Utah Tech presents 13th annual DOCUTAH International Film Festival

Photo from the 12th annual DOCUTAH award show Feb 2023. The southern Utah International Documentary Film Festival takes place Feb. 29 to March 1 showcasing 56 films from around the world and holds the opportunity for creators and directors to come together and appreciate the art of documentary film. Photo courtesy of Sarah Cordner

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This year the 13th annual DOCUTAH Internation Film Festival brings film fanatics and directors together for a weekend of films and speeches.

The film festival takes place Feb. 29 to March 1, and features films from across the world.

Their mission is to bring together filmmakers and film lovers to celebrate art.

This year, the festival has 56 films featured and awards the best films with awards in 10 different categories, ranging from the Trailblazer Award to the Best Cinematography Award.

Tisa Zito, director of DOCUTAH, said each year, films from all over the world are entered. They come from Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, China, Somalia and many other places.

This is the 13th year DOCUTAH and Utah Tech University have had this festival, and it goes beyond featuring films—other activities include DOCtalks.

Zito said: “We have many opportunities for students to mingle with filmmakers. DOCtalks will happen at 8 p.m. where filmmakers will sit on a panel and answer questions about the filmmaking process.”

Many film students at Utah Tech also help with DOCUTAH.

DOCUTAH intern Ada Johnson, a junior digital film major from Fredrick, Maryland, said, “Getting to scrub through and quickly review each film when it was sent in gave me a better appreciation for how broad the term ‘documentary’ really is.”

Some films featured include: “0.5 Meters,” “Almost Home: Life after Incarceration,” “April in France” and “Beautiful Faces.”

“DOCUTAH is a brilliant event that allows film lovers and filmmakers to come together and appreciate the art of documentary film,” said Sarah Cordner, a recent graduate student from Utah Tech and DOCUTAH’s professional art assistant and freelance video editor.

Cordner’s film “Caged” is featured at the festival and was her senior capstone project. Her film is about the Korean dog meat trade. The way she got into the subject was through her adopted dog.

Cordner said: “I adopted my dog from the St. George animal shelter not knowing anything about her background. Months later we decided to do a DNA test on her, to which we found out she was a Korean village dog”

Because this was her senior capstone project, she had only four months to complete her film. Cordner is nominated for the Emerging Filmmaker Award.

Cordner said: ”Utah Tech really had my back with this film. All of my professors were very supportive and put in so much of their time just to help me make this film a possibility. And to that, I’ll never be able to thank them enough.”

This year, the festival will take place at the Sunset Megaplex Theater, and students can get in for free with their student ID. Tickets for non-students range from $10 to $75.

”We have so many magical films this year, my favorite being ‘Much Ado About Dying,’” Zito said. “It’s a sweet and funny journey with an extremely charismatic character about what we leave behind and our ultimate journey at the end of life.”

Grab some popcorn and drinks to watch “Much Ado About Dying,” “Caged” and other films this weekend for a weekend full of films.

”Documentary film is such an overlooked medium of film, so it’s wonderful that there are festivals like DOCUTAH,” Cordner said.