These are trying times — all of a sudden, moreso than they were already. It’s easy to lose faith in humanity and our willingness to do what’s right. But you shouldn’t give up. As Obama said after Hillary’s concession speech, we can’t be cynical. We can’t think we can’t make a difference. You can start by educating yourself.
Right on cue is DOC NYC, America’s largest festival devoted purely to documentary filmmaking. Within its week lie over 100 films, touching on issues major and minor, familiar and obscure, often about people whose rights and safety are now under threat with the incoming administration.
And so you can take in least two films about the trans experience (“The Joneses,” “The Pearl”). You can explore a safe haven created for women in the Congo in “City of Joy.” You can learn about Jane Jacobs, journalist and author, who battled New York City planner Robert Moses over the town’s identity, via “Citizen Jane: Battle for the City.” You can see the pains faced by female war veterans, one in four of whom have experienced sexual assault, in "After Fire." You can even take in docs that have already opened, including “Fire at Sea,” which is and isn’t about the migrant crisis, and Ava DuVernay’s abruptly even more relevant “13th,” which painstakingly chronicles America’s long and brutal treatment of its black citizens.
On a comparatively lighter note, you can also see docs about filmmakers David Lynch and Ken Loach, learn about wine auction in “Sour Grapes.” And behold “The Lure,” an Errol Morris-produced look at an eccentric millionaire who buried millions in the Rocky Mountains then left cryptic clues for whatever brainiacs were game. This is a time for learning, but also for much-needed distractions.