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Five Films to See at DC/DOX 2024

Written by: Christopher Llewellyn Reed | June 12th, 2024

DC/DOX returns for Round 2, running June 13-16 in its sophomore iteration. Last year’s fest featured a terrific variety of films from around the globe. This year promises to do the same. According to a May 1 press release, there are 51 full-length movies and 47 short films “from 17 countries, with 12 World Premieres, four North American Premieres , a US Premiere, and 60% of filmmakers identifying as women or non-binary.”

Thanks to visits to other film festivals, I have already seen some of the selections playing at DC/DOX 2024 and I plan to see some more while on the ground. I’ll also be moderating a Q&A. What follows are 5 recommendations of what to see from among those I have previously watched and written about (there are more where those came from, but let’s keep it simple). Each title is hyperlinked to the movie’s DC/DOX page.

Leni Robredo in AND SO IT BEGINS ©Cine Diaz.

And So It Begins (Ramona Diaz) [excerpted from my Sundance 2024 review at Hammer to Nail] – I will moderate the post-screening Q&A

It’s tough to make a winning election-based documentary from the point of view of the losers, especially when we already know the ending. The negative trajectory leads to dispiriting results. Such is the challenge that documentarian Ramona S. Diaz* (A Thousand Cuts) takes on in her latest film, And So It Begins, in which she follows the 2022 presidential campaign in the Philippines. The future of democracy is very much on the line, though frontrunner Ferdinand Marcos Jr., aka “Bong Bong”—son of onetime dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.—does his best to obfuscate that fact. Opposing him is Vice President Leni Robredo, who has served alongside the populist right-wing President Rodrigo Duterte since 2016. In the Philippines, the two offices are elected separately, each to 6-year terms, and she narrowly defeated Marcos for the post in 2016. Now they are rematched, and the odds are very much in his favor.

Still from EVERY LITTLE THING. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Every Little Thing (Sally Aitken) [excerpted from my Sundance 2024 review for this site]

Director Sally Aitken (Getting Frank Gehry) follows Terry Masear—author of Fastest Things on Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood—who spends her days rescuing and rehabilitating hummingbirds. These tiny birds, beautiful to behold, come to her most often from area folks who call her hotline, having found orphaned chicks or injured adults in their yards. Some will survive, while others won’t. You need a strong heart to withstand the pain of the latter. On the other hand, the joy in watching the successful rescues is powerful, even as the journey to health proves harrowing. Masear is a gentle soul, helping us navigate the highs and lows of her work. Which is good, because it is hard to watch the struggles of these delicate creatures. But the stunning visuals of their hovering flights, frequently captured in slo-mo, makes of Every Little Thing a celebration of life in all its glory, however short it may be.

l-r: Bina Rothblatt and Martine Rothblatt in LOVE MACHINA. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Love Machina (Peter Sillen) [excerpted from my Sundance 2024 review for this site]

Martine and Bina Rothblatt (or MarBina, as they call themselves) have been married since 1982, and were in love long before then. They each have a child from a previous relationship and then two children together. Martine—a trans woman—is a serial entrepreneur, founding companies, among them Sirius Radio, whenever she sees a need. In the new documentary Love Machina, director Peter Sillen (62,000:1 Three Teams One City One Year) looks at a different, and ongoing, project of Martine’s, done in collaboration with her wife: the development of artificial intelligence (AI) that will allow the two of them to live forever.

Mediha in MEDIHA ©Hasan Oswald

Mediha (Hasan Oswald) [excerpted from my DOC NYC 2023 review for this site]

The titular protagonist, like that of the 2021 Sabaya, is a Yazidi Kurd, stolen from her village in northern Iraq by ISIS terrorists when she was 10 and rescued 3 years later by members of her community. In that time, she was bought and traded in a system of slavery that traffics women and children for exploitation and profit. Her father is presumed dead, and her mother and youngest brother Barzan are, as the film begins, still in ISIS custody. Two other younger brothers—Ghazwan and Adnan—are now once again with her, also rescued. Mediha is not easy viewing, but it is a necessary watch. Through a combination of cinematic empathy and restrained filmmaking, director Hasan Oswald (Higher Love) presents a moving treatment that celebrates human resilience.

Andrée Blouin in SOUNDTRACK TO A COUP D’ETAT ©Terence Spencer_Popperfoto

Soundtrack to a Coup d’Etat (Johan Grimonprez) [excerpted from my Sundance 2024 review at Hammer to Nail]

The time and the place are the Belgian Congo, 1960. As that Central African colony prepares for independence, the Americans and the Soviets, led by President Dwight Eisenhower and Premier Nikita Khrushchev, each jockey for position and influence, worried about what might happen to the vast uranium deposits within. And then there are the Belgians, unwilling to completely let go of their subjects. None of them are overly excited by Patrice Lumumba, elected the new country’s first prime minister, who makes little assurances about how respectfully he plans to treat the treasures left behind. But that’s not all that concerns director Johan Grimonprez (Blue Orchids). He eschews a straightforward political account to bring in additional elements, as promised by the title, and populate his narrative with scores of jazz musicians. Soundtrack to a Coup d’Etat offers many things at once: masterful history lesson, insightful polemic, and cinematic tour de force.


Christopher Llewellyn Reed is a film critic, filmmaker, and educator, as well as Film Festival Today's Editor. A member of both the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, Chris is, in addition, lead film critic at Hammer to Nail and the author of Film Editing: Theory and Practice.

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