April 7, 2010

A Festival Is Born: Doc NYC

Two months after bringing a new child into the world, Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen, the dynamic duo of docs, whose weekly Stranger Than Fiction series at the IFC Center is a true gem,
have conceived again. Announced yesterday, on the eve of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham and weeks away from Hot Docs in Toronto, Doc NYC Festival of Documentary Storytelling will run November 3 through 7 at the IFC Center and the New York University Skirball Center in downtown Manhattan. Powers and Neihausen are the masterminds behind this new venture; Powers is also the documentary programmer at the Toronto International Film Festival, and was one of the founders of the Cinema Eye Honors.

The festival is actually not strictly for documentary film; radio, prose and photography will also be included in the mix. "When we started to imagine how to create something in New York, we quickly decided to expand the field to other documentary storytellers--writers, photographers, radio reporters," says Powers in an interview on the Doc NYC website. "New York is a natural place to bring all these people together. That eclecticism is a way to cultivate new audiences. If you like doc films, chances are you'll be interested in a spoken word series like The Moth or the kind of writers represented in ‘The New, New Journalism.' Those are the kind of connections that DOC NYC aims to make."

Powers and Neihausen will also continue to program Stranger Than Fiction through the fall, winter and spring seasons. "Stranger Than Fiction will continue showing docs year round," Powers told blogger/filmmaker/Cinema Eye co-Founder AJ Schnack. "But there is something special that happens within a festival context, where you set aside five days, invite people to come in from out of town. It creates a different kind of energy than just having people come out on Tuesday nights."

November is a whirlwind month for nonfiction media, with Sheffield Doc/Fest, Doc Leipzig, CPH:Doc (Copenhagen), Jilhava (Czech Republic) and IDFA all happening week after week, and general fests like Denver, the Hamptons and AFI Fest also vieing for attention then. With Sheffield, Schnack wrote that
Powers "had conversations with and has high admiration for Sheffield's leadership team, including Heather Croall and Hussain Currimbhoy, and argues that the nonfiction world is big enough for both festivals. He added that he'd love for the fests to share titles and have filmmakers travel to both."

The Doc NYC team also includes John Vanco and Harris Dew, vice president/general manager and director of programs and promotions, respectively, at IFC Center. The Advisory Board includes such docu-luminaries as Michael Moore, Barbara Kopple, Dan Klores, and Cara Mertes, among others. For more on Doc NYC, click here. Fof an article in indieWire, click