As the largest documentary festival in the United States, DOC NYC, which extends from November 10 through November 17 with 250 films and events, can be overwhelming. That’s a good thing. You just have to choose if you want to zero in on your particular subject interests, head for the hits, go for your favorite filmmakers…or just see what’s available when you are. Thanks to the top-notch curation of head programmer Basil Tsiokos, you probably won’t miss. But Tsiokos has helpfully, and gamely, agreed to provide a head-spinning word association guide of every one of the 111 feature documentaries playing at DOC NYC. Tsiokos’s descriptions read like spoken word poetry. Some made me look at the films anew. Check it out. Get in the rhythm.

I’ll just add that after the election results, I watched Bobby Sands 66 Days, which was a balm to my wounds. Nothing like strong doc filmmaking about past trials of humanity to help you weather a current one.

Now, go!

Films / Word Association


Citizen Jane: Battle For The City: “Living for the City” by Stevie Wonder
Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary: A Love Supreme by John Coltrane

Special Events

Captive: Cola Kidnap: harrowing
City Of Joy: survivors
Every Brilliant Thing: choose life
Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing: aftermath
Soundbreaking: Stories From The Cutting Edge Of Recorded Music: living legends
The Pulitzer At 100: American exceptionalism


Death By A Thousand Cuts: borderline
Forever Pure: fanaticism
Girl Unbound: The War To Be Her: hits like a girl
The Age Of Consequences: domino effect
The Beekeeper And His Son: you can’t go home again
The Islands And The Whales: changing times
The Lure: treasure hunt
The Nine: life on the margins
The Road: eye-opening


All The Rage (Saved By Sarno): thank you Dr. Sarno
Borderline: volatile
Off The Rails: subway love
Rikers: incendiary
Scott’s Pizza Tours: home slice
The Incomparable Rose Hartman: candid camera
Thy Father’s Chair: cleanliness is next to godliness
Winter At Westbeth: forever young
Woman On Fire: trailblazer

American Perspectives

95 And 6 To Go: flipping the script
After Fire: G.I. Janes
American Anarchist: cooked
Becoming More Visible: owning it
Big Sonia: good things come in small packages
Care: poignant
God Knows Where I Am: haunting
The Pearl: the real Transparent

International Perspectives

Bezness As Usual: just a gigolo
Diving Into The Unknown: breath-taking
Finding Oscar: to tell the truth
Letters From Baghdad: Florence of Arabia
Please Remember Me: bittersweet
Sacred: gotta have faith
The Peacemaker: finding peace
Those Who Jump (les Sauteurs): so near and yet so far
Visitor’s Day: boys’ life

True Crime

Beware The Slenderman: kids these days
Santoalla: bad neighbors
Sour Grapes: uncorked
The Man Who Saw Too Much: crime seen
The Promise: dark secrets
Unseen: in plain sight

Science Nonfiction

Fight For Space: space race
Food Evolution: feeding the world
How To Build A Time Machine: obsession
Machine Of Human Dreams: man vs machine
The University: dreaming the future

California Typewriter

California Typewriter: quirky qwerty
David Lynch: The Art Life: Eraserhead
Ken Dewey: This Is A Test: What’s Happening
Tony Conrad: Completely In The Present: flickering light

Wild Life

Feral Love: crazy cat lady?
Long Live Benjamin: man and monkey
Naledi: A Baby Elephant’s Tale: just too cute

Modern Family

Circus Kid: clowning around
Following Seas: life at sea
The Guys Next Door: the ties that bind
The Joneses: keeping up with…

Behind the Scenes

Film Hawk: cinephilia
Finding Kukan: lost and found
Le Concours: film schooled
Score: A Film Music Documentary: composed
Versus: The Life And Films Of Ken Loach: social realist

Jock Docs

Bunker77: surfing playboy
Chasing The Win: Sport of Kings
Cheer Up: Bring It On
Lights Of Rome: goal!
Mr. Chibbs: on the rebound
On The Map: Cold War hoops
Supergirl: girl of steel
Swim Team: take the plunge
This Was The Xfl: He Hate Me

Fight the Power

Agents Of Change: Young, Gifted & Black
Bobby Sands: 66 Days: Hunger
Magnificent Burden: socialite turned activist
Mother With A Gun: Jewish extremism
The Freedom To Marry: going to the chapel
The House On Coco Road: lost utopia

Sonic Cinema

Bang! The Bert Berns Story: unsung songwriter
L7: Pretend We’re Dead: women rock
Raving Iran: subversive
Serenade For Haiti: power of music
The Ballad Of Fred Hersch: transformative
The Terry Kath Experience: Chicago
The Wonderful Kingdom Of Papa Alaev: power struggle
We Wrote This Yesterday: Mumford & friends

Docs Redux

The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords: the pen is mightier
To Be Heard: giving voice
Vintage: Families Of Value: say it loud…

Short List

13th: slavery by another name
Amanda Knox: sensational
Cameraperson: life in pictures
Fire At Sea: crisis in microcosm
Gleason: fatherhood
I Am Not Your Negro: Baldwin matters
Into The Inferno: volcano of forgotten dreams
Jim: The James Foley Story: drawn to conflict
Life, Animated: Disney magic
Mapplethorpe: Look At The Pictures: photo provocateur
Miss Sharon Jones!: soul sister
O.j.: Made In America: epic
The Ivory Game: save the elephants
Trapped: leaving no choice
Weiner: Carlos Danger

Get more documentary film news and features: Subscribe to POV’s documentary blog, like POV on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @povdocs!

Published by

Tom Roston
Tom Roston is a guest columnist for POV's documentary blog. He is a former Premiere magazine senior editor, who graduated from Brown University and started his career in journalism at The Nation and then Vanity Fair. Tom's freelance work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter and other publications. He has written several Kindle Singles, including the bestselling Kindle Singles Interview: Ken Burns. Tom's current list of favorite documentaries are: 1. Koyanisqaatsi by Godfrey Reggio; 2. Hoop Dreams by Steve James; 3.Stories We Tell by Sarah Polley; 4.Crumb by Terry Zwigoff; 5. Montage of Heck by Brett Morgen