On a dark blue background, text in white and light blue reads "NHDOCS: NEW HAVEN DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL - October 12-22, 2023 - www.nhdocs.org

The New Haven Free Public Library (NHFPL) is proud to partner with the New Haven Documentary Film Festival (NH Docs) for our 8th consecutive year, bringing local communities citywide a chance to view hundreds of documentaries on a wide array of topics across eleven days–all free of charge! We have a lot to celebrate this year, including the festival’s expansion to our Stetson Branch Library, a selection of inclusive and socially-conscious film screenings, and visits by many of the filmmakers! Read on to find out more.

A black banner with a black and white film camera in the far left corner. Text reads "NHDOCS: The New Haven Documentary Film Festival - October 12-22, 2023 - reality at 24 frames per second - www.nhdocs.org

A Brief History of NH Docs at NHFPL

NH Docs, which celebrates a decade of film screenings this year, features documentaries from all across the United States as well as Canada, Latin America, and Israel. For the past seven years, NH Docs film screenings at NHFPL have been held exclusively at the Ives Main Library.

The brainchild of filmmaker Gorman Bechard (who was recently profiled by CT Magazine) and Charles Musser, the New Haven Documentary Film Festival is one of the area’s most notable documentary film festivals. Bechard, who is also NH Docs’ Executive Director, has a terrific working relationship with our Ives Main Library Adult Learning team, especially Librarian Tom Costa and Adult Services Supervisor Seth Godfrey, who work in tandem to plan and facilitate the NHFPL festival screenings annually.

Previously held in the late Spring and early Summer, NH Docs moved to the Fall last year. In the past, most of the festival’s screenings were held at the Bow Tie Criterion Cinema a few blocks away on Temple Street. With the unfortunate closing of the cinema this year, NHFPL stepped up to host even more screenings, sharing hosting duties with other popular New Haven gathering spaces including Witch Bitch Thrift, the New Haven Museum, Willoughby’s Coffee and Tea, among others.

This year NHFPL plays host to almost 20 free documentary screenings while expanding our hosting duties to include the Stetson Branch Library on Dixwell Avenue.

The NHFPL/NH DOCS teams pose for a photo next to an NH Docs library display. L to R: NHFPL Ives Main Library Adult Services Supervisor Seth Godfrey, NH Docs Executive Director Gorman Bechard, NH Docs Director Kathleen Kowalczyk, and Adult Services Librarian Tom Costa.

Branch-ing Out to Other NHFPL Locations

This year, we are proud to present a screening of Locked Out at Stetson Branch Library on October 18th. The film, which is set in Detroit, introduces us to the brave Black women who must contend with evictions, predatory lenders, and conventional banking as they join the struggle against housing injustice and modern-day redlining in order for everyone to realize the American Dream.

The trailer for Locked Out, showing at Stetson Branch Library on October 18.

Student Conference and Award Ceremony

This year’s highlighted Student Conference and Award Ceremony is bigger than ever as the brightest and boldest young filmmakers screen their recent films. Presented by the Connecticut Department of Film, Television and Digital Media, the conference takes place at 10 am on Oct. 14th at the Ives Main Library. The conference features a full day of filmmaking panels and workshops on such topics including film distribution, editing, and pursuit of film careers following graduation. At 6 pm that day, NHFPL will host screenings of the best of the best: short film masterpieces from over a dozen students competing for prizes in this juried competition.

Latin Programming Night

On Friday, Oct 20th, OmniCulture Communications‘ Founder and Managing Director Jenny Medina Morris brings us Latin American Programming Night at the Ives Main Library. The Illusion of Abundance is the featured film for this evening. Join us to learn about Carolina, Bertha, and Maxima, three women leading a courageous fight against modern-day conquistadors in spite of police repression and corporate harassment.

Filmmaker Events & Panels

We’ll be joined by filmmakers over the course of the eleven-day festival, beginning with four filmmaking panels:

Independent Filmmaking 101, featuring LaDonna Humphrey, Hannah Mootz, and Stephen Dest

The Fine Art of Film Distribution, a panel discussion with MVD Entertainment’s Ed Seaman

Editing for Film and Commercials, with Faith Marek and Sydni Frisch

Working in Film & TV, featuring Kyle Rodgers, Christopher Ruckinski, and Mya Saree’ Gray

The following filmmakers will also be on hand for Q&As following their film screenings:

  • Steven Nye
  • John Spinnato 
  • Harriet Marin Jones
  • Alex Lykos 
  • Jason Goldman
  • Mya Saree’ Gray 
  • Eric Oliver Carson
  • Jason Cohn
  • Fred Noyes
  • James Michael LaMonte
  • Tubyez Cropper 
  • Simone Brioni

Highlighted Films at Ives Main Library

Healing Dakota follows the journey of discovery of a brave K9 who develops PTSD while serving. This film tells the story of his healing and this screening is to benefit the Friends of the New Haven Animal Shelter. Attendees may bring a pet supply/food item donation for the New Haven Animal Shelter.

Image credit: IMDB

Disconnect Me delves into the role of technology in our lives, posing the important question “Can you live without your phone?” This documentary examines the social impacts of the smartphone and social media, interviewing children, teenagers and adults.

Disconnect Me trailer

Green Thumb, Brown Hand explores the present food desert situation in Waterbury, Connecticut. Waterbury has a long and rich history of farming and agriculture. But as a result of industrialisation, which helped the city’s economy flourish, it abandoned traditional farming practices. People in Waterbury currently have little to no access to fresh, locally produced food. The documentary really highlights what Waterbury could be as far as a self-sustaining community that supports local farmers as well as local businesses, local artists, and other community entities.

Green Thumb, Brown Hand trailer

How to Participate

All are welcome to attend any of these exciting Library Film Festival screenings free of charge. The full schedule and tickets are available at: https://nhdocs2023.eventive.org/schedule and Tom Costa is available for further questions at 203-946-8130, ext. 218.