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Doc10 Announces Lineup for 5th Annual Film Festival

Festival showcases the best documentaries of the year April 16 - 19 at the Davis Theater


CHICAGO, IL (March 5, 2020)  -- Today, the Doc10 Film Festival announced its 2020 slate of featured films, running April 16 - 19, 2020 at the Davis Theater (4614 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago). Now in its fifth year, Doc10 has established itself as an important platform for documentary films and filmmakers, with six of last year’s titles included on the Oscars short-list. 


“We launched Doc10 five years ago to give documentary films the platform they deserve,” said Paula Froehle and Steve Cohen, co-founders of Doc10. “Great documentaries open the door for audiences to explore the world in a way that narrative films cannot. At Doc10 we feel that the film is the beginning of a conversation that continues through our extended programming -  filmmaker panels, talkbacks with experts, industry panels - that exemplify the connection between great storytelling and the larger world.”


This year’s festival opens with THE FIGHT which follows four dedicated attorneys of the ACLU as they face off against the Trump Administration’s assaults on our civil liberties. Winner of the Sundance Jury Award for Social Impact and directed by the team behind the Oscar short-listed doc WEINER, the film explores the legal battles over abortion access, the travel ban, the 2020 census question, family separations at the southern border, and the transgender military ban, all while showcasing the human side of these civil rights heroes.


The festival closes with BOYS STATE. Winner of the 2020 Sundance Grand Jury Prize, this documentary is a wildly entertaining look at a gathering of a thousand Texas high schoolers as they build their own mock state government. Tracking the tensions arising from a riveting gubernatorial race, we meet teenagers like Reagan-loving arch conservative Ben, and progressive Steven, the child of Mexican immigrants who stands by his convictions as a blue voice in a sea of red.


Other highlights of the fifth annual Doc10 festival include CITY SO REAL from Oscar-nominated HOOP DREAMS director Steve James, an epic four-part series chronicling the 2019 Chicago mayoral election in the shadow of the Laquan McDonald shooting, and DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD, an inventive and intimate portrait from award-winning filmmaker Kirsten Johnson, who seeks a way to keep her father alive forever. 


The full slate of films featured at the fifth annual Doc10 include: 

  • ATHLETE A (Dirs. Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk, U.S.)

  • BOYS STATE (Dirs. Jesse Moss, Amanda McBaine, U.S.)

  • CITY SO REAL (Dir. Steve James, U.S.) 

  • COLLECTIVE (Dir. Alexander Nanau, Romania)

  • DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD (Dir. Kirsten Johnson, U.S.) 

  • FEELS GOOD MAN (Dir. Arthur Jones, U.S.)

  • THE FIGHT (Dirs. Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, Eli Despres, U.S.)

  • SCHEME BIRDS (Dirs. Ellen Fiske, Ellinor Hallin, UK / Sweden) 

  • TIME (Dir. Garrett Bradley, U.S.)

  • WHIRLYBIRD (Dir. Matt Yoka, U.S.)


The films are just the beginning of the conversation at Doc10. Ancillary programming will include filmmaker panels, talkbacks with experts, industry panels, and more. In addition, Doc10 continues its reign as a tastemaking festival with 70% of the titles garnering awards and 6 of the 10 films directed or co-directed by women.

“Doc10 is increasingly a documentary’s first stop on the awards circuit,” said Anthony Kaufman, Doc10 Senior Programmer. “Last year, six of the ten films we showcased were included on the Academy’s Oscar shortlist, and AMERICAN FACTORY won the Oscar for Best Documentary. This year’s slate takes us from the streets of Scotland to the skies over Los Angeles, from the fight for justice with the ACLU to the fight against corruption in Romania.”


Ahead of Doc10, Chicago Media Project is hosting a special screening of Sundance Audience Award winner CRIP CAMP: A DISABILITY REVOLUTION on Wednesday March 18, 2020. From former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, whose Oscar-winning AMERICAN FACTORY screened at last year’s Doc10, the film tells the joyous story of a summer camp that birthed a national movement. Tickets for this screening are free and available online


Doc10, presented by Chicago Media Project, runs April 16 - 19, 2020 at the Davis Theater (4614 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago). All-access passes are available for $250, a six ticket pass is $80, and individual tickets are available for $16. Doc10 offers student/senior pricing at $12, and a special Date Night Package of 2 tickets for $30. Programming schedule and tickets are available online at www.doc10.org

ABOUT THE FILMS (in alphabetical order by title)


ATHLETE A Dirs. Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk U.S., 104 min From the directors of the acclaimed films Audrie & Daisy and An Inconvenient Sequel, this compelling film uncovers the truths behind one of the greatest scandals in the history of sports. In March 2016, a team of reporters from The Indianapolis Star began investigating claims of abuse in USA Gymnastics. Two years later, an Olympic doctor is behind bars, dozens of coaches have been banned, and hundreds of survivors are speaking out, including Maggie Nichols, once dubbed “Athlete A.” Equal parts devastating and inspiring, Athlete A follows the IndyStar reporters as they reveal the extensive cover-up and culture of cruelty that was allowed to thrive within elite-level gymnastics, the attorney fighting the institutions, and most importantly, the brave whistle-blowers who refuse to be silenced. (Netflix)


BOYS STATE (Closing Night) Dirs: Jesse Moss, Amanda McBaine U.S., 109 min. The sensational winner of Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize is a wildly entertaining and continually revealing immersion into a program in which a thousand Texas high school seniors gather for an elaborate mock exercise: building their own state government. Award-winning filmmakers Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine (The Overnighters) track the escalating tensions that arise within a riveting gubernatorial race, training their cameras on unforgettable teenagers like Ben, a Reagan-loving arch-conservative who brims with confidence despite personal setbacks, and Steven, a progressive-minded child of Mexican immigrants who stands by his convictions amidst the sea of red. In the process, they have created a complex microcosm of our often dispiriting national political divisions that nevertheless manages to plant seeds of hope. (An Apple release.)


CITY SO REAL Dir. Steve James U.S., 256 min. From Chicago’s foremost nonfiction filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters), comes another defining chronicle of our fractured, crooked, and profoundly alive metropolis. This epic four-part series—called “momentous… enthralling… [and] a flat-out must-see” (Indiewire)—captures Chicago at a crossroads, still reeling from the police shooting of Laquan McDonald and in the midst of a highly contentious mayoral election. Inspired by Chris Marker’s classic documentary La Joli Mai, James ventures north and south, east and west, tracking the mayoral candidates and everyday citizens, from protests to penthouses, reflecting both the divisions that separate us and the bridges that unite us (Go Bears!). “Gripping [and] exceptional” (The Hollywood Reporter) and “incredibly, uniquely entertaining” (Film Comment), City So Real is, miraculously, both a loving tribute to and a sharp indictment of the American City.


COLLECTIVE Dir. Alexander Nanau Romania, 109 minutes “A harrowing, masterly documentary” (New York Times), this jaw-dropping exposé “doesn’t just open your eyes but tears you apart” (Variety). From Romanian nonfiction master Alexander Nanau (Toto and His Sisters) comes this gripping chronicle of a tenacious journalist’s effort to uncover a vast national conspiracy and the new health minister appointed to clean up the corruption. Voted best documentary at the Toronto International Film Festival (Indiewire), Collective is named for a shocking incident at a Bucharest night club that went up in flames in 2016, and the resulting fallout, which revealed systemic fault-lines of neglect, denial, and deceit. “Enthralling as it is astonishing” raves MUBI, Collective is a testament to the importance of investigative journalism and a powerhouse film for our corrupt times. (Magnolia Pictures)


DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD Dir. Kirsten Johnson U.S., 89 min With this inventive and intimate portrait, multi-award-winning filmmaker Kirsten Johnson (Cameraperson) seeks a way to keep her 86-year-old father alive forever. Utilizing moviemaking magic and her family’s dark humor, she celebrates Dr. Dick Johnson’s last years by staging scenes of his potential demise along with fantasies of the afterlife. Together, dad and daughter confront the great inevitability awaiting us all. Winner of Sundance’s Special Jury Award for Innovation and IndieWire’s Critics Poll for Best Documentary, Johnson’s latest heartfelt and deeply profound opus is “a gorgeous blend of truth and fiction” (RogerEbert.com), “brilliantly original in every way” (The Hollywood Reporter), and “a documentary whose mordant comedy becomes the ultimate expression of love” (Los Angeles Times). (Netflix)


FEELS GOOD MAN  Dir. Arthur Jones U.S., 92 min. Who is Pepe the Frog—a goofy animated character, or a nefarious emblem of hate? In this utterly timely and wildly absorbing trip across the dark reaches of internet and popular culture, Feels Good Man charts Pepe’s transformation, along with his creator Matt Furie’s own personal struggle to reclaim his creation as a force for good. “At times heartbreaking, at times uplifting” (P.O.V. Magazine), the film is more than a story about social networks, memes, and malice in Trump’s America; it’s also “a well-executed emotional journey that will take viewers from amused to bemused to horrified” (The Hollywood Reporter). Winner of a Sundance Special Jury Award and called “the most urgent and poignant political documentary of the year” (Polygon), Feels Good Man speaks to our current moment with startling clarity, bracing humanity, and even a sense of hope.


THE FIGHT (Opening Night) Dirs: Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, Eli Despres U.S., 96 min A real-life legal thriller, many times over, The Fight follows the dedicated attorneys of the ACLU as they face off against the Trump Administration’s myriad assaults on civil liberties. “Filled with raw emotion and real-world immediacy” (Indiewire), this inspiring, dramatic film follows four lawyers as they take on such hot-button topics as abortion access; the travel ban; the 2020 census question; family border separations; and the transgender military ban. Filmmakers Steinberg, Kriegman, and Despres (2017 Sundance winner Weiner) nimbly balance these high-stakes national issues with intimate, affable, observational portraits of the lawyers themselves, struggling and stumbling their way through trial preparations, charging their cellphones, and the painful human toll of the verdicts. Winner of Sundance’s Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking, The Fight is “powerful, necessary, and illuminating” (POV Magazine). (Magnolia Pictures)


SCHEME BIRDS Dirs. Ellen Fiske, Ellinor Hallin U.K. / Sweden, 90 min. Meet Gemma. Captivating, pretty, and strong, she’s a tough teenager from Scotland’s projects. Will she escape her rundown town or find salvation in other ways—“get ‘knocked up’ or ‘locked up,’” as she quips. Beautifully photographed and piercingly intimate, this stunning fly-on-the-wall documentary feels like a fiction film by the likes of Andrea Arnold or Lynne Ramsay with its “alternately lyrical and gut-punching” tale of working-class life (Variety). Winner of the Tribeca Film Festival’s Best Documentary Prize, Scheme Birds follows Gemma over the course of four turbulent years, through both joy and violence. “A remarkable achievement,” “wrenchingly affecting” (Screen International) and hailed by The New York Times as “a heartening portrait of resilience,” Scheme Birds is a compassionate and heartbreaking slice-of-life about a 16-year-old girl coming into her own as a young woman.


TIME Dir. Garrett Bradley U.S., 80 min. How long would you wait for the love of your life? For Fox Rich, mother of six, the answer is decades. After her husband went to prison for bank robbery, she fought tirelessly over the years to maintain her marriage, her family, and her dignity. In this “emotionally overwhelming” (Los Angeles Times) and “simply stunning” (Rolling Stone) work of art, Sundance best-director-winner Garrett Bradley creates an impressionistic, intimate depiction of a heroic woman over 20 years, by beautifully blending images from her past and present. As her children grow up to be accomplished young men, Fox becomes a businesswoman and indomitable activist, undeterred by the tests of time and the prison-industrial complex. Both moving love story and searing social critique, Time is “a poignant and monumental portrait of mass incarceration in America” and its personal toll (Indiewire). (Amazon Studios)


WHIRLYBIRD Dir. Matt Yoka U.S., 103 minutes A head-spinning tale of sensationalist news and personal transformation, Whirlybird chronicles the extraordinary story of intrepid Los Angeles helicopter reporter Bob Tur and his wife Marika Gerrard. In the 1990s, the husband-and-wife journalist team captured from above the mayhem of the city, from the 1992 L.A. riots to the infamous O.J. Simpson highway chase—all the while battling their own abusive relationship. But now Bob, a transgender woman named Zoey Tur, reflects on her toxic masculinity and testosterone-fueled rise with a piercing sense of regret. “Unflinching and often exhilarating” (The Hollywood Reporter) and “compelling [and] sensitive” (TheWrap), Whirlybird is a real-life Nightcrawler for the #TimesUp era, deftly combining a searing look at exploitation TV with a “complicated, engaging, one-of-a-kind, portrait of a deeply flawed human” (Indiewire) and their own self-reckoning. 

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To apply for media credentials to the fifth annual Doc10 Film Festival, click here.

ABOUT CHICAGO MEDIA PROJECT Chicago Media Project (CMP) provides support to documentary films and filmmakers. Known as an innovator in its field, CMP is a philanthropic community of documentary film lovers who believe in the power of media to move hearts and bring about social change. Created by Paula Froehle and Steve Cohen in 2014, CMP uses a unique Community Model of Philanthropy that aggregates membership contributions to support impactful films and media organizations. CMP funds four areas of programming: direct film financing, large-scale community events, exclusive member events and tech & media innovation. Since its inception, CMP has provided over $5 million in funding, assisted over 102 films, held 82 events and amplified 214 projects. CMP provides financial support to documentary films through its Impact Grand Fund, which helps early stage funding, filmmaker sustainability and innovation in outreach. In 2016, CMP expanded its programming with the launch of the annual Doc10 Film Festival in Chicago, a highly-selective festival of 10 cinematically powerful non-fiction films, along with immersive events to illustrate the power of great storytelling in documentary form. In 2018, CMP extended its impact by seed-funding the American Documentary’s (AmDoc) Artist Emergency Fund that provides emergency financial assistance to filmmakers facing unexpected personal calamities. www.doc10.org

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