How to Make the Most of This Year’s DOXA Documentary Film Festival

Still image from ‘The Tomahawk’.

While we wait this whole COVID-19 thing out for a final stretch, the DOXA documentary film festival gives us a good reason to stay in and check out what’s been happening out in the world while we’ve been collectively learning how to cultivate a sourdough starter.

There isn’t a better year to check out DOXA’s exciting line-up of documentaries as they celebrate their 20th anniversary. For their big birthday, the venerable film festival is pulling double duty, hosting an online streaming festival and a drive-in from May 13-15 at the PNE Amphitheatre. A true rarity in the city limits! As food for thought, here’s a few to get you started:

For those hungry for how communities are using food to power social change, check out Food for the Rest of Us, a documentary that follows four vibrant stories of food projects making a difference in their community. For an amuse bouche, there’s The Tomahawk, a documentary short film exploring the problematic North Vancouver diner/institution as part of the Hometown Banter series, or Koto: The Last Service, exploring a Japanese restaurant in Campbell River with a 40-year history that’s been hailed as one of the first authentic sushi experiences in BC.

If you’re looking to get in on the DOXA drive-in experience and flex your take-out tailgating game before the show, there’s lots to choose from. For fans of Scout’s Definitive Records column, FANNY: The Right to Rock, might be your jam. Director Bobbi Jo Hart tells the story of a 70s rock band like no other — all-female, with Asian-American and LGBTQ+ members — who struggled to overcome the limitations of an industry and a society hellbent on painting them into a hyper-sexualized corner.

Keeping track of the city through Sean Orr’s Tea & Two Slices? The (War on) Drugs, Social Movements and Liberation, a three film series programmed by VANDU (Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users), may be what you’re looking for with one of the films in the series – Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers’ Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy – being featured at the drive-in.

With plenty of ways of experiencing DOXA this year, grab some take out and open up a window to the world. Just make sure that if you’re ordering off of Uber Eats, that you watch The Gig Is Up. It might give you a better idea of what’s really going on with that Pad Thai you ordered.

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