Roger Stone Doc ‘A Storm Foretold,’ ‘Total Trust,’ About Chinese Surveillance State, Wim Wenders’ ‘A Sense of Place’ Head CPH:DOX Lineup

A Storm Foretold
"A Storm Foretold" (Courtesy of CPH:DOX)

The Copenhagen Intl. Documentary Film Festival, also known as CPH:DOX, has unveiled the full program of its 20th edition, which includes 200 new films, more than half of which are world premieres, sealing CPH:DOX’s reputation as one of the leading events of its kind in Europe.

For the first time, all 13 films competing for the top Dox:Award are world premieres.

These include “A Storm Foretold,” the long-awaited doc on Donald Trump’s former adviser Roger Stone by Danish political journalist Christopher Guldbrandsen; established filmmaker Margreth Olin’s highly anticipated epic film “Songs of the Earth”; “A Tiger in Paradise,” a surreal journey into Swedish singer José González’ inner world by Ruben Östlund’s regular creative partners Mikel Cee Karlsson and Erik Hemmendorff; and “Total Trust” by Jialing Zhang (“One Child Nation”), described as “the first major film about the Chinese surveillance state (…) – a disturbing tale of technology, (self-) censorship and abuse of power in the 21st century.”

The four other competitions are the New:Vision Award, dedicated to experimental and artists’ films, the F:Act Award, which covers investigative journalism, the Nordic:Dox Award, which highlights Nordic talent, and the Next:Wave Award for emerging filmmakers and artists.

A novelty this year is the PARAFICTIONS sidebar, a collection of eight carefully curated hybrid films.

“CPH:DOX is well known for pushing the boundaries of doc, not least into fiction,” said artistic director Niklas Engstrøm, who has been part of the festival’s team since the very start. “We wanted to show how some films use fiction to get closer to reality, and we thought this anniversary is the right time to celebrate this well-established trend that still produces some of the most interesting films out there.”

Titles include “100 Seasons,” Giovanni Bucchieri’s debut feature where the actor-director plays with reality and fiction, “Dry Ground Burning,” a docufiction set in Brazil, starring non-professional actors, and Albert Serra’s 2022 Cannes entry “Pacifiction,” starring France’s Benoit Magimel.  

A host of A-list guests will be attending this 20th edition, including German director Wim Wenders for the world premiere of his new compilation film “A Sense of Place,” created in collaboration with six Iranian filmmakers, Oscar-winning directors Asif Kapadia (“Amy”) and Chai Vasarhelyi (“Free Solo”), Nathan Fielder, the comedian behind HBO’s hit documentary series “The Rehearsal,” and folk icon Joan Baez for her biographical doc “I Am a Noise,” which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival.

When it comes to gender parity, CPH:DOX, whose organizers signed the “50/50 by 2020” pledge in 2019, has reached its goal: this year marks the second time in the festival’s history that a majority of films selected in competition are directed by women.

Engstrøm was keen to underline the fact that, while a majority of submissions are still made by male filmmakers, the number of films submitted by female directors is on the rise, a figure which is also reflected in both the production and distribution sectors.

He also emphasized the increasingly inclusive nature of documentary films, notably through collaborative projects such as competition title “The Hearing” or opening film “Twice Colonized,” which both involved the main protagonists in the early film-writing process.

This anniversary edition’s theme “Predicting the Past, Rewriting the Future” explores how both the past and the future play a crucial role in shaping the present. “What characterized CPH:DOX from the beginning was its ability to grasp the trends at a time when documentary was changing fast,” CPH:DOX managing director Katrine Kiilgaard told Variety.

“The fest grew up with a new generation of filmmakers that shaped the form of documentary and its purpose in society. One of its great achievements is that it has kept that spirit,” she said.

CPH:DOX runs in Copenhagen March 15-26.

Full program below:

DOX:AWARD – 13 films, all world premieres.

“After Work” (Erik Gandini, Sweden) A thought-provoking film that looks at the phenomenon of work in the 21st century with a sharp eye and an equally sharp humor.

“Eat Bitter” (Ningyi Sun & Pascale Appora-Gnekindy, Central African Republic/China) A local construction worker and a Chinese engineer are assigned to build a bank in the Central African Republic.

“The Hearing” (Lisa Gerig, Switzerland) Four asylum seekers reenact their conversations with the authorities in a role-playing game that reverses the roles.

“Light Needs” (Jesse McLean, United States) Generous and imaginative film about the inner life of houseplants, which takes other life forms seriously with creative and artistic originality.

“Motherland” (Alexander Mihalkovich & Hanna Badziaka, Sweden/Ukraine/Norway) Dark and monumental film from Belarus, where corruption and a brutal military culture push young people to choose sides.

“On the Edge” (Nicolas Peduzzi, France) A young doctor with an exemplary humanist spirit fights a brave battle to hold together the run-down Paris hospital where he works.

“The Other Profile” (Armel Hostiou, France) An elementally suspenseful and completely unpredictable detective story from Kinshasa, where a French film director has to find his own double.

“Songs of Earth” (Margreth Olin, Norway) The mountainous landscapes of Norway provide the monumental backdrop for a magnificent, existential journey with the filmmaker’s parents as its human yardstick.

“A Storm Foretold” (Christoffer Guldbrandsen, Denmark) Christoffer Guldbrandsen’s long-awaited film about Donald Trump’s former adviser Roger Stone is a chilling report from the rotten core of power.

“Theatre of Violence” (Emil Langballe & Lukasz Konopa, Denmark) An epic and unshakeable drama of guilt and punishment about the first ever court case against a former child soldier accused of crimes against humanity.

“A Tiger in Paradise” (Mikel Cee Karlsson, Sweden) A surreal journey into singer José González’s inner world of thoughts and shadows, staged with dark humor in the picturesque Swedish countryside.

“Total Trust” (Jialing Zhang, China) The first major film about the Chinese surveillance state is a disturbing tale of technology, abuse of power and (self-)censorship in the 21st century.

“Vintersaga” (Carl Olsson, Sweden) The human comedy unfolds in an aesthetically uncompromising and unmistakably Nordic saga in 24 chapters with dark humor and a sociological gaze.

NEW:VISION AWARD – 16 films (shorts and features) including 14 world premieres, one international premiere and one European premiere:

“Bruises” (Ginan Seidl & Daniel Ulacia, Germany/Mexico, World Premiere)

“Drifting Woods” (Pia Rönicke, Denmark, World Premiere)

“The Society of the Spectacle” (Roxy Farhat & Göran Hugo Olsson, Sweden, World Premiere)

“Burial of this Order” (Jane Jin Kaisen, Denmark/Germany, World Premiere)

“Into the Violet Belly” (Thuy-han Nguyen, Vietnam/Germany, European Premiere)

“The Secret Garden” (Nour Ouayda, Lebanon, World Premiere)

“Fat to Ashes” (Pauline Curnier Jardin, France, World Premiere)

“Insert Song” (Kamil Dossar, Denmark, World Premiere)

“Pacific Club” (Valentin Noujaïm, France, World Premiere)

“Nothing Runs Like a Deere” (Max Göran, Sweden, World Premiere)

“New Centuries are Rare” (Coyote, Sweden/Denmark, World Premiere)

“An Excavation” (Maeve Brennan, U.K., International Premiere)

“An Asian Ghost Story” (Bo Wang, Hong Kong/Netherlands, World Premiere)

“The Departing Images” (Ana Edwards, Chile/France, World Premiere)

“Levitate” (Iván Argote, Italy/Spain/France, World Premiere)

“A Piece of Work” (Deniz Eroglu, Denmark/Turkey, World Premiere)

F:ACT AWARD – 11 films including six world premieres and three international premieres, two European premieres.

“20 Days in Mariupol” (Mstyslav Chernov, Ukraine, European Premiere)

“Baghdad on Fire” (Karrar Al-Azzawi, Iraq/Norway, World Premiere)

“Beyond Utopia” (Madeleine Gavin, U.S., International Premiere)

“Blix, Birds & Bombs” (Greta Stocklassa, Sweden/Czech Republic/Germany, World Premiere)

“Breaking Social” (Fredrik Gertten, Sweden, World Premiere)

“Deep Rising” (Matthieu Rytz, U.S., European Premiere)

“Phantom Parrot” (Kate Stonehill, U.K., World Premiere)

“Praying for Armageddon” (Tonje Hessen Schei, Norway, World Premiere)

“Seven Winters in Tehran” (Steffi Niederzoll, Germany/France, International Premiere)

“The Hostage Takers” (Puk Damsgaard/Søren Klovborg, Denmark, World Premiere) “Victim/Suspect” (Nancy Schwartzman, U.S,, International Premiere)

NORDIC:DOX AWARD – 11 films including eight world premieres and three international premieres.

“Fighters” (Jon Haukeland, Norway, International Premiere)

“Heartist” (Marianna Mørkøre, Beinta á Torkilsheyggi, Faroe Islands, World Premiere)

“Hypermoon” (Mia Engberg, Sweden, International Premiere)

“Just Before Death” (Anne Regitze Wivel, Denmark, World Premiere)

“Labor” (Tove Pils, Sweden, International Premiere)

“Lynx Man” (Juha Suonpää, Finland, World Premiere)

“Mrs Hansen & the Bad Companions” (Jella Bethmann, Denmark, World Premiere)

“A Silent Story” (Anders Skovbjerg Jepsen, Denmark/Sweden, World Premiere)

“Soviet Bus Stops” (Kristoffer Hegnsvad, Canada/Denmark, World Premiere)

“The Gamer” (Petri Luukkainen/Jesse Jokinen, Finland, World Premiere)

“Voice” (Ane Hjort Guttu, Norway, World Premiere)

NEXT:WAVE AWARD – 10 films including five world premieres, three international premieres and two European premieres.

“Megaheartz” (Emily Norling, Sweden/Norway, World Premiere)

“Queendom” (Agniia Galdanova, U.S., International Premiere)

“Silent Sun of Russia” (Sybilla Tuxen, Denmark, World Premiere)  

“Smoke Sauna Sisterhood” (Anna Hints, Estonia, European Premiere)

“The Flag” (Joseph Paris, France, World Premiere)

“The Group Crit” (Sille Storihle, Norway, International Premiere)

“The Last Year of Darkness” (Benjamin Mullinkosson, China/U.S., World Premiere)  

“The Mountains” (Christian Einshøj, Denmark/Norway, World Premiere)

“The Tuba Thieves” (Alison O’Daniel, U.S., International Premiere)

“Twice Colonized” (Lin Alluna, Denmark/Greenland/Canada, European Premiere)