Program 8: New York Stories

  • Currents
Last Chance to Rent Sep 23, 8:00 PM ET

A message from the NYFF programming team September 23, 2020

The NYFF programming team has decided effective immediately to remove Oliver Shahery’s documentary Wild Bill Horsecock from virtual exhibition as part of the New York Stories shorts program. The film follows Hayes Johnson, a country singer in Nashville whose unambiguous history of sexual misconduct is referenced extensively. Shahery’s subject is, in part, the professional and personal consequences of Johnson’s misconduct, and the film calls attention to his failure or refusal to demonstrate accountability or remorse. We stand by both the principles guiding our selection process and the film itself, which we feel compels viewers to actively examine their responses to a figure like Johnson, a manifestly unrepentant individual whose victims have suffered further trauma in the absence of institutional justice.

Until individual survivors and their advocates came forward, we did not recognize the real harm that our presentation of the film would cause. In light of this harm, we feel the need to respond by removing it from the program. We came to this decision after much consideration and deliberation, in an effort to reconcile our commitment to freedom of expression with our commitment to supporting and amplifying the voices of survivors of sexual assault.

Program Features

Currents Shorts Program 8: New York Stories Intro

An introduction by Eugene Hernandez and Tyler Wilson


Sarah Friedland, 2020, USA

Friedland’s nonfiction dance film filters America’s present-day anxieties through the auditory and kinesthetic patterns of preparatory exercises. Reimagining the government-produced Cold War–era social guidance film, Drills reworks contemporary lockdown and active shooter drills, the 1917 Boy Scouts of America manual, and corporate office meditation guides in ways that subtly interrogate the procedures we follow to anticipate the future.

Audio Descriptive Version available as a free limited rental HERE.

Object Lessons, or: What Happened Whitsunday

Ricky D’Ambrose, 2020, USA

D’Ambrose returns to NYFF with an oblique yet penetrating fable about the sociological connective tissue between the scene of a young woman’s murder and much larger ideological and institutional forces—a far-right, xenophobic political party, the estate of a New York art dealer—mapped out across a wordless audiovisual collage of legal documents, archival materials, and upstate location footage.

Shots in the Dark with David Godlis

Noah Kloster & Lewie Kloster, 2020, USA

Between 1976 and 1980, young Manhattan photographer David Godlis documented the nocturnal goings-on at the Bowery’s legendary CBGB, “the undisputed birthplace of punk rock,” with a vividly distinctive style of night photography. Lewie and Noah Kloster bring his photos to life with electrifying immediacy, bolstered by black-and-white watercolor animation, a rollicking soundtrack, and voiceover narration by Godlis himself.

Wild Bill Horsecock

Oliver Shahery, 2020, USA

Shahery’s studied documentary vignette follows Hayes Johnson, a swaggering country-singing busker and DIY porn performer in Nashville, as he moves through the city over several days, navigating personal and professional fallout from multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and rape. This frank portrait compels viewers to reckon with Johnson’s actions and depicts head-on the repercussions that follow.

The Chicken

Neo Sora, 2020, USA, In English and Japanese with English and Japanese subtitles

On an oppressively hot November day in New York, a Japanese immigrant hosts his visiting cousin, helps his pregnant wife prepare for their move to Chinatown, and makes a rash decision to butcher a live chicken for dinner. Beneath its sun-dappled 16mm images, Neo Sora’s deceptively breezy short articulates an incisive critique of a populace at increasing odds with their surroundings.

In Sudden Darkness

Tayler Montague, 2020, USA

Buoyed by captivating performances and understated period detail, In Sudden Darkness observes the small moments of a young girl and her working-class Bronx family during the 2003 citywide blackout. Tayler Montague captures the memory of adolescent feeling and a sense of place with rare precision, while readily sustaining a mercurial ambience of uneasy suspense, humor, and profound joy.

The Isolated

Jay Giampietro, 2020, USA

The Isolated is a seemingly up-to-the-minute documentary that follows Jay Giampietro’s come-and-go meetups with a lonely New Yorker who pines for connections—human and digital—during the city’s COVID-19 shutdown. Giampietro, with his eye for the eccentric and his peerless sense of timing, nimbly renders a pandemic-struck New York City in all its humanity, horror, and occasional hilarity.

1h 5m
Currents Shorts Program 8: New York Stories Q&A

A conversation with Sarah Friedland, Lewie and Noah Kloster, Oliver Shahery, Neo Sora, Tayler Montague, and Jay Giampietro, moderated by Madeline Whittle and Tyler Wilson.

Bonus Content

58th New York Film Festival Trailer
Preview 25 days of the best in world cinema.
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