And we’re off! Today sees the launch of CPH:DOX 2019, the 16th edition of the Copenhagen International Film Festival, which, since its formation in 2003, has become one of the largest documentary film festivals in the world.
Visitors can take their pick from the works of major international directors and new talent, from large-scale theatrical releases to film and video works in the field between cinema and visual art. The programme exceeds traditional boundaries between disciplines and media, offering perspectives on creative crossovers between cinema, television and media art.
During the 12 days of the festival, CPH:DOX also presents concerts, art exhibitions, five whole days of professional seminars, a screening market, and the international financing and co-production event CPH:FORUM, as well as the film production program CPH:LAB and much more.
At the heart of CPH:DOX is Kunsthal Charlottenborg, a cultural institution and one of the most important Art Centres in Copenhagen. Transformed into an international festival mansion, with the help of main sponsor, Normann Copenhagen, it now houses two cinemas, a VR-cinema, exhibitions, talks, parties and social events.
There is an overwhelming array of things to see and do at CPH:DOX 2019, so we scanned through to pick out the most queer, weird and wonderful looking films and events, in our opinion… check this lot out.
1. Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life | Film Screening | 23/03, 27/03, 29/03
Eight years in the Israeli gay porn star Jonathan Agassi’s turbulent life, up close and without filters.
Jonathan Agassi is a superstar in the world of gay porn. He lives the wild life in Berlin and Tel Aviv, where he works in films and live shows and has a second job as an escort. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll – and all of it in large quantities. But the industry is tough, and behind the confident smile is an insecure boy with an absent father and a very close relationship to his broad-minded mother. The contrast to the superficial success grows and grows, but in the world of porn there is no room for crises. Here, you must deliver the goods, every single time – and every single day. Otherwise you are done. The identity crisis is smouldering, Agassi is floundering and drugs become tempting as an easy way out. But how long can he hold onto himself? Over the course of eight years, and with much mutual trust, the director Tomer Heymann has followed Agassi right up to the culmination of his life’s biggest crisis. ‘Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life’ is an exceptionally close portrait of a man who lives every day of his life as if it was his last. More details HERE.
2. Cassandro the Exotico! | Film Screening | 22/03, 31/03
Marie Losier’s colourful and imaginative film about a flamboyant Mexican wrestler, who gradually has to face up to reality.
After 26 years in the limelight, and with countless broken bones in his otherwise so acrobatic body, the Mexican wrestler Cassandro is not ready to throw the towel in the ring. As an open homosexual, and with a cheerful courage to merrily flaunt his flamboyant and feminine costumes, Cassandro is a star in a homophobic culture. But his health is ailing, and he is forced to reinvent himself. Marie Losier celebrates the camp icon in colourful and imaginative images from her analogue film camera, so it is a pleasure to watch him from the first row – and an honest and touching experience when the crisis really hits. Creative ingenuity and free fantasy are Marie Losier’s unmistakable signature. Losier, who previously attended CPH:DOX with The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, creates her magic and poetry from the raw materials of reality. Just like Cassandro himself. More details HERE.
3. Hail Satan? | Film Screening | 23/03, 27/03, 29/03
American Satanists take up the fight against religious hypocrisy with black humour as their preferred weapon.
There is more eyeliner in Penny Lane‘s diabolically entertaining Hail Satan? than at an entire The Cure concert. And more common sense. The members of the The Satanic Temple in the United States are not a group of fanatic crack heads who eat children and have horns on their forehead. Okay, some of the do have horns on their foreheads, but they are above all a congregation of atheists and political activists, who are rebelling against the intolerance and conservatism that is sweeping across God’s own country. They exhibit the hypocrisy of Christians in the name of holy Satan – because it makes them so much more visible in the media. With the found footage film Our Nixon and the animated Nuts, Lane has manifested herself as one of today’s most unpredictable nonfiction filmmakers. But she is quite simply also an excellent storyteller, as she proves here in a film that is at once provocative, insightful, hysterically funny and full of a contagious desire to rebel. More details HERE.
4. Everybody in the Place | Film Screening & Event | 26/03, 28/03, 30/03
The acid house culture of 1980s Britain reinterpreted as a political and cultural prism, in a performative film lecture by the artist Jeremy Deller.
In our collective consciousness, acid house is about ecstasy, smiley T-shirts in size XXL and piano riffs accompanying the pumping rhythms of a drum machine. However, the wild, hedonistic party culture had a much greater political and cultural significance in 1980s Britain. In a number of films, Jeremy Deller has analysed his country’s modern history through its subcultures and iconic moments, and Everybody in the Place is a performative and participatory lecture for an English high school class, illustrated by music hits, film clips and other documentation. With acid house as a prism, Deller and the youths discuss how pop culture is linked to identity, class, race and the city/country schism. In the meantime, the great optimism of the 1990s has been replaced by the crises of our times, from Brussels to the Brexit that the young pupils soon have to find out how to live with. The lesson ends with a rave party. More Details HERE.
5. In the Body of the Sturgeon | Film Screening | 28/03, 31/03
Aboard the submarine USS Sturgeon, the crew entertains each other with burlesque, in a cinematic adaptation of a long-form poem.
In the Body of the Sturgeon is based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow‘s epic poem The Song of Hiawatha from 1855, an often ridiculed, idyllic fantasy about the lives of indigenous Americans. The text, however, is edited (each cut in the text is marked by a jump cut in the film), and transferred to the fictitious submarine USS Sturgeon at the end of World War II. In the Kelley couple’s characteristic and expressive graphic expression, Longfellow’s original text has been turned into seven dense and almost trance-inducing minutes, where the narrative poem is read at a staccato pace. With the submarine as the ultimate claustrophobic and militarised environment, the crew entertains us and each other with burlesque appearances and performances, interrupted by President Truman’s announcement of the bombing of Hiroshima. An interventionist adaptation of a canonised text in a cinematic form, whose black and white contrast and strong makeup reflects both the slapstick comedies and the avant-garde works of the silent era. More info HERE.
6. Searching Eva | Film Screening | 26/03, 28/03, 30/03
Punk and performative film about an outsider diva in the age of the internet. 25-year-old Eva lives in Berlin and shapes her life while she lives it.
Poet, sex worker, model, feminist, bisexual and drug addict. Meet Eva – a young woman, who lives out all her inner contradictions. ‘I have devoted my life to showing the world that you can be whoever you want to be,’ as she states about herself. And she lives up to her motto! With Berlin as her chosen home, the 25-year-old outsider diva drifts around the city like a protagonist in a film about her life, while she observes herself both from the inside and the outside. Strong and vulnerable at the same time. Eva flirts with both life and death, while documenting her restless existence through pictures – and through the many tattoos that cover more and more of her body. The young filmmaker Pia Hellenthal has brought together a film crew that consists almost entirely of women, and has created a film at eye level with its protagonist and her contemporaries. Searching Eva is a punk and performative documentary about modern identity in the age of the internet. And a feminist middle finger to any expectation that identity is fixed. More details HERE.
7. Shed a Light | Film Screening | 27/03, 29/03, 31/03
Laure Provost’s provocative and disturbing reaction to the threat of global warming traces the boundaries between the self and the world.
The French artist Laure Provost would like to show us something. She has found a forgotten, dystopian biological laboratory in a garden behind a factory building. Here, nature has taken over after humanity’s epic failure to exist in the world without simultaneously destroying it. The laboratory is a disturbing exception. Here, as in a number of Provost’s other works, the boundary between the self and everything else is so fleeting that the difference between inside and outside almost becomes osmotic. An open state of radical sensitivity which in itself places it somewhere between flora and fauna. The simultaneously playful and frightening Shed a Light is a reaction to the threat of global warming and a tribute to the female body in an ecstatic bathing ritual in an indoor fountain, where pink plastic breasts send their streams of water onto a group of merry women. More details HERE.
8. Shelter | Film Screening | 21/03, 26/03, 30/03
A dark and mythological fable about a transgender person’s life in the urban underground where she has to constantly change shape to survive.
According to the myth, Jupiter seduced a young woman and sent her to an island in the Mediterranean. The girl was called Europa. Today, it is the Philippine Pepsi, who like a modern Europa makes the journey across borders, through wilderness and urban wastelands in search of a place in a chaotic world. She has escaped the Muslim military camp she grew up in because of her homosexuality, and has now stranded in Paris. Shelter is a postcolonial fable, which – much like its anonymous protagonist – constantly changes shape between identities. 16mm film, analogue video and grainy iPhone footage contribute to a phantom image of life in the urban underground. A strategic and militant response to society’s aggressive insistence that everything and everyone can be defined according to the norms of the majority. Enrico Masi‘s gloomy but sensitive film follows Pepsi closely – but it is she who shapes her own image. The fact that she refuses to show us her face is an iconoclastic gesture, in a work that attacks the authority of the image. A violent and poetic film in the spirit of Jean Genet. More details HERE.
9. Alien Celebration Night | Event | 28/03
An entire evening for the 40-year-old ‘Alien’ with a new documentary about the room’s eerie monster, followed by Ridley Scott’s own classic in a newly restored version!
In Bremen’s room everyone can hear you scream, so scream finally, when we pay tribute to Captain Ripley, Dallas, Ash and the rest of the crew of Ridley Scott‘s immortal science fiction classic, Alien. In a brand new 40-year anniversary, newly restored 4K version, which stands sharp as a shooting star. Along with a warm up with Alexander Philippes awesome film about Alien and not least the monster in the same, Memory: The Origins of Alien. Philippes comes to the Q&A between the two films. More details HERE.
10. Three Identical Strangers | Film Screening | 21/03, 23/03, 30/03
The incredible story about triplets that were separated at birth and met each other by coincidence – and that is only the beginning.
Reality surpasses even the wildest fiction in the incredible story about the three identical triplets David, Robert and Eddy, who after birth are given away for adoption to different families. Completely ignorant of one another’s existence, until they randomly meet 19 years later and turn out to look exactly like and behave like each other. That was in 1980s New York. The triplets became media stars, took part in films and even opened their own nightclub. In an entertaining mix of interviews, archive footage and reconstructions, the director Tim Wardle portrays the small triumph of nature over nurture. But as he begins to scratch under the surface of the trinity, the questions start tumbling out, and soon the film develops into an anthropological detective story with undertones of Josef Mengele. But we will not give away more here. Wardle has spent five years pursuing the story of the triplets, after other directors had given up, and the result is a heartbreaking and nail-biting docu-thriller, which surprises us to the very end. More details HERE.
11. CPH:DOX x Boiler Room 4:3 ‘3OHA’ + Concert with Alex Epton & Lucinda Chua | Event | 28/03
World premiere, concert and afterparty – meet today’s Russian youth at an event at Aveny-T, presented in collaboration with Boiler Room.
We celebrate the premiere of the film 3OHA (aka. Zona) about Russia’s young, creative subcultures in collaboration with the world’s leading electronic music platform, Boiler Room, and their curated film platform 4:3. In continuation of the premiere of 3OHA, we present a concert with the meteorically successful cellist and electronic musician Lucinda Chua, who among other things has played with FKA Twigs, and the composer Alex Epton, who together with Chua has written the score for the film. In between, there is a talk with the director, a researcher and Boiler Room 4:3’s creative director and followed by an after-party at Aveny-T’s bar Kellerdirk with the brain-twisting Russian techno musician Buttechno! More details HERE.
So there it is, just 11 of many awesome things happening at CPH:DOX over the next 12 days. We’ll see you there.
Main Image: Choreographing Film (Film and talk.) Three shorts about dance, the body and creative collaborations presented in collaboration with Dansehallerne. Free entrance, no ticket booking. More details HERE.