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Werner Herzog’s Into the Abyss to Open DOC NYC Film Fest

Werner Herzog's death row documentary Into The Abyss, about two men who committed a triple homicide and the people who know them and their victims will open this year's DOC NYC film festival on November 2. (Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams opened the inaugural festival last year.) There are over 50 documentaries on the slate, among them I Want My Name Back about ur-rappers the Sugarhill Gang's battles with the music industry, Jonathan Demme's film about a New Orleans resident I’m Carolyn Parker: The Good, the Mad and the Beautiful, Herzog's condensed version of a the previously existing documentary Happy People: A Year in the Taiga about Siberian fur trappers, and a film about Charlotte Rampling's career. Take a look at the rest of the fest's early lineup.

GALAS

Opening Night: INTO THE ABYSS, Werner Herzog (NYC premiere) — Examining the legacy of a triple homicide in Texas, Herzog explores an American Gothic landscape and interviews a man on death row. A Sundance Selects release, opens Nov. 11. Director attending. Wed., Nov. 2, 7:30pm (NYU Skirball)

Centerpiece: LEMON, Laura Brownson & Beth Levison (U.S. premiere) — Three-time felon and one-time Tony winner, Lemon Andersen struggles to mount a comeback show at the Public Theater. Directors, Lemon Andersen and executive producer Russell Simmons attending. Fri., Nov. 4, 6:30pm (NYU Eisner); Wed., Nov. 9 2:00pm (IFC Center)

Spotlight Gala plus Awards Night Presentation: THE ISLAND PRESIDENT, Jon Shenk (NYC premiere) — Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, a former dissident elected leader at age 41, campaigns for a reversal in climate change to save his country. Winner of the People’s Choice Documentary Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. Director attending. Tue., Nov. 8, 8:30pm (NYU Skirball)

VIEWFINDERS COMPETITION

BRINGING KING TO CHINA, Kevin McKiernan (NYC premiere) — The filmmaker’s daughter, Cáitrín McKiernan, travels to China and attempts to stage a play about Martin Luther King Jr. amidst cross-cultural confusion and controversy. Director and Cáitrín McKiernan attending. Thu., Nov. 3, 9:30pm (IFC Center); Fri., Nov. 4, 11:15am (IFC Center)

CALVET, Dominic Allan (U.S. premiere) — Former Cannes bodyguard Jean Marc Calvet ripped off a Miami mobster and re-invented himself as a celebrated painter, but yearns to be reunited with his son. Director and Jean Marc Calvet attending. Sat., Nov. 5, 4:30pm (IFC Center); Mon., Nov. 7, 1:45pm (IFC Center) (Calvet 11/4-11/8 NY exhibit info. at www.monkdogz.com)

FAMBUL TOK, Sara Terry (NYC premiere) — As Sierra Leone recovers from war, locals set up their own truth and reconciliation councils around campfires as an alternative to costly Western initiatives. Director attending. Sun., Nov. 6, 1:45pm (IFC Center); Tue., Nov. 8, 11:30am (IFC Centert)

FLAT DADDY, Nara Garber & Betsy Nagler (World premiere) — While U.S. soldiers serve abroad, their children remember them through large mounted photographs known as “flat daddies.” Directors and special guests attending. Sun., Nov. 6, 4:00pm (IFC Center); Tue., Nov. 8, 1:30pm (IFC Center)

THE GREATER GOOD, Kendall Nelson & Chris Pilaro (NYC premiere) — In the tradition of “big issue” films like Waiting for Superman and Food, Inc, the filmmakers investigate the dramatic expansion of vaccines and the relationship between Big Pharma and government oversight. Directors attending. Sat., Nov. 5, 6:45pm (NYU Eisner); Mon., Nov. 7, 1:30pm (IFC Center)

INGRID BETANCOURT — SIX YEARS IN THE JUNGLE, Angus MacQueen (U.S. premiere) — The Colombian politician who was held hostage by guerrillas for several years gives a riveting account of her experiences. Producer Christoph Jörg attending. Thu., Nov. 3, 9:15pm (IFC Center), Fri. Nov. 4, 1:15pm (IFC Center)

KUMARÉ, Vikram Gandhi (NYC premiere) — In a Borat-like stunt, the director poses as a guru and gains a following in Arizona until he feels compelled to reveal his true identity. Audience winner at SXSW. Director attending. Fri., Nov. 4, 9:30pm (IFC Center); Mon., Nov. 7, 11:30am (IFC Center)

SCENES OF A CRIME, Grover Babcock & Blue Hadaegh (NYC premiere) — Using police footage of a ten-hour interrogation, the filmmakers make a persuasive case to re-open a murder conviction in upstate New York. Directors attending. Sat., Nov. 5, 9:30pm (IFC Center); Mon., Nov. 7, 11:45am

UNDEFEATED, Daniel Lindsay & T.J. Martin (NYC premiere) — A volunteer coach transforms a Memphis high-school football team in a film that plays like a real-life version of Friday Night Lights. A Weinstein Company release. Directors attending. Mon., Nov. 7, 6:30pm (IFC Center); Tue., Nov. 8, 3:45pm (IFC Center)

Note: the Viewfinders Competition also includes THE ISLAND PRESIDENT, included above as the Spotlight Gala.


METROPOLIS COMPETITION

BLAZING THE TRAIL: THE O'KALEMS IN IRELAND, Peter Flynn — (NYC premiere) Drawing upon silent era footage, this film reveals the lost history of a pioneering New York company that filmed extensively in Ireland. Director attending. Sun., Nov. 6, 6:20pm (IFC Center); Tue., Nov. 8, 11:00am (IFC Center)

GIRL WITH BLACK BALLOONS, Corinne van der Borch (U.S. premiere) — The filmmaker delves into the life of mysterious Chelsea Hotel resident Bettina and uncovers artistic treasures. Plays with the short THE PARTY IN TAYLOR MEAD’S KITCHEN (Jeffrey Wengrofsky), a visit with the Warhol-era raconteur. Directors, Taylor Mead and Bettina attending. Sun., Nov. 6, 7:30pm (NYU Eisner); Mon., Nov. 7, 3:45pm (IFC Center)

I WANT MY NAME BACK, Roger Paradiso (World premiere) — Years after their breakthrough hit “Rapper’s Delight,” the original Sugarhill Gang members battle music industry corruption. Director and film subjects Master Gee and Wonder Mike attending. Sat., Nov. 5, 9:30pm (NYU Eisner); Tue., Nov. 8, 3:30pm (IFC Center)

THIS SPACE AVAILABLE, Gwenaëlle Gobé (World premiere) — Inspired by the writings of Marc Gobé (Emotional Branding), his filmmaker daughter looks at the commercialization of public space. Director and Marc Gobé attending. Sat., Nov. 5, 7:00pm (IFC Center); Tue. Nov. 8, 1:15pm (IFC Center)

UNRAVELED, Marc H. Simon (NYC premiere) — Mark Dreier, arguably the worst Wall Street crook after Bernie Madoff, reflects on his crimes while under house arrest awaiting his prison sentence. Director attending. Sat., Nov. 5, 4:00 pm (NYU Eisner); Wed., Nov. 9, 12:00pm (IFC Center)

Note: the Metropolis Competition also includes the films FIRST POSITION, listed below under Kaleidoscope Family Docs; and LEMON, included above as the Centerpiece Gala.

SPECIAL EVENTS

CHARLOTTE RAMPLING: THE LOOK, Angelina Maccarone (NYC premiere) — Actress Charlotte Rampling reflects on her career through conversations with other artists including Paul Auster, Peter Lindbergh, and Frederick Seidel, intercut with iconic scenes from her films. Director and Charlotte Rampling attending. Thu., Nov. 3, 7:00pm (IFC Center)

An Evening With Elliott Erwitt — The acclaimed photographer presents his lesser-known forays in doc filmmaking: The Many Faces of Dustin Hoffman (1968); Beauty Knows No Pain (1971) and Red, White and Blue Grass (1973); plus a new short by Douglas J. Sloan, Elliott Erwitt: I Bark at Dogs. Directors attending. Thu., Nov. 10, 7:00pm (IFC Center)

A FORCE OF NATURE, Barbara Kopple (NYC premiere) — In this profile of the outspoken journalist and philanthropist Ellen Ratner, we follow her from Washington, D.C. to storm-damaged Mississippi to war-torn Sudan. Will be followed by an extended conversation between the director and Ellen Ratner. Sun., Nov. 6, 8:45pm (IFC Center)

HAPPY PEOPLE: A YEAR IN THE TAIGA, Dmitry Vasyukov, condensed and narrated by Werner Herzog (NYC premiere) — In this look at Siberian fur trappers through four seasons, Herzog condenses Vasyukov’s four-hour work to 95 minutes and adds new narration turning it “into a mesmerizing ‘Walden’-like ode to wilderness life” (Variety). Fri., Nov 4, 9:15pm (NYU Eisner)

THE SOUND OF MUMBAI: A MUSICAL, Sarah McCarthy — The Sound of Music gets an Indo-twist when the Bombay Chamber Orchestra recruits slum kids to perform the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musical. Courtesy of HBO Documentary Films. Director attending. Tue., Nov. 8, 6:00pm (NYU Skirball)

ICONS

BEYOND ICONIC, Hanna Sawka Hamaguchi (NYC premiere) — Co-presented by Magnum Photos. Renowned for his Hollywood and jazz portraits, photographer Dennis Stock reflects on what makes a great picture, filmed shortly before his death in 2010. Director, Magnum photographer Thomas Hoepker and Susan Richards (widow of Dennis Stock) attending. Wed., Nov. 9, 7:00pm (IFC Center)

EAMES: THE ARCHITECT AND THE PAINTER, Jason Cohn & Bill Jersey — This skillful portrait brings fresh insight to the personal lives of the husband and wife team of Charles and Ray Eames and their lasting impact on modern design. A First Run Features release, opens Nov. 18 at IFC Center. Directors attending. Sat., Nov. 5, 2:00pm (IFC Center)

GOD'S FIDDLER: JASCHA HEIFETZ, Peter Rosen (NYC premiere) — The first modern violin virtuoso, Jascha Heifetz became a cultural touchstone widely referenced from the Muppets to Woody Allen. This film explores his life and career. Opening Nov. 11 at the Quad Cinema. Director attending. Sun., Nov. 6, 1:30pm (IFC Center)

A GOOD MAN, Bob Hercules & Gordon Quinn — Tony-winning choreographer Bill T. Jones takes on an ambitious project to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s Bicentennial. Bob Hercules and Janet Wong (Bill T. Jones associate artistic director) attending. Sat., Nov. 5, 11:45am (IFC Center)

JOE FRAZIER: WHEN THE SMOKE CLEARS, Mike Todd (NYC premiere) — Years after his epic boxing matches with Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, Joe Frazier presided over a legendary Philadelphia gym that now has to close. Director and Joe Frazier attending. Tue., Nov. 8, 6:30pm (IFC Center)

WITH GREAT POWER: THE STAN LEE STORY, Nikki Frakes, Terry Dougas & Will Hess (NYC premiere) — Stan Lee, a key creative force behind Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Thor and the Hulk, recounts his life from the Depression era to Marvel Comics and beyond. Will Hess attending. Sun., Nov. 6, 2:00pm (NYU Eisner); Thu., Nov. 10, 2:45pm (IFC Center)

AMERICAN PERSPECTIVES

BROOKLYN BOHEME, Nelson George & Diane Paragas — The cultural impact of Fort Greene, Brooklyn is examined in interviews with Chris Rock, Spike Lee and others. Directors attending. Wed., Nov. 9, 9:30pm (IFC Center)

FIGHTVILLE, Petra Epperlein & Michael Tucker (NYC premiere) — The directors of Gunner Palace follow the rise of mixed martial arts star Dustin “the Diamond” Poirier. Directors attending. Sun., Nov. 6, 4:45pm (NYU Eisner)

I'M CAROLYN PARKER: THE GOOD, THE MAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, Jonathan Demme (NYC premiere) — A poignant profile of a resident of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward struggling to rebuild her home after Katrina, filmed over several years. Director attending. Fri., Nov. 4, 7:00pm (IFC Center); Thu., Nov. 10, 4:45pm (IFC Center)

MOTHERS OF BEDFORD, Jenifer McShane — Women incarcerated in New York state struggle to be parents from behind bars, filmed over five years. Director and film subject attending. Tue., Nov. 8, 6:00pm (IFC Center)

NO LOOK PASS, Melissa Johnson (NYC premiere) — Emily “Etay” Tay, daughter of Burmese immigrants and a Harvard basketball star, confronts the challenge of straddling two worlds as she struggles to come out to her parents. Director and film subject Katie Rollins attending. Sat., Nov. 5, 2:15pm (IFC Center); Mon. Nov. 7, 10:15pm (IFC Center)

STANDING SILENT, Scott Rosenfelt (NYC premiere) — Phil Jacobs, editor of the Baltimore Jewish Times, grapples with reporting a controversial story about sexual abuse in his community. Director attending. Mon., Nov. 7, 6:00pm (IFC Center)

INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES

BALLYMUN LULLABY, Frank Berry (U.S. premiere) — In Dublin’s notorious housing estate of Ballymun, a music teacher leads a youth choir on an uplifting project. Director attending. Mon., Nov. 7, 9:15pm (IFC Center)

JEALOUS OF THE BIRDS, Jordan Bahat (NYC premiere) — The filmmaker interviews Jews who stayed in Germany after the Holocaust to understand their legacy. Director attending. Sun., Nov. 6, 4:15pm (IFC Center): Thu., Nov. 10, 12:45pm (IFC Center)

MY FATHER EVGENI, Andrei Zagdansky (U.S. premiere) — Enlivened by eclectic footage from Soviet archives, this artful film traces the relationship of a Ukrainian father and his son separated by emigration. Director attending. Sat., Nov. 5, 9:15pm (IFC Center)

PERDIDA, Viviana García Besné (NYC premiere) — A personal history of the Mexican film dynasty known for its outrageous genre films. Director attending. Sun., Nov. 6, 6:30pm (IFC Center)


KALEIDOSCOPE FAMILY DOCS

EMPTY HAND: THE REAL KARATE KIDS, Kevin Derek (World premiere) — Four youths compete in the U.S. to become a karate champion. Director attending. Sat., Nov. 5, 11:30am (IFC Center)

FIRST POSITION, Bess Kargman (NYC premiere) — Ballet students from around the world compete in Manhattan for scholarships. Director and several film subjects attending. Sat., Nov. 5, 1:15pm (NYU Eisner)

FLYING MONSTERS 3D, Matthew Dyas and SEA MONSTERS 3D: A PREHISTORIC ADVENTURE, Sean Phillips — A double feature of two 40-minute National Geographic films recreating the worlds of prehistoric creatures. Sun., Nov. 6, 11:30am (IFC Center)

MIDNIGHT ROCK DOCS

BETTER THAN SOMETHING: JAY REATARD, Alexandria Hammond & Ian Markiewicz (NYC premiere) — Profiling garage rock icon Jay Reatard, this portrait captures him in the months before his death, combined with moving interviews with his friends and family. Directors attending. Fri., Nov. 4, midnight (IFC Center)

CURE FOR PAIN: THE MARK SANDMAN STORY, Robert G. Bralver & David Ferino (NYC premiere) — Drawing on previously unseen home movies and archival footage, this film gives fresh perspective on the lead singer of Morphine. Directors attending. Fri., Nov. 4, midnight (IFC Center)

DEPECHE MODE 101 (1989), Davis Dawkins, Chris Hegedus & D A Pennebaker — The festival revives this rarely screened gem from 1989 following the synth/pop superstar band up to its final concert at the Rose Bowl.Sat., Nov. 5, midnight (IFC Center)

INNI, Vincent Morisset (U.S. premiere) — The beloved Icelandic band Sigur Rós is artfully and intimately captured, interweaving footage shot over the band’s first ten years. Director attending. Sat., Nov. 5, midnight (IFC Center)

SHORT-LIST

BUCK, Cindy Meehl — Winner of the Audience Award at both Sundance and Full Frame, Buck profiles the real-life horse whisperer Buck Brannaman. Courtesy of Sundance Selects. Director attending. Fri., Nov. 4, 9:00pm (IFC Center)

THE INTERRUPTERS, Steve James — Hoop Dreams director Steve James partners with writer Alex Kotlowitz (There Are No Children Here) following the organization CeaseFire that works to stop violence on the streets of Chicago. Courtesy of Cinema Guild. Director attending. Wed., Nov. 9, 9:00pm (IFC Center)

PAGE ONE: INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES, Andrew Rossi — Gaining unprecedented access to the paper of record, the filmmakers follow media reporters David Carr, Brian Stelter, and others during a year of dramatic change. Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. Director and film subject Brian Stetler attending. Wed., Nov. 9, 6:30pm (IFC Center)

PROJECT NIM, James Marsh — From the Oscar-winning director of Man on Wire comes another seventies tale about a Columbia University project to teach language to a chimpanzee named Nim. Courtesy of HBO Documentary Films and Roadside Attractions. Thu., Nov. 10, 9:30pm (IFC Center)

The complete schedule can be found here.

Photo: Werner Herzog Film