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How to Get the Most Out of the 2024 DOXA Documentary Film Festival

When trying to whittle down this year’s programming to our “must see” films, we sure had our work cut out for us! But, as usual, we gave it our best shot…

How to Get the Most Out of the 2024 DOXA Documentary Film Festival

Still from Meezan courtesy of DOXA

Film-lovers and curious minds unite: the 23rd annual DOXA Film Festival kicks off this week, on Thursday, May 2nd!

When trying to whittle down this year’s programming to a short list of our “must see” films, we sure had our work cut out for us! For starters, it includes over 80 films of varying sizes – short, mid- and full-length – screening over just 11 days (until Sunday, May 12th); with films running the gamut of timely to obscure, traditional to experimental, and seriously creative to seriously concerning. But, as usual, we gave it our best shot…Here is our list of standout films, organized (loosely) by what you hope to get out of the experience:

Get ‘foodie’:

Still from Tea Creek courtesy of DOXA

If you’re a regular Scout reader, then you probably already devote a sizeable amount of your brain- and thought-space to food. For you, we’ve also honed in on DOXA’s food-related content:


Tea Creek zooms in on Indigenous food sovereignty and agriculture via the titular hands-on agricultural program, which is working to educate/rewrite the narrative on Indigenous food systems. DETAILS

Sat, May 4th | 4:15pm | VIFF Centre 1181 Seymour St. MAP
Thu, May 9th | 8:45pm | SFU Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema 149 West Hastings St. MAP


“A brilliant juxtaposition of the whimsical and the political”, Cake and Death is a short (29-minute-long) filmic collage glut with movie scenes containing cake, that takes an unsavoury turn… DETAILS

Sat, May 4th | 3pm | The Cinematheque 1131 Howe St. MAP


The Anarchist Lunch centres on a multifarious group of men who regularly meet to debate and commiserate over a standing lunch date in Chinatown, Vancouver. DETAILS

Fri, May 3rd | 5:15pm | VIFF Centre 1181 Seymour St. MAP
Thu, May 9th | 6:30pm | The Cinematheque 1131 Howe St. MAP

Get immersive:

One of the best things about seeing a film on the big screen in a dark theatre is its transportive ability – a quality that the following films utilize to their advantage:


If you are prone to sea sickness or have a sensitive stomach, then you might want to sit this one out: Meezan is a vivid filmic experience that begins on board an Iranian trawler with its crew of fishermen, following them on shore, and concluding among the women working in a remote shrimp processing and packing plant, repetitively (and mesmerizingly) peeling and cleaning their catches. Full of honest grit and beauty. DETAILS

Thu, May 9th | 6:30pm | The Cinematheque 1131 Howe St. MAP


If you’re the sort of concert-goer who insists on pushing to the front and/or shelling out the big bucks for front row seats, all the better to scope out the music-making action, then We Don’t Care About Music Anyways… is the documentary for you. That is, if you haven’t already seen it: the visceral 2009 film about Tokyo’s underground experimental music scene is screening as part of a Cédric Dupire and Gaspard Kuentz retrospective. DETAILS

Sat, May 4th | 2:05pm | VIFF Centre 1181 Seymour St. MAP


Get neurodiversive with The Stimming Pool. The extraordinary new documentary from filmmaker/artist Steven Eastwood employs the concept an “autistic camera” to give audiences an idea of what it’s like to inhabit various spaces that neurotypical people generally take for granted, courtesy of a group of five neurodivergent artists (the Neurocultures Collective) who collaborated on the film. DETAILS

Sun, May 5th | 9:35pm | VIFF Centre 1181 Seymour St. MAP

Get tech-y:

Still from Seeking Mavis Beacon courtesy of DOXA

Society’s relationship with computer technology is an always-changing one; one with a short, albeit complicated, past, and a future full of unknowns – including some potentially terrifying possibilities… These two films look in each direction (the late 1980s and the imminent future) in an attempt to make some sense out of both in a present-day context:


Seeking Mavis Beacon adds colourful levity to topical technological concerns around ownership of online identity and racism, courtesy of Jazmin Jones, a young Black American filmmaker (and her friend/collaborator, Olivia McKayla Ross) with a fixation on an early, formative fictional online cult icon named Mavis Beacon. DETAILS

Sun, May 12th | 8:15pm | The Cinematheque 1131 Howe St. MAP



Giving equal parts to its proponents, players and critics, Eternal You is all about how the AI industry is making inroads towards the capitalization of death, from Los Angeles to South Korea. DETAILS

Thu, May 9th | 6pm | SFU Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema 149 West Hastings St. MAP

Get angry:

Still from Union courtesy of DOXA

It’s easy to get bogged down by the sad state of the world; but a little bit of well-directed anger is always a good thing. Here are just a couple of hot topic political films that should get your blood temperature raised to boiling point:


Need a reminder of just how evil Amazon is? Union goes in the trenches to follow a few of the dedicated folks behind the unprecedented, trailblazing ALU (Amazon Labor Union) fight to unionize Amazon’s JFK8 facility in Staten Island. Get ready to get riled up! DETAILS

Mon, May 6th | 5pm | VIFF Centre 1181 Seymour St. MAP

Still from Plastic People courtesy of DOXA


Plastic People takes a micro- to macro-scopic look at the omnipresence of plastic in our day-to-day lives – from food to fertility, and even our vernacular: “waste colonialism”, “plastisphere”, “plastisoil” and “plasticulture” are just some new words/concepts to add to your vocabulary – and the environment, and the almost unbelievably horrific myriad ways it’s affecting and infiltrating people around the world. Terrifying stuff. Essential watching. DETAILS

Fri, May 10th | 5:30pm | SFU Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema 149 West Hastings St. MAP

Get personal:

Still from Between Pictures: The Lens of Tamio Wakayama courtesy of DOXA

Get to know more about the very different lives of some important famous and not-so-famous local and international figures with these three intimate documentaries:


Multidisciplinary artist and filmmaker, Cindy Mochizuki, gives her new documentary about the late photographer Tamio Wakayama, Between Pictures: The Lens of Tamio Wakayama, a sensitive and illustrative touch by way of animation and interviews with his peers and others, who share the positive impact his work has had on them as individuals, as well as on various communities. DETAILS

Sun, May 5th | 4:15pm | The Cinematheque 1131 Howe St. MAP
Thu, May 9th | 12:30pm | SFU Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema 149 West Hastings St. MAP


A Man Imagined, the controversial new documentary by Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky, is an intimate, voyeuristic and hyperrealistic portrait of the day-to-day life of an unhoused, schizophrenic man named Lloyd, who lives in Quebec. Cinematic, sympathetic, and/or exploitative? Check out a screening and decide for yourself. DETAILS

Wed, May 8th | 6:30pm | The Cinematheque 1131 Howe St. MAP

Still from Bye Bye Tiberias | Photo credit: Thomas Bremond


You may recognize the name and/or face of Palestinian-Israeli-French actress, Hiam Abbass, from her prolific feature film and miniseries work (recently, Bladerunner 2049, Succession). In her filmmaker daughter Lina Soualem’s lyrical new documentary, Bye Bye Tiberias, though, she plays herself, as the pair take a trip together to her home village to reunite with female family members, and confront her past and its many-nuanced consequences. DETAILS

Thu, May 9th | 5pm | VIFF Centre 1181 Seymour St. MAP


Still from The Secret Garden courtesy of DOXA

The following recommendations manage to utilize the film medium as both an art and story-telling medium, with wildly creative, unusual and captivating results:


“It is said that on the edge of each city, lies a garden invisible to the eye and hidden from maps. These secret gardens seldom reveal themselves, surfacing only in myths and tales.” So begins a conspiratorial women’s voice at the opening of The Secret Garden: In Eight Chapters, the lyrical, lush and splendidly otherworldly new short film by Nour Ouayda, screening as part of the Children of the Sun program’s Spotlights Shorts series. DETAILS

Sun, May 5th | 9:30pm | The Cinematheque 1131 Howe St. MAP


Ottu is both a poetic meditation on the various winds of the Mediterannean and the filmmaker’s pseudo-travel diary accounting how her itinerary was itself blown off course, landing herself on a mysterious island (Corsica) and presenting one unexpected discovery after another. DETAILS

Fri, May 10th | 6:30pm | The Cinematheque 1131 Howe St. MAP
Sat, May 11th | 1:15pm | SFU Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema 149 West Hastings St. MAP

Check out the full 2024 Program here to make your own DOXA plan of attack and to secure tickets to all screenings.

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