Get Excited for the 2023 DOXA Documentary Film Festival

The Cinematheque, Photo: Isaac Li

The 22nd annual DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Western Canada’s largest documentary film festival, returns with films screening in theatres from May 4-14. DOXA 2023 features a roster of crucial and thought-provoking documentaries in theatrical venues across the city, bringing filmmakers and audiences together for a communal cinema experience.

A selection of festival films will also be available to stream online after festival dates between May 15-24 for those who prefer to view films at home. DOXA’s 22nd edition showcases a total of 39 features and mid-lengths, 25 short films, various industry events, and multiple opportunities for filmmakers, audiences, and professionals to connect.

Big Fight in Little Chinatown

Online films will be available to stream Canada-wide through DOXA’s Eventive online platform. Theatrical screenings will take place at downtown venues like The Cinematheque, VIFF Centre, and the SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, while in-person industry events will be held at SFU’s World Arts Centre.

DOXA presents Karen Cho’s Big Fight in Little Chinatown as this year’s opening night presentation screening on May 4th at SFU’s Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema. Across the globe, Chinatowns are under threat of disappearing—and along with them, the rich histories of those who fought from the margins for a place to belong. Big Fight in Little Chinatown follows these communities fighting to end perpetual gentrification and displacement across North America.

Kokomo City

Other Special Presentations include Kokomo City, directed by D. Smith, which documents the stories of four Black transgender sex workers in New York and Georgia as they share reflections on tangled desires, far-reaching taboos, and gender’s many meanings; King Coal, directed by Elaine McMillion Sheldon, witnessing the daily rituals of life in Appalachia as the cultural roots of the coal industry continue to permeate as its economic power wanes; and Kaveh Nabatian’s Kite Zo A (Leave the Bones), which weaves together ancestral veneration, choreographed dance and interviews to tell a story of fighting back against colonial oppression in Haiti (closing night gala).


DOXA 2023 features three guest-curated programs, including Vancouver-based curator, writer, and Director of Artspeak Gallery Nya Lewis’ selected film, Beba (Rebeca Huntt, 2021), for their program, A Radical Pluriverse: Reflections on Black Womanhood on Both Sides of the Lens.

Beyond the festival’s cornerstone Justice Forum and Rated Y for Youth programs, DOXA has two spotlight programming streams: Dance, Dance Otherwise We Are Lost and Thin Places. Films include Paloma Zapata’s La Singla, which follows the mysterious career of Deaf flamenco dancer Anotnia Singla; A Way To B, directed by Jos de Putter and Clara van Gool, about Barcelona’s Liant la Troca dance collective made up of artists with diverse physical disabilities; and Andreas Antonopoulos’s film Cheenee about sugar’s role in the forced relocation of thousands of Indians to the Caribbean.

Má Sài Gon (Mother Saigon)

Thin Places presents a collection of films exploring liminal and precarious zones. The films in this spotlight include Theo Montoya’s Anhell69—part queer ghost story, part ode to Colombian cinema, that bores its gaze into the streets of Medellín following a group of friends; Khoa Lê’s Má Sài Gon (Mother Saigon), which constructs a dynamic ode to Saigon’s queer and trans communities through a series of intimate character portraits; Mstyslav Chernov’s journalistic and heavy-hitting 20 Days in Mariupol; the debut feature of Canadian filmmaker Terra Long, Feet in Water, Head on Fire, which traces the communities and vegetation shaping the Coachella Valley region; and Veranada, Dominique Chaumont’s study of a lone herder migrating his flock in the Argentinian Andes, as the landscape withers from an unprecedented drought.

Manufacturing the Threat

Several Canadian filmmakers are premiering their newest works at DOXA this year. Amy Miller’s latest film, Manufacturing the Threat, is another festival highlight: After the arrest and imprisonment of a young Surrey couple, their plot to commit acts of terrorism was revealed to be the work of government agent provocateurs aiming to entrap and create their own “threats”.

Ali Grant’s Not Quite That champions an affecting local story; after finding out she is predisposed to breast cancer, Sarah White—a Jewish woman, mother, and butch lesbian—must decide whether to wait and see what happens or act fast and have a preventative double mastectomy.

The Cinematheque, Photo: Isaac Li

Committed to cultivating curiosity and critical thought, DOXA’s 2023 program delivers some of the finest in contemporary documentary cinema over its 11-day run. The festival offers a diverse and intriguing selection of films, filmmaker Q&As, and industry events.

Festival tickets and passes are available to purchase through DOXA’s website.

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