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What I watched at CPH:DOX, part 3

Here’s the last post about what I watched at CPH:DOX 2021. This post continues the list that I started in my part 1 and part 2 posts.

The Mushroom Speaks

By Marion Neumann
I chose to watch this film because I like Star Trek Discovery. In Discovery, the rocket propulsion system used is powered by… mushrooms! I love that Star Trek often takes real-world science and plays with it. I thought it was so cool that this science fiction used a rather unknown corner of the real science world. The film had what I will call some fluffy bits (talking to mushrooms), but the revelations about fungi in general was extremely fascinating. Someone called mushrooms “the archivists” or “the wisdom-keepers of the soil”. It turns out that the people of the Kalahari “call the fungal root system the navel of the world. It connects each and every thing.”

I had to capture one fact from the film because it was too mind-boggling to skip over. Someone has estimated that there are about 9 million species living on Earth. 5 million of those species may be fungal. That is 55% of all species on Earth! (And I thought we had to worry about cockroaches!) Only 1% of this 5 million has been named to date!! I was always told that cockroaches would take over after people, but looks like fungi have beaten the cockroaches!! If we have only named 1% of these fungi, we definitely know very little about our new overlords.

Reading two of forester Peter Wohlleben’s books (The Hidden Life of Trees and Walks in the Wild) taught me about the importance of fungi or the mycelial network for trees. I didn’t realise it at the time of reading, but those books were also an introduction to the topic of this film. I think Wohlleben would like this other statement that I tried to capture from the film:

Spores secretly rule the world. They build soil, the history book of all being. They travel from deserts, to glaciers, all the way to outer space.

I mean, the film actually talked about the possibility of space suits and more being made by fungi!!

Some of the names are amazing! Cladosporium sphaerospermum. These have the shape of small dumplings, which made my mouth water, despite the obviously mouldy appearance!! Ganoderma lucidum. This did not make me hungry. On the contrary. But it made me think of Japanese raku pottery that I have seen. After seeing this film, it wouldn’t surprise me if some Japanese potters were inspired by this fungus’ shape.

All in all, it really is important to investigate our neighbours, the fungi, so much more. I leave the work to the mycelial experts.
Find more in these resources and articles, which I have only collated, but not read:

Gabi, Between Ages 8 and 13

By Engeli Broberg
This was a quiet film about five years in Gabi’s life. I had more more discussions about gender along the way. It felt like we were just watching Gabi grow up from age 8. However, the film was subtle and as a result, I thought it sweet and beautiful and just right. Gabi seems to be rather strong. She is very much herself. I can use she/her because I saw the Q&A with the director and Gabi is still using she/her and has not thought about pronouns yet. I do feel like saying that they are a unique individual who is comfortable being the human being you see before you. Gabi does seem to be between genders and the film shows that that is perfectly OK. Trust your child, in other words. I did get worried about the move from the big city to the country. The rural town that the family moved to did seem very normative and heteronormative. However, I was quite pleased that the hairdresser did not restrict the haircutting and make it gendered. Again, the discussion was relaxed and neutral, as it should be. All in all, it was a quietly thoughtful film. The director said that Gabi is now 15 and doing well. I hope that Gabi’s tale can be an inspiration to others about how beautiful human beings are. I wish Gabi all the best on her continued journey in life. She is ready for the world. I hope the world will make her welcome everywhere she goes.
Watched 3 May.

The Last Shelter

By Ousmane Samassekou
This film was the well-deserving winner of the Dox:Award. All the candidates that I watched were great candidates, but “The Last Shelter” was definitely the winner.

I felt like I was there in the House of Migrants, and time sort of stood still. Sometimes I had small flashbacks to “143 Sahara Street”, which was shown at CPH:DOX 2020, but I think that was mostly due to the landscape. While watching the film, I sensed the little bit of Mali’s history that I know. Centuries ago, scholars would come from all around this part of the world to exchange knowledge. The landscape might look dry and abandoned, but people have travelled to and from this area for centuries. In other words, this migration story has also been going on for centuries.

This film was a mesmerisingly beautiful story with both tragic elements and hopeful elements. I hope that Esther Dorothee Safiatou and Kadijatou Ouattara and Natacha Akim stay safe and find part of or all of their dreams.

You can read a bit about the House of Migrants in this article.
Watched 3 May.

Seeds of Deceit

By Miriam Guttmann
This was wild and off the charts. Such abuse of power and narcissism! You can read the blurbs about this – fertility doctor secretly inseminates over 65 of his patients with his own sperm – but it is really more mind-boggling than that. This is the story of the consequences of his secret inseminations. The children begin to find each other (as adults), and they discuss a feeling of family. Or not. The telling of the story in three 45-minute episodes was very well done, I thought. The documentary was brilliant, but the main character and the consequences were disgusting. The closing sequence of the film puzzled me at first, but then I had thoughts, and I found it quite chilling. (If I am right, that was also a brilliant setup.)
This is a follow-up to a short film by Miriam Guttmann, which was shown at CPH:DOX 2018. I haven’t seen it.
Watched 3 May.

You and I

By Fanny Chotimah
Oh, there is so much love in this moving film. I wanted to wrap crackers with Kaminah and Kusdalini. They met in prison(!) when they were 17 and 21. Now we see them in their own house where they have lived together for over 50 years. (To learn more about why they went to prison, see “The Act of Killing” and “The Look of Silence”, which cover the Indonesian mass killings of 1965–66, also known as the communist purge, politicide, or genocide.)

In the Q & A with the director, we learn that the title came from something that Kusdalini said before she disappeared further into her dementia. I cried at the end of this moving. It had sad elements and I was sorry to see the inevitable passing of Kusdalini (not a spoiler), but I cried because of the sheer beauty that Fanny Chotimah captured here.
Watched 4 May.

In & Of Itself

By Frank Oz
Frank Oz films a stage show of the magician, Derek DelGaudio. I have never seen a magic show like this. There is magic where I said, “Whaaaaaat…?”, but storytelling ran through the entire show where Derek DelGaudio shared vulnerable tales from his life, and we hear tales from members of the audience, too. We learn about the illusions that we all carry and use for ourselves and for others. Do see this if you get a chance and didn’t see it at CPH:DOX. I really cannot say more.
Watched 5 May.

Hvor Vi Står (Eventually)

By Rikke Nørgaard
I was going to end with “In & Of Itself” on the last day of the festival, but then someone I know mentioned this film because he is connected to someone involved in the film. I thought I would see it so I could discuss it with him.

At first, it seemed like a bit of reality tv. Two people have a relationship, but it is going nowhere. They decide to participate in an experiment where they reenact scenes from the four years they have been together. They involve others to play their roles, and these other people are also in troubled relationships. It felt like group therapy, and I felt my age showing. As the film developed, my skepticism slowly disappeared. I would never have the guts to do what Laura and Malik did! All the participants seemed OK with the setup. I cannot say “it was an interesting experiment”. That is too clinical. What I ended up seeing was two vulnerable people trying to make the right decision for themselves as individuals and themselves as a couple. This was not some fluffy reality tv. There was hurt and joy, and they had to dig deep into themselves all the time. I became more involved and rather moved by their discussions. They make their decision in the end. You must see the film to find out what they decided.
Watched 5 May.

And so CPH:DOX came to an end, and I had withdrawal symptoms for a while! I look forward to CPH:DOX 2022. Team 2021, you did an awesome job! Thank you!

One Comment

  1. Chris
    Chris 20 May 2021

    Shame I didn’t fit in The Last Shelter as sounds very good. I know what you mean about Ken Loach’s approach(in the other comment).
    Enjoyed reading your coverage and comparing notes. Hopefully cph:dox will continue to have an online festival in future, I like how democratic it is, allowing everyone in DK to participate from home.

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