Social issues, variety to be highlighted at 2016 DOCUTAH film festival

Share This:

Allie Macier picks up a catalog one week before DOCUTAH, and circles all the documentaries she hopes to see.

Macier, a senior communication major from St. George, said she found herself in the digital film emphasis after a supportive adviser encouraged her to find a career path. She has been an avid supporter of the annual documentary-based film festival ever since, and she hopes to help produce documentaries and music videos after graduation.

“I was always highly affected by books, movies and music,” Macier said.

This will be Macier’s fourth year attending DOCUTAH. She is one of many students and community members looking forward to the education and entertainment provided at the festival, which will open on Sept. 6 and run through Sept. 10. A wide selection of 68 documentary films will be shown at multiple venues across campus and in the community and will be free to students all week.

“It’s honestly my favorite part of the school year,” Macier said. “I’m sad that it’s only one week long.”

Created with students in mind

Phil Tuckett, executive director of DOCUTAH, said the festival’s primary purpose is to serve the students of DSU.

In the U.S., there are only two documentary film festivals fully sponsored by universities: DOCUTAH and Full Frame at Duke University in North Carolina, Tuckett said.

“From the people I’ve spoken to [at Duke], we have hit the mark on bringing documentaries to the campus to offer students a look at the world they wouldn’t get otherwise,” he said.

Karman Wilson, assistant director of professional art and production director for DOCUTAH, said preparation begins nearly a year before the festival begins.

DOCUTAH has 30 screening teams in the community that watch the films when they first come in. The final decision-making panel looks at the teams’ critiques, and decide which films meet the production excellence that is required to be included at the festival.

Of over 12,000 people who attended DOCUTAH in 2015, only about 600 students participated. DOCUTAH would like to attract more this year, Wilson said. With free admission and advertising through the Dixie State University Student Association, the university tries to make it as accessible to students as possible.

The festival will feature 68 films this year, 30 of which are from international characters and filmmakers, Tuckett said. Many film festivals add documentaries as an afterthought to their lineup, but focusing solely on documentaries allows DOCUTAH to provide a wide variety of subjects.

The best place to have a documentary film festival is on a university campus, Tuckett said. Students can benefit from attending the festival from being exposed to different cultures, ideas, and concepts, some of them controversial.

“Every one of those 68 films relate directly to the courses of study students are taking this semester,” he said.

There is a stereotype that documentaries are meant for an older demographic, and Tuckett said he hopes to change that by bringing films to the festival that appeal to a younger audience.

A wide selection

Many of the documentaries are lighthearted and entertaining, but others put emphasis on current social issues, Wilson said. Three films featured this year represent the LGBT community, and a luncheon held on Saturday will raise money for the
new resource center on campus. Two of those documentaries’ filmmakers will be in attendance.

Two other films Wilson said she is looking forward to are both from international filmmakers.

“Gone Viral” is a film about two Irish men who have ordinary jobs as mental health nurses but rose to internet stardom after posting videos to Vine.

“Monsterman” tells the story of a 42-year-old Finnish heavy rocker named Tomi, whose band, Lordi, dresses up as monsters for its performances. The film follows Tomi as he obsesses over continuing his dream of a monster rock band.

“The best part is that [‘Monsterman’] is a true story, and the filmmakers are coming from Finland,” Wilson said.

Tuckett said students can expect to enjoy an outdoor screening of “The Laughter Life,” featuring the cast of Brigham Young University’s comedy group, Studio C, and the unique challenge of being funny while staying inside the bounds of BYU’s censorship board.

“It’s a delightful film about some people who are determined to spread laughter despite the challenges they have,” Tuckett said.

“The Laughter Life” will be shown on the encampment mall Sept. 6 at 8 pm, and is free of charge to students and community members. Members of the Studio C cast will also be in attendance.

Future growth

2016 will be the seventh year of DOCUTAH’s existence. As the years progress, Wilson said she is expecting word to spread, film submissions to increase, and the number of visiting foreign filmmakers to grow. Wilson said the community and local government have been supportive in helping sponsor the film festival.

“We’re perfectly happy with the support we get from the community and locally,” Tuckett said. “We will continue to depend on that.”

Tuckett said a challenge the festival has faced is that although they have received generous, sustaining support from local government and businesses, they are still hoping to find a sponsor that can invest a significant amount to substantially promote DOCUTAH’s future growth.


“Look on the website and you will find at least one film that you can apply to a class you love at the school,” Tuckett said. “Give it a chance if you haven’t, and you may find you have been a fan of documentaries all along and didn’t know it.”

Macier said she plans to burn the candle on both ends by squeezing in some DOCUTAH films between work and school.

“It only happens one week a year,” she said. “I make the time for it.”

The schedule, synopses and trailers of the films can be found on DOCUTAH’s website.