screen as possible.
The Quiet One, a cinematic memoir about bassist Bill Wyman, founding member of The Rolling Stones, directed by Oliver Murray, played at Tribeca Film Festival and is set to start a theatrical run in June. It’s far from the typical music documentary. Based on Wyman’s immense, personal archive of film, photographs and audio, including new voice-over commentary by Wyman himself, Murray (previously a music video director) had the unenviable task of making a documentary that would offer something fresh to fans or insightful to music historians, while working under the employ of the notoriously private man-of-few-words. The film is oddly fascinating for all the reasons it aims not to be…