Tomorrow, Thursday, November 5, sees the opening of CPH:DOX, one of the signature nonfiction events in the world in only its 13th edition. More than 180 new documentary features will screen through the Copenhagen fest’s wrap on Sunday, November 15, in addition to retrospective programming, shorts, and several live events. The following presents highlights from several of its sections:
Among the sixteen features in the running for the Dox:Award, the festival’s main prize, are: Friedrich Moser’s A GOOD AMERICAN, also headed to DOC NYC this month, on former NSA agent Bill Binney; Pablo Chavarría Gutiérrez’s THE LETTERS, a creative indictment of injustice in Mexico’s legal system; João Paulo Cuenca’s THE DEATH OF JP CUENCA, about the filmmaker’s confrontation with a report of his own death; and Aslaug Holm’s BROTHERS (pictured), in which the filmmaker charts eight years in the lives of his two young sons.
Regional filmmakers square off for the Nordic:Dox Award, including Danish entry A PLACE CALLED LLOYD (pictured), Sebastian Cordes’ portrait of a bankrupt Bolivian airline; Finnish film IRON GRANDPA, Janiv Oskar and Terhi Romo’s profile of a septuagenarian weightlifter; and Swedish contenders GHOST ROCKETS, Michael Cavanagh and Kerstin Übelacker’s investigation into UFO hunters; and MONALISA STORY, Jessica Nettelbladt’s longitudinal look at a heroin addict’s life.
Homegrown work is featured in Danish Dox, such as: Benjamin Hesselholdt’s THE INVENTION – AND MY DAD (pictured), following an entrepreneur’s parallel efforts to start a business in Ghana and reconnect with his long estranged father; Ulrik EE Gutt-Nielsen’s FUTURE ROAD, a personal exploration of the filmmaker’s relationship with his out of control dad; and Iben Haahr Andersen’s LIFE ACCORDING TO ANTON, a meditation on mortality and aging through the experiences of an 87-year-old farmer.
The F:ACT Award focuses on investigative work, including: Eric Bergkraut’s CITIZEN KHODORKOVSKY, on the Russian oligarch turned Putin opponent; Michael Graversen’s DREAMING OF DENMARK, which follows the struggle of a teenage Afghan asylum seeker; and Uri Rosenwaks and Eyal Blachson’s TOWN ON A WIRE (pictured), about a Tel Aviv suburb embroiled in drug and gang warfare.
Screening out of competition are several selections in the Special Screenings and Top Dox sections, including: Jennifer Anderson and Vernon Lott’s THE ACT OF BECOMING, about the transformation of an obscure novel into modern-day masterpiece; Jon Bang Carlsen’s DEJA VU, a personal essay on a life of filmmaking; Alvaro Longoria’s THE PROPAGANDA GAME, an inside look at North Korea; and Pierre Deschamps’ NOMA: MY PERFECT STORM (pictured), in which the acclaimed Copenhagen restaurant attempts to reclaim its top spot.
A focus on scientific endeavors can be seen through thematic sidebars “Before and After Science,” including Edward Kihn’s SIMULATION BEACH (pictured), about a program studying artificially produced natural disasters; and Miriam Jakobs and Gerhard Schick’s THE DARK GENE, on a geneticist’s self-exploration; and the strangely named “Under the Asphalt, the Beach!” section, which features Caspar Stracke’s exploration of time travel, TIME/OUT OF JOINT.
Other thematic sections include the extremely topical “Borderline,” which includes: Liv Berit Helland Gilberg, Bodil Voldmo Sachse, and Jens Blom’s THE DREAM OF EUROPE (pictured), about EU border guards; Tadhg O’Sullivan’s THE GREAT WALL, which reimagines Kafka through modern-day European borders; and Karin af Klintberg and Anders Helgeson’s NICE PEOPLE, about Somali exiles turned Swedish ice hockey players. Meanwhile, “Crime Wave” offers true crime stories such as Brian Hill’s THE CONFESSIONS OF THOMAS QUICK, on a notorious Swedish serial killer, and Steffi Kammerer’s MY FRIEND ROCKEFELLER, about a German man who passed himself off as an American elite.
Finally, Sound & Vision offers a wide-ranging assemblage of new music documentaries, including: Paulo Cesar Toledo and Abigail Spindel’s WAITING FOR B (pictured), which looks at the Brazilian superfans who camped out for two months to get tickets to a Beyoncé concert; Sam Wrench’s BLUR: NEW WORLD TOWERS, the story of the surprise new album by the Britpop icons; Patrick Shen’s IN PURSUIT OF SILENCE, a meditation on silence; and Janus Køster-Rasmuseen’s COOL CATS, a look back at the adventures of jazz legends in 1960s Copenhagen.