5 Must-See Latino Movies at DOC NYC, the Comic-Con of Documentaries

Lead Photo: 'The Man Who Saw Too Much'
'The Man Who Saw Too Much'
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Are you a non-fiction junkie? Did you binge-watch Making of a Murderer, rushed to your nearest theater to catch the political doc Weiner, and obsessively keep track of where Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna’s documentary festival Ambulante will be playing next? Then DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, may be the fest for you.

Featuring over 250 films and events and 19 world premieres, this year’s edition of DOC NYC includes projects on David Lynch, John Coltrane, famed internet boogeyman Slenderman, the Rikers island prison complex, and even the new Netflix series, Captive, about stories of hostage-taking.

Needless to say, whether you enjoy a colorful music doc or a true crime story, you’re bound to find something to enjoy at this New York City-based fest. To save you some time browsing through the overwhelming program, we’ve singled out our Top 5 Latino and Latin American picks that’ll transport you to a remote rural village in Guatemala, to the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, to the streets of Mexico City, to a homeless shelter in Puebla, and to the bustling neighborhood of the Bronx.

DOC NYC runs November 10-17, 2016.


Death by a Thousand Cuts

Juan Mejia Botero, Jake Kheel

Co-produced by Univision Noticias and Pivot, Death by a Thousand Cuts turns the murder of a patrolling Dominican park ranger into a metaphor for the growing rift between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Shot in the border between the two nations, which already signals the way each country has dealt with their natural resources (Haiti’s mass deforestation has led to illegal logging on the Dominican side fueling the black market for charcoal), this documentary exposes the long-simmering tensions that have led to xenophobia and racism on either side of the border.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
Haiti, Dominican Republic, United States
Ben Selkow, Jake Kheel


Finding Oscar

Ryan Suffern

In 1982, an elite Guatemalan government squad massacred over 200 residents of the rural village of Dos Erres. The number merely added to the hundreds of thousands who lost their lives, or were disappeared during the country’s 36-year-long civil war. As it turns out, two young boys survived the massacre. More improbably, their story and survival was the only key to finding out precisely what happened back in 1982. Produced by Steven Spielberg and Frank Marshall, Finding Oscar traces the story of finding one of the boys and the quest for justice that followed.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt

Guatemala, United States
Ryan Suffern, Mark Monroe
Frank Marshall, Ryan Suffern


The Man Who Saw Too Much

Trisha Ziff

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but what if the image is so horrific it leaves you with no words at all. Trisha Ziff’s documentary follows Enrique Metinides, whose obsession with taking pictures began as a child when he would photograph car accidents in his Mexico City neighborhood. That would later lead him to become a crime photographer, his gruesome if eye-catching images splashed across tabloids for over three decades. Exploring the morbid curiosity found in Metinides’ photos as well as in our responses to them, The Man Who Saw Too Much is as much about violent images as about the violence of images themselves.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
Trisha Ziff
Alan Suarez, Trisha Ziff


To Be Heard

Roland Legiardi Laura, Edwin Martinez, Deborah Shaffer, Amy Sultan

Winner of DOC NYC’s inaugural Metropolis Jury Prize and Audience Award in 2010, To Be Heard is a verité-style film that follows three Bronx teens as they take a radical poetry workshop. Armed with the knowledge that their voice and their ideas matter, they are pushed to find the story they wish to write for themselves. Co-directed by, among others, Roland Legiardi-Laura (the late director of The Nuyorican Poet’s Café), To Be Heard is a powerful testament to the power of arts education, especially in inner-city neighborhoods.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
United States
James Angelo, Jill Angelo, Roland Legiardi-Laura, Edwin Martinez, Deborah Shaffer, Amy Sultan


Visitor’s Day

Nicole Opper

Visitor’s Day is an observational documentary centered on Juan Carlos. At sixteen, the young man had already escaped an abusive home and lived in the streets of Mexico City before having found himself at IPODERAC. Founded in Puebla, the unique group home fosters a positive sense of community where everyone involved helps in the enterprise’s production of artisanal goat cheese. Learning the ropes of his newfound home, we slowly see Juan Carlos coming to terms with his new life. Will the upcoming visitor’s day disrupt his progress?

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
United States
Manuel Adrian Tsingaris, Carlo Corea