DOC NYC 2016 Nov. 10-17(continued)

 November 16, 2016.  doc-nyc-batmanAs a continuation of last week’s article about DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary film festival, I have continued watching screening links for this year’s festival. While November 17 will the last day for DOC NYC, running at IFC Center (323 6th Avenue), Chelsea’s SVA Theatre (333 West 23rd Street) and Cinepolis Chelsea (260 West 23rd Street), it is my hope that these important documentaries will find homes, through theatrical distribution, Netflix (or other online venues), TV or DVD. These are films that deserve to be seen and which will make the viewer richer for having done so.


“Circus Kid” is a fascinating documentary. It is the story of “The Pickle Family Circus” and, more specifically, the relationship between Larry Pisoni, the circus’ founder and chief performer, and his son, Lorenzo Pisoni. Lorenzo has directed this documentary about his family’s one ring, “bus and truck” traveling circus that was driven by his father, the chief clown and relentless perfectionist. Through an incredible collection of stills, home movies, videos and modern day interviews with his father, mother and circus members (which include actor and clown Bill Irwin), Lorenzo brings to life a fascinating sub-culture of circus performers and circus life. The documentary also includes clips from Lorenzo’s own one man stage show about his father. Ultimately “Circus Kid” is a heartfelt, compelling, psychological portrait of a circus, a family, the need for family and a son trying to understand his father.


Deirdre Fishel’s documentary “Care” is a shocking, poignant, eye opening look at the fastest growing work force in the country – dedicated, hard working, but grossly underpaid, home health care workers. “Ability is a temporary thing in our lives,” it is pointed out. If we live long enough, we will become disabled. This is a very sobering thought.

Despite the fact that home care is now one of the fastest growing occupations in the country, the median income for a home health care worker is only $13,000.00 a year (Medicaid pays less than six-dollars and hour). Author Ai-jen Poo, who wrote “Age of Dignity,” points out that, “We’re looking at a work force and an entire industry that has not been recognized as a real work force. Our labor laws have excluded this work force time and time again.”

Fishel examines the points of view of both the home health aids themselves (one of whom, at one point, is reduced to living in a homeless shelter, while still dedicated to her work) and the families that badly need and depend on their services. Even though the workers are underpaid, families have the tremendous expense, not to mention emotional toil, of paying for their services when a loved one needs 24 hour care. Fishel clearly has had a great rapport with her subjects, the dedicated family members and essential home health aids. Her portrait is warm and life affirming but, at the same time, infuriating as it examines a system that is truly broken. It needs to be fixed soon because, as the film points out, the number of those needing home health care will double by 2040.


Becoming More Visible” is a very interesting portrait of young transgender people. It is one of the most frank, open and educational depictions of transgender people that I have seen. Director and editor Pamela French follows a group of charismatic transgender individuals who respond to the emotional, physical and medical challenges of being transgender. Some do it through humor, while others are not yet quite satisfied with their transitions. There are issues of how families react – some positive, others negative. The film features interviews with doctors who work with transgender patients as well as various support systems that exist for them.

For more information on DOC NYC go to


About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on November 16, 2016, in DOC NYC 2016, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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