Five can’t-miss films at 2019 DOXA Documentary Film Festival
First, a disclaimer: there are more than five can’t-miss films at the 2019 DOXA Documentary Film Festival. DOXA is one of the most solidly programmed festivals on the cultural calendar, proving year after year that documentary is hardly a blanket term for all fact-based films. Documentary contains multitudes.
There are, in fact, dozens of can’t-miss films at this year’s DOXA; it’s next to impossible to experience a “miss” at DOXA. That said, we offer this list of five films that punched us in our guts and changed our perspectives in significant ways – and they all have screenings this week.
BECAUSE WE ARE GIRLS
The Pooni sisters – Salakshana, Jeeti, and Kira – grew up in a conservative Indo-Canadian home in the Okanagan, and throughout their childhoods, they were all repeatedly sexually abused by an older male relative. Filmmaker Baljit Sangra’s deeply moving documentary about the Pooni sisters operates on many levels: as an exploration of damaging views about gender, power, and sexuality that are pervasive in South Asian culture; as portraits of an immigrant family, of survivors of violence, and of the Canadian legal system; and as a celebration of sisterhood and strength.
Directed by Baljit Sangra
Screens May 12 at 9pm
nîpawistamâsowin: WE WILL STAND UP
Colten Boushie was 22 years old in August 2016 when he was shot and killed by a white farmer in rural Saskatchewan. Colten was a resident of the Cree Red Pheasant First Nation, and the shooting – as well as the shooter’s trial and subsequent acquittal by an all-white jury – highlighted the longstanding racial tensions that continue to exist in Canada. Filmmaker Tasha Hubbard tells the story of Colten’s life and tragic death with sensitivity and grace, while amplifying voices that need to be heard and acted upon in order to enact real and lasting change. #Justice4Colten #NativeLivesMatter
Directed by Tasha Hubbard
Screens May 8 at 6pm and May 9 at 12pm
The titular dreamers in Joseph Hillel’s wildly entertaining feature are four female architects who each had to smash through the glass ceiling in order to pursue their careers: Cornelia Hahn Oberlander (the landscape designer behind iconic outdoor fixtures at the Museum of Anthropology, the Vancouver Public Library, and Robson Square), Phyllis Lambert, Blanche Lemco van Ginkel, and Denise Scott Brown. The women – who are octogenarians and nonagenarians now, and still working – faced blatant and barely disguised sexism at every turn, but they never stopped dreaming big and designing even bigger.
Directed by Joseph Hillel
Screens May 11 at 12pm
ONE CHILD NATION
Between 1979 and 2015, China enforced a strict family planning program that was commonly known as the one-child policy. Filmmaker Nanfu Wang – who was born in China and immigrated to the States as a young adult – returns to the village of her birth shortly after becoming a mother herself to explore the history of the one-child policy. It was a time when forced sterilizations were common. Tens of thousands of babies were killed by midwives minutes after being born; others were left to die in markets and fields, or given to human traffickers. Failure to comply with the program resulted in imprisonment or loss of property. Wang speaks with people who were directly impacted by the one-child policy, and explores its impact on present-day China.
Directed by Nanfu Wang
Screens May 11 at 4pm and May 12 at 12pm
TALKING AT NIGHT
This short film – from the venerable National Film Board of Canada – follows crisis workers on the night shift at Saskatoon’s Mobile Crisis Centre, which provides 24/7 crisis resolution to people in distress. We see the workers answering calls, and responding in person when help is needed. We see their genuine concern, and their sensitivity. We come to understand why they do what they do, and the necessity of their work. This short film packs a mighty emotional punch.
Part of Front Lines: Shorts Program
Directed by Eric Thiessen
Screens May 8 at 8:15pm
The 2019 DOXA Documentary Film Festival runs until May 12. Explore the schedule and purchase tickets at DOXAFestival.ca.