MoMA’s annual celebration of innovation in nonfiction film returns with an international lineup of more than 20 features and 10 shorts. The 2017 series highlights themes of justice and advocacy, reexamining how we interact with history and the landscapes we encounter, through vérité camerawork, animation, archival footage, interviews, avant-garde performance, and more.
Doc Fortnight kicks off with the New York premiere of Rahul Jain’s debut feature, Machines, which illuminates the darkness of a colossal textile factory in western India, where overworked laborers appear as mechanized as the equipment they operate. Rama Thiaw’s The Revolution Won’t Be Televised is a thrilling protest film from Senegal, following three hip-hop stars as they campaign against the nation’s corrupt president. And from Mexico, Pablo Chavarría Gutiérrez’s Las Letras uses haunting imagery and performance art to express the injustice of a man’s wrongful imprisonment for murder.
The past is unearthed, turned over, and reconsidered in new and astonishing ways by three documentary filmmakers marking their return to Doc Fortnight. Stanley Nelson continues to confront perceptions of African American history in Tell Them We Are Rising, which chronicles America’s black colleges and universities. In Austerlitz, Sergei Loznitsa journeys to a former concentration camp near Berlin and quietly films its tourist visitors. In the closing night film, Tip of My Tongue, Lynne Sachs marks her 50th birthday by gathering 12 strangers to discuss the most impactful events of their lifetimes, from the personal to the history-redefining. Other features cover major global issues from unique viewpoints—LGBT rights in Myanmar (Irrawaddy Mon Amour); the effect of globalization on the environment in China (Plastic China); or a public art action challenging the artificial border between the US and Mexico (Through the Repellent Fence: A Land Art Film). The ongoing evolution of the nonfiction form is explored in an evening of new media works from the National Film Board of Canada. And we pay homage to an esteemed filmmaker with a retrospective of the work of Emiko Omori.
Extending the union of documentary and the moving image beyond the cinema screen is Julia Heyward’s Italian Perspective, a filmic contemplation of violence that will be on display at the Museum throughout the festival.
Doc Fortnight remains dedicated to advocating the ambition of storytellers who find new ways to consider truth in our ever-changing world.