Documentary of the Week-logo

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.
More Information

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

Black Lives on Film

2/16/2018
More
St. Clair Bourne was a pivotal figure in putting black lives on film, from the 1970s to his death in 2007. As founder of the Black Documentary collective, he also mentored generations of black filmmakers. Now a retrospective at the Metrograph provides a rare opportunity to see his documentaries on Paul Robeson, Amiri Baraka, Spike Lee and more, plus films by those who came up after him. Our segment highlights his film “Langston Hughes: The Dream Keeper." — Thom Powers and Raphaela...

Duration:00:01:48

A Saloon Owner Tries to Save the World

2/9/2018
More
The documentary “The Peacemaker” profiles Boston bar owner Padraig O’Malley, who’s known in the world of international diplomacy for his skills at negotiating in conflict zones. Filmmaker James Demo follows O’Malley to war torn cities in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, the Middle East and beyond to understand what makes him tick. — Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen For more information, click here to visit the official film web site.

Duration:00:02:04

The Challenge of Police Reform

2/2/2018
More
In the documentary “The Force,” director Peter Nicks embeds with the Oakland police force for two years during a period when leaders tried to reform after past abuses of power. While there are many documentaries about law and order, few bring the depth and nuance of this one. — Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:01:56

The Life of Lorraine Hansberry

1/26/2018
More
Lorraine Hansberry, the playwright best known for “A Raisin in the Sun,” gets a long overdue biography in the documentary “Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart.” Filmmaker Tracy Heather Strain spent 14 years on the film, and delivers a complex portrait of Hansberry as a writer, radical and lesbian ahead of her time. — Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen For more information, click here to visit the official film web site.

Duration:00:01:39

Obama’s Ticking Clock

1/19/2018
More
In “The Final Year," filmmaker Greg Barker follows key members of President Obama’s foreign-policy team over the course of their last year in office. As we watch Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Ambassador Samantha Power and others at work, their approach makes a striking contrast to the current administration. — Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen For more information, click here to visit the official film web site.

Duration:00:01:56

The Magic of the Met

1/12/2018
More
Susan Froemke’s documentary “The Opera House” looks back on the history of New York’s Metropolitan Opera, focusing on the 1966 opening of its current home at Lincoln Center. The history encompasses larger than life characters including New York’s master builder Robert Moses, the Met leader Rudolph Bing and visionary director Franco Zeffirelli. The new building opened with soprano Leontyne Price. — Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen For more information, click here to visit the film web...

Duration:00:02:07

Prince in His Prime

1/5/2018
More
The performance film “Prince: Sign O the Times” came out in 1987, but was out of distribution for over 25 years. Now it’s back, on platforms such as iTunes and Showtime. The visuals are very much an '80’s period piece with an abundance of neon, smoke and shoulder pads. But the main attraction is Prince in his prime, playing alongside singer Sheena Easton, drummer Sheila E, dancer Cat Glover and an extraordinary band. — Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen For more information about the...

Duration:00:01:53

The Vietnam War, In 10 Parts

12/29/2017
More
One of the most ambitious documentaries of the year is PBS’ 10-part series “The Vietnam War” directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. The series puts an emphasis on the voices of participants from both the American and Vietnamese sides. — Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:01:49

Uncovering a CIA Conspiracy

12/22/2017
More
Errol Morris’ six-part documentary “Wormwood” investigates the 1953 death of CIA agent Frank Olson, which has been a six-decade obsession for Olson's son Eric. Morris combines interviews and archival footage with dramatic re-enactments featuring the actor Peter Sarsgaard at Frank Olson. — Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:01:42

Recy Taylor Refused to be Silent

12/15/2017
More
The film “The Rape of Recy Taylor” documents the case of a black woman who was gang-raped in Alabama in 1944 and defied the Jim Crow south by speaking out, with the support of Rosa Parks and others. Filmmaker Nancy Buirski reconstructs the events with testimonies from Taylor and her siblings, along with historian Danielle McGuire who wrote a book on the case, “At The Dark End of the Street." — Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen For more information, click here to visit the official...

Duration:00:01:32

A Quest for Stability in North Philly

12/8/2017
More
The documentary “Quest” follows 10 years in the life of the Rainey family in North Philadelphia as they operate a community music studio in a neighborhood challenged by economic instability. Filmmaker Jonathan Olshefski creates a memorable portrait of the married couple Christopher and Christine’a Rainey and their family. — Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:01:42

Fifty Years of Rolling Stone

12/1/2017
More
“Rolling Stone: Stories from the Edge” is a 2-part HBO documentary tracing the history of the magazine’s most memorable articles. Filmmakers Alex Gibney and Blair Foster weave new interviews with classic footage from the worlds of rock n roll, politics and more. — Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:02:02

Baltimore Lives Matter

11/24/2017
More
Actress Sonja Sohn is best known for role in the "The Wire” as the police officer Kima. Now she gets behind the camera for the HBO documentary "Baltimore Rising” following activists and police officers after the death of Freddie Gray. — Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:01:55

Jerry Garcia’s Frankenstein Creation

11/17/2017
More
Filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev explores the history of the Grateful Dead from the psychedelic sixties to the death of band leader Jerry Garcia in 1995. The six-part film on Amazon goes beyond the scope of the average rock documentary to capture the legacy of the band in a way that’s meaningful to both devoted deadheads and outsiders. For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:01:50

Sammy's Song

11/10/2017
More
Sammy Davis Jr. had multiple talents as a singer, dancer and actor. He broke down color barriers from Broadway to Las Vegas, even doing impressions of white actors in the 1940s. Long seen as Frank Sinatra's sidekick in the Rat Pack, the documentary "Sammy Davis Jr.: I Gotta Be Me" puts him back in the spotlight as a trailblazer. — Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:01:44

Joan Didion Looks Back

11/3/2017
More
Joan Didion, now in her 80s, had long resisted being profiled in a documentary. But she couldn’t say no when the director was her nephew, the actor Griffin Dunne. They have a warm rapport as she tells the stories behind her novels, essays and screenplays in the documentary “Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold.” — Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:01:48

Leaving the Fold

10/27/2017
More
The Netflix documentary “One of Us” follows three members of New York’s Hasidic Jewish community who want to explore a more secular way of life. Oscar-nominated filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp) stay with their subjects for over a year with great sensitivity. The film explores the universal theme of what it means to separate yourself from everything familiar. — Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:01:37

Life and Work Among The Chimps

10/20/2017
More
The documentary “Jane” plays like a romantic epic traversing Jane Goodall’s early days studying chimpanzees in Tanzania. Filmmaker Brett Morgen draws upon a rediscovered archive of gorgeous 16 mm footage from the 1960s, combined with a new candid interview and an original score by Philip Glass. — Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen For more information, click here to visit the official film web site.

Duration:00:01:40

Health Care for Undocumented Workers

10/13/2017
More
The HBO short documentary "Clinica de Migrantes” profiles a Philadelphia clinic, Puentes de Salud, that delivers free health care to undocumented workers. Filmmaker Maxim Pozdorovkin covers both the clinic's doctors and patients, reminding us of their humanity and ours. — Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:01:54

Transforming Lives Through Art

10/6/2017
More
In “Faces Places,” the eminent French filmmaker Agnès Varda teams with the street artist JR (known for his recent mural on the Mexican border). They take a wondrous journey of making art and transforming lives in villages across France. This late career gem from the 89-year-old Varda has already won festival prizes in Cannes and Toronto. — Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen For more information, click here to visit the film web site.

Duration:00:01:37

See More