Archive for ‘Films’

May 15, 2017

After Images from DOXA

For the fourth year, I volunteered at DOXA: Documentary Film Festival. Contributing 24 hours of volunteer time, one gets a pass to see as many screenings as you can possibly fit in.  In my case, that was 20. More if you count the “shorts” as separate films. I’m sure the film makers would want them counted separately, so make that 30.

On Sunday, the final day, I went home after my volunteer shift. I’d planned to stay for Manifesto, but felt “psychic overload” and possibly a cold coming on as well, because of a 12-hour film viewing/volunteering day on Saturday. Last night I slept 12 hours (off and on) from 6 to 6.

And now I’m trying to process aftershocks or after images. I’ve always been an active dreamer – and as a child couldn’t separate my dream life from waking life. I regularly visited my Auntie Elsie in Denmark and to my sisters’ embarrassment would give people an update on playing jelly bean games and eating orange sandwiches if asked how was I?

So perhaps I overdid it. I’m experiencing post-documentary stress syndrome. Some specific “stills” keep flashing on my interior screen.

The yellow markings on the asphalt from “For My Mother.”

Rita stuffing chocolate into her apron from “The Grown-ups”.

The man who’d previously yelled, “Nein! nein! nein!” to the woman trying to learn to use her computer, then weeping with frustration when he couldn’t make his own work (“Digital Immigrants”)

The young man who wore a suit to school and inspired by Regis switched from white shirt to red from “Swagger” dancing down the street and considering being a drug lookout.

So many more.

Enhanced by hearing filmmakers and panels talk about the issues and the people and the footage left for, for example, “Mermaids 2” or sequels. The audience members often had ideas for follow-up films. We wanted to know: what happens next? We wanted to know more about individuals we were fascinated by. The little girl who voices her fear of Mickey Mouse and Barbie. Sabrina who unsuccessfully ran for office in West Virginia.

We can follow up on some – The students who successfully get past the rigorous admission requirement of La Femis – in Claire Simon’s Le Concours – will undoubtedly produce films that might arrive at DOXA in future years.

On the sidelines of the films themselves, I met some interesting global citizens. Young people in Vancouver for limited times find DOXA a possibility for a volunteer experience, since many other organizations require a four-month commitment. Several fellow volunteers I met could easily have a documentary made of their experience and the context of their being in Vancouver.

Has anyone done a documentary about DOXA volunteers? Perhaps volunteers from years past have gone on to be more involved in documentary film making.

Is anyone filming for a documentary on what the Green Party holding the balance of power in the upcoming (probable) minority government may mean for democracy in BC?

What now? I’ll go to the volunteer party next Sunday. I’ll volunteer again next year. I’ll share my enthusiasm for the impact of documentary films with friends. In Le Concours one of the applicants said they’d considered politics or was it law, and decided that film making could change the world.

I’d love to hear comments or corrections …  Did you do DOXA this year? What was your experience?





May 11, 2015

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.


May 7, 2015

Is that Platform “plank” or platform PRANK?

DOXA is messing with my mind. I’ve seen so many films it’s affecting what I see.

After seeing the Yes Men on Wed night, I read a news article about “platform planks” as “platform pranks”.  I decided not to click after all.

May 7, 2015

DOXA takes me on A Walk Down Memory Lane and then Pow! Right into the Present

At Doxa Day 6, I went to see She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry and it brought forth many memories. Many memories. The woman beside me gasped when they showed Help Wanted – Women and Help Wanted – Men ads. I said, “Yep. I applied to those jobs.” The conflicts, confusions, self-doubt, anger, enthusiasm, optimism, resentment – all that and more brought both smiles and tears to me as I watched these “women libbers” now in their 60s and 70s and their younger selves in the film.

The post-film discussion with panelists introduced as “some young feminists” seemed to take the attitude of objecting to the admittedly celebratory tone of the film. A woman in her 70s or so stood up and said, “We did not mess it up. I was part of a group that founded the first abortion clinic in Vancouver and it’s still running.”

News that Rachel Notley took Alberta with the NDP was greated with what I heard as disdain from two of the three panelists.

Ah, yes, conflict among the ranks. I remember it well.

Here are the panelists:

Jarrah Hodge is the founder and editor of the feminist blog, and has been published in the Vancouver Observer, The Tyee,, Bitch Magazine and The Mary Sue. Jarrah is also a volunteer organizer for the Vancouver chapter of Women, Action & The Media (WAM!).
Lucia Lorenzi is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of British Columbia, as well as an anti-violence blogger at Her activism focuses largely on sexual assault in educational institutions. Her research interests include trauma theory and Canadian Literature, and her dissertation examines the relationship between silence and sexual violence.
Leah Horlick is a writer and poet from Treaty Six Cree territory in Saskatoon. A 2012 Lambda Literary Fellow in Poetry. She identifies as a nonZionist Jewish lesbian of mixed descent, and currently lives on Unceded Coast Salish Territories in Vancouver, where she co-curates REVERB, the city’s only queer and anti-oppressive reading series.

The DOXA Festival Justice Forum series and panelists can all be found here:

See a 3-minute trailer here.

May 6, 2015

I Heart the Yes Men – DOXA Day 7

Today I saw #chicagoGirl – great film, rollercoaster of emotion, sad in the end, even sadder after hearing the Q&A update on Syria afterwards.

Fell asleep several times in the 3pm film Rivers and My Father. I’ve been spending too much time in darkened rooms with comfortable seats but tend to agree with the Father in question that a lot was repetitive and unclear.

The hit for me today was The Yes Men Are Revolting. I’ve loved them since they called Sarah Palin pretending to be Prime Minister Harper and this was a rollicking movie at the same time excruciatingly serious.

Also a nod to Sean Devlin who did a great job of suggesting that “we all could do a little bit more.”

Tomorrow off to:

7:00 PM VT From My Syrian Room [France/Syria/Germany/Lebanon/Qatar] Justice Forum
Satire & Subversion
9:00 PM CIN Le Paradis (Paradise) [France] French French
April 20, 2015

DOXA hardcopy program guide in hand

I went to the DOXA Documentary Film Festival orientation on Sunday and now (joy!) I have an actual physical large hardcopy of the festival program. You can get one at any JJ Bean’s. Speaking of which this year you get a 10% discount at JJ Bean’s during the festival with your membership card.

I found myself saying when asked what we returning (as opposed to old) volunteers liked that

a. it’s broadened my idea of what documentary film is all about

b. there’s a nice camarderie among volunteers and with staff

I have a good friend who retired last year who came with me and said that she was there because I had spoken so well about it.

This is how community builds. Knit one. Purl one. Just keep going.


April 17, 2015

DOXA 2015

I’m volunteering with DOXA Documentary Film Festival again this year and looking forward to catching a few premieres.  I tend to search the Art, Literary and Cinephile genres first of all, but also open to my activist friends who want to recommend something that’s not too terribly depressing.

Here are some of the ones that look interesting to me at this point. Most films are only shown once, so unlike the Fringe you can’t really wait for the post-show buzz to make your decisions. Many listings on the website include trailers, reviews and comments.

Since my schedule doesn’t permit my going to all of these, I hope you will and let me know how it goes!

Seth’s Dominion
Even Though the Whole World is Burning
On the Trail of the Far Country
Caged Birds
Canadian Hobbies
Seven Deadly Digital Sins
Theory of Obscurity
She’s Beautiful
Le Nez
The Yes Men Are Revolting
From My Syrian Room
Dark Star




December 15, 2014

Film: The Theory of Everything

If Jane and Stephen Hawking were on facebook, I think they’d have to put “It’s complicated” under relationship.

I recommend the film but on googling around afterwards I concluded the end note that parts have been fictionalized was indeed true.

The film was inspiring and moving. The googling around reminded me that reality is indeed more complicated.

I didn’t even know that Stephen Hawking had kids. Perhaps he forgets sometimes himself.

I agree with those who are predicting an oscar for Eddie Redmayne.

%d bloggers like this: