DOXA Documentary Film Festival May 3 – 12

Mechanical Bride documentary image

Image from The Mechanical Bride. Photo courtesy DOXA.

Now in its 12th year, DOXA is one of Canada’s leading documentary film festivals. As usual, the fest features a blend of politically driven, socially conscious flicks as well as some that are meant to be purely entertaining.

This year’s spotlight films include a locally-made film about Occupy Wall Street, a doc that uncovers a heretofore unearthed corner of the Beatles mythos, and some experimental Vancouver cinema from the ’60s and ’70s.

That’s right – experimental cinema from Vancouver. From 1967-1981, the city was a hotbed of filmmakers who were influenced by German Expressionism, French New Wave and, later, punk rock. BackBone: Vancouver Experimental Cinema includes interviews with filmmakers of the time, and will be screened with a selection of shorts from the period. Not to be missed by fans of cinema that pushes the envelope, or those interested in Vancouver’s fascinating artistic heritage.

Speaking of Vancouver, Occupy the Movie doesn’t take place here –  although the Vancouver-based magazine Adbusters helped inspire the Occupy Wall Street movement – but it is directed by a local, Corey Ogilvie. Combining footage of Occupy Wall Street with interviews with big brains like Reggie Middleton and Noam Chomsky, as well as Occupy organizers – yes, there were some! – Ogilvie has crafted a fast-paced, informative doc.

Occupy the Movie. Photo courtesy DOXA.

Occupy the Movie. Photo courtesy DOXA.

For 11 years, Freda Kelly was the personal secretary to the world’s most popular rock band. In Good Ol’ Freda, filmmaker Ryan White looks at one of the few corners of the Beatles’ history that hasn’t been scavenged by the group’s zealous fans. Kelly kept her stories and scrapbooks mostly to herself up until now, and Good Ol’ Freda is one of the few documentaries made with the support of the living Beatles and featuring original Beatles music.

If art and entertainment is your bag, DOXA 2013 is also screening The Great Hip Hop Hoax, about a couple of Scotsman who pretend to be from Huntington Beach, California, so they can be taken seriously as rappers (only in hip-hop circles would Huntington Beach be cause for street cred).

Meanwhile, Rose Colored Glasses is Vancouver director Sonia Suvagau’s portrait of possibly Britain’s pinkest expatriate, an eternal optimist (and artist, and art dealer) named Nicholas Treadwell who makes his home in what he calls the Pink Prison in a remote Austrian village. And I Am Divine examines the life of one Harris Glenn Milstead, who became a cult movie icon for creating Divine, aka “The filthiest woman alive!” in films like Pink Flamingos.

Nicholas Treadwell in Rose Colored Glasses.

Nicholas Treadwell in Rose Colored Glasses. Photo courtesy DOXA.

And if you’re still in the mood for some films with a social conscience,  DOXA once again is presenting its Justice Forum series. The series features such films as Fire In the Blood, about the fight to force pharmaceutical companies to make generic AIDS drugs available to those in need in developing countries, and No Burqas Behind Bars, about women in an Afghan prison.

No Burqas Behind Bars. Photo courtesy DOXA.

No Burqas Behind Bars. Photo courtesy DOXA.

Wondering what the future holds? This year DOXA has a special series called Spotlight on the Future. The series includes The Mechanical Bride, about life-size, semi-realistic dolls and the men who love them, as well as a brief history of the “mechanical bride” (mostly robots) in pop culture. Other entries include the experimental film There Will Be Some Who Will Not Fear That Void and the provocative Google and the World Brain.

For more info on showtimes, venues, and tickets, visit

DOXA 2013 film reviews.

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