DOXA 2020 awards go to films about Filipina domestic workers, father and daughter documentarians, and more

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      Like many festivals this year, Vancouver’s annual DOXA Documentary Film Festival, which was originally scheduled to be held from May 7 to 17, didn’t let the pandemic stop it, and went online to hold its first virtual version from June 18 to 26.

      At the close of the festival, several filmmakers won awards for their cinematic accomplishments.


      Mira Burt-Wintonick received the Colin Low Award for Canadian Documentary for Wintopia (Canada), which opened the festival.

      Jurors Ying Wang, Tony Westman, and Nova Ami explained that the film won for its “poetic, deeply personal, self-reflexive approach” to Burt-Wintonick’s exploration “of the complexities of her relationship with her late father, his search for utopia, and his legacy as a documentary filmmaker”. 

      The DOXA Feature Documentary Award went to Sung-A Yoon’s Overseas (Belgium/France) “for its cinematic accomplishment in revealing the widespread systemic exploitation of Filipina migrant workers through the voices of workers themselves”, according to jurors Antoine Bourges, Shannon Walsh, and Anne-Mary Mullen. “Alternating between role-play re-enactments and intimate everyday moments, Sung-A Yoon’s stunning film allows these women to tell their stories in the present tense, bringing us closer to their reality while allowing space for emotion and reflection."

      The jurors also stated that the film “challenges our perceptions of Filipina domestic workers and shows how we as a society are complicit in their treatment”.

      The DOXA Short Documentary Award went to Danski Tang for “Umbilical” (USA), about a mother and daughter’s desire for intimacy and healing.

      Jury members Jules Arita Koostachin, Tyler Hagan and Pablo Alvarez-Mesa stated in a news release that they were “struck by its evocative and visceral animation and visual elements, and the simple yet intimate and emotionally resonant story—a cruel and sad but potent account of abuse and survival”.

      Meanwhile, honourable mention went to Jamie Meltzer and Chris Filippone’s “Huntsville Station” (USA), which the jury describes as “a deep, heartbreaking, challenging film made with extreme care, respect and attention to detail” about “an empathetic, simple yet profound observation at a bus station where recently released inmates gather in their first moments of freedom”.

      "Huntsville Station"
      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook