DOC NYC, the largest documentary festival in the United States,  returned from its all-virtual event last year to both theatrical and virtual screenings in November for the 12th edition. More than 300 documentaries, shorts and events were featured during the 10 day fest, and many are now available on HBO Max or will be coming to stream in 2022.

DOC NYC Films Available on HBO Max


Listening to Kenny G

Director: Penny Lane

What It’s About: Musician Kenny G is both one of the most polarizing musicians ever and the bestselling instrumentalist of all time. The documentary, the fourth installment in the Music Box series, chronicles not only his intense determination and competitiveness from an early age, but also how keenly he understands how to stay relevant and in on the joke with memes and musical collaborations.

Cool Film Facts: DOC NYC’s opening night kicked off with Listening To Kenny G. Most people probably don’t even know what the G in Kenny G stands for – Gorelick - but the documentary is thoroughly fascinating. Director Penny Lane explains in the intro, “I made this film to find out why that makes people so angry.”  As Kenny G puts it, “I’m not a personality to people. I’m a sound.”

Where to See It: Watch Listening to Kenny G on HBO Max now.

Watch the trailer:


Mr. Saturday Night

Director: John Maggio

What It’s About: The late Robert Stigwood is the man behind two of the most successful soundtracks in history - Saturday Night Fever and Grease. This documentary goes into the New York Magazine story (that turned out to be made up), how Stigwood revolutionized the approach to movie soundtracks, releasing Saturday Night Fever months ahead of time and ultimately having tremendous influence over music, movies and theatre (he also produced Tommy and Evita, among others) during a very brief incredible five-year run.

Cool Film Facts: Always an outsider due to being Australian and gay, Stigwood came up through the UK music industry (he was going to manage the Beatles but they didn’t like him), started a production company in Hollywood and launched both his mogul career and John Travolta’s when he signed the then-TV actor to an unheard of three picture deal. Mr. Saturday Night is the fifth installment in the Music Box series.

Where to See It: Watch Mr. Saturday Night on HBO Max now.

Watch the trailer:

Still from ADRIENNE (C) HBO


Director: Andy Ostroy

What It’s About: The film explores the life of late actress and director Adrienne Shelly, who was murdered in 2006 right before her now critically-acclaimed work Waitress premiered at Sundance.

Cool Film Facts: One of my favourite documentaries of the fest. Wrenching, but beautifully directed by her husband, Andy Ostroy, the documentary provided an opportunity for Ostroy to share Shelly’s too-short life, from her start with auteur Hal Hartley and becoming a sultry IT Girl for a new era of independent movies in the late 80s and 90s, but to also talk about grief through conversations with the extended family and friends, his pursuit of the truth about her death (initially thought to be a suicide) and Shelly’s legacy as a female writer and filmmaker.

Where to See It: Watch Adrienne on HBO Max now.

Watch the trailer:

DOC NYC Films Available in Theatres

Still from FLEE (C) Vice Media Group


Director: Jonas Poher Rasmussen

What It’s About: Effectively and affectingly using animation, director Rasmussen presents an urgent and moving portrait of the 20-year friendship between himself and his subject, Amin, as well as a harrowing view of what it means to be a child refugee from Afghanistan trying to reach safety while entirely on his own.

Cool Film Facts: Flee received the Jury Producing Award and is now Oscar short-listed for Best Documentary and Best Foreign Film.

Where to See It: Watch Flee in select theatres nationwide now.

Watch the trailer:

DOC NYC Films Coming to Stream in 2022

Still from SUBJECTS OF DESIRE (C) Hungry Eyes Media

Subjects of Desire

Director: Jennifer Holness

What It’s About: Using the 50th Anniversary of the Miss Black America Pageant as a backdrop, the film is an engrossing examination of the ways in which history, media and pop culture set the rules for what defined standards of Black beauty over the centuries and how women, like the pageant participants are creating new platforms to deconstruct those attitudes, beliefs and revisionist history.  

Cool Film Facts: DOC NYC provides a home not just to U.S. films but to works by documentarians from around the world, from countries as diverse as Japan, Iran, the U.K., Russia and Ireland. Canada was represented by more than a dozen shorts and feature-length documentaries, including Subjects Of Desire. In the documentary, you learn that the Miss Black America Pageant began as a protest against the Miss America pageant happening just down the street.

Where to See It: Watch Subjects of Desire on STARZ! in 2022.

Watch the trailer:

Honorable Mentions

Now some honourable mentions for documentaries that don’t yet have distribution but hopefully will be coming to a screen near you next year.

Still from EXPOSURE (C) Holly Morris / Powder Keg Docs


Director: Holly Morris

What It’s About: An entirely female expedition skis to the North Pole. Director Morris had the idea to bring together women from the East (Oman, Saudi Arabia and West (UK, France, Sweden) in 2018 for this sometimes terrifying (60 mph winds, frostbite, polar bears) and totally badass adventure.

Cool Film Facts: An all-women crew oversaw Exposure. Sadly, due to politics, Covid and climate change, their group was the last to over-ice trek and there may not be any more.

Still from ONCE UPON A TIME IN UGANDA; courtesy of DOC NYC

Once Upon A Time In Uganda

Directors: Cathryne Czubek, Hugo Perez

What It’s About: A thoroughly engrossing and hilarious feature about the completely guerilla filmmaking (literally in the mud and raw sewage) happening under the helm of Isaac Nabwana, who has been called “Africa’s Tarantino.”

Cool Film Facts: Hands down, the final official screening for me was fittingly the most fun documentary I saw: Once Upon A Time In Uganda. In addition to being about Nabwana’s craft, it also covers the rich collaborative relationship that is struck between Nabwana and American fan and film programmer Alan Hofmanis, who picks up and moves to Uganda to work on the films. It walked away with the fest’s Grand Jury Prize.

Watch the trailer:


For more about DOC NYC’s offerings, visit or follow @docnycfest on Instagram.