For the love of a pony: A Brony Tale one of this year’s DOXA highlights

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A Brony Tale closes this year’s DOXA documentary film festival. Image courtesy DOXA.

As the go-to location for cable SF and fantasy series, Vancouver has a lot of ties to pop culture. But one of the more lesser known facets of the city is its ties to brony culture – that is, adult male fans of the animated children’s show, My Little Pony.

In A Brony Tale, which screens at this years DOXA Documentary Film Festival, you’ll find out more than you’d ever wanted to know about this subculture. But if bronies aren’t your scene – or even if they are – there’s still plenty of other fare to tickle your fancy at this year’s DOXA Documentary Film Festival (May 2-11).

All told, there are more than 90 films and 78 screenings at this year’s DOXA. Here are some of the films we think look particularly illuminating, crowd-pleasing, inspiring or just plain weird.

Virunga – File this one under “inspiring”, if not downright enraging. “Virunga” is named after Virunga National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site in the Eastern Congo and the home to the world’s last remaining wild mountain gorillas. In this UK documentary, a group of dedicated park rangers fight to protect the gorillas from human corruption,  greed, and a rebel group.

Virunga

Virunga is the opening night film (May 2) at this year’s DOXA. Image courtesy DOXA.

To Be Takei – In the last decade, George Takei has found a second life on social media and as a gay rights activist. He’s managed to leverage the fame of being Mr. Sulu on the original Star Trek TV series (and movies) into a new kind of celebrity, and To Be Takei looks at the man through interviews with his colleagues and footage of Takei going about the business of being George.

Takei

The Reunion – In The Reunion, Swedish performance artist Anna Odell stages and films her high school reunion, with actors as her classmates – then seeks out and confronts her former classmates with the footage. Expect more cringe-worthy moments than a season’s worth of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

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Weird Old Winnipeg: Shorts Program – “Canada’s strangest city”? That’s what the DOXA guide calls Winnipeg, the Slurpee capital of North America and home to Guy Maddin, Salisbury House, the Guess Who and freezing cold temperatures. Weird Old Winnipeg collects shorts from a variety of filmmakers and includes such titles as Fahrenheit 7-Eleven, Animated Heavy Metal Parking Lot and more.

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Revenge of the Mekons – If you haven’t heard of The Mekons, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Despite over 30 years in the music business, the English post-punk/country-rock-folk band has rarely gotten anywhere close to the mainstream. Revenge of the Mekons documents the group from its early student days in Leeds England to a recent tour (and dealing with shows canceled due to lack of ticket sales). The group’s great good humour and smart, heartfelt music shines through all the tales of music-biz hardship.

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The Galapagos Affair: Satan Comes to Eden – What happens when one German couple ventures into the South Pacific to get away from it all, and then others intrude on their island paradise? Nothing good! Torn from the headlines circa 1929, The Galapagos Affair is one of those truth-is-stranger-than-fiction types of documentaries. It’s also part of DOXA’s Secrets & Lies series, which the DOXA guide says “examines deception and secrecy in all its manifest forms.”

Galapagos

A Brony Tale – The locally made doc follows Ashleigh Ball, one of the voice actors for the animated kids’ show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (and a singer in local band Hey Ocean!), to her first-ever brony convention in New York. The film was recently picked up for distribution by filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (2004’s Super Size Me).

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Ashleigh Ball is featured in A Brony Tale at year’s DOXA documentary film festival. Image courtesy DOXA.

Participating theatres include Vancouver Playhouse, Vancity Theatre, The Cinematheque and the Rio. For more info, visit doxafestival.ca

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