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Documentary of the Week

WNYC

Every week, WNYC tells you about the best documentaries as they become available on screens of any size. Our hosts are Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen, co-founders of the Pure Nonfiction podcast and the DOC NYC festival, the largest non-fiction film festival in the U.S.

Every week, WNYC tells you about the best documentaries as they become available on screens of any size. Our hosts are Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen, co-founders of the Pure Nonfiction podcast and the DOC NYC festival, the largest non-fiction film festival in the U.S.
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Location:

New York, NY

Networks:

WNYC

Description:

Every week, WNYC tells you about the best documentaries as they become available on screens of any size. Our hosts are Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen, co-founders of the Pure Nonfiction podcast and the DOC NYC festival, the largest non-fiction film festival in the U.S.

Language:

English


Episodes

The Giraffe Lady

1/10/2020
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The documentary “The Woman Who Loves Giraffes” profiles Anne Innis Dagg, who was a pioneer at studying animals in the wild in the 1950s, preceding Jane Goodall in Africa. Filmmaker Alison Reid draws upon archival footage from Dagg’s giraffe research and examines how she was held back as a woman in her career development by the patriarchal university system in her home country of Canada. — Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers For more information, click here to visit the official film web...

Duration:00:01:48

Israel’s Advocate for Palestinians

1/3/2020
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The documentary “Advocate” profiles Israeli lawyer Lea Tsemel, who defends Palestinians that many regard as terrorists. Filmmakers Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche trace her history over several decades and follow her as she continues to defend Palestinians today, including the case of a 13-year-old boy accused of attempted murder of a Jew. The film is on the short list of 15 competing for the five slots as Oscar nominees for best documentary —to be announced later this month. —...

Duration:00:01:52

It’s So Easy to Fall in Love with Linda Ronstad

12/27/2019
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“Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice” profiles the singer who made a success of multiple genres from rock and country to American standards and Mexican folk songs. Filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman deliver generous helpings of live performances from over the years and interview Ronstadt’s close associates including Dolly Parton, Emmy Lou Harris and Don Henley. — Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:02:01

The Soul of Big Bird

12/20/2019
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The documentary “I Am Big Bird: The Carroll Spinney Story" profiles the Sesame Street puppeteer who died on December 8 after embodying the Sesame Street characters Big Bird and Oscar the Ground for nearly 50 years. Filmmakers Dave LaMattina and Chad Walker trace how Spinney turned his childhood dreams of puppeteering into an adult reality. — Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:02:07

The Ecstasy Of Dance

12/13/2019
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The new documentary "Cunningham" makes beautiful use of 3D photography to convey the artistry of the choreographer Merce Cunningham. He belonged to a postwar wave of avant garde, and the film reminds us that their work was deeply divisive before it became canonized. — Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers For more information, click here to visit the official film web site.

Duration:00:02:02

A Mother Under Siege in Syria

12/6/2019
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Syrian filmmaker Waad al-Kateab chronicles four years of living in Aleppo during wartime in the documentary diary “For Sama” (titled after her daughter). The film, directed in collaboration with Edward Watts, contains unexpected moments of sweetness, humor, and comradery. It won the Cannes Golden Eye Award for documentary among many other festival prizes. — Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:02:03

Harlem’s Mecca of Music

11/29/2019
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The documentary “The Apollo” examines the history of Harlem’s famous theater and its efforts to stay vital in the 21st Century. Director Roger Ross Williams covers both the celebrity performers on its stage and the lesser known managers, fans, ushers and amateur night performers who are the soul of the institution. — Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:01:49

The Dark Side of Hot Yoga

11/22/2019
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"Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator” traces the rise and fall of the multi-millionaire hot yoga teacher Bikram Choudhury. Oscar-winning filmmaker Eva Orner documents the stories of former students who accused him of rape and how they’ve been disappointed by the criminal justice system. — Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:02:03

One Woman's Take On TV News

11/15/2019
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“Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project” tells the story of a Philadelphia woman who recorded television non-stop accumulating 70,000 VHS tapes. Director Matt Wolf explores Stokes’ complex life. She had communist sympathies, but came into immense wealth that supported her quixotic archival mission. — Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers For more information, click here to visit the official film web site.

Duration:00:02:09

When Schemers Become Dreamers

11/8/2019
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"Narrowsburg" is a whimsical tale about a small town in the Catskills where an independent film stirred up Hollywood dreams and disappointments. The film plays like "The Music Man" with a dark side. It's one of more than 100 documentaries premiering at the DOC NYC festival running in Greenwich Village and Chelsea until November 15th. — Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers For more information, click here to visit the festival web site.

Duration:00:01:55

Errol Morris vs Steve Bannon

11/1/2019
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In the documentary "American Dharma," the Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris interviews political operative Steve Bannon about his journey from Harvard to Hollywood to Trump's White House. Morris weaves in clips from classic films with Gregory Peck, John Wayne and Orson Welles that speak to different aspects of Bannon's career. — Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers For more information, click here to visit the Errol Morris web site.

Duration:00:02:04

Talking Sex with Dr. Ruth

10/25/2019
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The documentary "Ask Dr. Ruth" profiles the sex therapist now in her 90s, from her life as German Jewish refugee to becoming a talk show celebrity. Filmmaker Ryan White examines how she turned many tragic events into motivators for demystifying taboo topics. — Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:01:55

Living Underground in Syria

10/18/2019
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The documentary “The Cave,” from the Oscar-nominated Syrian director Feras Fayyad (“Last Men in Aleppo”), looks at an underground hospital outside Damascus. At the center is the young female pediatrician Dr. Amani, who has to fend off male chauvinism even while she’s saving lives. — Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers For more information, click here to visit the film's web site.

Duration:00:01:48

The Gift of Johnny Cash

10/11/2019
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The documentary "The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash" traces the musician's career in his own words and through interviewers with his admirers from Emmylou Harris to Bruce Springsteen. Director Thom Zimny explores the artistry of Cash and also his struggles with adversity. — Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers For more information, click here.

Duration:00:02:07

Diego Maradona, Larger Than Life

10/4/2019
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Oscar-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia ("Amy) tells the larger-than-life story of World Cup football star "Diego Maradona." The film focuses on his tumultuous years in the 1980s, when his loyalty was divided between his home country of Argentina and his adopted country of Italy, culminating in an epic match at the 1990 World Cup. — Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:01:59

Who Has Your Data?

9/27/2019
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The documentary "The Great Hack" investigates how our personal data is collected, monetized and weaponized to sway elections. Filmmakers Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim frame the story around the case of Cambridge Analytica, interviewing the company's insiders, whistleblowers and critics. — Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:02:02

Close-up on Buzz Bissinger

9/20/2019
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The documentary "Buzz" profiles the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Buzz Bissinger ("Friday Night Lights") as he explores his own gender and sexuality while writing about Caitlyn Jenner. Filmmaker Andrew Shea creates an intimate portrait of Bissinger experimenting with cross-dressing and fetishes as he seeks to find his own authentic self. — Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers For more information, click here to visit the official film web site.

Duration:00:01:48

Hollywood's Gender Problem

9/13/2019
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"This Changes Everything" profiles Geena Davis and other Hollywood women trying to fix gender discrimination on screen and behind the scenes. Filmmaker Tom Donahue and a majority female film crew including Davis as Executive Producer interview an all-star roster of talent from Shonda Rhimes to Meryl Streep. — Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:01:58

Celebrating Gospel Music

9/6/2019
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"Say Amen, Somebody" captures the early pioneers of gospel music, Willie Mae Smith and Thomas Dorsey, in a celebratory documentary that will move even non-believers. Director George Nierenberg made the film in the early 1980s and it's now been lovingly restored for re-release. — Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers For more information, click here to visit the official film web site.

Duration:00:01:59

How Miles Davis Birthed the Cool

8/30/2019
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The documentary "Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool" profiles the trumpet player who left an indelible mark on 20th century music. Director Stanley Nelson celebrates Davis' soaring artistic achievement, but doesn't shy away from the more troubling sides of his personality in this complex portrait. — Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers For more information, click here to visit the official film web site.

Duration:00:02:05