Last spring, the Chicago Media Project presented the inaugural DOC10 Film Festival, an essential collection of documentary gems that included Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami's Sundance prize-winner, "Sonita," a masterful portrait of a teenage Afghan refugee who revolts against oppression by penning rap songs. "Sonita" went on to become my favorite film of 2016, and earned a well-deserved nomination for Best Documentary Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards. Now movie buffs will get the chance to discover some of the year's best films at the second annual DOC10 Film Festival, which runs from Thursday, March 30th, through Sunday, April 2nd, at the recently renovated Davis Theater, 4614 N. Lincoln Avenue, in Chicago.
Opening the festival will be the 2017 Sundance recipient of the Special Jury Award for Inspirational Filmmaking, Amanda Lipitz's "Step," an in-depth study of the girls’ high-school step dance team in inner-city Baltimore that has been hailed as "Hoop Dreams for the social media generation." Screening alongside "Step" will be the Chicago premiere of Steve Virga's "Sweet Dillard," benefiting Chicago's Merit School of Music. "Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Story," the latest work from Chicago native John Scheinfeld ("The U.S. vs. John Lennon"), features the voice of Denzel Washington and will be screened closing night.
Rounding out the festival are Sabaah Folayan's "Whose Streets?", set in Ferguson, Missouri after the murder of Michael Brown, Jr.; Kitty Green's "Casting JonBenet," a fresh look at the child-murder case; Tali Shemesh and Asaf Sudry's prize-winner "Death in the Terminal"; Vanessa Gould's "Obit," about the obituary writers at The New York Times; Theo Anthony's "Rat Film," which examines the titular critter against the backdrop of Baltimore; Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya's "The Cinema Travelers," which chronicles the world's last remaining traveling cinemas; Shaul Schwarz with Christina Clusiau's "Trophy," a look at the big-game hunting industry; and Mike Day's "The Island and the Whales," an exploration of how marine pollution threatens the livelihood of whale hunters.
"It's a privilege and a challenge to curate 10 of the best docs from the last year," says DOC10 programmer Anthony Kaufman. "I’m very proud of this year’s lineup of award-winning and powerful films that offer a range of experiences, from highly topical and charged looks at prejudice and adversity, in 'Rat Film,' 'Whose Streets?' and 'Death in the Terminal,' to provocative yet beautiful examinations of sustainability, in 'The Islands and the Whales' and 'Trophy,' to profound and poetic humanistic portraits, in 'Obit' and 'The Cinema Travelers.'"
The first recipients of the Chicago Media Project's newly launched Impact Grant Fund will be announced at a celebratory cocktail reception for DOC10 filmmakers during the festival. Other events include a live-fundraising Pitch & Mimosas Brunch presenting three upcoming documentary projects, and a panel discussion entitled "Nonfiction Resistance: DOC10’s State of the Doc."
Stay tuned for my in-depth preview of this year's DOC10 Film Festival later this month. For more information, visit the official sites of DOC10 and the Chicago Media Project.