Anthem directed by Peter Nicks
Anthem directed by Peter Nicks

For its upcoming inaugural festival, the DC/DOX documentary film festival, held June 15-18, 2023 in Washington, DC, showcases 31 features and 21 shorts from eight countries, with 60% of filmmakers identifying as women or non-binary.

The Signature Series of films will include the Centerpiece screening of Onyx Collective’s Anthem, directed by Peter Nicks, and the Spotlight screening of The Body Politic, directed by Gabriel Francis Paz Goodenough. DC/DOX will also host the World Premieres of Nick Capote’s Between Life & Death: Terri Schiavo’s Story and Dawn Porter’s Supreme (w/t).

“DC/DOX is thrilled to showcase such an exciting, diverse slate of films for this first edition of the festival,” said DC/DOX co-founder and festival director Sky Sitney. “These films represent the very best the art form has to offer, while addressing important social and political issues or highlighting extraordinary individuals — an intersection that perfectly captures the spirit of this festival.”

The Centerpiece screening of Anthem will be held on June 16 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, followed by a conversation with filmmaker Peter Nicks. The film takes viewers on a cross-country journey with composer and pianist Kris Bowers and producer Dahi as they create a new sound, inspired by what our country’s national anthem might be if written in today’s time.

The Spotlight screening and North American Premiere of The Body Politic will be held on June 18 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, followed by a conversation with Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and filmmaker Gabriel Francis Paz Goodenough. The film follows Scott’s first year as Mayor of Baltimore, who comes into office as his city—and the nation—grapples with a reckoning on policing and race, as well as a global pandemic.

The World Premiere screening of Between Life & Death: Terri Schiavo’s Story will take place on June 17 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, followed by a conversation with filmmaker Nick Capote. The documentary looks deeper at the decade-long right-to-die saga that became an international sensation, exploring questions about the intersection of faith and politics, private decisions and government intervention, that we’re still grappling with today.

The World Premiere of an episode of Supreme (w/t) will be held on June 18 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, followed by a conversation with filmmaker Dawn Porter. The series unpacks the history of the Supreme Court and the major role it has played in American society, against the backdrop of a historic year for the Court which included the confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The festival’s Signature Screenings also include the Opening Night film Joan Baez I Am a Noise on June 15 with folk singer and activist Baez in attendance, and Closing Night film The Space Race on June 17 with trailblazing Black astronauts Ed Dwight and Leland Melvin.

Additional World Premieres include the shorts Bubjan, Nicholas Mihm’s portrait of a progressive member of the Iranian parliament who was forced to flee his country by the Islamic Republic, and The Silent Witness from George and Teddy Kunhardt, a harrowing first-person recollection of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

The DC/DOX slate of films explores a wide range of subjects including legendary artists and athletes (Nikki Giovanni in Going To Mars, Alicia Keys in Uncharted, the Indigo Girls in It’s Only Life After All, and Stephen Curry in Underrated), the importance of a thriving press (Bad Press, Breaking The News), the war in Ukraine (20 Days In Mariupol, Queendom), and unfiltered accounts of the challenges and joys of simply being who you are in a world that may not accept that (Kokomo City, Your Fat Friend).

“DC/DOX is providing a critical launch pad for passionate, talented filmmakers from around the world to have their films seen and discussed by film lovers and thought leaders,” said DC/DOX co-founder Jamie Shor. “With this inaugural festival and in the years to come, we’re creating a unique festival experience that only the nation’s capital can provide.”

DC/DOX 2023 PROGRAM

Signature Screenings

Opening Night Screening: Thursday, June 15
JOAN BAEZ I AM A NOISE: DIRS Karen O’Connor, Miri Navasky, and Maeve O’Boyle. PRODS Karen O’Connor & Miri Navasky. USA.
I AM A NOISE is a deeply revealing psychological exploration of legendary folk singer and activist Joan Baez, who despite six decades of fame, has never told the full truth of her life, until now.
Courtesy of Mead Street Films.

Centerpiece Screening: Friday, June 16
ANTHEM: DIR Peter Nicks. PRODS Peter Nicks, Kris Bowers, Sean Havey, Chris L. Jenkins, and Ryan Coogler. USA.
Reflecting upon “The Star-Spangled Banner,” ANTHEM follows acclaimed composer Kris Bowers (“Bridgerton,” “When They See Us,” “King Richard”) and GRAMMY®-winning music producer Dahi (Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar, Drake) as they take a musical journey traveling across America to create a new sound, inspired by what our country’s national anthem might be if written in today’s time.
Courtesy of Onyx Collective and Hulu.

Closing Night Screening: Saturday, June 17
THE SPACE RACE: DIRS Diego Hurtado de Mendoza and Lisa Cortés. PRODS Keero Birla, Alexandra Bowen, Aly Parker, and Mark Monroe. USA.
The Black astronaut candidate chosen by JFK to walk on the moon never left Earth, yet his story launches the bold and gripping saga of African Americans at NASA and in space.
Courtesy of National Geographic Documentary Films.

Spotlight Screening: Sunday, June 18
THE BODY POLITIC: DIR Gabriel Francis Paz Goodenough. PRODS Gabriel Francis Paz Goodenough and Dawne Langford. USA.
With unfettered access, THE BODY POLITIC follows Baltimore’s idealistic young mayor into office where he puts his personal and political future on the line to save his beloved city from chronic violence.
North American Premiere.

Features

20 DAYS IN MARIUPOL: DIR Mstyslav Chernov. PRODS Mstyslav Chernov, Michelle Mizner, Raney Aronson Rath, and Derl McCrudden. USA.
An AP team of Ukrainian journalists trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol struggle to continue their work documenting atrocities of the Russian invasion. As the only international reporters who remain in the city, they capture what later become defining images of the war.
Courtesy of Frontline|PBS.

ART FOR EVERYBODY: DIR Miranda Yousef. PROD Tasha Van Zandt. USA.
Thomas Kinkade’s pastoral landscapes made him the most collected and despised painter of all time. After his shocking death, his family discovers a vault of unseen paintings that reveal a complex artist whose life and work embody our divided America.

BAD PRESS: DIRS Rebecca Landsberry-Baker and Joe Peeler. PRODS Conrad Beilharz, Garrett Baker, and Tyler Graim. USA.
When the Muscogee Nation suddenly begins censoring their free press, a rogue reporter fights to expose her government’s corruption in a historic battle that will have ramifications for all of Indian Country.

BETWEEN LIFE & DEATH: TERRI SCHIAVO’S STORY: DIR Nick Capote. PRODS Kimberley Ferdinando and Melissa Leardi. USA.
The famous right-to-die legal battle over Terri Schiavo’s fate divided a family and launched an American culture war. This film explores how the “pro-life” movement harnessed Terri’s story for political gain, raising questions about the government’s role in our private lives and who decides if a life is worth living.
World Premiere.
Courtesy of MSNBC Films & NBC News Studio.

BREAKING THE NEWS: DIRS Heather Courtney, Princess Hairston, and Chelsea Hernandez. PRODS Heather Courtney, Princess Hairston, Chelsea Hernandez, and Diane Quon. USA.
A group of women and LGBTQ+ journalists, bucking the white male status quo, launch The 19th*—a digital news startup that asks who has been omitted from mainstream coverage and how they can be included?

CONFESSIONS OF A GOOD SAMARITAN: DIR Penny Lane. PROD Gabriel Sedgwick. USA.
Director Penny Lane’s decision to become a “Good Samaritan” by giving one of her kidneys to a stranger launches her on an unexpectedly funny, intimate, and provocative quest to understand why everyone seems to think she’s crazy.

THE DEEPEST BREATH: DIR Laura McGann. PRODS John Battsek, Sarah Thomson, Jamie D’Alton, and Anne McLoughlin. United Kingdom, Ireland.
A champion freediver and expert safety diver seemed destined for one another despite the different paths they took to meet at the pinnacle of the freediving world. A look at the thrilling rewards — and inescapable risks — of chasing dreams through the depths of the ocean.
Courtesy of Netflix.

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SHERE HITE: DIR Nicole Newnham. PRODS Nicole Newnham, Molly O’brien, R.J. Cutler, Elise Pearlstein, Kimberley Ferdinando, and Trevor Smith. USA.
Shere Hite’s 1976 bestseller The Hite Report liberated the female orgasm by revealing the most private experiences of thousands of anonymous survey respondents. Her findings rocked the American establishment and presaged current conversations about gender, sexuality, and bodily autonomy. So how did Shere Hite disappear?
Courtesy of NBC News Studio.

THE ETERNAL MEMORY: DIR Maite Alberdi. PRODS Maite Alberdi, Juan De Dios Larraín, Pablo Larraín, and Rocío Jadue. Chile.
THE ETERNAL MEMORY tells an uplifting yet heartbreaking love story that balances vibrant individual and collective remembrance with the longevity of an unbreakable human bond.
Courtesy of MTV Documentary Films.

GOING TO MARS: THE NIKKI GIOVANNI PROJECT: DIRS Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson. PRODS Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster, and Tommy Oliver. USA.
Through intimate vérité, archival footage, and visually innovative treatments of her poetry, Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project pushes the boundaries of biographical documentary film by traveling through time and space to reveal the enduring influence of one of America’s greatest living artists and social commentators.

I LIKE IT HERE: DIR Ralph Arlyck. PRODS Ralph Arlyck, Emmet Dotan, and Steve Leiber. USA.
The film is a glimpse of what life looks like on the last lap. It features encounters with friends and neighbors in their 70s; most with a healthy sense of humor. Mixed into these visits are the filmmaker’s daily POV confrontations with the unavoidable objects and hazards of aging.
Courtesy of Argot Pictures.

IT’S ONLY LIFE AFTER ALL: DIR Alexandria Bombach. PRODS Kathlyn Horan, Jess Devaney, Anya Rous, and Alexandria Bombach. USA.
Blending forty years of home movies, raw film archive, and intimate present-day verité, a poignant reflection from Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls — the iconic folk rock duo. A timely look into the obstacles, activism, and life lessons of two queer friends who never expected to make it big.

KIM’S VIDEO: DIRS David Redmon and Ashley Sabin. PRODS Ashley Sabin, David Redmon, Deborah Smith, Dale Smith, Francesco Galavotti, and Rebecca Tabasky. USA, United Kingdom, France.
For two decades, New York City cinephiles had access to a treasure trove of rare and esoteric films through Kim’s Video. Playing with the forms and tropes of various cinema genres, the filmmaker sets off on a quest to find the legendary lost video collection of fifty-five thousand movies, now housed in Sicily.

KOKOMO CITY: DIR D. Smith. PRODS D. Smith, Harris Doran, and Bill Butler. USA.
A wildly entertaining and refreshingly unfiltered documentary that passes the mic to four Black transgender sex workers in Atlanta and New York City — Daniella Carter, Koko Da Doll, Liyah Mitchell, and Dominique Silver — as they hold nothing back while breaking down the walls of their profession.
Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

THE LADY BIRD DIARIES: DIR Dawn Porter. PRODS Kim Reynolds and Dawn Porter. USA.
From award-winning filmmaker Dawn Porter comes THE LADY BIRD DIARIES, a groundbreaking all-archival documentary film that uses Lady Bird’s audio diaries to tell the story of one of the most influential and least understood First Ladies in history.
Courtesy of ABC News Studio.

MAESTRA: DIR Maggie Contreras. PRODS Maggie Contreras, Neil Berkeley, Emma West, Melanie Miller, and Lauren Lexton. USA.
Five incredible women from around the world, who are boldly breaking glass ceilings in the male-dominated world of orchestral conducting, take center stage in MAESTRA, filmmaker Maggie Contreras’ directorial debut.

NATALIA: DIR Elizabeth Mirzaei. PRODS Elizabeth Mirzaei, Gulistan Mirzaei, and Omar Mullick. USA.
A 29-year-old novice nun leaves behind a promising career in engineering and a lively romantic life to embrace the passions of her faith. Through beautifully shot black-and-white footage, director Elizabeth Mirzaei provides an intimate and meditative portrait of Natalia through the transitory period of her life as she approaches her vows. Natalia’s story enlightens the meaning of faith, life, and devotion.

OUR BODY: DIR Claire Simon. PROD Kristina Larsen. France.
Veteran documentarian Claire Simon observes the everyday operations of the gynecological ward in a public hospital in Paris and in the process, questions what it means to live in a woman’s body, filming the diversity, singularity, and beauty of patients in all stages of life.

PAY OR DIE: DIRS Rachael Dyer and Scott Alexander Ruderman. PRODS Rachael Dyer, Scott Alexander Ruderman, and Yael Melamede. USA.
The US healthcare system is the most expensive in the world and close to half of all Americans reportedly struggle to pay for their healthcare. Pay Or Die explores the crushing financial reality for millions of insulin dependent Americans living with diabetes, as pharmaceutical companies push the price of this life saving medication to exorbitant levels, making record breaking profits.
Courtesy of MTV Documentary Films.

QUEENDOM: DIR Agniia Galdanova. PRODS Igor Myakotin and Agniia Galdanova. France, USA.
Gena, a queer artist from a small town in Russia, stages radical performances in public that become a new form of art and activism—and put her life in danger.
Courtesy of Film Collaborative.

RICHLAND: DIR Irene Lusztig. PRODS Irene Lusztig and Sara Archambault. USA.
Built by the US government to house the Hanford nuclear site workers who manufactured weapons-grade plutonium for the Manhattan Project, Richland, Washington is proud of its heritage as a nuclear company town and proud of the atomic bomb it helped create. RICHLAND offers a prismatic, placemaking portrait of a community staking its identity and future on its nuclear origin story, presenting a timely examination of the habits of thought that normalize the extraordinary violence of the past.

STEPHEN CURRY: UNDERRATED: DIR Peter Nicks. PRODS Peter Nicks, Ryan Coogler, Erick Peyton, Ben Cotner, Marissa Torres Ericson, and Sean Havey. USA.
The remarkable coming-of-age story of one of the most influential, dynamic, and unexpected players in the history of basketball: Stephen Curry.
Courtesy of Apple Original Films.

A STILL SMALL VOICE: DIR Luke Lorentzen. PROD Kellen Quinn; CO-PROD Ashleigh McArthur. USA.
A STILL SMALL VOICE follows Mati, a chaplain completing a year-long hospital residency, as she learns to provide spiritual care to people confronting profound life changes. Through Mati’s experiences with her patients, her struggle with professional burnout, and her own spiritual questioning, we gain new perspectives on how meaningful connection can be and how painful its absence is.

SUPREME (w/t): DIR Dawn Porter. PRODS Lauren Capps and Lucy Kennedy. USA.
Presenting one episode of this four-part documentary series, which traces the modern history of the Supreme Court, and the people, decisions and confirmation battles that have shaped America.
World Premiere.
Courtesy of Showtime.

TIME BOMB Y2K: DIRS Brian Becker and Marley McDonald. PROD Brian Becker. USA.
As the clock counts down to the dawn of the new millennium, America is forced to contend with the largest technological disaster to ever threaten humanity. Crafted entirely through archival footage, TIME BOMB Y2K examines how we grapple with existential threats in an increasingly technological world.

UNCHARTED: DIR Beth Aala. PROD Beth Aala. USA.
UNCHARTED goes behind the scenes of Alicia Keys’ “She Is The Music” songwriting camp in this revealing look at the music business. Through the experiences of young Black and Brown women, we show how hard it is to succeed in a world granting very little access and opportunity for them.

YOUR FAT FRIEND: DIR Jeanie Finlay. PRODS Jeanie Finlay and Suzanne Alizart. United Kingdom.
From anonymous blogger to NYTimes best-selling author, and beloved podcast host, Aubrey Gordon is ushering in a paradigm shift in the way that we view fat people. A film about fatness, family, the complexities of making change, and the deep, messy feelings we hold about our bodies, YOUR FAT FRIEND charts the complexities of finding a place in the world when you don’t quite fit in.

Shorts

ALPHA KINGS: DIRS Enrique Pedraza Botero and Faye Tsakas. PROD Stefan Weinberger. USA.
From a rented mansion in suburban Texas, a group of young men sell a hyperbolic, alpha-male version of themselves on the internet.

AQUERONTE: DIR Manuel Muñoz Rivas. PROD Manuel Muñoz Rivas. Spain.
A lyrical portrait of a long ferry ride where overheard conversations, pensive glances, and fragments of lives in transit come into view, as passengers cross from one riverbank to the other.

AYENDA: DIR Marie Margolius. PROD Marie Margolius. USA.
Summer 2021, as Kabul falls to the Taliban, members of the Under-18 Afghan National Women’s Football Team attempt a daring evacuation from their homeland.
Courtesy of MSNBC Films.

BUBJAN: DIR Nicholas Mihm. PROD Lisa Rudin. USA.
BUBJAN tells the story of Parwiz Zafari, a former member of the Iranian parliament who worked toward making Iran a progressive, modern, and free society – until the Islamic Republic swept it all away in 1979, and he was forced to leave behind everything he knew.
World Premiere.

CALL ME ANYTIME, I’M NOT LEAVING THE HOUSE: DIR Sanjna Selva. PRODS Sanjna Selva, Judith Helfand, and Ed Robbins. USA.
With thousands of miles and a war between them, two sisters are determined to stay connected to each other before it’s too late.
Courtesy of POV|PBS.

THE DADS: DIR Luchina Fisher. PROD Luchina Fisher. USA.
Six dads gather in rural Oklahoma for a weekend fishing trip. As the men cast their rods into the river, share their catch over dinner, and swap stories beside the bonfire, we learn what has brought them to this scenic idyll: the love for their trans and LGBTQ children, their fears for their kids’ safety, and the urgency to fight for the ground on which they all stand. THE DADS is a quiet meditation on fatherhood, brotherhood and manhood amid the changing American landscape.
Courtesy of Netflix.

DECIDING VOTE: DIRS Jeremy Workman and Robert Lyons. PRODS Jeremy Workman, Robert Lyons, and Melissa Jacobson. USA.
Over 50 years ago, Assemblyman George Michaels cast a single vote on New York’s abortion bill that changed the course of American history but destroyed his political career in the process.

FOR THE RECORD: DIR Heather Courtney. PROD Paul Stekler. USA.
Running out of time and money, Editor and Publisher Laurie Brown battles an oil bust, a global pandemic, and a growing mistrust of the media as she tries to keep her newspaper alive in rural Texas.

HOW TO CARRY WATER: DIR Sasha Wortzel. PRODS Colleen Cassingham, Jess Devaney, and Anya Rous. USA.
This punk rock fairytale doubles as a portrait of Shoog McDaniel — a fat, queer, and disabled photographer whose work has transformed the way fat people view themselves and how a fat phobic society views fat bodies.

HOW WE GET FREE: DIRS Geeta Gandbhir and Samantha Knowles. PRODS Kathleen Lingo, Sweta Vohra, and Jess Devaney. USA.
Over the course of two years, HOW WE GET FREE follows Elisabeth Epps as she works to abolish cash bail in Colorado, first as an activist and then as a political candidate.

JILL, UNCREDITED: DIR Anthony Ing. PRODS Catherine Bray, Anthony Ing, and Charlie Shackleton. United Kingdom, Canada.
Prolific background actor Jill Goldston takes center stage in this unique portrait.

LANGUAGE UNKNOWN: DIR Janelle VanderKelen. USA.
Leaves, mycelium, and roots playfully examine how humans experience the world, and the (supposedly) silent watchers consider what language those swift blurs of human might possibly understand.

MARGIE SOUDEK’S SALT AND PEPPER SHAKERS: DIR Meredith Moore. PROD Jonna McKone. USA.
An artist and VFX instructor connects with her grandmother, Margie, in a documentary short on collecting, art-making, and obsessiveness as a way to enhance our realities.

MNM: DIR Twiggy Pucci Garçon. PRODS Colleen Cassingham and Jess Devaney. USA.
MnM is an exuberant portrait of two emerging runway divas in the drag ballroom community, celebrating their joy, siblinghood, and unapologetic personas.
North American Premiere.

PUFFLING: DIRS Jessica Bishopp. PRODS Gannesh Rajah and Alice Hughes. United Kingdom.
On a remote island off the coast of Iceland, teenagers Birta and Selma take it upon themselves to counteract humanity’s damaging impact on nature; exchanging night-time parties for nocturnal puffin rescues, in a coming-of-age story for young adults and puffins alike.

REALLY GOOD FRIENDS: DIR Adam Sekuler. PROD Weenta Girmay. USA.
In a hotel room, a woman in her 60s shares a surprising and provocative story of longing and unlikely connection.

THE SCRIPT: DIRS Brit Fryer and Noah Schamus. PRODS Colleen Cassingham and Jess Devaney. USA.
THE SCRIPT explores the complicated relationship between trans and nonbinary communities and medical providers regarding gender-affirming care. The film invites its participants and audience to envision a liberated, gender-expansive future, beyond the rigidity of our current moment.

THE SILENT WITNESS: DIRS George Kunhardt and Teddy Kunhardt. PRODS Matthew Henderson, Alex Gezentsvey, and Ari Fishman. USA.
THE SILENT WITNESS is a documentary about Tomiko Morimoto West’s horrifying experience as a 13-year-old girl in Hiroshima when the first atomic bomb dropped. The film details how she survived, what she witnessed, and how she was affected.
World Premiere.

THE THREAT: DIR Paul Lovelace. PRODS Jessica Wolfson and Andrew Alden Miller. USA.
In 2009, Daryl Johnson, a Department of Homeland Security intelligence analyst wrote a highly controversial report laying out the rising threat of right-wing extremism. Today, many of the report’s most dire predictions have materialized.

UNDER G-D: DIR Paula Eiselt. PRODS Paula Eiselt and Darcy McKinnon. USA.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization from June 2022 sparked a national response, particularly in the Jewish community. Inspired by the lived experiences of Jewish women, lawsuits are currently being launched by rabbis, Jewish organizations, and interfaith leaders to challenge the overturning of Roe v. Wade – on the grounds of religious freedom.

WHAT THESE WALLS WON’T HOLD: DIR Adamu Chan. PROD Christian Lee Collins. USA.
Set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic at San Quentin State Prison, WHAT THESE WALLS WON’T HOLD, chronicles the organizing and relationships of people who came together beyond the separations created by incarceration, to respond to this crisis. Filmmaker Adamu Chan, who was incarcerated at San Quentin during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, documents his path through incarceration and beyond.

WILL YOU LOOK AT ME: DIR Shuli Huang. PROD Shuli Huang. China.
As a young Chinese filmmaker returns to his hometown in search for himself, a long overdue conversation with his mother propels the two of them into a quest for acceptance and love.

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