Always a momentous occasion for lovers of nonfiction cinema, Doc Fortnight celebrates its 19th edition with some of the most formally innovative, thought-provoking documentary and hybrid films being made in the world today. This year’s edition features 12 world premieres, 17 North American premieres, and 14 US premieres from 38 countries. Many of these films have won top prizes at other major international festivals, including Cannes, Sundance, Berlin, and Locarno. Among the many artists who will be presenting their new work are Michael Almereyda, Denis Côté, Catherine Gund, Jem Cohen, Sky Hopinka, Akosua Adoma Owusu, Ben Rivers, Kazuhiro Soda, and Roger Ross Williams.
Eclectic by design, Doc Fortnight 2020 spans a range of subjects, from a pioneering upstate New York camp for teens with disabilities to a cross-dressing candidate for Japanese parliament; and from portraits of influential cultural figures (including Delphine Seyrig, Raymond Pettibon, Felix Kubin, Agnes Gund, and John Ashbery) to portraits of places as vibrant and varied as a supermarket in Saõ Paulo, a radio station in Serbia, a hospitality school for aspiring waiters in Italy, an Icelandic village during the grim holiday season, and the world’s largest retirement community, in Florida. Violence toward women, whether in war or at home, is an urgent theme in this year’s selection, confronted in such films as Sunless Shadows, about Iranian teenage girls in prison for murdering their abusive male relatives; Overseas, about Filipina women learning to cope with virtual enslavement in their domestic jobs abroad; La Mami, about the wise but worn-down dressing-room attendant at a famous cabaret in Mexico City; and That which Does Not Kill, about the rape of a young Belgian woman seen through the prism of experiences of ordinary women and men from diverse backgrounds. African and African diaspora themes of exile, liberation, identity, and the legacy of colonialism are considered with breathtaking originality in the films of Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, Terence Nance, Akosua Adoma Owusu, and Billy Woodberry. Compassionate approaches to mental illness are depicted in Kazuhiro Soda’s Zero, the centerpiece of Doc Fortnight 2020, and Olivier Zabat’s Arguments. And a special addition to this year’s festival is Nonfiction+, a series of programs focusing on new trends in expanded and interactive media.
Organized by Joshua Siegel, Curator, with Stergios Dinopoulos, 12-Month Intern, Department of Film. The Nonfiction+ sidebar is organized by Kathy Brew, Consulting Curator.