DOXA Documentary Film Festival

May 04, 2023

DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Western Canada’s largest documentary film festival, returns to present the 22nd edition, screening in theatres May 4 through May 14, 2023. DOXA will screen its roster of crucial and thought-provoking documentaries in theatrical venues across the city, bringing filmmakers and audiences together for a communal cinema experience. And for folks who prefer to view from the comfort of their own homes, a selection of festival films will be available to stream online after festival dates, between May 15 and 24, 2023.

The 22nd annual DOXA Documentary Film Festival will showcase a total of 39 features and mid-lengths, 25 short films, as well as Industry events and multiple opportunities for filmmakers, audiences and industry professionals to connect. Online films will be available to stream Canada-wide, through DOXA’s Eventive online platform. Theatrical screenings will take place at The Cinematheque, VIFF Centre and SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, while in-person industry events will be held at SFU’s World Arts Centre.

DOXA is proud to present Karen Cho’s Big Fight in Little Chinatown as this year’s Opening presentation, screening on May 4th at SFU’s Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema. All across the globe, Chinatowns are under threat of disappearing—and along with them, the rich history of communities who fought from the margins for a place to belong. Big Fight in Little Chinatown follows the communities that are fighting to end perpetual gentrification and displacement across North America. 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 (Justice Forum); 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, even as its economic power wanes (Rated Y for Youth); 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 Gala).

DOXA is very proud to feature three guest-curated programs. Vancouver-based curator, writer and current Director of Artspeak Gallery, Nya Lewis has selected the film Beba (Rebeca Huntt, 2021) for their program, A Radical Pluriverse: Reflections on Black Womanhood on Both Sides of the Lens. In Lewis’s words, “I consider it a privilege to access a spiritual legacy of mothers, sisters and daughters—a lineage or geneology of Black women(hood) that is defined by collective self-awareness, shared political consciousness, love, magic, quests for liberation and futurism.” Farah Clémentine Dramani-Issifou, whose research and curatorial work focuses on Afro-diasporic cinema and visual arts, has curated a program of short films called I AM A (WO)MAN: Transatlantic Perspectives on Political Struggles in the 1960s–1970s in Guinea-Bissau, Morocco, the USA and France. These short works highlight the cross-cultural and -continental “struggles for the emancipation of colonized peoples,” and display the collaborative work of filmmakers and labour activists in the fight. Finally, Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis program titled NORITA: The Mother of All Struggles features Jayson McNamara’s work-in-progress doc, Norita, which examines the life and revolutionary work of Nora Cortiñas, the most famous of the Madres of the Plaza de Mayo—Argentina’s movement of women fighting for justice amidst the country’s rampant political oppression.

Beyond the festival’s cornerstone Justice Forum and Rated Y for Youth programs, DOXA 2023 will include two Spotlight programming streams: DANCE, DANCE OTHERWISE WE ARE LOST and THIN PLACES. As German dancer Pina Bausch once advised: “Dance, dance otherwise we are lost.” In an effort to make sense of the world, the films in this spotlight program meld the disciplines of dance and filmmaking, strengthening relationships between ancestors, culture and community in the process. 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; Andreas Antonopoulos’s film about sugar’s role in the forced relocation of thousands of Indians to the Caribbean, titled Cheenee; and Closing Presentation Kite Zo A (Leave the Bones).

Thin Places presents a collection of films exploring liminal and precarious zones. “There are places,” says Irish writer Kerri ní Dochartaigh, “both hollowed and hallowed, all in one.” Thin places, as they are known in the Celtic tradition, are locales where a sense of Heaven and Earth meet. But in this dense collection of films, Hell is present too. The films in this spotlight include, to name a few: 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, called Feet in Water, Head on Fire, which beautifully 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 unprecedented drought.

Several Canadian filmmakers launch their world premiere at DOXA 2023. Amy Miller’s latest film, Manufacturing the Threat, is a 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.” Miller will also be giving a masterclass, co-presented by DOC BC | YT | NWT, as part of DOXA’s Industry program. 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. These Canadian films and more are exciting titles in DOXA’s 2023 festival program.


Committed to cultivating curiosity and critical thought, DOXA 2023 delivers some of the very best in contemporary documentary cinema over 11 days. DOXA Documentary Film Festival runs May 4-14, 2023, offering an exceptional selection of films, filmmaker Q+A’s and Industry events. Select films will be available to stream online after festival dates, between May 15 thru 24, unless otherwise specified. Online films are geo-blocked to Canada and virtual tickets will be limited. Select screenings will include live and pre-recorded filmmaker Q+As and extended discussions. For details on festival tickets and passes, check For further information, call the DOXA office at 604.646.3200.

DOXA is presented by The Documentary Media society, a Vancouver-based non-profit, charitable society. DOXA is presented on unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) territory.

To view the full program of screenings and events, and to reserve your tickets, Click Here