DOXA 2023: Documentary film festival’s big winners announced

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      BC directors Ritchie Hemphill (Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw) and Ryan Haché’s stop-motion film, Tiny, emerged as the big winner from the 2023 DOXA Film Festival, bagging the prizes for Short Documentary and the inaugural Elevate Award.

      The short, narrated by 'Nakwaxda'xw Elder Colleen Hemphill (Ritchie's mother), brings her memories to life. Jurors called the film “compelling and compassionate,” noting both the “innovative use of stop-motion animation” and the “caring celebration of Elder Colleen Hemphill and the land of waters of Alert Bay.”

      Khaled Jarrar’s Notes on Displacement, won the top spot in this year’s DOXA Feature Documentary Award and also received a special mention for the Elevate award. The feature sees the Palestinian director follow elder refugee Nadira on her harrowing journey from Syria to Greece to Bulgaria and towards Germany. 

      According to the jurors, “Jarrar’s bravery and compassion create a deeply human look at the individuals who find themselves forced to migrate in search of safety.”

      Special mentions went to The Golden Thread for its “meditative observation” of underpaid jute textile workers, and Theo Montoya’s Anhell69 for its “hypnotic hybrid approach to storytelling.”

      The Colin Low Award for Best Canadian Director went to Khoa Lê. His documentary on the lives of LGBTQ2S+ people in Ho Chi Minh City, Má Sài Gòn, was recognized for its “impeccable balance between his powerful and unwavering visual aesthetic, the delicate relationships he built with the community and the empathy he managed to create on screen.”

      And King Coal, Elain McMillion Sheldon’s look into coal mining in Central Appalachia, won the Nigel Moore Award for Youth Programming. With its lyrical, flowing style, jurors noted that it is “a spectacularly beautiful, deeply moving film that reshapes what we think of as documentary.” 

      Special mention went to We Will Not Fade Away, which captured five teenagers from the wartorn Donbas region of Ukraine on the brink of Russia’s full-scale invasion.

      DOXA 2023 may have wrapped up its in-person screenings, but all the films—including the award-winners—are still available to watch digitally.

      Find the Straight's full DOXA 2023 guide here.

      DOXA 2023’s online screenings run from May 15 to 24. Online tickets are available here.