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Claus Mueller


Claus Mueller is a Film Festival Ambassador to filmfestivals.com

He is based in New York where he covers the festival scene.


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DOC NYC 2020 First Thoughts

DOC NYC is holding its eleventh edition online this year from November 11-19. The festival remains the largest North American documentary film festival and offers viewers over 200 films and numerous events. The program includes 107 feature length documentaries, with 23  world premieres,  12  international or North American premieres, and 7  United States premiers, and many short films. A detailed review of the documentary festival and some of the productions noted below will follow.

 

Listed below are several noteworthy and innovative productions from this year’s DOC NYC.

 

76 DAYS, USA, by Chinese  documentary filmmakers Hao Wu, Weix Chen, and Anonymous |

A suspenseful and immersive look at life in Wuhan during the lockdown and early days of COVID-19. Listed by the critic Allison Wilkinson among the dozen must see film this fall.

 

BLUE CODE OF SILENCE, US and Norway, Magnus Skatvold & Greg Malloza, 2020  International Premiere, from the DOC NYC Metropolis Competition section with New York stories |

In the 1970s, NYPD Detective Bob Leuci turned informant on his own squad, which was known as the most corrupt unit in the NYPD. Leuci becomes a hero for some and a pariah for others and gets to be known known among fellow police officers as the biggest “rat” on the force.

 

HAMTRAMCK, USA,   US, Justin Feltman &  Razi Jafri, 2020 | 

In Hamtramck, Michigan,  America’s first majority Muslim city, an election splits the typically harmonious community along ethnic lines and the pressures of politics reveal tensions that have been hidden beneath the city’s multicultural diversity.

 

INFLUENCE, Canada, Richard Poplack & Diana Neille, 2020, from DOC NYYC  Winner’s Circle section with films that have won awards at Oscar-qualifying international festivals |

This portrait  of the founder of the infamous public relations firm Bell and Pottinger explores the disturbing way our perceptions and politics are shaped by outside forces that foster the weaponization of communication by geo-political spin doctors.

 

KINGS OF CAPITOL HILL, Israel, Mor Loushy, 2020  |

An eye-opening look at the powerful pro-Israel lobby AIPAC through the perspectives of disaffected insiders concerned about the union between Netanyahu and Trump.  The film analyses the  history and impact of one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, where politicians trade their influence and market value for support from lobbyists. As the directors noted, AIPAC has morphed over the last few decades from a bi-partisan peace minding lobby into an arm of Israel’s right wing.

 

THE MEANING OF HITLER, USA, Petra Epperlein & Michael Tucker, 2020,  World Premiere, from the DOC NYC  Viewfinders Competition section recognizing films with a distinct directorial vision |

This provocative exploration of the lasting influence of Hitler provides insights into the resurgence of white supremacy, antisemitism, and the weaponization of history. The film follows the impact of Hitler’s legacy on the development of the radical right in several  countries.

 

ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES,  USA, Abigal Child, 2020,  world premiere |

Abigal Child offers an eerie and exciting  look into the present and future of artificial intelligence through the perspectives of robotic scientists, entrepreneurs, and a Black lesbian robot named BINA48.  Child’s experimental film explores current android developments, human machine interaction, and the ethical consequences.

SMOG TOWN, China and Netherlands, Meng Han, 2019, DOC  NYC International Perspectives section |

The environmental protection bureau of Lang Fang, just outside of Beijing is on the front lines of China’s fight against air pollution. Meng Han elucidates the conflicting interests  held by political and industrial stakeholders and the impact their decisions have on workers and the public.

 

THE VIEWING BOOTH, Israel  & US, Ra’anan Alexandrovicz, 2019, from the DOC NYC Viewfinder section |

Alexandrovicz explores how willing people are to change their most deeply held beliefs. When he asks an ardent supporter of Israel, Maia, to view footage of life in the occupied West Bank in a lab-style setting her selective perception of reality and cognitive dissonance are explored. Maia is exposed to distressing images of Palestinian life and her reactions are recorded. Months later she watches her reaction again and questions her views.

 

Claus Mueller   filmexchange@gmail.com

 

 

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