2017 Lineup


    116 Cameras   Davina Pardo
    Surrounded by a twinkling constellation of cameras, Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss records her stories for an interactive hologram project, preserving her experience for future generations.  World Premiere (Short)

    All Skate, Everybody Skate   Nicole Triche
    Tucked away in picturesque Topsail Island, N.C., Miss Doris’s roller skating rink pops with energy as she leads her customers in games and skates, as she’s done for over 50 years. (Short)

    Anatomy of a Male Ballet Dancer   David Barba, James Pellerito
    Praised for the sublime way he partners ballerinas, Marcelo Gomes is the center of this intimate film that takes us inside his world to chart a luminous 20-year career with American Ballet Theater.

    Asiyeh   Leila Merat
    An intelligent, no-nonsense bonesetter in northern Iran has been healing the people in her community for as long as anyone can remember.  US Premiere (Short)

    Balloonfest   Nathan Truesdell
    In 1986, the United Way of Cleveland sets out to break a world record, releasing over a million balloons in the air, but the event has unexpected consequences when the lift off doesn’t go as planned. (Short)

    The Botanist (ботаник)   Maude Plante-Husaruk, Maxime Lacoste-Lebuis
    This breathtaking short follows Raimberdi as he ingeniously constructs a hydroelectric generator to better survive in the mountains of Tajikstan. (Short)

    City of Ghosts   Matthew Heineman
    Captivating in its immediacy, City of Ghosts follows the journey of “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently,” a group of anonymous Syrian activists who band together to document the Islamic State’s crimes after the city is taken by ISIS.

    Depth Two (Dubina Dva)   Ognjen Glavonić
    This suspenseful illumination of long-buried war crimes, which began in 1999 with NATO bombings in Serbia, is told in a harrowing combination of narrated testimonies and present-day images of the sites in suburban Belgrade where the crimes took place.

    Donkeyote   Chico Pereira
    The grandest adventure of all is afoot for a Spanish septuagenarian and his mischievous dog and stalwart donkey, if only they can survive chronic arthritis, impertinent travel agents, and just one more bridge.

    Dysphoria: Inside the Mind of a Holocaust Survivor   Joseph Edward
    This poetic and visually arresting exploration of one man’s memories takes an inventive and sensory approach, immersing the viewer in his experiences.  World Premiere (Short)

    The Earth Did Not Speak (La Tierra No Habló)   Javier Briones
    Survivors of the 1982 government-sponsored massacre in Rio Negro, Guatemala, share their stories as the camera quietly pans across seemingly tranquil places that once were home. (Short)

    Far Western   James Payne
    Fueled by music and personal charisma, Charlie Nagatani embodies Japan’s obsession with American country and western music.  North American Premiere

    The Force   Peter Nicks
    A riveting, on-the-ground look at the Oakland Police Department during a period of intense scrutiny and reform, as a new sergeant aims to correct protocol in the wake of charges of misconduct and abuse.

    Funne – Sea Dreaming Girls (Le ragazze che sognavano il mare)   Katia Bernardi
    A whimsical tale of a group of elderly women in a small Italian village who get creative while trying to raise funds for a trip to the sea, which many of them have never seen.  North American Premiere

    The Great Theater (Wielki Teatr)   Sławomir Batyra
    A meandering camera takes a graceful, evocative journey through the spaces and operations of Warsaw’s Grand Theatre as it presents the opera Madama Butterfly. (Short)

    Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405   Frank Stiefel
    Animated drawings and extraordinary shots of Mindy Alper’s sculptures create a lovely portrait of the artist as she unabashedly examines her experiences with a mental disorder (that prevented her from speaking) while discussing art, love, and life. (Short)

    I’M OKAY   Pia Lenz
    Adult themes unfold through the perspective of young protagonists in this beautifully photographed feature that captures the experiences of two refugee families struggling to rebuild their lives in Germany.  North American Premiere

    Island Soldier   Nathan Fitch
    Through the intimate stories of two soldiers, this film explores the high cost of opportunity. In the Federated States of Micronesia—an “associated state” of the U.S.—a high proportion of residents serve in the American military, with few resources to support their lives after duty ends.  World Premiere

    The Kodachrome Elegies   Jay Rosenblatt
    A short and lyrical ode to Kodachrome film stock that reflects on family, loss, and the end of an era. (Short)

    Last Men in Aleppo   Feras Fayyad
    Urgent and harrowing, this film follows the White Helmets’ unrelenting efforts to save fellow Syrians. When air strikes devastate homes, they descend on the wreckage to rescue buried men, women, and children, refusing to leave their people or their city behind.

    The Last Pig   Allison Argo
    This lyrical film follows an introspective farmer as his beliefs undergo a dramatic shift, from believing that there are more humane ways to slaughter animals to questioning the premise of his life’s work.  US Premiere

    Life in Riva (Tra ponente e levante)   Lorenzo Giordano
    An aging resident imparts the history of his seaside Italian town. His recollections, and a trove of impeccably photographed artifacts, reveal the evolutions of one place over time.  North American Premiere

    Luis & I   Roger Gómez, Dani Resines
    The wife of a human cannonball describes their life in the circus and the ways their love has endured decades of this itinerant lifestyle. (Short)

    Mommy’s Land   Garret Atlakson
    As the Cambodian government demolishes homes, and arrest counts and brutal police violence increase, elder resident “Mommy” and other neighborhood women prove to be peaceful, and vivacious, resisters.  World Premiere

    My Father’s Film   Priscilla Gonzalez Sainz
    A daughter crafts a portrait of her father through the spaces he occupied, a meditation shaped by the tools he left behind.  World Premiere (Short)

    One October   Rachel Shuman
    Filmed in the final weeks of the 2008 presidential campaigns, this city symphony follows a radio reporter as he takes to the streets to invite fellow New Yorkers to share their thoughts and opinions in a time of great uncertainty. World Premiere

    The Original Richard McMahan   Olympia Stone
    A visionary artist painstakingly recreates the masterpieces of others, producing thousands of intricate miniature replicas of works made across centuries, from Van Gogh’s The Starry Night to King Tutankhamun’s tomb. (Short)

    Plastic China   Jiu-liang Wang
    At a recycling center in the Chinese countryside, two families survive between seas of plastic bottles and wrappers shipped from the U.S. and other countries; processing this waste has become their burden, and yet for their children, they dream of a better life.

    QUEST   Jonathan Olshefski
    This thoughtful and incisive observation of the Rainey family over the course of ten years seamlessly captures pivotal life experiences as well as issues of poverty, politics, and gun violence in a North Philadelphia neighborhood.

    The Rain Will Follow   Eugene Richards
    From his chair in a retirement home, 90-year-old Melvin Wisdahl shares poignant recollections of wartime and strife in this deeply personal account set aglow by beautiful images of North Dakotan farmland. (Short)

    Samuel in the Clouds   Pieter Van Eecke
    Samuel Mendoza continues the family tradition of operating the ski lift in a Bolivian Andes resort, while a melting glacier below threatens everyone’s way of life.

    Shivani   Jamie Dobie
    In this unique tale of grief and healing, three-year-old Dolly Shivani, believed by her parents to be the reincarnation of their dead son, trains as an Olympic archer.  World Premiere (Short)

    Slowerblack   Jessica Edwards
    A hand-poke tattoo artist in Brooklyn reflects on her unique style and approach to inking.  World Premiere (Short)

    Socotra, the Island of Djinns (Socotra, la Isla de lod Genios)   Jordi Esteva
    In this extraordinary black-and-white account, a group of camel herders travel inland on the island of Socotra to avoid the rainy season while sharing nighttime tales of supernatural djinns.  US Premiere

    Still Tomorrow (摇摇晃晃的人间)   Jian Fan
    In rural China, a determined, courageous woman balances her fame as an eloquent and frank poet with societal expectations around disability, independence, and family obligation.

    Storyboard P, a stranger in Sweden   Matthew D’Arcy
    In this mesmerizing vignette, a dynamic Brooklyn street dancer travels to Sweden to teach and perform—a journey that tests his devotion to the art form.

    Strong Island   Yance Ford
    Director Yance Ford rigorously unpacks the events surrounding the death of his brother, who was shot in 1992. Profoundly cinematic and deeply personal, their family story is a powerful examination of race in America.

    The Submarine   Wenceslao Scyzoryk
    A 95-year-old cinematographer returns to his lab each day to perfect his invention—a machine that repairs celluloid damage. (Short)

    The Swirl (El Remolino)   Laura Herrero Garvin
    As the largely abandoned town of El Remolino in Chiapas, Mexico, struggles to yield viable crops and keep its school open, two siblings remain to battle the rainy season and their painful childhood.

    They Took Them Alive   Emily K. Pederson
    In 2014, 43 students disappeared from a bus traveling in Iguala, Mexico. Their families seek answers as the official investigation comes to a troubling and suspicious halt. World Premiere (Short)

     Through the Repellent Fence   Sam Wainwright Douglas
    The artist collective Postcommodity examines lines, origins, and the people to whom land really belongs with a two-mile-long installation of inflatable spheres high above the U.S.–Mexico border.

    Timberline   Elaine McMillion Sheldon
    This short documents a West Virginia town caught between transitional pressures: an abandoned naval base is up for auction, and the NSA occupies a station just down the road. What will become of the locals for whom this place is home?  World Premiere (Short)

    Tribal Justice   Anne Makepeace
    Two dynamic Native American women—chief judges for the state’s largest tribes—draw on tradition and village wisdom to help defendants rebuild their lives, encouraging healing over jail time and punishment.

    Two Worlds (Dwa Swiaty)   Maciej Adamek
    In this expressive study of family relationships, a daughter helps her two deaf parents navigate the world—as she has since she was three—and balances life between school, home, and self.

    Waiting for Hassana   Ifunanya Maduka
    Jessica, an escapee, recollects a friendship shattered by the 2014 kidnapping of 276 Nigerian girls by the Boko Haram. (Short)

    Winter’s Watch   Brian Bolster
    The longtime winter caretaker of the Oceanic Hotel off the coast of New England welcomes months of solitude, relishing the opportunity for introspection and productivity. (Short)

    Zaatari Djinn   Catherine van Campen
    This incandescent portrait documents four children in a refugee camp who are transformed by the light of imagination and possibility despite numerous hardships.  North American Premiere

    Zuzana: Music Is Life   Peter Getzels, Harriet Getzels
    The life story of eminent Czech harpsichordist Zuzana Ruzickowva transcends the personal in a deeply affecting look at the redemptive power of art throughout the Czech Republic’s turbulent 20th century.  World Premiere


    Invited Program

    500 Years   Pamela Yates
    A sweeping examination of resistance movements in Guatemala, including the recent uprising, and a chronicle of the country’s first trial for war crimes committed against the Mayan people.

    Abacus: Small Enough to Jail   Steve James
    In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the only U.S. bank accused of mortgage fraud was the family-owned Abacus Federal Savings in Manhattan’s Chinatown. This stunning film chronicles the Sungs’ legal battle as they fight to defend their business and their family name.

    Austerlitz   Sergei Loznitsa
    In vivid black and white, tourists and guides visit concentration camps. In observing their interactions, Austerlitz provides a powerful meditation on the (often imperfect) ways human beings connect, remember, and reflect.

    Bronx Gothic   Andrew Rossi
    With a blend of performance footage and penetrating discussions about her purpose and process, this film follows Okwui Okpokwasili as she tours her powerful one-woman play around the country.  World Premiere

    Buzz One Four   Matt McCormick
    In 1964, a B-52 long-range bomber crashed on a Maryland mountainside with two thermonuclear bombs on board. This suspenseful account, crafted by the pilot’s grandson, skillfully weaves archival footage with personal recollections.

    The Challenge   Yuri Ancarani
    Miles of barren desert provide the backdrop for this surreal compilation of images: private jets, race cars, exquisite birds, and even a pet cheetah descend on the Qatar dunes to take part in a remote falconry tournament.

    Dina   Dan Sickles, Antonio Santini
    At once tender and triumphant, humorous and hard, Dina introduces a woman in love as she navigates complex expectations in the days leading up to her impending nuptials.

    EXPRMNTL   Brecht Debackere
    This lively overview of the legendary EXPRMNTL film festivals held in Belgium from 1949 to 1974 interweaves archival footage with the recollections of the makers who defined experimental cinema.  US Premiere

    The Good Postman   Tonislav Hristov
    An inspired citizen decides to run for mayor on a daring platform: that embracing the arrival of refugees may be the key to revitalizing his Bulgarian village.

    The Grown Ups   Maite Alberdi
    Adult students with Down Syndrome question their unknown futures. After attending the same school for decades, is there anything left to be discovered in this place, and what opportunities exist in the outside world?

    An Insignificant Man   Khushboo Ranka, Vinay Shukla
    With unimaginable access, this film follows the turbulent campaign of Arvind Kejriwal, a businessman turned politician who formed India’s Aam Aadmi Party (Common Man’s Party) in 2012, as he runs for his country’s top office.

    Life – Instruction Manual (Leben – Gebrauchsanelitung)   Joerg Adolph, Ralf Buecheler
    Featuring short excerpts from a wide range of classes, from childbirth to end-of-life care, this film reflects on the myriad ways that we depend on learning, particularly from others.  North American Premiere

    Long Strange Trip   Amir Bar-Lev
    Personal interviews, performances, and never-before-seen footage create a multifaceted portrait of the Grateful Dead. They were more than a band. They were a movement.

    May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers   Judd Apatow, Michael Bonfiglio
    Personal, rich, and from the soul, this film follows the equally soulful Avett Brothers as they record a new album, reflect on the creative process, and navigate strong ties while managing lives spent on the road.

    Project X   Laura Poitras, Henrik Moltke
    Rami Malek and Michelle Williams understatedly narrate guidelines from a top-secret NSA handbook, as the viewer travels from stark and isolated spots in the National Business Park to a windowless skyscraper in downtown Manhattan. (Short)

    Purple Dreams   Joanne Hock
    This film follows six students at the Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, N.C., who thrive as performers in the first-ever high school musical production of The Color Purple while grappling with difficult and stressful issues in their own lives.  World Premiere

    School Life   Neasa Ní Chianáin, David Rane
    For more than 40 years, John and Amanda Leyden have taught elementary-age children at a remote Irish boarding school. Filmed over the course of a year, the teachers bring wonder to their classrooms and roll with the joys and challenges that the changing seasons bring their young pupils.

    STEP   Amanda Lipitz
    This inspiring film follows three members of the Lethal Ladies step-dance team at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women. With the support of their intrepid coach and an uncompromising counselor, they are determined to attend college.

    TAKE EVERY WAVE: The Life of Laird Hamilton   Rory Kennedy
    In sparkling cinematography and intimate interviews, this epic look at the surfing legend’s life in and out of the waves is also a no-holds-barred illustration of one man’s dedication to continually reigniting his passion.

    Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities   Stanley Nelson
    A monumental, essential, and compelling survey of the history and cultural significance of HBCUs in America.

    This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous   Barbara Kopple
    Gregory Lazzarato to Gregory Gorgeous to Gigi Gorgeous—family members and millions of followers support the makeup and beauty YouTube star before, during, and after her transition.

    Trophy   Shaul Schwarz, Christina Clusiau
    This revelatory and exquisitely photographed investigation into conservation practices and big game hunting invites nuanced scrutiny and debate.

    Whose Streets?   Sabaah Folayan, Damon Davis
    This unflinching story of the Ferguson uprising is told by the activists who were there, chronicling the birth of a new generation of resisters in America.


    Thematic Program

    12 Notes Down (12 Toner ned)  Andreas Koefoed
    This touching portrayal of transition follows a talented adolescent as he is forced to abandon his longstanding role in the Copenhagen Royal Chapel Choir when his voice begins to change.  Festival Year: 2009

    Benjamin Smoke  Jem Cohen, Peter Sillen
    A portrait of the band Smoke’s lead singer unfolds through a patchwork of still images, rehearsal and performance footage, black-and-white collages, and interviews with Benjamin himself.  Festival Year: 2001

    Black Out  Eva Weber
    With no power at home, Guinean children walk miles to study for exams beneath the humming glow of airport, gas station, and parking lot lights. Festival Year: 2013

    The Chances of the World Changing  Eric Daniel Metzgar
    What begins as a desire to help save endangered turtles becomes an all-consuming passion for New Yorker Richard Ogust, who eventually shares his apartment with 1,200 tortoises from around the globe.  Festival Year: 2006

    Father’s Day  Mark Lipman
    With its deceptively restrained tone, this film investigates a father’s passing through edited home movies and a contemporary soundtrack in which family members talk about the father’s life.  Festival Year: 2004

    Flag Wars  Linda Goode Bryant, Laura Poitras
    This stark journey into the heart of a divided community documents the gentrification of an African American working-class neighborhood in Ohio, where the white newcomers are mostly gay. Festival Year: 2003

    Helvetica  Gary Hustwit
    An insightful examination of typography, graphic design, and global visual culture through the lens of the iconic typeface.  Festival Year: 2007

    Il Capo  Yuri Ancarani
    This stunning cinematic short follows an Italian machinery conductor as he deftly directs his crew to carve marble out of a mountain.  Festival Year: 2011

    In Harm’s Way  Jan Krawitz
    An affecting portrait of the filmmaker’s own life story, told through striking contemporary images and excerpts from the “safety first” films shown in school classrooms during the 1950s and 60s.  Festival Year: 1998

    La Laguna  Aaron Schock
    In the rainforests of southern Mexico, a Mayan boy faces the impending loss of his childhood freedoms as family pressures and economic realities close in.  Festival Year: 2016

    Last Day of Freedom  Dee Hibbert-Jones, Nomi Talisman
    Beautiful animation accompanies poignant testimony in this haunting short about a man who discovers his brother has committed a serious crime.  Festival Year: 2015

    Paradise – Three Journeys in This World  Elina Hirvonen
    A lyrical exploration of the fragile hopes and harsh realities of African immigrant journeys to Spain.  Festival Year: 2008

    Phantom Limb  Jay Rosenblatt
    This experimental fusion of found footage and home movies takes us through the grieving process the filmmaker, who lost his brother when he was just nine years old, was denied as a child.  Festival Year: 2005

    Santa Cruz del Islote  Luke Lorentzen
    On this remote island, the most densely populated on the planet, a community struggles to maintain their way of life as resources and opportunities dwindle.  Festival Year: 2014

    Strong at the Broken Places: Turning Trauma into Recovery  Margaret Lazarus, Renner Wunderlich
    Four individuals who survived unspeakable trauma in their youth tell their stories, and in doing so, make profound statements about inner strength and empowerment.  Festival Year: 1999

    Sun Come Up  Jennifer Redfearn
    When climate change causes the ocean to slowly consume their idyllic South Pacific island, residents of the Carteret Atoll must make a painful choice—evacuate or cling to the land they love—and time is running out.  Festival Year: 2010

    Two Towns of Jasper  Whitney Dow, Marco Williams
    After the murder of a black man makes national headlines, the filmmakers dispatch two crews to Jasper, Texas—one black, one white—to get at the truth of what life in the town is really about.  Festival Year: 2002

    The Waiting Room  Peter Nicks
    This gripping vérité film is a symphony of patients, caregivers, loved ones, bureaucracy, and hard choices in an Oakland ER’s waiting room.  Festival Year: 2012

    The Way I Look at You: 5 Stories of Driving School (La bonne conduite: 5 histoires d’auto-écoleJean-Stéphane Bron
    This uniquely insightful film explores the relationships that develop between five pairs of Swiss driving school instructors and their students; in their obligatory interactions, complex personal stories are revealed.  Festival Year: 2000