The Devil Stole Our Laughter

"If I could write about what has happened," says Mexican land defender Isela González Díaz, "I would title it The Devil Stole Our Laughter." In this rich collection of films, loss is the devil's weapon of choice—painfully wielded over land and life, power and infrastructure, and the historical gains of generations past. Existing in the aftermath, these films present individuals and communities moving (through) earth and sky in search of what truly remains.


Ilyas Yourish and Shahrokh Bikaran, Afghanistan/Belgium/Germany/France, 2024, 106 mins

A deeply poetic and immersive portrait from Afghan co-directors Ilyas Yourish and Shahrokh Bikaran, Kamay follows a grieving Hazari family in search of answers after their daughter, a veterinary student at Kabul University, dies by suicide.

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La Guardia Blanca
Julien Elie, Canada, 2023, 109 mins

Julien Elie's meditative film captures the devastation of farmland in Mexico at the hands of private companies—many of which are Canadian. With breathtaking cinematography, La Guardia Blanca chronicles the reclamation efforts of Indigenous farmers in a country with the highest assassination rate of land defenders in recent years.

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Tongo Saa (Rising Up at Night)
Nelson Makengo, Democratic Republic of the Congo/Belgium/Germany/Burkina Faso/Qatar, 2024, 96 mins

DR Congo is set to build Africa's largest power plant on the Congo River. But as international partners renegotiate their involvement, much of the capital city, Kinshasa, remains submerged in floodwater and without electricity. Nelson Makengo's Tongo Saa (Rising Up at Night) is a gentle observation of an urban population adamant about reinventing itself, through darkness and light.

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The Nights Still Smell of Gunpowder
Inadelso Cossa, Mozambique/Germany/France/Portugal/the Netherlands/Norway, 2024, 93 mins

Reckoning with the aftermath of Mozambique's civil war, The Nights Still Smell of Gunpowder is a slow, sensorial confrontation of the trauma and memory left by state violence. As he visits his grandmother's village under the cover of night, Inadelso Cossa explores the silences that remain between the living and the dead.

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The World is Family
Anand Patwardhan, India, 2023, 96 mins

Sifting through home videos of elders who fought for India's independence, acclaimed director Anand Patwardhan seamlessly transforms his family's oral history into a concise commentary on the political rise and power of Hindu supremacy in present-day India.

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Where Zebus Speak French
Nantenaina Lova, France/La Réunion/Madagascar/Germany/Burkina Faso, 2023, 104 mins

Already flanked by an airport and military base, one village in Madagascar is resisting the political candy-grab of its surrounding rice fields. Brilliantly satirical in its approach, Nantenaina Lova's film observes the fillagers' playbook of grassroots defense, ranging from community town halls to comedic puppetry.

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Wilfred Buck
Lisa Jackson, Opaskwayak Cree Nation/Onigaming First Nation/Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation, 2024, 97 mins

Cree elder and ceremonial leader Wilfred Buck has dedicated much of his life to the reclamation and (re)transmition of Indigenous astronomy. A hybrid adaptation of Buck's memoir on the effects of colonialism and addiction in his early years, Lisa Jackson's celestial portrait follows Buck as he and others turn to the stars for healing.

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Années en parenthèses 2020-2022 (Years in Brackets 2020-2022)
Hejer Charf, Canada, 2023, 95 mins

When the pandemic abruptly cancels her film projects, Montreal-based Tunisian director Hejer Charf turns to 50 people for moving images and sounds. Years in Brackets 2020-2022 is a layered video inventory of time and place, punctuated by poetry, uncertainty and death.

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View the full DOXA 2024 program.