Film

These Are the Must-See Latino Documentaries at DOC NYC

Lead Photo: 'Harvest Season' image courtesy of DOC NYC
'Harvest Season' image courtesy of DOC NYC

America’s largest documentary festival announced the full lineup for its ninth edition. Boasting 135 feature-length documentaries and among over 300 films and events overall DOC NYC will be offering moviegoers a slew of projects from all around the world. “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. “We’re delighted to connect these films with the diverse and influential audience that comes together only in New York.”

With docs dealing with everything from A-Rod’s doping scandal and Pope Francis’ legacy to undocumented immigrants in the US and squatters in Brazil, DOC NYC’s varied slate has something for everyone. Check out a list of all the Latino projects below.

DOC NYC runs November 8-15, 2018.

1

The Sentence

Rudy Valdez

Drawing from hundreds of hours of footage, filmmaker Rudy Valdez shows the aftermath of his sister Cindy’s incarceration for conspiracy charges related to crimes committed by her deceased ex-boyfriend—something known, in legal terms, as “the girlfriend problem.” Cindy’s 15-year mandatory sentence is hard on everyone, but for her husband and children, Cindy’s sudden banishment feels like a kind of death that becomes increasingly difficult to grapple with. Valdez’s method of coping with this tragedy is to film his sister’s family for her, both the everyday details and the milestones—moments Cindy herself can no longer share in. But in the midst of this nightmare, Valdez finds his voice as both a filmmaker and activist. He and his family begin to fight for Cindy’s release during the last months of the Obama administration’s clemency initiative. Whether their attempts will allow Cindy to break free of her draconian sentence becomes the aching question at the core of this riveting and deeply personal portrait of a family in crisis.

United States
Documentary
Sam Bisbee, Jackie Kelman Bisbee
2017
85

2

Crime + Punishment

Stephen Maing

Meet the NYPD12: a group of minority whistleblower officers who risk everything to expose racially discriminatory policing practices and smash the blue wall of silence. Crime + Punishment is a captivating and cinematic investigation into the New York Police Department’s outlawed practices of quota-driven policing and officer retaliation. Using secret recordings between officers and commanders, firsthand accounts, and emotional testimony, the NYPD12 detail the explosive truth when no one else will listen. In the meantime, Manny Gomez, an ex-cop turned private investigator, collects testimony from young minorities who have been affected by these policies and targeted by officers in the name of fighting crime.

United States
Documentary
Stephen Maing, Ross Tuttle
2018
112

3

Pope Francis: A Man of His Word

Wim Wenders

Oscar-nominated for three documentaries, Wim Wenders (The Salt of the Earth, Pina, Buena Vista Social Club) trains his camera on the Argentine pontiff who has led the Catholic Church since 2013. His namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi, is famous for his love of nature, his devotion to the poor and his efforts to make peace with Islam during the Crusades. In long conversations to the camera, Pope Francis describes his hope for the world to live up to these ideals.

Germany, United States
Documentary
2018
96

4

Screwball

Billy Corben

Director Billy Corben (Cocaine Cowboys, ESPN’s The U) profiles the colorful South Florida characters who were responsible for supplying performance-enhancing drugs to the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez and other players. The film plays like a crime comedy in the tradition of Elmore Leonard. The behavior is so childish that Corben reenacts scenes with actual children playing Rodriguez and others, like a cross between The Little Rascals and The Thin Blue Line.

United States
Documentary
Alfred Spellman, Billy Corben
2018
105

5

Harvest Season

Bernardo Ruiz

Lush and luxurious, California’s Napa and Sonoma Valleys are known for their top-notch wine making. The unsung heroes of the industry are the vineyard workers and small producers, who lovingly oversee all aspects of the wine-making process, from vine to vintage. Unfolding over the course of one of the most dramatic harvests in history, Bernardo Ruiz’s film follows three people whose lives are rooted in wine making, immersing the audience in the challenging and unpredictable process.

United States
Documentary
Lauren Capps, Bernardo Ruiz
2018
83

6

Ya me voy

Lindsey Cordero, Armando Croda

Felipe, an undocumented immigrant, combs the streets of New York City collecting cans to survive on the margins of society. After 16 years of hard living, he makes plans to return to Mexico but discovers his family has squandered his money and are in debt. Felipe must decide how much more he can sacrifice for a family he no longer knows. I’m Leaving Now (Ya Me Voy) deftly explores the shifting of one’s allegiances through time and distance, and the delusions we tell ourselves to make peace with fate.

Mexico, United States
Documentary
Josh Alexander
Josh Alexander, Armando Croda, Xavier Velasco, Lindsey Cordero
2018
75

7

My Perfect World: The Aaron Hernadez Story

Geno McDermott

Aaron Hernandez had it all: a successful career with the New England Patriots, millions of fans, financial stability and a loving family. Yet behind the facade of success lurked a very different man, one with a taste for violence and danger. Produced by acclaimed sports journalists Dan Wetzel and Kevin Armstrong, My Perfect World is a detailed and compelling journey into the mind of the disgraced athlete as his life spiraled from stardom to infamy.

United States
Documentary
Geno McDermott, Shawn DeClair, Adam Talaid
2018
87

8

Care to Laugh

Julie Getz

From his humble beginnings parking cars at the Comedy Store, Jesus Trejo is relentless in his pursuit of stand-up stardom. For Jesus, who drives hours for a three-minute open mic stint, comedy is both a dream and an escape from the heavy demands of caring for his aging parents. Undeterred, Trejo funnels his experiences as a caregiver into disarmingly funny material for his stand-up routine. With tenderness and lots of humor, this heartwarming film sheds light on the increasingly common reality many adults face as their parents grow older.

United States
Documentary
Caitlin K. Rossmann, Karen Somers, Paige Smith Lee, Julie Getz, Brook Ellis, Julia Rossi, Julie Meisner Eagle
2018
77

9

Colossus

Jonathan Schienberg

The personal impact of America’s immigration policies on families is deeply felt in this intimate portrait of 15-year-old Jamil Sunsin and his family. Jamil, born in the US, only finds out his parents and older sister are undocumented when they are deported to Honduras following a routine traffic stop. Traumatized by violence there, Jamil returns to Jersey City to stay with relatives and seek a better life, but this imposed separation weighs heavily on all members of the family.

United States
Documentary
Tommy Davis
2018
84

10

Patrimonio

Lisa F. Jackson, Sarah Teale

In Baja, Mexico, a multinational developer plans to build an extensive wellness oasis, which will include nearly 4,500 homes and create a footprint that will engulf the local fishing community of Todos Santos. Faced with the encroachment of their natural resources, depletion of the local ecology and severe pollution, the fishermen band together to fight the developer and government agencies that enable these extreme resorts. Led by an inspiring young attorney, can this humble group succeed in stopping this unsustainable development and preserve their way of life?

United States
Documentary
Sarah Teale, Lisa F. Jackson
2018
83

11

The Providers

Anna Moot-Levin, Laura Green

Northern New Mexico: an area hard hit by the opioid crisis and still reeling from the 2008 recession. Exploring a community with few public resources and a depressed population, The Providers profiles three healthcare providers working for El Centro, a safety-net clinic network covering 22,000 square miles that serves those without agency, health insurance or financial resources. Each healthcare practitioner has their own very personal encounters with addiction that fuels a fervent desire to help others combat illness. Their superhuman actions form both an uplifting story about the capacity for human kindness and a stark reminder of the healthcare crisis in rural America and beyond.

https://youtu.be/K3xGZkrPKys

United States
Documentary
Anna Moot-Levin, Laura Green
2018
85

12

L’autre rio

Émilie B. Guérette

The Other Rio offers a warm and lucid look at the ingenious ways in which a community finds happiness and harmony against the odds. Surviving a harsh existence in Rio de Janeiro, 100 families live as squatters in an abandoned government building in the shadow of the 2016 Olympics’ Maracanã Stadium, under the rule of local drug dealers. The resilient residents reveal themselves to the filmmaker’s camera, presenting a very different portrait of Brazil than that presented to international visitors.

Canada
Documentary
Fanny Drew, Genevi̬ve Dulude-De Celles, Sarah Mannering
2017
88

13

14

Decade of Fire

Vivian Vazquez, Gretchen Hildebran

In the 1970s, the Bronx was on fire. Left unprotected by the city government, nearly a half-million people were displaced as their close-knit, multiethnic neighborhood burned, reducing the community to rubble. While insidious government policies caused the devastation, Black and Latino residents bore the blame. In this story of hope and resistance, Bronx native Vivian Vazquez exposes the truth about the borough’s sordid history and reveals how her embattled and maligned community chose to resist, remain and rebuild.

United States
Documentary
Julia Steele Allen, Neyda Martinez
2018
72

15

Tre Maison Dasan

Denali Tiller

While his father serves a prison sentence, Tre Janson, 13, has his own run-ins with the law. Maison Teixeira, a hyperactive 11-year-old with Asperger’s, is raised by his grandmother while his beloved dad is behind bars. Finally reunited with his mother, six-year-old Dasan Lopes must confront the truth behind her time away. This compelling portrait of growing up with absent role models poses raw and meaningful questions about justice and the cultural, societal and economic implications of mass incarceration—focusing, as it does on families and communities of color.

United States
Documentary
Denali Tiller, Rebecca Stern, Craig Piligian
2018
94