DOXA Immersion – and Post-Festival Blues – 19 films in 11 days. Whew!

I’m just coming out of DOXA Documentary Film Festival 11-day immersion. I volunteer and get a pass for doing 20+ hours.  I treat it as if I’m out of town and do very little of my “regular life”.  How else would I manage to see 19 films in 11 days?

I’m sufficiently unavailable for regular connections that on Sunday I saw a friend who said, “Is DOXA over?” “One more day,” I replied. “Good, We’re looking forward to having you back. I’d like to get together with you.”

It’s a little like being at an extended conference. You begin to recognize people you know – sort of – or you see by their t-shirt, bag or name tag that they’re part of your tribe. You learn some people’s names and can wave and say, “Hi, Gerald. Sue. Linda. What have you seen that you liked?”

You may also see some people you’ve met before at previous festivals. There are regular arts volunteers who as one person put it, “will work for tickets.” Sometimes you’re lucky enough to make a new friend who you’ll see post festival.

Sometimes through serendipity you’ll see someone who’s not even at the same event but somehow you both surfaced in downtown Vancouver. A friend I worked with in Toronto a decade ago and lives in Victoria, greeted me as I was heading to the bus stop after the very last DOXA screening, last night around 10:30pm.

We hugged, reminisced, kept repeating the mantra: I can’t believe we’ve run into each other here.

We agreed we’d keep in touch on facebook and sure enough this morning I got a facebook message just saying how fun that was.

That can happen when you’re travelling too.

So, in 11 days I saw 19 films. Well, a few were partial movies. On volunteer shifts, some of the volunteers get to go in if there’s space so long as there’s enough coverage at the desk.  After a volunteer shift at Vancity where the last film during my last volunteer shift was sold out, I dashed up to Cinematheque and caught just the last 20 minutes of The Creeping Garden, about slime mold. So maybe that one doesn’t count. But on the other hand, I listened to two Q&A sessions with Victoria Lean, director of After the Last River.

The juxtapositions are delightful to my sense of humour. You might go from said film about slime mold to one about a 90-year-old fashion icon to climate catastrophe.

And now…

I think I need to go doc-free for a week or so and digest the ideas and images.

I’ll go to the volunteer party and hope to connect with my new friend.

Maybe I’ll be ready to watch online at

before the free preview runs out.


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