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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. WNYC Studios is the producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, Freakonomics Radio, 2 Dope Queens, Death, Sex & Money, On the Media and many more.

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. WNYC Studios is the producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, Freakonomics Radio, 2 Dope Queens, Death, Sex & Money, On the Media and many more.

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. WNYC Studios is the producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, Freakonomics Radio, 2 Dope Queens, Death, Sex & Money, On the Media and many more.

Language:

English


Episodes

Seeking Justice in 'Down a Dark Stairwell'

4/16/2021
“Down a Dark Stairwell” examines how Black and Asian activists were galvanized in different ways over the 2014 New York police shooting of Akai Gurley. Filmmaker Ursula Liang covers the complex case from multiple viewpoints.

Duration:00:02:01

Profiling Oliver Sacks

4/9/2021
“Oliver Sacks: His Own Life” profiles the neurologist and best-selling author of “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.” Filmmaker Ric Burns examines the life experiences that influenced Sacks and how he reinvigorated the literary genre of scientific case histories.

Duration:00:01:48

The Rise and Fall of WeWork

4/2/2021
“WeWork: or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn” dissects the company that soared on the charisma of its co-founder Adam Neumann until its bubble burst. Filmmaker Jed Rothstein (“The China Hustle”) interviews WeWork insiders and journalists to tell a story of financial chicanery that fits alongside recent documentaries on the Fyre festival and Theranos.

Duration:00:01:47

'Tina' Captures the Singer’s Power and Vulnerability

3/26/2021
“Tina” draws upon rare archives and new interviews to profile Tina Turner with a fresh perspective on her iconic story. Oscar-winning filmmakers Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin (“Undefeated”) capture the star’s power on stage and vulnerability behind the scenes.

Duration:00:01:42

Exploring the College Admissions Scandal in Operation Varsity Blues'

3/19/2021
“Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal” tells the story of Rick Singer who helped rich parents use bribes to get their kids into elite schools. Filmmaker Chris Smith (“Fyre”) uses actors, including Matthew Modine as Singer, to artfully recreate the FBI wiretaps that led to arrests.

Duration:00:02:00

Remembering 'When We Were Kings' Director Leon Gast

3/12/2021
Filmmaker Leon Gast died this week at age 84 leaving a rich legacy of work including his documentary “When We Were Kings” about Muhammad Ali in Africa. Gast took over 20 years to complete the film. It won an Oscar and he produced a follow up called “Soul Power.”

Duration:00:01:49

'Made You Look' Tells a Twisting Tale of Art Forgery

3/5/2021
“Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art” tells the story of the New York gallery that sold over 60 forgeries attributed to art superstars such as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Robert Motherwell for over $80 million. Filmmaker Barry Avrich profiles the con artists, the duped collectors, and the master forger.

Duration:00:01:55

Why Are Evangelicals Focused on Israel?

2/26/2021
The documentary “’Til Kingdom Come” explores why American Evangelicals are preoccupied with Israel. Filmmaker Maya Zinshtein travels from Jerusalem to Washington to Kentucky to study the confluence between religion and politics that supports the right wing policies of Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu.

Duration:00:01:49

A Kenyan Journalist Turns to Politics in 'Softie'

2/19/2021
“Softie” follows Kenyan journalist Boniface Mwangi and his wife Njeri as their family faces death threats when he runs for Parliament. Filmmaker Sam Soko explores both the political and personal challenges of standing up for your beliefs.

Duration:00:01:55

'Black Art' Explores a Hidden History

2/12/2021
"Black Art: In the Absence of Light," directed by Sam Pollard, profiles a range of artists of different generations—from 90-year-old Faith Ringgold to President Obama’s portrait painter Kehinde Wiley. Visually, the film dazzles with painting, photography, collage, sculpture, conceptual art and more. Official trailer:

Duration:00:02:00

Secretaries Rise Up in '9to5: The Story of a Movement'

2/5/2021
“9to5: The Story of a Movement” tells the history of the women’s labor movement that inspired the Hollywood comedy and Dolly Parton’s song. Oscar-winning filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar (“American Factory”) interview women from across the country who describe their battles over sexual harassment, child care, and equal pay. Official trailer:

Duration:00:01:51

'We Are the Brooklyn Saints' Focuses on Youth Football

1/29/2021
The four-part series “We Are the Brooklyn Saints” looks at a grade school football team in East New York. Filmmaker Rudy Valdez profiles Coach Gawuala and other mentors who inspire young players for challenges on and off the field. Official trailer:

Duration:00:01:46

Breaking Barriers In 'How It Feels To Be Free'

1/22/2021
“How It Feels to Be Free” profiles six Black women entertainers who broke barriers of racial discrimination. Filmmaker Yoruba Richen traces the histories of Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, and Pam Grier. Official trailer:

Duration:00:01:59

Uncovering a Bizarre Murder Plot in 'Assassins'

1/15/2021
The documentary “Assassins” investigates the bizarre 2017 plot to murder Kim Jong-Nam, the half brother to North Korea’s Supreme Leader. His killing was carried out in a Malaysian airport lobby by two young women who thought they were performing for a TV prank show. Official trailer:

Duration:00:01:56

Remembering Jamal Khashoggi In 'The Dissident'

1/8/2021
“The Dissident” investigates the plan by Saudi Arabia's government to murder journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Oscar-winning director Bryan Fogel, who made “Icarus” about the Russian Olympic doping program, brings a strong commitment of speaking truth to power. Official trailer:

Duration:00:01:57

David Attenborough Delivers An Urgent Message

1/1/2021
In “David Attenborough: A Life on our Planet,” the acclaimed nature documentary maker combines stunning visuals of wildlife with a passionate appeal for humans to rescue the planet. Attenborough outlines how humans need to make changes to how we eat, farm and get energy in order to preserve our future. Official trailer:

Duration:00:01:28

August Wilson’s Legacy in 'Giving Voice'

12/25/2020
"Giving Voice” celebrates the legacy of August Wilson by looking at a competition of high school students performing his monologues on a Broadway stage. Filmmakers James D. Stern and Fernando Villena also bring in the perspectives of actors like Viola Davis and Denzel Washington who are well-versed in Wilson’s work. Official trailer:

Duration:00:01:51

Seeking Resolution in '40 Years a Prisoner'

12/18/2020
“40 Years a Prisoner” follows Mike Africa Jr. as he seeks to reunite with his parents after they were imprisoned for the 1978 shootout between Philadelphia’s police and the radical group MOVE. Filmmaker Tommy Oliver interviews eyewitnesses from multiple sides to explore the tragic dynamics that led to the violent confrontation and the flawed system of justice that followed. Official Trailer:

Duration:00:01:50

Essential Workers In 'Through The Night'

12/11/2020
"Through the Night” pays tribute to working mothers by looking at a 24-hour child care facility run by Deloris “Nunu” Hogan and and her husband Patrick in New Rochelle, NY. Filmmaker Loira Limbal won DOC NYC’s Special Jury Prize for the Ethics of Care for her poignant treatment of these essential workers. Official trailer:

Duration:00:01:46

'76 Days' Bears Witness to Wuhan

12/4/2020
The documentary “76 Days” was filmed inside hospitals in Wuhan, China during the city's lockdown at the outbreak of Covid-19. A rare independent documentary given China’s tight media control, the trio of directors Hao Wu, Weixi Chen and Anonymous present an unprecedented period of history with the pacing of a thriller. Official trailer:

Duration:00:01:52