Doc10 Unveils Its Lineup, Led by Chris Smith’s ‘Devo’ Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

Chris Smith’s “Devo” will open the ninth edition of Chicago’s Doc10 documentary film festival on May 2.

The film, which premiered at Sundance 2024, charts the life of the art-movement-turned-band Devo from Akron, Ohio, through archival footage of the band and candid sit-down interviews with band members. Smith (“American Movie,” “Tiger King”) follows the band on their journey from Dadaist, Kent State radicals to unlikely icons of 1980s MTV. Currently celebrating their 50 years of De-Evolution Tour, Devo band members will join Doc10 in a live, virtual Q&A moderated by WXRT’s Marty Lennartz.

More from Variety

Doc10, a four-day fest running May 2-5, features a selection of 10 documentaries making their Chicago premieres along with a package of 10 prestigious documentary shorts. The fest is hosted by Chicago Media Project, a company that has generated more than $8.5 million in funding for documentary projects. CMP has directly supported over 150 films including “Icarus,” “Crip Camp” and most recently “Gaucho, Gaucho,” “Eternal You” and “Union.”

In addition to “Devo” Doc10 will screen: Lea Glob’s “Apalonia Apalonia,” Rachel Ramsay and James Erskine’s “Copa ’71,” Angela Patton and Natalie Rae’s “Daughters,” Lana Wilson’s “Look Into My Eyes,” Johan Grimonprez’s “Soundtrack to a Coup D’Etat,” Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui’s “Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story,” Stephen Maing and Brett Story’s “Union,” plus Jesse Moss and Tony Gerber’s “War Game.”

The 2024 edition of Doc10 kicked off on March 27 with an early festival preview screening of Amanda McBaine and Moss’ Apple Original docu “Girls State,” which premiered at Sundance in January.

The festival will also feature a special bonus screening of “Porcelain War,” about three Ukrainian artists who find inspiration and beauty as they defend their culture and their country during the Russian invasion of their country. Winner of this year’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Documentary, the docu is part of a Doc10’s Spotlight on Ukraine special screening and discussion.

Of the 11 docus heading to the festival this year, nine made their world premieres at Sundance 2024.

“There’s always a lot from Sundance represented just because of the nature of where we are in the calendar year,” explains Doc10 senior programmer Anthony Kaufman.

Glob’s “Apalonia Apalonia” premiered in 2022 at IDFA and was shortlisted for for an Oscar this year. Although the film has distribution via Grasshopper Film, it has not been shown at a theater in Chicago.

“I like a mix,” says Kaufman. “Both films that were highly acclaimed from the last year, but also those that people are going be also talking about at the end of the year.”

“War Game” will serve as the festival’s closing night film. A docu-thriller chronicling a “war game” simulation that took place in 2023 with prominent experts role-playing parts in a scenario inspired by the Jan. 6 Capitol Riots, will also feature a post-screening panel conversation that will include directors Moss and Gerber in addition to film subjects Steve Bullock (former governor of Montana), Heidi Heitkamp (former Senator of North Dakota), retired Major General Linda Singh, and National Security expert Elizabeth Neumann.

“One of this year’s main themes is perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable forces, and a yearning to fight for one’s dignity and self-worth,” says Kaufman.

Doc10 co-founder Steve Cohen adds: “The wide range of themes in this year’s Doc10 lineup is what makes for truly great nonfiction cinema. Relive lost moments of sports history, delve
into the world of the extrasensory, explore the eccentricity of ‘Devo,’ be inspired by the story of Christopher Reeve. And of course, we end with a suspense-filled political thriller depicting just
what’s at stake in this critical election year.”

Of the 80 films the fest has programmed since 2016, 26 have been shortlisted or nominated for an Academy Award. “Navalny,” a 2022 selection, was the third Doc10 film to win the Oscar for best documentary feature, following “Summer of Soul” (2021) and “American Factory” (2020).

This year’s festival will be presented at two Chicago venues, the Davis Theater and the Gene Siskel Film Center. All directors are scheduled to attend the festival in-person or virtually.

This year’s Doc10 slate.

Dir: Lea Glob
Producer: Sidsel Lønvig Siersted
116 minutes, 2023, Denmark, Poland

COPA ‘71
Dirs. Rachel Ramsay, James Erskine
90 min, 2023, United Kingdom
Producers: Victoria Gregory, Jannat Gargi, Anna Godas
Executive Producers: Serena and Venus Williams

Dirs: Angela Patton, Natalie Rae
Producers: Lisa Mazzotta, Justin Benoliel, Mindy Goldberg, Sam Bisbee, Kathryn Everett, Laura Choi
Raycroft, James Cunningham
107 min, 2024, US

Dir. Chris Smith
Producers: Chris Holmes, Anita Greenspan, Danny Gabai
95 min, 2024, US

Directors/Producers: Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss
96 min, 2024, US

Dir. Lana Wilson
Producers: Kyle Martin, Lana Wilson
2023, 105 min, US

Dir. Johan Grimonprez
Producers: Daan Milius, Rémi Grellety
150 min, 2024, Belgium, France

Dirs. Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui
Producers: Lizzie Gillett, Robert Ford, Ian Bonhôte
104 min, 2024, United Kingdom, USA

Directors: Stephen Maing and Brett Story
Producers: Samantha Curley, Mars Verrone
102 min, 2024, US

Directors: Jesse Moss, Tony Gerber
Producers: Todd Lubin, Jesse Moss, Jack Turner, Mark Dicristofaro, Jessica Grimshaw, Nick Shumaker
94 min, 2023, US

Dirs. Brendan Bellomo, Slava Leontyev
Producers: Aniela Sidorska, Paula Dupré Pesmen, Camilla Mazzaferro, Olivia Ahnemann
88 min, 2024, United States, Ukraine, Australia

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.