The Fifth Annual Unorthodocs Festival Presents a Hybrid Program October 22–30

Wed, Oct 13, 2021

October 22–30, the Wexner Center for the Arts presents the fifth annual edition of Unorthodocs, a film festival devoted to the possibilities of creative nonfiction filmmaking. The program presents an assortment of local and regional premieres in a hybrid model of communal in-person screenings alongside a more accessible online event.

Within the lineup are several films with links to the Wex’s home city, screening Friday, October 22: the Midwest premiere of They Won’t Call It Murder, a short film examining the Columbus Police Department’s history of killings by journalist Melissa Gira Grant and Ingrid Raphaël, an educator and cofounder of NO EVIL EYE CINEMA; Ohio State MFA student Lydia Cornett’s Party Line, which spends time with voters at the Franklin Country early voting station during the 2020 election; and Who Killed Taniya, a speculative documentary by director Rasel Ahmed, a new addition to Ohio State’s Theater, Film, and Media Arts Department.

The program also features works by past visiting filmmakers and Cinetracts ’20 contributors Natalia Almada and Rosine Mbakam—including a weeklong stream of Prism, a new film made in collaboration between Mbakam, Eléonore Yameogo, and An van. Dienderen—as well as conversations with filmmakers and community activists.

Unless otherwise noted, single tickets for Unorthodocs screenings are $9, $7 for Wexner Center members, and $5 for students. A festival pass is available as well, providing access to all films and events.


The schedule for 2021:

Still from the short documentary They Won't Call it Murder

They Won't Call it Murder, image courtesy of the filmmakers

Fri, Oct 22 | 4:30 PM
Unorthodocs Shorts
Film/Video Theater

Featuring a post-film conversation with Rasel Ahmed and Lydia Cornett

This popular crash course in the contemporary documentary features short films from up-and-coming filmmakers and established artists working in a dizzying range of forms and tones, including Ahmed’s Who Killed Taniya; the Ohio premiere of Cornett’s Party Line; and Whitney Skauge’s The Beauty President, in which Terence Smith looks back on his drag persona Joan Jett Blakk, the first openly queer Presidential write-in candidate. (approx. 75 mins., DCP)

Fri, Oct 22 | 7 PM
They Won’t Call It Murder
(Melissa Gira Grant, Ingrid Raphaël, 2021)
Midwest Premiere!
Mershon Auditorium, free admission

Featuring a post-screening discussion with the filmmakers and community members featured in the film, moderated by Dr. Treva Lindsey, Associate Professor in Ohio State’s Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

This thoughtful yet charged short film looks at the history of deaths (many young, mostly Black) caused by the Columbus Police Department, spotlighting the testimonies and resistance strategies of the mothers, sisters, and grandmothers of Henry Green, Tyré King, Donna Dalton, and Julius Tate, who were all killed by CPD officers. The film was made primarily by a team of Ohio filmmakers, including Raphaël, Gira Grant, producer and cofounder of NO EVIL EYE CINEMA Ruun Nuur, and producer Chase Whiteside (América, Unorthodocs 2018). (20 mins., digital video)

Sat, Oct 23 | 2 PM
Faya Dayi
(Jessica Beshir, 2021)
Columbus premiere!
Film/Video Theater

In her hypnotic documentary feature, Ethiopian-Mexican filmmaker Beshir explores the coexistence of everyday life and its mythical undercurrents. After being forced to leave her hometown of Harar with her family as a teenager due to growing political strife, Beshir returned to make a film about the city, its rural Oromo community of farmers, and the harvesting of the country’s most sought-after export (the euphoria-inducing khat plant). Neither a straightforward work of nostalgia nor an issue-oriented doc about a particular drug culture, the dreamlike film uses light, texture, and sound to illuminate the spiritual lives of people whose experiences often become fodder for ripped-from-the-headlines tales of migration. (120 mins., DCP)

Sat, Oct 23 | 4:30 PM
Delphine’s Prayers (Les prières de Delphine)
(Rosine Mbakam, 2021)
Ohio premiere!
Film/Video Theater

The latest film from a favorite past guest (Chez Jolie Coiffure, Unorthodocs 2018), is another enthralling portrait of a Cameroonian woman living in Belgium. A quick-witted and passionate raconteur, Delphine takes Mbakam as a confidante as she relates tales of survival from her dramatic life story. The film also examines the artist-subject dynamic of documentary filmmaking and questions the exposure of the trust that the two friends have developed off-camera. (91 mins., DCP)

Sat, Oct 23 | 7 PM
(Natalia Almada, 2021)
Midwest premiere!
Film/Video Theater

Winner of the US Documentary Directing Award at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, Users is a dazzling visual essay about where humanity’s dependance on technology is taking us and the planet, fueled by a mother’s anxiety for her children inheriting a warming Earth and becoming more reliant upon infallible machines than upon their imperfect mothers. Shifting between the intimate and the epic, Users is filled with transcendent camerawork and powerful music by the Kronos Quartet. (81 mins., DCP)

Sun, Oct 24–Sat, Oct 30
(Eléonore Yameogo, An van. Dienderen, Rosine Mbakam, 2021)
Free online presentation

Hot off its world premiere at the New York International Film Festival, Prism is a chain letter of a film featuring three filmmakers making separate segments in dialogue with each other. The Belgian filmmaker An van. Dienderen of Belgium invited Unorthodocs veteran Mbakam from Cameroon and Yameogo from Burkina Faso to work together on a film in which the differences in their skin color serves as a departure to explore their different experiences with the biased limitations of the film technologies, which favor Caucasian skin. (78 mins., digital video)


Visitor information

Unorthodocs on-site screenings take place October 22–23 at the Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N. High St. (at 15th Avenue) on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus. An online presentation of Unorthodocs selection Prism will be accessible October 24–30 via

Masks are required in all indoor spaces at Ohio State, regardless of vaccination status. Additional info on campus COVID-19 safety guidelines, bus routes, parking, and more, as well as advance tickets and festival passes, are available here or at (614) 292-3535.

Downloadable Assets

Film/Video programs are made possible by Cardinal Health and Kaufman Development. 

Additional support for Film/Video is provided by the Rohauer Collection Foundation. 

Wexner Center programs made possible by The Wexner Family; Greater Columbus Arts Council; The Columbus Foundation; Ohio Arts Council; American Electric Power Foundation; Adam Flatto; Mary and C. Robert Kidder; Bill and Sheila Lambert; L Brands Foundation; Institute of Museum and Library Services; Nationwide Foundation; Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease; and Arlene and Michael Weiss.