In its 14th year, Mayor of Vancouver Gregor Robertson nicely welcomes DOXA: “Film plays an indispensable role in bringing new issues, concerns and human experiences to the public’s attention. By viewing our issues we open the door to education and dialogue…”
Please allow me to help open that door by giving you a review of the films that I managed to view during this week’s festival. Once the festival has finished its circuit, they will be available for viewing or purchase.
#chicagoGirl: THE SOCIAL NETWORK TAKES ON A DICTATOR
This film had quite an impact on me, including bringing me to tears a couple of times. The impact resulted from the education I received on the atrocities occurring in Syria, as well as the key role social media is playing in organizing opposition and protests around the world. The film claims that social media itself was a major contributor to the fall of the dictatorship in Tunisia in only 28 days, and in Egypt in only 18 days!! Astonishing. Unfortunately in Syria’s case, three plus years later it has not yet had the same success.
In our world of ongoing political unrest, the problems in Syria were not surprising to me. Another bully in power (Assad Bashar) killing anyone who gets in his way. What was surprising to me was how social media can be used for good in such a powerful way. Having come from a generation pre-internet, it is quite easy for me to see the downsides of social media and the problems it causes today (especially because I have a lot of teenagers in my practice!). So to see that same tool be used for world peace was refreshing.
I would highly recommend that you check out the YouTube clip of this film, and make sure you watch it when it is available after the DOXA tour is over.
UYGHURS: PRISONERS OF THE ABSURD
Yet another social studies/history lesson, in this great film we learn about war after 9/11, and how complicated actually applying the law can be to seemingly straightforward issues. In this example (one of many) 22 Muslims from China’s Uyghur minority fled China — only to find themselves mistaken for terrorists and ending up imprisoned in Guantanamo without trial for up to eleven years. Excellent documentary to open your eyes . . . which you may wish had stayed shut.
OF MEN AND WAR
This film is an in-depth, personal look at the victims of PTSD. Filmed at Pathway Home, a facility for veterans suffering from PTSD, we get a first hand experience of not only the pain that the men themselves suffer with, but also that of their families. It is a very long film (142 minutes) and a very emotionally intense film — not for the faint of heart.
As a therapist, this diagnosis and its repercussions are not new to me. However, I would have to say that the intensity shown here of how their pain has stolen their identity as they knew it, and sometimes stolen their lives as well, was an eye opener. I myself had to leave the theatre a couple of times to collect myself.
This documentary had an interesting way of being filmed, referred to as atmospheric. The subject at hand is kids with too much energy and the trouble that gets them in at their rural high school in Quebec. The filmmaker uses long still shots, often with absence of context, with the only dialogue taking place during the student/teacher meetings.
In the beginning of my own career, I specialized in kids with behaviour disorders. Given that, I enjoyed this film as I believe it did a good job of capturing the perspective of the youth that were in trouble, as well as the frustration of the educators and their attempts to rein them in. Good peek into the longstanding issue of disruptive teens in the high school milieu.
THE AGE OF LOVE
I loved this movie!! Setting: speed dating event for 70+. Brilliant. In a culture with an aging population and people living much longer and much healthier, the issue of lonely seniors is on the rise. Out of the 15 men and 15 women that attended the event, an up-close and personal look was filmed with a handful of them. Through the profiling of a few of the individuals, we get to see where they have come from in their life and how they have come to be single (i.e. divorced, widowed, etc.). We also get to understand why they have agreed to attend the speed dating event and what they are looking for. For some it is companionship, some are romantics looking for love, others miss waking up beside someone or someone to cook dinner for. Each of the individuals is beautiful in their own way and the filmmaker does an excellent job of showing this to us.
I loved how one of the women encapsulated this unique age group of singles. She said that she was probably more ready and suited for a relationship than any other time in her life. Not only did she have wisdom and experience from her years, but that she was also completely available: unencumbered by the responsibility of raising children or even having a job. Well put.