The 17th annual DOXA Documentary Film Festival opens today with The Rankin File: Legacy of a Radical by Vancouver filmmaker Teresa Alfeld.
The film uses archival footage and present day interviews to follow the political career of Harry Rankin while providing a primer on Vancouver civic politics.
DOXA’s director of programming, Selina Crammond, highlights The Cleaners, which paints a picture of the implications of cleaning the internet in terms of privacy and also censorship. “The film starts off with the question: who gets to decide what’s deemed removable on the internet?”
The Cleaners and The Rankin File: Legacy of a Radical are part of the festival’s Justice Forum program showcasing films that foster conversations around a wide range of social issues.
Crammond says audiences can catch the world premiere of Lonnie Nadler’s Co-Creators: The Rat Queens Story at DOXA. The Vancouver director’s first documentary follows Kurtis Wiebe, writer of the New York Times bestselling comic book series Rat Queens.
She says Rat Queens “was really popularized for representing queer and women characters in unconventional ways. There’s curvy women. There’s trans characters. It’s pretty progressive in that sense.” The series artist and co-creator Roc Upchurch was later arrested for domestic abuse. “It’s very relevant in terms of the whole #metoo conversation.”
There are several special programs including Press Play featuring documentaries that focus on music and Quietude, which encourages reflection through stillness.
Guest curated programs include Embedded with Extremists on the rise of the rightwing and From Our Eyes, which deals with environmental crises facing Tibetan China. The festival’s French French includes five films with a special program dedicated to the work of Alain Cavalier.
DOXA’s Rated Y for Youth program offers films about social issues aimed at high school students. “Primas is a really incredible portrait of two women in Latin America who are coming to terms with their own sexual abuse and using art as a way of healing. The filmmaker is their aunt and she just did a really amazing job,” says Crammond. Primas’ filmmaker Laura Bari is participating in a panel discussion on Monday called Filming Family.
The festival closes with Kusama – Infinity celebrating the life of world famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama who battles racism, poverty and mental health issues to become one of the top-selling female artists in history.
The festival runs until May 13 at various venues including the Vancouver Playhouse, VIFF’s Vancity Theatre, The Cinematheque, The Orpheum Annex, Museum of Vancouver, SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts.
More information on showtimes and tickets can be found on the festival website.