DOC NYC: Five must-see documentaries at the film festival

The annual documentary festival is in its fifth year.

To be a film buff in New York City is to enjoy an embarrassment of riches seven days a week, 365 days a year.

But DOC NYC, the annual documentary festival commencing its fifth edition Thursday, stands out as the most comprehensive celebration of the nonfiction form in the five boroughs or anywhere else for that matter.

Series directors Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen have assembled a vast roster encompassing more than 150 films and events, with movies about subjects as disparate as the controversial stop-and-frisk practice (“Stop”), Uganda’s little league team (“Opposite Field”), Ping-Pong (“Top Spin”), the history of the National Enquirer (“Enquiring Minds”) and Vietnam (yes, Vietnam) War re-enactors (“In Country”).

Here are five of the most intriguing films at this year’s fest, which also includes a sidebar look at documentaries the programmers believe to be Oscar contenders and in-person appearances by notables such as Frederick Wiseman, Steve James and Rory Kennedy.


‘Do I Sound Gay?’

The festival opens with this personal, first-person accounting of journalist David Thorpe’s journey to understand why he “sounds gay.” Thursday, 7 p.m., SVA Theatre


‘Banksy Does New York’

Banksy’s attention-grabbing stint in New York last fall, in which the mysterious artist produced works across the five boroughs, is chronicled in this HBO documentary premiering on the network Nov. 17. Friday, 7 p.m., SVA Theatre


‘I Am Big Bird: The Carroll Spinney Story’

Carroll Spinney has played Big Bird (and Oscar the Grouch) since “Sesame Street” began in 1969. Here, he finally gets to step out from behind the yellow feathers (and out of the trash can) as the spotlight shines on his career. Friday, 6:45 p.m., SVA Theatre


‘An Open Secret’

Amy Berg, an accomplished documentarian (“West of Memphis), investigates the abuse and exploitation of minors in Hollywood in this highly-anticipated world premiere. Friday, 9:15 p.m., SVA Theatre


‘Rubble Kings’

New York plays a big role in many of the DOC NYC offerings and the bad old days are revisited in this look at gang warfare in the South Bronx during the 1970s, when a visit by Jimmy Carter made the area the national poster child for urban decay. Sunday, 9:15 p.m., SVA Theatre



IF YOU GO: DOC NYC runs Thursday through Nov. 20 at the IFC Center, SVA Theatre and Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas. For more info and ticket prices visit docnyc.net

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