The Doxa Documentary Film Festival is now upon us and to kick things off, we thought we’d have a number of this year’s filmmakers and directors give some advice to those seeking to make their first documentary. This year’s festival is presenting 82 films from across Canada and around the world and we encourage you to check out the films that will be playing from May 2nd through to May 12th at a variety of venues throughout Vancouver. For the full schedule, you can click here.
Stanley Nelson, Filmmaker – “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool” at DOXA
Miles Davis was perhaps the quintessential musical artist of the 20th century, a brilliant innovator and iconoclast whose work single-handedly changed the face of jazz and popular music alike. He was a man with a considerable mystique, a proud yet enigmatic pillar of the black community. Regrettably, as his friends and colleagues attest, he was also a frequently tormented soul, profoundly affected by the racial prejudice he witnessed and experienced in America, along with the pressures of success, and the temptations of drugs and alcohol. Davis was a man capable of making Manhattan clubgoers swoon with the sweet longing in his trumpet tone, while also terrifying those around him with his rage and self-destruction. For more info: https://www.doxafestival.ca/film/miles-davis-birth-cool
Brent Hodge, Filmmaker – “Who Let The Dogs Out” at DOXA
To the majority of people alive and breathing in the year 2000, Who Let The Dogs Out? is the name of a massively popular radio hit by the flash-in-the-pan group Baha Men. To artist Ben Sisto, it is a philosophical question that challenges accepted notions of authorship and creative ownership.
Brent Hodge’s documentary Who Let The Dogs Out? follows Sisto’s obsessive quest to become the world’s leading expert on the song and its confusing pedigree. Beginning in the present day, Sisto takes the stage in front of a packed club and begins a TED talk-style presentation about the cultural phenomenon of the song, its known origins, and unanswered questions around who really coined the eponymous lyric and subsequent woof/woof/woof/woof structure. For more info: https://www.doxafestival.ca/film/who-let-dogs-out
Jeanie Finlay, Filmmaker – “Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth” at DOXA
Freddy is 30 years old and yearns to start a family. For him, this ordinary desire comes with unique challenges. He is a gay transgender man, and the decision to carry his own baby required years of soul searching. The reality of pregnancy came as a shock, both as a physical experience and one that challenges society’s fundamental understanding of gender, parenthood, and family. What for Freddy feels pragmatic, to others seems deeply confusing and confronting. Against a backdrop of increasingly open hostility towards trans people the world over, Freddy is forced to confront his own naivety, mine unknown depths of courage, and lean on every friend and family member who will stand by him. For more info: https://www.doxafestival.ca/film/seahorse-dad-who-gave-birth
Phyllis Ellis, Director/Writer/Producer – “Toxic Beauty” at DOXA
For many people, it’s part of a daily routine. Each morning, we slather, splash, and douse ourselves with numerous personal care products. But how often do we stop and question the safety of those very products we use? The big companies behind our lotions and potions insist there’s nothing to be concerned about, yet a landmark case against Johnson and Johnson — makers of the eponymous baby powder — alleges the company knew about carcinogens in its product for years and took no action. For more info: https://www.doxafestival.ca/film/toxic-beauty
Joseph Hillel, Filmmaker – “City Dreamers” at DOXA
City Dreamers offers a glimpse into the careers of four trailblazing urban architects of the 20th century: Phyllis Lambert, Blanche Lemco van Ginkel, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, and Denise Scott Brown. Each of the four boasts an impressive and decades-long career in shaping urban spaces. Despite their lists of accomplishments, none have achieved the household name status of their male contemporaries like Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, or Mies van der Rohe. For more info: https://www.doxafestival.ca/film/city-dreamers
Shannon Walsh, Filmmaker – “Illusions of Control” at DOXA
Resilience in the face of disaster is at the heart of Shannon Walsh’s expansive study. Shot across five different countries, Walsh introduces us to five courageous women, each encountering their own form of crisis: Silvia searches for her missing daughter in the deserts of northern Mexico; Yang attempts to curb desertification in China; Kaori mobilizes mothers as citizen-scientists in Fukushima, Japan; Stacey builds on Indigenous knowledge to confront toxic legacies in Yellowknife; and Lauren, a renowned philosopher, confronts her terminal cancer diagnosis. For more info: https://www.doxafestival.ca/film/illusions-control