The Austin Film Society is resuming its annual festival, Doc Days, after a year off because of the pandemic. And this year’s lineup includes eight new documentaries from the festival circuit, with all being Austin or Texas premieres.
The festival, which will run from Oct. 14 through 17 at the AFS Cinema, will kick off with director Todd Haynes’ “The Velvet Underground.” After the screening, Haynes will join AFS founder Richard Linklater for a live, virtual Q&A. The film about the legendary band premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.
The centerpiece film on Saturday, Oct. 16, will be the Danish documentary “Flee,” with director Jonas Poher Rasmussen participating in a virtual Q&A after the screening. The animated film, which focuses on the experiences of refugees, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
Another Sundance favorite at Doc Days is “Writing With Fire,” directed by Sushmit Gosh and Rintu Thomas. It focuses on India’s Khabar Lahariya newspaper and the women who run it in the face of right-wing politics and centuries-old patriarchy. It won the Audience and Jury prizes at Sundance. It screen at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16.
“Fathom” focuses on two scientists who study the songs of humpback whales. There will be an in-person appearance by director Drew Xanthopoulous, an AFS Grant recipient, as well as a virtual Q&A with Dr. Michelle Fournet, one of two research scientists in the film. The presentation is part of the Science O Screen initiative of the Coolidge Corner Theatre, with major support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Other films include:
“The Conductor,” directed by Bernadette Wegenstein, on Friday Oct. 15 at 6:30 p.m. The film focuses on Maestra Marin Alsop, who becomes the first woman to lead a major orchestra. A virtual Q&A with the director will follow the screening.
“Cuban Dancer,” directed by Roberto Salinas, at 4:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct5. 16. The documentary deals with a critical time in the life of Alexis Martinez, 15, who is a student at the Cuban National Ballet School in Havana but has to cope with the possibility of immigration during training.
“Inside the Red Brick Wall” and “Taking Back the Legislature,” 4:15 p.m. Sunday Oct 17. “Inside” looks at a group of demonstrators who occupied the Hong Kong Polytechnic Institute in November 2019. After the screening, a shorter featured titled “Taking Back the Legislature” documents the 2019 storming of the Hong Kong Legislative Complex. The screenings will be preceded by a special guest introduction.
“Dirty Feathers,” directed by Carlos Corral, at 9 p.m. Friday Oct. 15. The film looks at the lives of several members of an unhoused community in El Paso, specially those who have been banned from a city shelter. This is an AFS Grant-supported project, and it premiered at the 2021 Berlin Film Festival. Corral will attend the screening and participate in a Q&A afterward.
For more information on Doc Days, visit austinfilm.org.