CPH:DOX 2019 Overview

The 16th CPH:DOX

March 20-31

The celebrated Danish nonfiction event offers more than 170 doc and hybrid features, with the addition of a sidebar of fiction in this year’s edition.


The festival features several competitions, include its premier international Dox:Award, which this year offers work like: Mikel Cee Karlsson’s A STRANGER, a personal true-crime story about the filmmaker’s late friend; Karen Stokkendal Poulsen’s ON THE INSIDE OF A MILITARY DICTATORSHIP, on Myanmar’s struggles to realize a true democracy; Ai Weiwei’s THE REST, a humanistic portrait of the refugee crisis in Europe; Sarah J Christman’s SWARM SEASON, which explores honeybees, indigenous cosmology, and NASA; Phie Ambo’s REDISCOVERY, which follows a group of children as they attempt to rethink society; and Marie Skovgaard’s THE REFORMIST, a profile of a controversial feminist female imam in Denmark.


Work from the Nordic countries vies for recognition in the Nordic:Dox competition, among them: Sidse Torstholm Larsen and Sturla Pilskog’s WINTER’S YEARNING, which explores the possibility of independence for Greenland; Petter Sommer and Jo Vemund Svendsen’s THE MEN’S ROOM, about a Norwegian men’s choir as they prepare to open for Black Sabbath; Emil Langballe’s Q’S BARBERSHOP, focused on a popular hangout for Somali Danes in Odense; Kaspar Astrup Schröder’s DON’T GIVE A FOX, following an all-female skateboarding crew on a road trip through Denmark; Egil Håskjold Larsen’s WHERE MAN RETURNS, a portrait of a hermit in the northernmost part of Norway; Arthur Franck’s THE HYPNOTIST, about a legendary Finnish entertainer and the Cold War scandal that ended his career; and Sun Hee Engelstoft’s FORGET ME NOT, about three pregnant women on a South Korean island for unwed mothers.


The F:ACT Award focuses on investigative docs, like: Robert Oey’s THE GOOD TERRORIST, which explores radicalization via the perspective of a former Jihadist; Fredrik Gertten’s PUSH, on the crisis of urban housing; Renato Martins’ FAVELA FRONTLINES, on Rio’s dangerous drug war; Marjolaine Grappe’s THE COLOR OF JUSTICE, on a mock trial in the case against the NYPD officer that choked Eric Garner to death; James Jones and Olivier Sarbil’s ON THE PRESIDENT’S ORDERS, on Filipino President Duterte’s deadly war on drugs; and Tommy Gulliksen’s WAR OF ART, which follows international artists to North Korea in a cultural exchange.


The Next:Wave competition celebrates emerging filmmakers, including work such as: Isa Willinger’s HI, AI, an exploration of our relationship with humanoid robots; Keith Walsh’s WHEN ALL IS RUIN ONCE AGAIN, a portrait of a small Irish town hard hit by the financial crisis; Emil Langballe’s A MARRIED COUPLE, on a pair with Down syndrome as they prepare to get married; Matthias Lintner’s PROPERTY, about the eccentric Berlin community formed by the filmmaker and his neighbors; and Floor van der Meulen’s THE LAST MALE ON EARTH, on the last male northern white rhino and the desperate attempts to continue his line. The boundary-pushing New:Vision award includes Mania Akbari and Douglas White’s A MOON FOR MY FATHER, a personal meditation on breast cancer and pregnancy; and Jeremy Deller’s EVERYBODY IN THE PLACE, an exploration of 1990s acid house and its relation to politics and culture of the time.


New national cinema is featured in the noncompetitive Danish:Dox section, including: Carl Olsson’s PATRIMONIUM, a series of tableaux about an upper-crust Danish family and their Downton Abbey-like estate; Katrine W Kjær’s GIRL IN RETURN, about a Danish Ethiopian adoptee who seeks to return to her homeland; Eva Mulvad’s A CHERRY TALE, on three friends who attempt to open a successful vineyard; and Mette Korsgaard’s THE IRRESISTIBLE MAN, an exploration of male chauvinism via the experiences of the filmmaker and her family.


Special Screenings include John Walker’s ASSHOLES: A THEORY, an exploration of why some people are just awful; Clayton Vomero’s ZONA, which looks at the transformation of the Soviet Union through Western consumerism; Alina Rudnitskaya’s SCHOOL OF SEDUCTION: THREE STORIES FROM RUSSIA, following three women as they learn how to find wealthy men; and Steve Brown and Timothy Wheeler’s CHASING EINSTEIN, on efforts to prove Einstein’s elusive theory of relativity.


The natural world is in focus in thematic strand CPH:Science, which includes: Pernille Rose Grønkjær’s HUNTING FOR HEDONIA, which explores the possibility of deep brain stimulation to cure conditions like depression; Pierre-Emmanuel Le Goff’s 16 SUNRISES, an immersive experience of six months on the International Space Station; Anna de Manincor’s ALMOST NOTHING, an inside look at physics research facility CERN; Michael Wech’s RESISTANCE FIGHTERS, an exploration of antibiotic resistant bacteria and the potential catastrophe they signal; and Jeppe Rønde’s ALMOST HUMAN, an essay on our relationship with technology.


Other thematic sidebars include Europe, with work like Frank Geiger and Mohammad Farokhmanesh’s LITTLE GERMANS, a child’s eye look at where political opinions arise; and Justice, with films like Caroline Troedsson’s PATRIOTIC HIGHWAY, which follows a Swedish judge in Kosovo; and Jonas Bruun’s HUMANITY ON TRIAL, about a Danish activist facing human trafficking charges for his work helping refugees; and the hybrid fictionalized autobiographies of Autofiction, including: Marina de Van’s MY NUDITY MEANS NOTHING, a transgressive diary film from the underground filmmaker; Mia Engberg’s LUCKY ONE, in which the filmmaker relates an idea for a noirish love story to her ex; Romina Paula’s AGAIN ONCE AGAIN, about motherhood and a disintegrating marriage; and Jessica Bardsley’s GOODBYE THELMA, which draws from THELMA & LOUISE to tell an enigmatic story.

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