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CPH:DOX: make it make it, don’t fake it

CPH:DOX: make it make it, don't fake it

This will be third consecutive year attending the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival (CPH:DOX), and I’m thoroughly excited. The programming is top-notch, the city is amazing, the staff is accommodating, and the venues are spectacular. I sincerely urge fans of experimental cinema, to seek out this festival. I don’t say fans of documentary cinema, because this festival bends and twists what you typically consider “documentary.” For example, last year’s top jury prize went to Harmony Korine’s not-a-doc but doc-like Trash Humpers. A brave and exciting choice by the jury (and by the programmers, for even placing it into the competition), which will be followed by this year’s competition inclusion of the Joaquin Phoenix hoax-doc, I’m Still Here. The idea of the festival, if I may, is less about the traditional concepts of documentary filmmaking and more about the ways in which nonfiction storytelling permeate all forms of filmmaking. To that end, narrative filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie will host a Master Class, because their technique embodies the spirit of verite filmmaking, only with actors thrown in the mix.

For this year’s CPH:DOX, which runs next week, there will also be a sort of TV talk show sidebar. This section of the festival (dubbed “Tele:Visions”) will include screenings of cult sensations like Fishing With John, TV Party, The Dick Cavett Show, and a bunch of chat fests that I don’t recognize because they are European. CPH:DOX isn’t just eccentric twists on the documentary genre, but also a platform for some truly innovative and mesmerizing documentary feature films. I’ve encountered many films that have gone on to be hits of the year, particularly the Oscar-nominated Burma VJ, which premiered at my first CPH:DOX in 2008. There are plenty of enticing selections on the schedule, many of which will likely find their way to Sundance, Berlin, SXSW, and Tribeca in early 2011. Not to mention, the important DOX:FORUM, where many works-in-progress will be presented. If you couldn’t tell, I’m pumped to see this all in Copenhagen, under the umbrella of a truly original event. If you’re not attending this year, you have no excuse not to be there next year.

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