We live in a golden age for documentaries, with the accessibility of digital filmmaking tools and widespread appetite for real-world stories having spurred a barrage of quality nonfiction flicks.
So the third annual edition of DOC NYC, New York's premiere documentary festival, offers a wealth of cinematic pleasures from across a broad spectrum of topics.
There are movies about tennis stars ("Venus and Serena") and competitive ballet ("First Position"). A potential Oscar-winner ("Searching for Sugar Man") joins a look at a famed Chinese activist ("Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry") and the latest installment of Michael Apted's famed "Up" documentary series ("56 Up"), among countless others.
We've sifted through the fest's roster and come up with five NYC-centric films worth seeking out at the event, which starts Thursday.
"Men at Lunch"
If you've ever wondered about the iconic 1932 "Lunch atop a Skyscraper" photo of construction workers chowing down while perched, without a safety harness, on a beam 69 stories above New York at Rockefeller Center, this is the movie for you. The picture, a defining image of the 20th century's urbanization, gets the doc treatment here. Sat., 7:30 p.m., SVA; Nov. 14, 3:15 p.m., IFC Center
Coney Island is one of the city's invaluable landmarks, a lesson driven home once again in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. This film focuses on the brouhaha over Coney's future, with the eviction of Eddie Miranda and his Zipper ride serving as the catalyst for an exploration of what's to come. Sat., 9:30 p.m., SVA; Nov. 15, 3 p.m., IFC Center
"The Central Park Five"
This terrific documentary from Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah Burns and her husband David McMahon explores the 1989 Central Park Jogger case, depicting the sensation surrounding it and the plight of the five teens who spent years in prison before having their convictions overturned. Nov. 15, 7 p.m., SVA
"Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation"
The Greenwich Village folk scene of the '50s and '60s hardly needs another on-screen tribute, but if you're going to make a documentary about the music being made then, you'd be well-served to get interviews with Pete Seeger, Peter Yarrow and other legends, as director Laura Archibald has here. Sat., 4:30 p.m., SVA
Brooklyn native Radioman (née Craig Castaldo) is one of those classic New York characters who make this city so great. Once homeless, he's become famous by cameoing as himself in more than 100 films and TV shows. Mary Kerr's documentary tells his story. Fri., 7:45 p.m., IFC Center; Nov. 15, 11 a.m., IFC Center
If you go: DOC NYC film festival runs today through Nov. 15 at IFC Center and SVA Theatre. For a full schedule and ticket info, go to docnyc.net.