The DocYard Spring 2017 Season Dec06


Related Posts

Share This

The DocYard Spring 2017 Season


Spring season begins with likely Oscar contender OJ: MADE IN AMERICA and SOUTHWEST OF SALEM: THE STORY OF THE SAN ANTONIO FOUR, a film largely responsible for the exoneration of the accused


CAMBRIDGE, MA — The DocYard, Boston’s award-winning documentary film series, has announced its newest season of films and visiting filmmakers for Spring 2017.

Winner of 4 Critics Choice Documentary Awards including Best Documentary and Best Director, the Gotham Award for Best Documentary and most certainly an Oscar contender, OJ: MADE IN AMERICA kicks off the spring season in a special 3-day screening event of the nearly 8-hour film. This epic entry into ESPN’s now legendary “30 for 30” series is possibly one of its best. No mere biography, this profile of one of the country’s most complex and notorious celebrities is an entryway into an in-depth investigation of America’s relationship with race, class, domestic violence, and masculinity. The film connects the dots between the notorious police brutality in neighborhoods of color in 1990s LA, the LA uprisings/riots, and the racial divide that played out in every American living room during the “trial of the century,” while also piecing together a portrait of one of football’s unrivaled talents and Hollywood’s most tragic stars. Weaving the story together through archival footage and interviews with close friends and key players, this film is a true directing feat for filmmaker Ezra Edelman who will be on hand for the Q&A following the Monday, January 30, 7pm screening.

The film will screen on three days, with the first 3 hours on Saturday, January 28 (1pm – 4pm), 3 hours on Sunday, January 29 (1pm – 4pm), and the finale on Monday night, January 30 (7pm – 8:30pm). The film will also screen in its entirety on Monday January 30 at noon with periodic breaks.

On Monday, February 13, filmmaker Chad Gracia attends with his 2015 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner THE RUSSIAN WOODPECKER. Mixing Soviet-era intrigue, conspiracy, crisis, rebellion and imagination, this formally inventive film investigates the Chernobyl nuclear disaster through the eyes of Fedor Alexandrovich. Fedor is a Ukranian artist and provocateur obsessed with uncovering the criminals he suspects lie at the heart of this tragedy who takes the film to inspired, unexpected and even tragic ends. The Guardian called it “…a rollicking ride of masterly narrative construction unlike any other documentary in Sundance.”  Director Chad Gracia, a recent Jamaica Plain transplant, is currently shooting a new project in Moscow but will be back home to appear at the screening for Q&A.

Another exciting addition to this season’s schedule is the inspirational film SOUTHWEST OF SALEM: THE STORY OF THE SAN ANTONIO FOUR by journalist and filmmaker Deborah Esquenazi. The San Antonio four are Elizabeth Ramirez, Kristie Mayhugh, Cassandra Rivera and Anna Vasquez, four Latina lesbians who were wrongfully convicted of gang-raping two small girls in the late 90s. In this witch trial that captured the fury of the Satanic panic of the late 80s and 90s, prosecutors strategically used the women’s sexuality as motive and evidence of their alleged crimes. Standing their ground, the women proclaimed their innocence and have been fighting for justice, both from behind bars and from beneath bureaucracy, ever since. Like Errol Morris’ Thin Blue Line before it, Southwest of Salem is one of those rare films that helps to deliver real change to the lives of its characters. Thanks in part to the investigative efforts of filmmaker Deborah Esquenazi, who interviewed one of the girls (now a woman) and filmed the recantation of her story, the defense was able to pursue new evidence and a trial was held. Due to these tireless efforts, the San Antonio Four were exonerated in November 2016. This film, screening at the Brattle on Monday, February 27, is a crucial part of the effort that led to their new lives in freedom.

Other season highlights include prolific visionary Deborah Stratman’s new work THE ILLINOIS PARABLES (co-presented with the Film Study Center at Harvard University and the Balagan Film Series); the award-winning and finely crafted THE ISLANDS AND THE WHALES; the imaginative cinematic reflection on losing one’s sight in NOTES ON BLINDNESS (co-presented with the ReelAbilities Film Festival); Chinese filmmaker Zhao Liang’s meditation on Dante’s Inferno via exploration of the Chinese coal mines in BEHEMOTH (banned in China / co-presented with Crows & Sparrows); and Boston-based filmmaker Mary Jane Doherty presenting a collection of new visions and old visitations as she reflects on what she’s learned from her late mentor Ricky Leacock.

“I know I probably say this every time, but this feels like one of our best collections of work yet,” says Sara Archambault, Programmer for The DocYard. “We have cutting edge artists bending the boundaries of documentary form, in addition to films tackling incredibly significant social issues. We’ve got Oscar contenders, critics’ darlings, new inspirations and hometown heroes. We’re providing the inspiration to get to the theater, see incredible, compelling work; and engage in a community around these stories with the artists that make them.”

The spring season will run from Saturday, January 28 through Monday, April 24.  All screenings will take place at The DocYard’s official home, the Brattle Theatre, Boston’s oldest art-house cinema.

Season passes are on sale now for $70 through January 1 ($80 after that) and can be purchased online now at Individual tickets for each film at the Brattle Theatre are $12 ($10 for students and seniors) and can be purchased online at or prior to show time at the Brattle Theatre box office. (Special passes will be on sale for those interested in attending all three segments of OJ: MADE IN AMERICA.)

For more information on the DocYard and its 2017 Spring Season in the coming weeks, please visit


OJ: MADE IN AMERICA (2016, USA, 7 hr 47 min, DCP)
Film broken out into three viewing sessions:
Saturday, January 28 (Pt 1 / 1pm – 4pm),
Sunday, January 29 (Pt 2 / 1pm – 4pm),
Monday, January 30 (Pt 1 / 12pm – 3pm, Pt 2 / 3:30pm – 6:30pm, Pt 3 / 7pm – 8:47 pm)
In-person Q&A with Director Ezra Edelman

It is the defining cultural tale of modern America – a saga of race, celebrity, media, violence, and the criminal justice system. And two decades after its unforgettable climax, it continues to fascinate, polarize, and even, yes, develop new chapters. Now, the producers of ESPN’s award-winning “30 for 30” have made it the subject of their first documentary-event and most ambitious project yet. From Peabody and Emmy-award winning director Ezra Edelman, it’s “O.J.: Made in America”.

THE RUSSIAN WOODPECKER (2015, USA, UK, Ukraine 82 min, DCP)
Monday, February 13 at 7pm at the Brattle Theatre
In-person Q&A with Director Chad Gracia

This documentary is a thrilling, award-winning investigation into the ghosts of the Soviet Union and the mind of an irradiated Ukrainian artist on a quest to discover the “criminal” behind the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Monday, February 27 at 7pm at the Brattle Theatre
In-person Q&A with Director Deborah Esquenazi

Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four excavates the nightmarish persecution of Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez — four Latina lesbians wrongfully convicted of gang-raping two little girls in San Antonio, Texas.

THE ILLINOIS PARABLES (2016, USA, 60 min, 16mm)
Monday, March 6 at 7pm at the Brattle Theatre
In-person Q&A with Director Deborah Stratman
Co-presented with the Film Study Center at Harvard University and the Balagan Film Series

An experimental documentary comprised of regional vignettes about faith, force, technology and exodus. Eleven parables relay histories of settlement, removal, technological breakthrough, violence, messianism and resistance, all occurring somewhere in the state of Illinois. The state is a convenient structural ruse, allowing its histories to become allegories that explore how we’re shaped by conviction and ideology.

Monday, March 20 at 7pm at the Brattle Theatre
In-person Q&A with Director Mary Jane Doherty

It’s the early 1980s, the final days of MIT’s notorious Film/Video Section.  Famous filmmaker Ricky Leacock was in no mood to teach.  And his graduate student, Mary Jane, had no idea how to learn. Yet something happened, some transaction between the two that only now, decades later, can be expressed in words. This evening we look at how inspiration works, in its most mysterious form.  Mary Jane will screen her “Science” Documentary, GRAVITY (1985, 40 min, 16mm to digital), featuring soon-to-be-Nobel Laureate Dr. Rainer Weiss, and bookend this main screening with her first short film, THREE FISH, and a clip from SONIC BOOM BOOM, a brand new work-in-progress.  We’ll see lessons learned – from the inane to the sublime – by one filmmaker who deeply reveres another.

NOTES ON BLINDNESS (2016, UK, 90 min, DCP)
Monday, April 3 at 7pm at the Brattle Theatre
Skype Q&A with Directors James Spinney & Peter Middleton
Co-presented with the ReelAbilities Film Festival

In 1983, after decades of steady deterioration, writer and theologian John Hull became totally blind. To help him make sense of the upheaval in his life, he began documenting his experiences on audiocassette. Following the Emmy Award-winning short film of the same name, NOTES ON BLINDNESS takes a creative approach to the documentary form. Actors lip-synch to the voices of the family, embedding John’s original audio recordings within compelling cinematography and textured sound design. The result is a poetic and intimate story of loss, rebirth and transformation, documenting John’s extraordinary journey into “a world beyond sight.”

THE ISLANDS AND THE WHALES (2016, UK/Scotland/Denmark, 84 min, DCP)
Monday, April 10 at 7pm at the Brattle Theatre
In-person Q&A with Director Mike Day

In their remote home in the North Atlantic the Faroe Islanders have always eaten what nature could provide, proud to put local food on the table. The land yields little, so they have always relied on harvesting their seas. Hunting whales and seabirds kept them alive for generations, and gave them the way of life they love; a life they would pass on to their children. But today they face a grave threat to this tradition.

It is not the controversy surrounding whaling that threatens the Faroese way of life; the danger is coming from the whales themselves.

The Faroese are among the first to feel the affects of our ever more polluted oceans. They have discovered that their beloved whales are toxic, contaminated by the outside world. What once secured their survival now endangers their children and the Faroe Islanders must make a choice between health and tradition.

BEHEMOTH (2015, China/France, 90 min, DCP)
Monday, April 24 at 7pm at the Brattle Theatre
Skype Q&A with Director Zhao Liang
Co-presented with Crows & Sparrows

Beginning with a mining explosion in Mongolia and ending in a ghost city west of Beijing, political documentarian Zhao Liang’s visionary new film Behemoth details, in one breath taking sequence after another, the social and environmental devastation behind an economic miracle that may yet prove illusory.


Created in 2010 by Sara Archambault, Sean Flynn and Ben Fowlie, the DocYard has quickly become one of Boston’s most respected cinematic events, screening a combination of new works from emerging filmmakers and classics from some of the region’s most distinguished filmmakers like Frederick Wiseman and Ross McElwee.  Now in its fifth edition, the series was recently recognized with a special commendation from the Boston Society of Film Critics for “presenting a vibrant forum for the Boston documentary community to see important new non-fiction works and to have meaningful discussions with the filmmakers.” In 2014, The DocYard won a BostInno 50 on Fire Media Award, for “establishing itself as a destination film festival for the genre” in Boston.

The DocYard is a program of the LEF Foundation. Founding sponsors include the Camden International Film Festival, Principle Pictures, and the LEF Foundation. Series sponsors include the Irving House at Harvard.

For more information on the DocYard, visit


# # #