To be a film buff in New York City is to contend with an embarrassment of riches, perhaps none more so than DOC NYC, the annual nonfiction festival that returns Thursday with more than 250 films, both features and shorts, on its slate.
The event stands out thanks to its sheer scope: You could do nothing but hop between DOC NYC screenings from Nov. 9-16 at its three venues — IFC Center, Cinepolis Chelsea and the SVA Theatre — and you’d have time for just about nothing else but sleep.
But this isn’t a take-all-comers omnibus; it’s been programmed thoughtfully, and it is the place to be for anyone who cares about the indispensable art form and the work of its foremost practitioners.
New films from the likes of Barbara Kopple (“A Murder in Mansfield”), Errol Morris (“Wormwood” and his “The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography”) and Sam Pollard (“Maynard”) are among the star attractions, as are the opening night film “The Final Year,” a look at former President Barack Obama’s foreign policy team at the end of his administration that’s sure to be rife with poignancy and regret for many in the audience, and the closing night selection “Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars.”
These are also a lot of movies with strong connections to New York City, chronicling a wide range of stories and experiences.
“Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco,” from James Crump, tells the story of the renowned fashion illustrator who died of a complication from AIDS in 1987. It looks at his close work with Karl Lagerfeld and his strong and enduring impact on the business.
Another late giant of the fashion world, makeup artist Kevin Aucoin, is the focus of “Larger Than Life: The Kevin Aucoin Story.”
If you’re unfamiliar with Curtis Sliwa beyond an occasional visit to NY1, “Vigilante: The Incredible True Story of Curtis Sliwa and the Guardian Angels” will fill in the gaps on the colorful New York character’s one-of-a-kind biography.
There are other classic city personalities on display here — “Oh, Rick!” tells the story of Comedy Cellar emcee Rick Crom; “Maddman: The Steve Madden Story” looks at the shoe titan in the wake of his prison sentence for securities fraud.
“King Cohen” features the cult filmmaker Larry Cohen, who exemplifies the spirit of independent New York cinema as well as anyone.
A very different local institution, the Golden Gloves amateur boxing tournament, gets a spotlight in “Cradle of Champions,” which chronicles the experiences of three fighters.
Gentrification, among the predominant concerns of life in the city, underlies “Still Waters,” about Still Waters in the Storm, an innovative educational program for Bushwick children.
It’s also the narrative at hand in “The Iron Triangle,” about the ongoing battle between the auto body shops of Willets Point, adjacent to Citi Field, and the forces of re-development.
That doesn’t even leave room to spotlight movies about hardcore punk band Agnostic Front, the city’s burlesque scene and so much more.