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Rochester Documentary Film Festival
Now in its third year, the Roc Doc Fest is a celebration of world cinema. The first edition was held in Rochester, New York in March of 2020 just before the world paused for the global pandemic. The second edition was online, and now we are accepting submissions for the third edition. With all that's going on in the world, we have shifted the focus to documentary and experimental films in order to provide a platform for your voice and perspective.
Home of Eastman Kodak and nicknamed "The World's Image Center", Rochester has a long history of supporting the performing arts and is the birthplace of numerous renowned artists including Oscar-winning actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Oscar-nominated actor John Lithgow, Oscar-nominated actor Robert Forster, actress Kristen Wiig and soprano Renée Fleming.
Silent film star Louise Brooks spent the last years of her life in Rochester writing her memoir, “Lulu in Hollywood.” Known for her independent spirit and displeasure for pretentiousness, she is one of the influences behind the event. The other influence is Susan B. Anthony, a women's rights activist who played a key role in the women's suffrage movement. She moved to Rochester with her family in 1845 and was partly responsible for women being granted the right to vote in the United States.
The third edition will take place on April 30, 2022. We are hoping to return to a physical event but will wait to see how the situation goes with the pandemic. Our top concern is the safety of our filmmakers and audience members. So the exact location will be announced closer to the event date.
RocDocFest 2022 Lineup
The diverse films in our 2022 lineup guarantee there will be something for everyone. Stay tuned for details about the screenings.
Claiborne Martell , United States
In Eureka, California, a mother takes care of her father, who is living with dementia. During her short visit, she brings food and reminders to take his medicine, as well as medical documents. Tough times and difficult conversations are approached with care and compassion throughout this short film.
"Dancing On Water"
Awais Bashir, United States
"Dancing On Water" is the story of two women, Rahila and Saima. Each had been diagnosed with a fatal disease. The story tells about their fight against it and using alternative methods to help the process of recovering.
"ƛaʔuukʷiatḥ" (Tla-o-qui-aht) "Dugout Canoe"
Steven Davies, Canada
After working as a clearcut logger in what is now known as the Clayoquot Sound, master carver and land defender Joe Martin reconciles his past by revitalizing the ancestral knowledge and artistic practice of the traditional Tla-o-qui-aht dugout canoe.
"Time of Gracia"
Ismael Aveleira Escapa and Isabel Barrionuevo, Spain
“Time of Gracia” recovers and accompanies the life and work of four generations of the same family dedicated to photography but with a multifaceted artistic vocation. From the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 21st we can observe the changes in society as well as the many echoes that are found between time periods. “Tiempo de Gracia” progresses for over five years between the memory of frozen moments and the flow of the present.
"Walls of life"
Zoran Djordjevic, Brazil
A film about limitless human willpower, the documentary provides a cinematographic portrait of the artist Marcos Santos who was born with cerebral palsy. His speech is partially impaired, and without the movements of the arms and hands, he paints with his left foot and teaches children in a peripheral and stigmatized neighborhood of Brazilian city, São José dos Campos, to create art and bring it to the city walls. Endowed with great talent for art, intellect and spiritual greatness, which go beyond limits, Marcos brings a strong message about life and love, which goes beyond the limits of what is possible and performs miracles.
Betsy Stern, United States
"Choice" is an experimental short expressing the belief that "every child deserves to be planned and wanted by its mother."
"Skating with Sam"
Frank Charles Vella, United States
"Skating with Sam" is a short documentary following Sam Sarratori, a skateboarder who talks about how he has evolved the sport throughout the years.
"Mike on the Farm"
Gianna Isabella, Canada
The film follows 89-year-old Italian immigrant, Mike Nardone, as he operates a farm all by himself in Alberta, Canada.
Shreya Mehta and Calvin Clizer, United States
In one Eastern Washington city, there is a long history of segregation. Through the decades, the Tri-Cities has existed as a farm region, a plutonium producer for WWII, and a sundown town dubbed the “Birmingham of Washington” by the NAACP. While racial segregation is no longer overt, today, it silently separates the odd amalgamation of Ph.D. scientists, migrant farmworkers, and white nationalists in the region. By exploring her city's history, one woman gains a further understanding of identity by piecing together the messy history before her.
Anton Evangelista, United States
This heart-warming documentary about the epic story of Umberto Evangelista, a dynamic and charming ninety-year-old Italian immigrant is a real-life Cinderella tale. The film leads us along a path of personal triumphs over childhood abandonment, harsh treatment in orphanages and a rejecting stepmother. In spite of adversity, Umberto chose love and forgiveness as his weapons of "revenge" which lead to finding the love of his life - his wife Luisa, and the new life they would have with their children in coming to America.
Rochester Independent Global Film Series 2021 Lineup
Young People Section
Don't Dis My Ability, Canada
Directed by Elliot Hedley
Filters of Life, United States
Directed by Angleica Rubio
Physical Thoughts, United States
Directed by Anne Hollowday
Nana the Happy Face Spider's - Happy, Sad, Happy Day!, United States
Directed by David Oglesby
Great Atchafalaya Basin, United States
Directed by Mark Knight
College FKA Calhoun at Yale, United States
Directed by Robert Menefee
Directed by Kimberley Wells
Frozen in Time, Lithuania
Directed by Simona Viackute
I Sogni (Dreams)
Directed by Mo Scarpelli
Naan But You, Singapore/Hong Kong
Directed by Paulo Reyes
Directed by Giorgi tkemaladze
Directed by Iván Sainz-Pardo
Coin Catcher, United States
Directed by Mitchell Lucas
Contemporary Italian Filmmakers Section
Il Nostro Tempo (Our Time)
Directed by Veronica Spedicati
Dimmi chi sono (Tell Me Who I Am)
Directed by Luca Caserta
Come la prima volta (Like the First Time)
Directed by Emanuela Mascherini
La Slitta (The Sled)
Directed by Emanuela Mascherini
L’Attesa (The Wait)
Directed by Angela Bevilacqua
Ragazzi Soli (Lonely Boys)
Directed by Alberto Nigro
First Edition 2020 Lineup Revealed
This festival truly embraces independent filmmaking. We asked for stories told from the heart- a story that you were so passionate about, you picked up a camera and just started shooting because you had to tell it. Whether you have a production company, a distribution company or if you are representing yourself, we just wanted to be moved by your story. And you definitely delivered!
Our first call for global submissions resulted in 90 films from 25 countries! As we are independent filmmakers ourselves, we decided to start this film series after our own experience over the last few years submitting projects to film festivals. We wanted to offer a platform for independent filmmakers without the representation of big production companies to have a place to show their films.
Hands down, the worst part was having to send rejection letters. Due to time constraints, we couldn't possibly show everything. In order to accept as many submissions as possible this time around, we are expanding to make the event a two-act festival by adding an intermission.
Here are the 12 compelling films that made the 2020 lineup. Infinite thanks to all the filmmakers that submitted their projects.
Broken Treasures (Italy)
Directed by Sondra Sottile
A young boy finds an old treasure chest in the rocks near the Castle Ovo of Naples. With courageous determination, he journeys through the streets of Naples looking for someone to give value to his broken treasure.
A Most Fantastical Swiss Adventure (USA)
Directed by Nathan Cronk
It is 11:00am in the village of Latsch, Switzerland where Martina will embark on a journey of remembrance, heroism and courage in order to find the exact spot in which her grandfather created a snapshot so many years ago.
Directed by Rene Smaal
Re/cycle is a film made in the style of surrealism, in the sense that only 'found' elements were used, and that it defies interpretation based on ordinary cause-and-effect time sequence.
Directed by Orson Cornick
Choker is a unique narrative take on one of the biggest challenges facing our planet, and shows how deaf people have become to the cries of wildlife suffering in their habitat that we are destroying.
Directed by Joan Bentosela
A bickering French family on a road trip stops at a gas station. Murielle, the mother, insists on having the car washed and she never sees her family again.
Panic Attack! (USA)
Directed by Eileen O'Meara
This 3-minute short explores anxiety, obsession, and one woman’s slippery hold on reality.
A hand-drawn animation from the point of view of a woman having a
panic attack, director Eileen O’Meara wanted the transitions between reality and her imagined fears to be seamless, so there are no edits -- it is one continually transforming drawing.
Minor Key (Spain)
Directed by Iván Sáinz-Pardo
Minor Key is the moving story of a husband and father who cannot accept the death of his wife that happened years ago and instead lives in a state of denial listening to their song over and over.
Directed by Iván Sáinz-Pardo
This hilarious film is a sign of the times and tells the story of a guy just trying to order a pizza and quickly learns that the woman on the other end of the phone works for a restaurant run by Google and knows his entire search history and life story.
Slaughter (Islamic Republic of Iran)
Directed by Saman Hosseinpuor & Ako Zandkarimi
Ghasem, a husband and father, is forced to butcher and sell his cow to make ends meet, but his son is attached to the animal who he considers a family pet and lets the cow escape to freedom. Ghasem fights to retrieve it and is faced with a moral decision.
Brave Little Army (Canada)
Directed by Michelle D'Alessandro Hatt
The first film of a trilogy, Brave Little Army is a story of sisterhood and how a group of grammar school girlfriends continues to protect each other and stay together through tough times.
Directed by Anagha Komalankutty
Set on a scenic, desolate palm tree-lined path, two girls explore the metaphoric meaning of the apple. The first apple inspired man to become aware of his vulnerabilities. Will the second one reverse the effect?
Caught in Quicksand (USA)
Directed by Marty Novitsky and Uladzmir Taukachou
Set above the Dead Sea with stunning video captured by drones, a man tells his harrowing story of being caught in quicksand and how it taught him an important life lesson.
Films must be no longer than 20 minutes (including credits) and have been completed after January 1, 2019. Submissions are accepted via FilmFreeway.
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