November 30, 2020

Screen Time: Week of November 30, 2020

From '76 Days.' (Hao Wu, Weixi Chen and Anonymous). Courtesy of MTV Documentary Films

Screen Time is your curated weekly guide to excellent documentaries and nonfiction programs that you can watch at home. 

Streaming in virtual theaters through Film Movement starting December 2, David Osit’s Mayor, an IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund grantee, follows Musa Hadid, the Christian mayor of Ramallah, during his second term in office. His immediate goals: repave the sidewalks, attract more tourism, and plan the city's Christmas celebrations. His ultimate mission: to end the occupation of Palestine. Rich with detailed observation and a surprising amount of humor, Mayor offers a portrait of dignity amidst the madness and absurdity of endless occupation while posing a question: how do you run a city when you don't have a country?

Premiering December 4 in virtual cinemas through MTV Documentary Films, 76 Days, from Hao Wu, Weixi Chen and Anonymous, chronicles the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China, capturing the indelible human stories at the center of this pandemic—from a woman begging in vain to bid a final farewell to her father, a grandfather with dementia searching for his way home, a couple anxious to meet their newborn, to a nurse determined to return personal items to families of the deceased. These intimate stories bear witness to the death and rebirth of a city under a 76-day lockdown, and to the compassion and human resilience that persists in times of profound tragedy. 76 Days also streams starting January 19 as part of the IDA Documentary Screening Series.

December 1 is World AIDS Day. David France’s Academy Award-nominated How To Survive a Plague tells the story of the early years of the AIDS crisis, when a group of activists challenged government agencies and pharmaceutical companies to take action and produce and push through new treatments. 

Premiering December 2 on HBO, and streaming later on HBO Max, Baby God, from Hannah Olson and executive-produced by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, is a shocking examination of the work of a Las Vegas fertility specialist and the many women he guided to pregnancy through use of his own sperm, often without their knowledge or consent. The documentary follows his newly-discovered offspring as they grapple with the scope of his misdeeds and the impact that his genes may have on their own identities.

Premiering in virtual theaters through Magnolia Pictures, Julien Temple’s Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan, an IDA Documentary Award nominee for Best Music Documentary, profiles Irish musical icon Shane MacGowan, exploring the wild and roving life of Ireland’s most beloved punk poet.

Just in time for the holiday season, Dana Nachman’s Dear Santa, premiering December 4 in virtual; theaters through IFC Films, 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.

Premiering December 5 on CNN, President in Waiting, from Jeffrey Roth examines the relationships between the American president and vice president, and their views of the power of the vice presidency, in their own words. Roth interviewed all six living vice presidents, including President-Elect Joe Biden, as well Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.