(This story is sponsored by DOXA.)
Documentary aficionados rejoice as DOXA, Vancouver’s premier documentary film festival, has released its exciting and intriguing 2020 program. This year, the films and events are available online so that you can take part from the comfort of your own home. The film festival runs from June 18 to 26.
Residents of B.C. can purchase tickets to unlock the films included in DOXA’s first-ever virtual festival for 24 hours at a time. General admission tickets cost $8 each, tickets for students, seniors, and those with low incomes cost $6 each, and an all-access pass costs $60.
DOXA strives to cultivate critical thought among viewers while promoting artistic expression and creating a community of people who share a passion for documentaries.
Films touch on social justice issues, politics, religion, culture, geography, sexuality, and many other thought-provoking topics. Summaries of the participating documentaries and live events can be found below—no spoilers included, we promise.
Another Word For Learning (dir. Jadis M. Dumas)
Deeply dissatisfied with the public school system, a young Indigenous woman decides to self-determine her own education with the support of her mother and community. Preceded by: My Favourite Food is Indian Tacos, my Favourite Drink is Iced Tea and my Favourite Thing is Drumming (dir. Derius Matchewan)
Areum Married (dir. Areum Parkkang)
Korean director Areum Parkkang throws several punches at gender roles in an honest and charming look at her own marriage. Turning the camera onto herself, she wonders: can she manage both her life and her film?
Birth Wars (dir. Janet Jarman)
Birth Wars chronicles the power struggle between doctors and midwives in the states of Chiapas and Guerrero in Mexico, where maternal deaths are still common. At the centre of this dispute is a question; whose vision of childbirth should prevail?
Body of Truth (dir. Evelyn Schels)
Artists Marina Abramovic, Sigalit Landau, Shirin Neshat and Katharina Sieverding have been politicized by their experiences with war, violence and suppression, and have integrated these politics into their work using the most personal medium available: their own bodies. Body of Truth accompanies these four exceptional women on an emotional journey, re-experiencing the conflicts that have shaped their consciousness.
Don’t Worry, the Doors Will Open (dir. Oksana Karpovych)
Aboard antiquated elektrychka commuter trains, director Oksana Karpovych shows us a slice of Ukrainian life through passenger vignettes and everyday interactions.
Dope is Death (dir. Mia Donovan)
This film spotlights the Lincoln Detox Clinic, formed in New York in 1970 by community activists, the Black Panthers, and the Young Lords as a radical solution to the city's lack of response to the growing heroin epidemic.
The Earth Is as Blue as an Orange (dir. Iryna Tsilyk)
In a Ukrainian town in the 'red zone' of Donbas, a family transforms their home into a film studio.
Iryna Tsilyk's The Earth Is as Blue as an Orange quietly observes the family as they create scenes based on personal experiences of life under siege.
Eddy’s Kingdom (dir. Greg Crompton)
In the 70s, Eddy Hamour was obsessed with building an island theme park in B.C.'s Okanagan.
As Greg Crompton chronicles in Eddy's Kingdom, a strange string of events ensued, including a week-long hostage situation at the Canadian Embassy in Beirut.
The End From Here (dir. Tony Massil)
Set against the backdrop of the 2016 American election news cycle, Tony Massil's The End From Here is a character study of three reclusive men from the isolated town of Hyder, Alaska, who share a sense of impending doom.
Finding Sally (dir. Tamara Dawit)
After relocating to Ethiopia to reconnect with her ancestral homeland, Canadian filmmakerTamara Dawit uncovers the story of her aunt Selamawit, known otherwise as Sally. Once a fun-loving party girl and the privileged daughter of an ambassador, Sally eventually became a Communist rebel, joining the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party (EPRP).
The Forbidden Reel (dir. Ariel Nasr)
At the height of Afghanistan’s Taliban occupation, in a frenzy of cultural erasure, one Taliban official concerned with the rapid disappearance of his country's history secretly warns the employees of Afghan Films to hide their archives; this is the unearthing of those archives.
Forget Me Not (dir. Sun Hee Engelstoft)
Confronting the stigma of being unwed, Forget Me Not follows three women at Aeshuwon, an institution for unwed mothers, as they take steps toward a most difficult decision — to give their child up for adoption, or not.
Hamtramck, USA (dir. Razi Jafri, Justin Feltman)
Once a city that was 90% Polish, Hamtramck, Michigan became the first Muslim majority city in America. Now, this new wave of immigrants seeks to gain representation in City Hall. Woven into the election season, the film showcases the vibrant life, celebration, and culture of those who call Hamtramck home.
Influence (dir. Richard Poplak, Diana Neille)
Lord Timothy Bell started his career in advertising, but gained notoriety by spinning Margaret Thatcher’s image into the “Iron Lady,” and leading her to her first general election victory in 1979. Later on, his PR firm, Bell Pottinger, became infamous for unscrupulous practices that aimed to polish the image of unpopular politicians and dictators across the globe.
Je vois rouge (I See Red People) (dir. Boyina Panayotova)
A personal, yet entertaining look behind the Iron Curtain, I See Red People is both an investigation of the complicated legacy of communism in Bulgaria and a fascinating study of the parent-child relationship.
Landfall (dir. Cecilia Aldarondo)
A visually striking, kaleidoscopic portrait of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, weaving together stories of community-based relief efforts, young activists protesting the government’s deadly austerity measures, and farming communities struggling to survive.
The Last Autumn (dir. Yrsa Roca Fannberg)
We might remember 2020 as our year of forced self-isolation, but for Icelandic farmer Ulfar tending his sheep in the isolated Arctic community Arneshreppur, quietude, and solitude are his chosen way of life.
małni - towards the ocean, towards the shore (dir. Sky Hopinka)
Spoken almost entirely in chinuk wawa, a near-extinct Indigenous language, Hopinka has crafted an experimental documentary rooted in the origin-of-death myth from the Chinookan people in the Pacific Northwest; a quiet, earthly meditation on language, place, and eternity.
My Darling Supermarket (dir. Tali Yankelevich)
Tali Yankelevich focuses her lens on the employees of a Brazilian supermarket, and turns a mundane and familiar setting into something profound. Particular attention is given to the intimacy and complexity of the workers’ interior lives; while performing mechanical tasks, they crack jokes, sing, and philosophize about life, relationships, and personal struggle.
The New Bauhaus (dir. Alysa Nahmias)
Subversion of the status quo produces art worth remembering. In turn, art worth remembering changes the status quo. Chicago's IIT Institute of Design, formerly the New Bauhaus School, has been a primary catalyst of such change for over 80 years; Alysia Nahmias's film explores the school’s revolutionary legacy through the life of its founder, László Moholy-Nagy.
Overseas (dir. Sung-A Yoon)
In the Philippines, women get deployed abroad to work as domestic workers or nannies. In order to do so, they frequently leave their own children behind, before throwing themselves into the unknown.
Pier Kids (dir. Elegance Bratton)
For many homeless queer and Trans youth of colour, NYC’s Christopher Street Pier is both living room and work place. New York is as tough as ever, and Bratton’s film is a testament to the resilience and joy that can still be found on the street.
A Rustling of Leaves: Inside the Philippine Revolution (dir. Nettie Wild)
Wild’s film chronicles the three points of a political triangle, in 1987’s Philippines: the legal left, the illegal (armed) revolution, and the enemy which threatens them both: the armed reactionary right. A Rustling of Leaves poses the key question facing the revolutionaries and the Filipino Left: should the people’s movement continue the guerilla war, or do they dare enter legal politics and reveal the hidden face of the revolution?
s01e03 (dir. Kurt Walker)
A virtual love story set in Vancouver, New York, and the dying world of a massively multiplayer online role playing game. Preceded by: To: You, to Night (dir. Han Pham)
Safety123 (dir. Julia Gutweniger, Florian Kofler)
Teams of stoic safety experts assess the risks of living beneath mountains prone to sudden collapse. Swiss engineers drop artificial boulders down steep hills, build barriers to slow water, rocks, and snow, and endlessly prepare for the worst. What could go wrong next?
Sankara n’est pas mort (Sankara Is Not Dead) (dir. Lucie Viver)
Lucie Viver’s brilliant debut dives deep into the diverse social backgrounds and landscapes of the rarely depicted African country Burkina Faso.
Shorts Program: B.C. Voices
HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN ME? (dir. Baljit Sangra)
IKEBANA (dir. Alejandro Yoshizawa)
HOME COOKING (dir. Joel Salaysay)
RED ROBINSON (dir. Carmen Pollard)
A FOUR POINTED STAR (dir. Sophia Biedka)
THE RETURN (dir. Marina Dodis)
AS THE SMOKE RISES (dir. Sharon Heigl)
HEALING INNER VOICES - HIV (dir. Martin Morberg, Jada-Gabrielle Pape)
Shorts Program: Crossroads
CLEBS (dir. Halima Ouardiri)
SUSANA (dir. Laura Gamse)
USA VS SCOTT (dir. Ora DeKornfeld, Isabel Castro)
HUNTSVILLE STATION (dir. Jamie Meltzer, Chris Filippone)
SPEAKING FOR THE DEAD (dir. Peiman Zekavat)
Shorts Program: In Flux
UMBILICAL (dir. Danski Tang)
VAIVEN (dir. Nisha Platzer)
MENAPTWI (SMOKED) (dir. Natasha Naveau)
NUXALK RADIO (dir. Banshee Hanuse)
MADAME DISHRAGS (dir. Carmen Pollard)
I BOUGHT A TIME MACHINE (dir. Yeon Park)
ON FALLING (dir. Josephine Anderson)
LICHEN (dir. Lisa Jackson)
Shorts Program: Peculiar Sites
STAMPEDE (dir. Allison Hrabluik)
GHOST LANDS (dir. Félix Lamarche)
GHOSTS OF CAMBIE (dir. Caroline Lee)
PUBLIC SHOWERS, OBERKAMPF STREET, PARIS (dir. Julie Conte)
THE REVERSAL (dir. Jennifer Boles)
REDBIRD AND OTHER BIRDS (dir. Julieta Maria)
The Silence That Remains (dir. Amparo Garrido)
A blind ornithologist shares his passionate regard for birds through an acute sense of hearing that sees what we, the sighted, often do not notice.
Softie (dir. Sam Soko)
Boniface “Softie” Mwangi has long fought injustices in his country as a political activist. Now he’s taking the next step by running for office in a regional Kenyan election. But running a clean campaign against corrupt opponents becomes increasingly hard to combat with idealism alone; Boniface soon finds that challenging strong political dynasties puts his family at risk.
Stateless (dir. Michèle Stephenson)
The Dominican Republic’s Supreme Court 2013 erasure of birthright citizenship for anyone of Haitian descent rendered more than 200,000 people without nationality, and was only the latest assault in the country’s long, brutal history of anti-Haitian racism. Richly imbued with elements of magical realism, Stateless uses an artistic approach to uncover the complex and tumultuous history of these neighbouring Caribbean nations.
The Story of Plastic (dir. Deia Schlosberg)
A reframing of the conversation around the environmental impact of plastic and an argument for a comprehensive amendment to how plastics are made, rather than how they’re disposed of.
There’s No Place Like This Place, Anyplace (dir. Lulu Wei)
The film follows director Lulu Wei and fellow members of her community, as they are gradually expelled from their central Toronto neighbourhood by Vancouver-based developer Westbank, which recently began building 800 rental units on the site of legendary bargain department store, Honest Ed’s.
Truth or Consequences (dir. Hannah Jayanti)
Weaving documentary footage into a fictionalized context, the film is set in a near future when space tourism has begun, following five residents in the town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. The film combines archival footage, experimental virtual reality scenes and an improvised score by jazz guitarist Bill Frisell.
Under the Same Sun (dir. François Jacob)
For more than a century, Azerbaijanis and Armenians have been fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous enclave in the middle of Azerbaijan. Director François Jacob explores both sides of the Nagorno-Karabakh border, and bears witness to how human beings can build identities based on prejudice, making peace difficult—if not impossible—to reach.
Underdown (dir. Sarah Kaskas)
The city of Beirut is a maze of people, cars, buildings upon buildings, and a tumultuous and rich soundscape. Director Sarah Kaskas combines multiple stories with compassion, glimpses of humour and a pulsing music score (which she herself composed), as well as music from Lebanese band Kinematik.
The Walrus and the Whistleblower (dir. Nathalie Bibeau)
For more than a decade, Phil Demers worked his dream job as an animal trainer at Marineland but in 2012 he quit in protest against the organization’s treatment of the animals, citing negligence.
Who Made You? (dir. Iiris Härmä)
Through interviews with a range of ethicists, inventors, and citizens from around the world,Who Made You? reveals contemporary AI developments on a global level. The result is a startling glimpse into our not so distant future, where the definitions of "robot" and "human" become blurred.
Wintopia (dir. Mira Burt-Wintonick)
Expertly weaving her father’s collection of video tapes with thoughtful and candid narration, and highlighted by a whimsical score, Mira Burt-Wintonick’s Wintopia is many things at once: an ode to documentary filmmaking, a celebration of family, and the beginnings of a road map generating a new vision for the future.
Zumiriki (dir. Osar Alegria)
Basque filmmaker Oskar Alegria revisits his ancestral home in this testament to childhood’s sense of play and wonder. Although the small island he explored as a child has since been flooded, Alegria sets up camp on the riverbank, immersing himself in the landscape for the summer.
Q&A with Mira Burt-Wintonick | Saturday, June 20th
With special guest Nettie Wild, hosted by CBC Vancouver’s Mike Killeen
Cinematography Masterclass with Iris Ng | Sunday, June 21st
Co-presented with DOC BC
News Parade: The American Newsreel and the World as Spectacle | Thursday, June 18th
Presented by Joseph Clark (Screening + Live Q&A)