Documentary Preservation Summit: March 31 & April 1

DOC NYC and the International Documentary Association (IDA) will co-present the first “Documentary Preservation Summit” on March 31 and April 1 at IFC Center in New York. The event will gather filmmakers, preservation experts and others to address the risks of important documentary films being lost and strategies for ensuring their future. The speakers include Academy Award winning directors D.A. Pennebaker (Monterey Pop; The War Room) and Barbara Kopple (Harlan County USA; American Dream); Michael Donaldson, fair use attorney; Margaret Bodde, the executive director of The Film Foundation; and Sandra Schulberg, the head of the IndieCollect film documentation and preservation campaign. The event hashtag is #savedocs.

“We want to sound an alarm,” said summit organizer and DOC NYC artistic director Thom Powers. “Today all filmmakers have to serve as their own archivists, whether it’s for work on older formats or fresh footage on a hard drive. This summit will give filmmakers vital knowledge about how to save their work and make it available to the public.”

“Preserving access to great documentary films and ensuring they remain available to future generations is a sleeping-giant issue facing documentary filmmakers and aficionados alike,” said Marjan Safinia, IDA Board President. “Bringing the work of IDA’s GETTING REAL documentary conference to New York, this summit shines a light on critical issues related to preservation of our documentary history and the sustainability of documentary careers.”

Marcel Ophuls’ The Memory of Justice (1976), recently restored by the Academy Film Archive in association with Paramount Pictures and The Film Foundation. Restoration funding provided by The Material Wold Charitable Foundation, Righteous Persons Foundation and The Film Foundation.
The summit will kick off on Tuesday March 31 at 7:30 pm with the “Keynote Panel: A Call to Action for Documentary Preservation,” featuring Hudlin, Kopple, Pennebaker, Powers and Schulberg, that will highlight the risks facing precious films. The audience will get a sneak peak at the new IndieCollect Index, an attempt to catalogue the entire field of American independent cinema, supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation.

The following day, Wednesday, April 1, will feature four panels: “Earning New Revenue Off Old Films”; “Confronting Clearance and Legal Issues”; “How Does Your Film Become Preserved and Discoverable?”; and “Best Practices: Don’t Lose Your Footage in the Digital Age.” See below for further details.

Summit passes, good for all events on both days, are $25 (or $20, in advance, for IDA and IFC Center members). To purchase a pass in advance, click here.

Passes and tickets to individual sessions ($14) will be available in-person at the IFC Center box office, 323 Avenue of the Americas (at W. 3rd Street), starting March 31.

For full details, see below.

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STF fall tribute to D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus


Stranger Than Fiction returns for its twenty-fifth season with an eight-week tribute to the careers of D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus. “This is the first time STF has ever devoted a full season to one filmmaking team,” said Artistic Director Thom Powers. “It spans over 50 years of time and traces the history of modern American documentary making.”

“We’re delighted to spend the fall revisiting these films and sharing them with audiences,” said Pennebaker. Hegedus and Pennebaker will attend most of the screenings for a Q&A (check website for full details).

The season officially kicks off on Sept 23 with TOWN BLOODY HALL (1979), the first collaboration between Pennebaker and Hegedus, about a raucous debate over women’s liberation moderated by Norman Mailer with Germaine Greer.
65 REVISITED Three films represent earlier work by Pennebaker: JANE (1962), codirected by Hope Ryden and produced by Drew Associates, about Jane Fonda’s starring role on Broadway; 65 REVISITED (1967) capturing another side of DONT LOOK BACK’S Bob Dylan; and COMPANY: ORIGINAL CAST ALBUM (1970) featuring the late Elaine Stritch wrestling with Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company. Four more films cover the long history of the Pennebaker/Hegedus team: DEPECHE MODE 101 (1989) following the pioneer synth/pop band across America as they end up selling out the Rose Bowl; MOON OVER BROADWAY (1998) a look behind the scenes at Carol Burnett’s return to Broadway; THE WAR ROOM (1993) on Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign, featuring George Stephanopoulos and James Carville; and ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE (2002) a celebration of soul-music legends Sam Moore, Wilson Pickett, Isaac Hayes and others.

Bronx_Obama_570x317There will also be a pre-season special screening of BRONX OBAMA on Thurs. Sept. 18—the New York premiere of the festival favorite. The film tells the improbable story of a Barack Obama impersonator living in the Bronx. Director Ryan Murdock and film subject Louis Ortiz will participate in a Q&A.

Fall season pass

Fall season passes are now on sale and include entry to all 9 films, free popcorn, a DVD from Docurama and opportunity to bring a friend – all for just $99 ($80 for IFC Center members).  Click here to purchase a pass (select 11:55pm). Full lineup below.

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DOC NYC presents encore presentations of two of 2013′s most acclaimed nonfiction films, both nominated for the Oscar for Best Documentary. Filmmakers in person at each show.

TOMORROW! Thurs. Feb. 13, 7pm, IFC Center
In person: Director Zachary Heinzerling
Buy tickets here

Once a rising star in the ’70′s New York art scene, 80-year-old “boxing” painter Ushio Shinohara is prepping for his latest show, hoping to reinvigorate his career. His wife and de facto assistant, Noriko, seeks her own recognition through her “Cutie” illustrations, which depict their chaotic 40-year marriage. CUTIE AND THE BOXER captures two lives united by a dedication to art-making for a touching meditation on the eternal themes of love and sacrifice. (R, 82 min)

Mon. Feb. 17, 7pm, IFC Center
In person: subject Jeremy Scahill 
Buy tickets here

This eye-opening documentary lays bare the dirty little secret of America’s War on Terror: all bets are off, and almost anything goes. Drone strikes, night raids and government–condoned torture occur in hidden corners across the globe, generating unprecedented civilian casualties. Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill traces the rise of the Joint Special Operations Command, the most secret and elite fighting force in U.S. history, exposing covert ops, unidentifiable fighters who act with impunity and “kill lists” where no target is off-limits.  (NR, 85 min)

STF Fall 2013 Season Announced!

Stranger Than Fiction – named by Time Out NY as the city’s “Best Documentary Programming” – launches its ninth year with a special sneak preview on Wed. Sept.18 of MUSCLE SHOALS, about the renowned Alabama recording studios, featuring a Q&A with director Greg “Freddy” Camalier and FAME recording studio founder Rick Hall. STF fall season has its official opening night on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 with LINSANITY, about basketball sensation Jeremy Lin, featuring a Q&A with director Evan Jackson Leong. STF takes place at the IFC Center Tuesday nights at 8:00 pm for eight weeks. Each event includes a discussion with the filmmakers, followed by a gathering at a nearby bar. The fall season closes on November 12 with a rare screening of SHOTGUN FREEWAY: DRIVES THROUGH LOST L.A., a film essay about Los Angeles that was the 1996 directorial debut of Morgan Neville (20 FEET FROM STARDOM), who will attend.

Season passes are now on sale through Sept. 18 at the early bird rate of $80 for 9 films ($70 for IFC Center members). Season pass holders are assured a seat, even in the case of a sold out show, as long as they arrive 15 minute before showtime; plus a free DVD courtesy of Docurama; free popcorn at every STF show; and the ability to transfer your pass to a friend if you can’t make it. The full season schedule appears below.

“This season has a strong blend of sneak previews, classic revivals, plus ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW (pictured) that fulfills the label of ‘stranger’ even if it is fiction,” said Artistic Director Thom Powers, who also programs for the Toronto International Film Festival, DOC NYC and New works being previewed before their wider release include BIG MEN (Oct 1) about oil drilling in Africa; THE NEW PUBLIC (Oct. 22) about an experimental Brooklyn school; and CALVET (Nov. 5) about an artist whose work is currently showing at Manhattan’s Monkdogz gallery. Classic docs in the program include the Oscar-nominated CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS (Oct. 15), about a controversial criminal case, with dir Andrew Jarecki in person to discuss new developments in the story; and the Oscar-winning BORN INTO BROTHELS (Oct. 29) about kids in Calcutta’s red-light district learning photography. One outlier in the season is a sneak preview of ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW (Oct. 8) that employs documentary observational techniques to tell a surreal fictional satire, shot surreptitiously inside of Disney World.

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STF Spring Season Announced!

STF Spring season passes are now on sale! Buy a pass and enjoy these perks: 

  • 8 weekly films (March 26 – May 21) + pre-season bonus screening on March 20
  • Free DVD from Docurama
  • Free popcorn at every STF show
  • Guaranteed seat at sold out shows
  • Ability to transfer your pass to a friend

$100 for the season or $16 per film. IFC Center members save more: $80 season pass; $13/ticket 

Check out full line-up below or click here to see all the trailers.


Hands On A Hardbody - 2 - 570 x 317PRE-SEASON SPECIAL Wed. March 20 


Newly re-mastered, this classic doc inspired the new Broadway musical about an endurance contest to win a truck.

Q&A w/ dir S.R. Bindler




No Place on Earth - 570x317OPENING NIGHT Tues. March 26


Several Ukrainian Jews survived World War II by living in caves for 18 months. Now they finally tell their story.

Q&A w/ dir Janet Tobias




Free-Angela-and-All-Political-Prisoners -  570x317Tues. April 2


Accused of supplying guns to free a prisoner in the 1970s, Angela Davis was put on trial and became a revolutionary icon.

Q&A w/ dir Shola Lynch



Tues. April 9 – SKIP WEEK 

bitter_seeds-01- 570x317Tues. April 16


Villagers in India cope with the effects of genetically modified seeds, promoted by U.S. government agencies.

Q&A w/ dir Micha X. Peled




TimHetherington_570x317Tues. April 23


Looking at the life of photojournalist Tim Hetherington who was Oscar-nominated for Restrepo in 2011, then killed in Libya later that year.

Q&A w/ dir Sebastian Junger




stories-we-tell-570x317Tues. April 30


Sarah Polley (Away From Her) explores her family’s secrets in her first documentary that was a hit at the Toronto International Film Festival.





pandoras-promise-570x317Tues. May 7


Director Robert Stone (Earth Days) takes a surprising look at environmentalists who are championing nuclear energy.

Q&A w/ dir Robert Stone




Follow the Leader - 570x317Tues. May 14


Director Jonathan Goodman Levitt, a longtime member of the STF community, looks at teenagers who aspire to politics.

Q&A w/ dir Jonathan Goodman Levitt




On The Ropes - 570 x 317CLOSING NIGHT Tues. May 21


In this Oscar-nominated doc, directors Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen (The Kid Stays in the Picture) follow young boxers training out of a Brooklyn gym.

Q&A w/ dir Brett Morgen & special guests