Heads up: the 2023 DOXA Documentary Film Festival is taking over three of Vancouver’s foremost independent theatre screens this Thursday (May 4th) through Sunday the 14th.
The 22nd edition of the festival includes more than three dozen feature films, plus four short film compilation screenings divided into themes: Memory With(out) Home; Notes on the Body; Space as Place/Place as Space, and I Am a (Wo)man. All in, we’re talking about 64 local and international films – a veritable filmic smorgasbord!
Not enough time in your schedule to see everything you want to? No sweat: the in-person event is succeeded by a series of online screenings, available for streaming from May 15th through 24th. You can check out the complete DOXA program here. For a brief, by no means exhaustive, list of the flicks we most want to indulge our senses and brains on during this year’s fest, read on:
Excess Will Save Us: Screening as part of the ‘Thin Places’ series highlighting locations where a sense of Heaven, Earth and Hell intersect – in this case, director Morgane Dziurla-Petit’s home farming village somewhere in northern France – Excess Will Save Us humorously plays with the documentary format and our sense of what is true, while also addressing some serious topics using a supposed terrorist attack as its catalyst. Find out more.
“Food for thought”
Big Fight in Little Chinatown: Vancouver’s Chinatown (along with Chinatowns in three other major North American cities – Toronto, Montreal, New York) plays a prominent role in this new, gorgeously shot and tension-fraught expose about how developers are targeting the communities – and their cultures and histories, by extension – and how the communities are fighting back. Timely, essential viewing.
“Appetite for change”
2012/Through The Heart (2012/Dans le coeur): Another contender for ‘essential’ viewing, documenting a collectively major act of resistance against government oppression, recently entered into the Canadian history canon. Three demonstrations surrounding the 2012 Montreal student riots against rising tuition costs are the focus of this new Quebecois film. Of note: this film has already screened for audiences in at least a couple of independent theatres in Montreal, which often sold out. Take that as your cue to snag your tickets (in-person or virtual) ASAP.
Satan Wants You: Indulge your darker, more sinister curiosities with this new full-length film directed by local filmmaker duo, Sean Horlor and Steve J. Adams. The horrifically true story – with roots in Victoria, BC – of the psychiatrist-patient-cum-husband-wife duo who famously published the ‘memoir’, Michelle Remembers, that helped feed the sensationalist ‘Satanic Panic’ epidemic of the 20th century (aka the widespread and completely untrue accounts of satanic rituals that disseminated amongst communities and made news headlines in the 1980s).
“International cultural flavour”
Kite Zo A (Leave the Bones): A Haitian documentary, included in DOXA’s Pina (famous German dancer/choreographer) inspired program including four international films featuring dance. Kite Zo A looks to be a unique film experience rich in art, colour, culture, history, music, and (of course) dance sequences.
“A feast for the senses”
Music for Black Pigeons: Appealing to whimsical, musical appetites. This film features a bunch of big names (and personalities) in the shapeshifting free jazz genre, as they attempt to share their ideas and inspirations using their words and instruments. What to expect? Our best guess: a film that’s as meandering, cerebral, sensual and unusual as its core subject matter.
North Circular: Another film full of heart and music – in this case, the traditional Irish sort. If the documentary (shot in stark black-and-white film) itself is as moving as its trailer, then prepare yourself for a visceral, despairingly beautiful portrait of a traditionally working-class neighbourhood located on the north side of Dublin.
How to Save a Dead Friend: Another kind of devastating cinematic experience of the extremely exacerbated teenage anguish ilk. Epic in scope (HTSADF was shot over the course of a dozen years) and heavy in subject matter (depression, suicide, addiction, poverty, violence) I would suggest sandwiching this screening between a nice meal and a glass of something good to sip on while debriefing – ideally, all with good company.
Short Program: I Am A (Wo)Man: Guest curator Farah Clémentine Dramani-Issifou is responsible for this program, comprised of six short films documenting as many activists struggles for freedom during the 1960s and 70s, traversing the globe from Morocco and Guinea-Bissau to France and the USA. Compelling, stimulating and brain-satiating stuff.