Started in 2009, DOCUTAH has been a platform for independent filmmakers to showcase their documentary films.
When Phil Tuckett, director of DOCUTAH and Dixie State University film professor, originally pitched an all-documentary film festival, it was a spur-of-the-moment decision.
“I was at a meeting, and they asked if I had any suggestions,” Tuckett said. “The idea just popped into my head… I like watching documentaries. I like producing documentaries. I’m really happy it came to me at that moment.”
According to Tuckett, documentaries were perfect for a film festival put on at DSU because, “They’re more geared towards education and [are] applicable to students.”
Della Lowe, the marketing and public relations manager for DOCUTAH, said, “Documentaries allow us to understand each other and take us places and expose us to ideas we may have never seen or thought about.”
The festival, which runs Sept. 3-8, will showcase 68 films from 14 countries.
“My goal was always to have it be an international festival, and now we’ve succeeded,” Tuckett said. “We’ve gained a reputation for loving foreign films.”
DOCUTAH will debut with “Dreams of the Black Echo,” a collaboration with Vietnamese university, Duy Tan. The film looks back on the battle of Khe Sanh during the Vietnam War, and how it impacted veterans from both sides.
“I’m really looking forward to this one.” Lowe said, “Not only is it student produced, but also, the subject of finding peace between former enemies is a subject close to my heart,” Lowe said.
Production on the film spanned both the United States and Vietnam and has involved students traveling between and working in both countries to finish production.
“It’s a truly groundbreaking documentary,” Tuckett said. “I believe it’s something our students can really be proud of.”
Despite DOCUTAH’S current success, it didn’t initially draw much attention, Tuckett said.
“It was a little embarrassing the first two years,” Tuckett said. “Nobody showed up. You could practically hear the crickets chirping.”
Now entering its ninth year, DOCUTAH showcases dozens of documentary films and brings in hundreds of guests.
However, the larger crowds don’t bother Tuckett, he said.
“I was hoping it would become this big,” Tuckett said. “It feels natural.”
Tucker said he hopes the festival will maintain its longevity and adhere to what keeps it unique from other film festivals, while keeping it something he would want to attend.
“We don’t have the glitz and the the glamour,” Tuckett said. “We don’t have fancy actors and actresses on red carpets. And I don’t want us to. We know who we are, and we want to stick with that. In a sense, we’ve made a name for ourselves doing that.”
“We see only great things for DOCUTAH as we approach our tenth anniversary next year,” Lowe said.
DOCUTAH will take place across four locations in St. George: Red Cliffs Theater, the Electric Theater, Eccles Main Stage at Dixie State University, and the Center for the Arts at Kayenta.
Admission is free for students who present a Dixie ID or$10 for a single Block Ticket. Additional tickets and passes can be purchased at the ticket office on campus or online. For additional information on DOCUTAH, including schedules and film trailers, visit docutah.com.