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Museum of Modern Art’s Doc Fortnight Lineup Includes ‘Crip Camp,’ ‘Some Kind of Heaven’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Crip Camp
Courtesy of Netflix and Higher Ground Productions

The Museum of Modern Art has unveiled its full festival lineup of 28 features and shorts for Doc Fortnight 2020, its annual showcase of the best of nonfiction film, on Monday. The list includes the latest works from the likes of Michael Almereyda, Terrence Nance, Denis Côté, Sky Hopinka, Lucretia Martel, Akosua Adoma Owusu, Ben Rivers, Lynne Sachs, Kazuhiro Soda, Roger Ross Williams, Maya Khoury and the Abounaddara Collective.

Now in its 19th year, Doc Fortnight will run from February 5 to 19, 2020, and will include 12 world premieres, 17 North American premieres, and 14 US premieres from 38 countries. Doc Fortnight 2020 opens with the New York premiere of “Crip Camp,” a portrait of Camp Jened—a camp for disabled teenagers near Woodstock, New York, that thrived in the late 1960s and ’70s—which established a close-knit community of campers who would become pioneering disability advocates. The film is co-directed and produced by Nicole Newnham and James Lebrecht, who attended the camp. “Crip Camp” will also screen at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and will premiere on Netflix thanks to the streaming service’s partnership with the Obamas.

Doc Fortnight 2020 is organized by curator Joshua Siegel; with Stergios Dinopoulos, an intern in MOMA’s film department. The accompanying sidebar Nonfiction+ is organized by Kathy Brew, a consulting curator.

This year’s featured documentaries range from stories of influential cultural figures, such as Delphine Seyrig, Raymond Pettibon, Barbara Hammer, Felix Kubin, Agnes Gund and John Ashbery, to portraits of places as varied as a supermarket in Saõ Paulo (“My Darling Supermarket”), a radio station in Serbia (“Speak So I Can See You”), a hospitality school for aspiring waiters in Italy (“The Young Observant”), and an Icelandic village during the grim holiday season (“Echo”).

Many of this year’s films deal with the topic of violence toward women. “Sunless Shadows,” looks at Iranian teenage girls in prison for murdering their abusive male relatives; “Overseas,” follows Filipina women learning to cope with virtual enslavement in their domestic jobs abroad; “La Mami,” centers on the wise but worn-down dressing-room attendant at a famous cabaret in Mexico City; and “That which Does Not Kill,” recounts the harrowing story of the rape of a young Belgian woman.

African and African diaspora themes of exile, liberation, identity, and the legacy of colonialism are grappled with in Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s “Mother, I Am Suffocating. This Is My Last Film About You”; Akosua Adoma Owusu’s “Welcome to the Jungle” trilogy; and Billy Woodberry’s “A Story of Africa.” Compassionate approaches to mental illness are depicted in Kazuhiro Soda’s “Zero,” the centerpiece of Doc Fortnight 2020, and Olivier Zabat’s “Arguments.”

The ongoing evolution of interactive media and the documentary form is explored in the new sidebar program Nonfiction+. Highlights include a program on interactive and immersive documentary art, presented by Caspar Sonnen (IDFA); Red Hero, an international collaborative online project devoted to the arts and culture of Mongolia; a live cinematic essay-performance by Tiffany Shlain; a hyrbrid film by Anamika Haksar, and Roger Ross Williams’ first venture into VR cinema with Traveling While Black.

This year’s program includes two joint presentation of Modern Mondays and Doc Fortnight: An Evening with 13BC and An Evening with Basma alSharif and Sky Hopkina. The New York– based collective 13BC will present two of their most recent works: the New York premiere of Straight Flush, and its companion piece, Corpse Cleaner. For An Evening with Basma alSharif (Egypt) and Sky Hopkina (Ho-Chunk Nation), will present their work together, in conversation for the first time.

The closing-night film is the New York premiere of Lance Oppenheim’s “Some Kind of Heaven,” a deep dive into the world’s largest retirement community, in central Florida, a so-called “Disneyland for Retirees.” Like “Crip Camp,” it will also screen at Sundance.

Photo: Still from “Crip Camp.”