BARING ITS TEETH
DOXA, Vancouver’s annual documentary film festival, returns this month with some of its most daring programming ever.
Dorothy Woodend has been involved with DOXA for many years now, and this is her fourth year in the position of director of programming. She first began as a volunteer on the screening committee, eventually taking a “fairly long, circuitous route” to end up in her current position.
According to Woodend, DOXA’s fearless programming is what sets it apart from other film festivals in the city.
“[I was] looking through the program and thinking, this is a really radical festival we have!” said Woodend. “It’s always been sort of a tough, feisty dog of a festival.”
The secret to the creative programming of the festival is freedom. While larger-profile film festivals, such as VIFF, are sponsored by larger corporations (RBC, Goldcorp, etc.), DOXA is not beholden to anyone.
“We can show films that speak the truth when it needs to be spoken,” said Woodend. “DOXA is so scrappy and they fought for the right causes, called bullshit when they saw it, and they’re straight shooters.”
As for the DOXA selection process, films are sifted through a screening committee of about 12 people, followed by a smaller programming committee.
“We usually sit down at the beginning of the process and look at some film clips that summarize the DOXA ethos,” said Woodend. “It runs the gamut from high production value to really scrappy, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants films.”
Not wanting to preclude any potential submissions, the criteria for a film to get in the festival are quite broad. Even the definition of what constitutes a documentary is challenged through some of the films’ DOXA programs.
“Every year we have a spotlight program – films that don’t necessarily fall within the realms of what people think of a documentary as being,” said Woodend. “Some of the films are so new that you don’t really have the terminology for a film like that.”
DOXA invites films from distributors and the festival circuit, but also receive a number of raw films directly from filmmakers through the submission process.
“Sometimes those are where the real discoveries are,” said Woodend. “They come in and they’re rough and they’re raw, but you see something in the film that sticks with you and you can’t shake it – sticking to you like a burr. Even if it’s a bit rough around the edges, there’s something genuine and something real.”
“That’s what we are looking for, something that has a spark of truth.”
DOXA will be running from May 2-11. Participating theatres include the Cinematheque, the Vancouver Playhouse, the Rio Theatre, and Vancity Theatre. Check http://www.doxafestival.ca for further screening details.
Check out our Film section for previews of select films.
By Carly Rhianna Smith