Category Archives: DOC NYC 2016

Big Sonia


Sonia Warshawski, the subject of “Big Sonia.”

November 21, 2016.  DOC NYC concluded its run of incredible documentaries this past Thursday, November 17. Even though the festival has ended, I am still making my way through the screener links sent to me from the festival’s publicist. These screener links enable me to watch DOC NYC documentaries online, as opposed to having to attend screenings in person. While I am a big advocate of seeing films in theaters with, hopefully, respectful audience members who do not talk, or need to check their smart phones every five minutes, screener links fit nicely into my all too busy schedule.

Of the DOC NYC documentaries that I have seen so far, and about which I have written during the past two weeks, “Big Sonia” more than rises to the standards of this festival. It is not only a fascinating documentary with a terrific main character in Sonia Warshawski (yes, even documentaries must have great characters) but a documentary that should be seen in light of our current political climate. In other words, those who forget history will repeat it. Read the rest of this entry


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

DOC NYC November 10 – 17


In my experience the best parts of any film festival are the documentaries. Stick with the documentaries, as opposed to the narrative films, and you will almost always see something great. This is not to take anything away from fiction filmmakers, but at film festivals the documentaries dominate. So, how fortunate we are that DOC NYC is right in our area.

DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary film festival will run from November 10 – 17 at IFC Center (323 6th Avenue), Chelsea’s SVA Theatre (333 West 23rd Street) and Cinepolis Chelsea (260 West 23rd Street). The 2016 edition of DOC NYC will include 111 feature length documentaries, 102 shorts and will showcase over 250 films and events. More than 300 documentary filmmakers and special guests are expected to be in attendance. Read the rest of this entry