On this night, we revel in the NYC of the late Twenty Teens, contemplate a few of its great agonies, and celebrate some of the everyday miracles that make Gotham so goddamn exciting. The of-the-moment movies in this year’s New York Non-Fiction chronicle the endurance of the city’s cab drivers suffering through an era of technological disruption; document the toil of e-bike delivery workers as they traverse our over-policed streets; and use video game technology to critique the questionable city planning strategies of Robert Moses. One film reminds us of the authentic afro-futurist artistry of native-born superstar Aaliyah, while another questions the provenance of a recently unearthed Russian painting found for sale in a Bed Stuy hardware story. No two stories are the same, but all are scored by the multitudinous rhythms of the city, sometimes plodding, sometimes racing. So, come. Bob your head, tap your toes, and meet your neighbors.
A-Z of Aaliyah
Cara Stricker | US | 7
The A-Z of Aaliyah, a film celebrating Aaliyah’s legacy, follows a poetic take on following the iconic life of Aaliyah from her family beginnings in Bed Stuy to her timeless influence universally. Staying authentic to how the project came to be, inspired by a movement generated from her fans globally, many of the spaces and people filmed in New York are directly tied to Aaliyah’s personal narrative and influence. In a gesture of staying true to Aaliyah’s unearthly touch on the world, and unique ability to create her own language within each of her mediums boundless of stereotypes or preconceived ideas, the film approaches the typical structure of the A - Z and re-invent it to create a non-linear alphabet structure within the bounds of language. The film is base on the flow of poetic vignettes, rhythm and story. The film is dedicated to all those who she lives on within. Thank You to Rashad Haughton & The Haughton Family, MAC, ID and Vice.
Olivier Bernier | US | 16
An iconic element of New York City life is dying. Until recently, driving a yellow cab in New York was a gateway to the middle class; but with the emergence of highly unregulated, multi-billion dollar app dispatch companies, the city’s yellow cab drivers are now unable to make ends meet. Many of these cabbies invested in taxi medallions (permits to operate their own cabs, rather than leasing cars from others) to fund their retirement, but now find themselves deeply in debt due to the medallions' sharp decline in value. At least 6 of these drivers have committed suicide. The film follow two drivers, Nicholas Hent (whose best friend and fellow cabbie took his own life as a result of economic distress) and John McDonagh (who has spent over 40 years behind the wheel of a yellow cab) as they maneuver through the rubble of a once thriving industry.
The Bony Lady (La Flaca)
Thiago Zanato & Adriana Barbosa | US, Brazil, Mexico | 20
Arely Vazquez is a Mexican transgender woman leader of the Saint Death Cult living in Queens, New York. During her yearly celebration to "La Flaca" (The Bony Lady), as she likes to call her, Arely faces a lot of challenges to fulfill a promise she made ten years ago.
A Winter with Delivery Workers
Jing Wang | US | 10
A Winter with Delivery Workers is a short documentary about the struggles of Chinese immigrant delivery workers in New York City, who face unjust hyper-policing while riding their electric bikes, as they form an advocacy community to fight back. The documentary rides with the delivery workers, side by side, throughout the movement. Its goal is to tell delivery workers' story, which is an invisible, integral part of New York City’s ecosystem, in an effort to bridge the gap between Chinese immigrant workers and the rest of New York City.
Olivier Bernier | US | 11
Peter Guppy, the owner of Prosperity Hardware in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn New York, believes he has uncovered an authentic Kazimir Malevich painting, which could be worth millions of dollars. For years, he has been trying to prove that his painting is a genuine Malevich. He’ll point out a faded face that was erased long ago, which he compares to a well-known Malevich painting with a similar figure. In an effort to authenticate the painting, he makes contact with art experts, yet throughout this process, we start to wonder if Peter actually wants to know the truth or continue to live with the unobstructed idea that the painting could possibly be an authentic work.
Luther Clement & Shuhan Fan | US, China | 19
On the Olympic fencing stage, Keeth smart is one point away from winning a medal for the US teamwhen he steps out of bounds... The referee calls for a video replay. Keeth looks to the sky and prays to God, Mom, Dad. “I’ve been through so much. You gotta help me through this.” Through home videos and increasingly surreal animated sketches, we follow Keeth as a discarded kid rising to become the first American to rank 1st in the world in fencing. Then he is staggered by the deaths of both his parents and his own near fatal blood disease just months before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. As the spirits of his parents answer the call and guide his hand to victory we feel the limitless love between parent and child.
Operation Jane Walk
Leonhard Müllner & Robin Klengel | Austria | 16
Operation Jane Walk is based on the dystopian multiplayer shooter Tom Clancy’s: The Division (Ubisoft Entertainment 2016). In this work, the game’s digital war zone is appropriated with the help of an artistic operation. Within the rules of the game’s software, the militaristic environment is being re-used for a pacifistic city tour. The urban flâneurs avoid the combats whenever possible and become peaceful tourists of a digital world, which is a detailed replica of Midtown Manhattan. While walking through the post-apocalyptic city, issues such as architecture history, urbanism and the game developer’s interventions into the urban fabric are being discussed."
Rahrah Gabor is a NYC-based, trans femme hip-hop artist. Self-described as "hip hop's Omar Little from The Wire, only prettier" with her rhymes as her shotgun, Rahrah raps about everything from street life to twerking with the word play of Lil' Wayne and the lewdness of Lil' Kim. Rahrah Gabor's music is original, raw, real and unruly. She holds nothing back and her fans often pause and question," Did she really just say that?" Raised in the inner-city of Asbury Park, NJ, Gabor started rapping in the 10th grade to prove to her classmates that a queer person can rap just as well, if not better, as their straight counterparts. She cites 1990s New York hip hop as her primary influence, including artists like Notorious B.I.G., Lil' Kim, Jadakiss, Foxy Brown and Nas. A hungry artist with a searing passion for music, Rahrah Gabor is ready to show hip-hop what a queer rapper can really do on the mic while simultaneously challenging notions of race and the conventions of heteronormativity.