Local and Canadian Talent to Watch

DOXA is pleased to showcase a diverse and compelling selection of local and Canadian talent at this year’s festival. Of particular note is our Opening presentation of Karen Cho’s Big Fight in Little Chinatown, which gives pride of place to local stories and struggles. All across the globe, Chinatowns are under threat of disappearing—and along with them, the rich history of communities who fought from the margins for a place to belong. Big Fight in Little Chinatown follows the communities that are fighting to end perpetual gentrification and displacement across North America, including Vancouver’s Chinatown and the beloved Kam Wai Dim Sum 金威點心 and Hon Hsing Athletic Club 雲高華漢升體育.

As mentioned in our program announcement, DOXA is proud to showcase the world premiere of Manufacturing The Threat, the latest doc from award winning director, producer and activist Amy Miller. After the arrest and imprisonment of a young Surrey couple, their plot to commit acts of terrorism was revealed to be the work of government agent provocateurs aiming to entrap and create their own "threats." Miller will also present a masterclass on Saturday, May 6th, co-presented by DOC BC | YT | NWT, as part of DOXA’s Industry series. As well, DOXA plays host to the world premiere of Ali Grant’s Not Quite That. After finding out she is predisposed to breast cancer, Sarah White—a Jewish woman, mother, and butch lesbian—must decide whether to wait and see what happens, or act fast and have a preventative double mastectomy.

Local shorts take a front seat this year, and deliver a wealth of both thematic and formal approaches. Nettie Wild, legendary Canadian filmmaker and recent Governor General’s Award recipient, is profiled in Chasing Light (Hân Pham and Dave Rodden-Shortt). Co-directors Ritchie Hemphill and Ryan Haché chronicle Nakwaxda'xw Elder Colleen Hemphill's memories of growing up on a float home near Alert Bay in the richly detailed and stop-motion animated Tiny, a case study of which will also take place on Monday, May 8th. Vancouver-based multi-disciplinary artist Brandon Wint’s My Body Is A Poem/The World Makes With Me combines animation and film to tell a story of belonging based in revolutionary love. DOXA alum Nadia Shihab’s latest work, Sister Mother Lover Child, is a meditative and immersive invitation to join a group of women sharing space, food, caretaking and filmmaking.

Other Canadian shorts to seek out are: Dianne Ouellette’s lii bufloo aen loo kishkishiw (buffalo wolf memory), which uses the sights and sounds of the land to create an ode to the North American grasslands and the prairie wolves that were hunted to extinction long ago; Hell and Highwater (Jeremy Williams), which traces recent catastrophic environmental events in British Columbia and their devastating impact on Indigenous communities from their racist and pro-corporate origins; Cubicle Island (Damien Ferland), which lambastes call-centre culture and the institutional tactics that dehumanize employees; Raquel Sancinitti’s Madeleine, a blending of reality with fiction and live action with felted animation to capture the remarkable and delightful titular 107-year-old woman; Le spectre visible (The Visible Spectrum) directed by Sarah Seené and Maxime Corbeil-Perron, about lightning strike survivors and their ensuing connection to the elements; and Troika (Robert Mentov and Karl Kai), which follows a group of friends, all twenty-something immigrants from Eastern Europe, as they hang out, skateboard, smoke and swap opinions on the uncertainty of their future in Canada.

Several West Coast and Western-Canadian stories are festival highlights this year, and are thematically wide-ranging and resonant. Terra Long’s feature debut, Feet in Water, Head on Fire, is a portrait of California's Coachella Valley and the agricultural community built around the date palm tree, which faces the combined threats of economic upheaval, US immigration policy and climate change. Long’s work in documentary filmmaking as an editor will be explored in a Monday, May 8th industry event co-presented with Canadian Cinema Editors. Trevor Solway’s Kaatohkitopii: The Horse He Never Rode is part of this year’s Rated Y for Youth program, and reflects on the life and legacy of Solway’s late grandfather Sonny, a life-long rancher of the Siksika Nation. Silvicola, directed by Jean-Philippe Marquis, is an immense sensory contemplation of the entanglement of humans, machines and nature in the sprawling forests of the Canadian Pacific Northwest, told through multiple perspectives in the forestry industry. As well, we are excited to welcome DOXA alumni Sean Horler and Steve J. Adams back to the festival with their recent work Satan Wants You. Michelle Smith’s bestselling memoir detailed her supposed enslavement by a Satanic cult as a 5-year-old in Victoria, BC, and helped ignite the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Directors Horlor and Adams embark on a journey to unravel the many threads of this larger-than-life story, and in the process expose the wider damage done by misinformation.

Finally, a slate of outstanding Canadian features will screen at DOXA 2023: Kaveh Nabatian’s Kite Zo A (Leave the Bones), our Closing presentation and an immersive weaving together of ancestral veneration, choreographed dance and interviews to tell a story of fighting back against colonial oppression in Haiti; Khoa Lê’s Má Sài Gòn (Mother Saigon), an intimate series of character studies that altogether construct a dynamic ode to Saigon's Queer and Trans communities; Lettre d’amour à Léopold L. Foulem (A love letter to Léopold L. Foulem), directed by Renée Blanchar, a charming portrait of the titular ceramic artist, whose work is noticeably absent from major Canadian art institutions despite his international renown and status as a queer icon within the broader ceramics community; Rodrigue Jean and Arnaud Valade’s 2012/Through The Heart, an account of the spectacle and brutal suppression of the 2012 student movement in Québec, which saw nearly half of the university student population strike in protest of rising tuition costs; Days (Les jours) by Geneviève Dulude-DeCelles, which follows Québécoise PhD student Marie-Philip on her year-long journey from cancer diagnosis to final chemotherapy treatment, during which she remains unabashedly herself; and Veranada (Dominique Chaumont), which offers a previous glimpse into the life of a lone herder in the uplands of the Argentinian Andes, as he migrates his flock in search of greener pastures despite unprecedented drought.


Committed to cultivating curiosity and critical thought, DOXA 2023 delivers some of the very best in contemporary documentary cinema over 11 days. DOXA Documentary Film Festival runs May 4-14, 2023, offering an exceptional selection of films, filmmaker Q+A’s and Industry events. Select films will be available to stream online after festival dates, between May 15 thru 24, unless otherwise specified. Online films are geo-blocked to Canada and virtual tickets will be limited. Select screenings will include live and pre-recorded filmmaker Q+As and extended discussions. Festival tickets and passes are on sale now. For further information, call the DOXA office at 604.646.3200.

DOXA is presented by The Documentary Media Society, a Vancouver-based non-profit, charitable society. DOXA is presented on unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) territory.


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