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DOC NYC festival returns with a focus on New York City documentaries

The festival, now in its ninth year, returns on Thursday at movie theaters around the city.

DOC NYC will screen "Last Stop Coney Island,"

DOC NYC will screen "Last Stop Coney Island," about photographer Harold Feinstein, who loved snapping images of ordinary New Yorkers. Photo Credit: Courtesy of DOC NYC

With more than 300 films and events, America’s largest documentary festival, DOC NYC, kicks off its ninth edition this Thursday.

Through Nov. 15, the fest will showcase 135 feature-length documentaries, including 42 world premieres, supplemented with the assemblage of more than 500 documentary filmmakers and special guests across locations in New York City, including the IFC Center, the SVA Theatre and Cinépolis Chelsea.

“We’re honored by the rising number of films making their world and U.S. premieres at DOC NYC for the festival’s ninth year,” said director of programming Basil Tsiokos in a news release. “We’re delighted to connect these films with the diverse and influential audience that comes together only in New York.” Tsiokos led the programming team in collaboration with artistic director Thom Powers.

The opening night will offer the  New York premiere of John Chester’s "The Biggest Little Farm," followed by a Q&A session with the filmmaker. The centerpiece presentation will be "Original Cast Album: Co-op," an episode from the upcoming season of IFC’s Documentary Now! series, accompanied by Seth Meyers.

Curated into 25 distinct sections, the festival this year includes five new categories — Series Showcase, Photography on Film, Portraits, In the System and True Love — that have been added as boosters to an already-rich collection.

New York-based photographer Harold Feinstein, who is acknowledged but underrecognized for his compelling photographs of Coney Island during the 1940s and 1950s, becomes a subject of interest in director Andy Dunn’s "Last Stop Coney Island."

Metropolis, a juried competition section specifically dedicated to stories set in New York City, consists of seven films, including the world premiere of "Creating a Character: The Moni Yakim Legacy," a portrait of the Juilliard drama teacher responsible for training actresses such as Academy Award winners Meryl Streep and Viola Davis.

“These are films that will deepen your experience of the city and allow you to discover its many delightful characters,” Powers said .

Under the same section, "The World Before Your Feet" tells the extraordinary story of a man who gives up everything — including his job and apartment — in an attempt to cover every single block of New York City by foot.

Another notable world premiere, HBO’s "Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists," will be shown as the closing night film, accompanied by in-person visits of directors Jonathan Alter, John Block and Steve McCarthy. Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill, regarded as revolutionary figures of New York journalism in the latter half of the 20th century, are known for their enthusiastic advocacy for what others deem as mundane and their insightful  tackling of sensitive issues and significant events.

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