Unorthodocs returns virtually October 23–30 with a week of films and filmmakers

Mon, Oct 19, 2020

2020 edition to include pay-what-can pricing and more options for viewing

Returning for its fourth year October 23–30 to the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University, the Unorthodocs festival is devoted to the possibilities of creative nonfiction filmmaking. The 2020 edition will take place entirely online, with a focuses on the essential issues of this moment, from systemic racism and gender bias to governmental and individual response to crises. 

All screenings will be available on a pay-what-you-can basis and for greater viewing convenience, most selections for 2020 will be available to watch over a period of several days. The viewing experience for many films will further be enhanced by prerecorded conversations between the filmmakers and special guests. Tickets are limited, however, so don’t wait until the last minute to get yours.

This year’s lineup:

Filmmaker Nina Menkes stands in front of a projection screen filled with a vintage black and white image of a woman film editor at work, surrounded by reels of film

Nina Menkes, photo: Hugo Wong

Sex and Power: The Visual Language of Oppression
A Cinematic Talk by Nina Menkes

Streaming Friday, October 23 | 7 pm

Since the 1980s, Nina Menkes has been a cinematic feminist pioneer and one of America’s foremost and radical independent filmmakers. As the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in 2017, Menkes wrote an article titled “The Visual Language of Oppression: Harvey Wasn’t Working in a Vacuum” that went viral for Filmmaker Magazine. Menkes has since developed this line of thinking into the presentation Sex and Power: The Visual Language of Oppression. Using film clips from the golden age of Hollywood to the present (including films by Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Alfred Hitchcock and many others), she shows how ideas about women have become unconsciously embedded in our heads by the visual language of cinema—through lighting, framing, camera angles and movement—and how these contribute to sexual intimidation and discrimination.

(Alexander Nanau, 2019)
Streaming Saturday, October 24–Sunday, October 25

As bracing, relevant, and powerful as any film you’ll see this year, Collective begins with a 2015 fire at a Bucharest rock concert that left 27 dead and 180 injured. When more burn victims begin dying in hospitals from wounds that were not life threatening, a doctor alerts a team of investigative reporters. One revelation leads to another as the journalists start to uncover vast health care fraud tied to government corruption. Following journalists, whistleblowers, burn victims, and government officials, Collective is an uncompromising look at the impact of investigative journalism at its best as well as how governmental corruption can force the medical industry to abandon its most vulnerable patients. (109 mins.)
Tickets also include a conversation between Alexander Nanau and a guest TBD.

Nardjes A
(Karim Aïnouz, 2020)
Streaming Sunday, October 25–Friday, October 30

An immersive, experiential “day in the life” portrait of Nardjes, a young Algerian woman, as she takes part in the popular protests that took over Algeria when the country’s president announces his unconstitutional candidacy for a fifth term. Shot on March 8, 2019, International Women’s Day, the film follows Nardjes from her job to the streets to a post-protest dance party to release the tension. Aïnouz and his team thrillingly capture the joys, anxieties, and commitment that emerge from purposeful protest, demonstration, and revolution. Despite being shot on a cell phone, the film emerges as full body experience. Aïnouz visited the Wexner Center in 2015 for a retrospective of his films. (80 mins.)
Tickets also include a conversation between Karim Aïnouz and cinematographer-filmmaker Kirsten Johnson (Cameraperson, Dick Johnson Is Dead).

The Inheritance
(Ephraim Asili, 2020)
Streaming Monday, October 26–Friday, October 30
Captioning available

The form-busting feature-length debut from the adventurous filmmaker Ephraim Asili creatively weaves together the history of the MOVE liberation group, the Black Arts Movement, the political pop vibes of Jean-Luc Godard’s late ‘60s films, and what the filmmaker calls a “speculative reenactment” of his own formative experiences in a Philadelphia Black liberationist collective. Beautifully shot in vibrant colors on 16mm, The Inheritance centers around the formation, growth and tensions of a shared Black space for socialist thought and creativity. The comedic vignettes of communal life are interspersed with archival footage, poetry readings from the likes of Sonia Sanchez and Ursula Rucker, and musical interludes.  Asili’s short films have been previously exhibited at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus Museum of Art, and the Beeler Gallery at CCAD. (100 mins.)
Tickets also include a conversation between Ephraim Asili and a guest TBD.

(Cecilia Aldarondo, 2020)
Streaming Tuesday, October 27–Friday, October 30

After the fallout of Hurricane Maria and an economic crisis, Puerto Ricans prepare to weather a threat of global significance: disaster capitalism. Set against the backdrop of protests that toppled the US colony’s governor in 2019, Landfall shares kaleidoscopic glimpses of collective trauma and resistance. Everyday Puerto Ricans—subsistence farmers, teachers, activists, etc—meet an incoming wave of cryptocurrency traders, luxury real estate developers, and the politicians leveraging the crisis to recruit their extractive business ventures. The exciting young filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo examines the kinship of these two storms—one environmental, the other economic—juxtaposing competing utopian visions of community and recolonization. The new Puerto Rico poses a question of global urgency: when the world falls apart, what does a just recovery look like?  (91 mins.)
Tickets also include a conversation between Cecilia Aldarondo and a guest TBD.

(David Osit, 2020)
Streaming Wednesday, October 28–Friday, October 30

One of the year’s most acclaimed documentaries, Mayor is a real-life political saga following Musa Hadid, the Christian mayor of Ramallah, during his second term in office. His immediate goals: repave the sidewalks, attract more tourism, and plan the city’s Christmas celebrations. His ultimate mission: to end the occupation of Palestine. This balance of micro and macro political issues provides a unique backdrop that’s amplified by the world’s seeming indifference to Ramallah’s struggles. Rich with detailed observation and a surprising amount of humor, Mayor offers a portrait of dignity amidst the madness and absurdity of endless occupation while posing a question: how do you run a city when you don’t have a country? (89 mins.)
Tickets also include a conversation between David Osit and Vox film critic Alissa Wilkinson.

(Ashley O’Shay, 2020)
Streaming Thursday, October 29–Friday, October 30

After two Black Chicagoans are killed, millennial organizers challenge an administration complicit in state violence against its Black residents. Told through the lens of Janaé and Bella, two fierce abolitionist leaders, Unapologetic is a deep look in the Movement for Black Lives, from the police murder of Rekia Boyd to the election of Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Five years in the making, the documentary urgently conveys the centrality of Black queer and feminist communities in the social justice movement. (86 mins., digital video)
Tickets also include a conversation between Ashley O’Shey and the co-founder of No Evil Eye microcinema and editor of SVLLY(WOOD) magazine Rooney Elmi. (No Evil Eye has also curated a film program as part of the gallery-based community initiative Free Space, screening October 12–November 8.)


Event information

The 2020 edition of the Wexner Center for the Arts documentary festival Unorthodocs takes place virtually October 23–30 via the center’s website. Most screenings will include prerecorded conversations with filmmakers and special guests. Admission is pay-what-you-can. More information will be available here