Ped Mall -Scene 1 Thu, Apr 26, 2018 5:00 PM
Ped Mall -Scene 1 Fri, Apr 27, 2018 3:00 PM
Ped Mall -Scene 1 Sat, Apr 28, 2018 3:00 PM
Series Info
Series:Special Event
Film Info
Year Released:Various
Production Country:Various


The Iowa City International Documentary Film Festival (ICDOCS ) is an annual event committed to engaging local audiences with the exhibition of recent short films that both complicate and expand upon conventional approaches to nonfiction and documentary. Free and open to the public!

Thursday, April 26 / 5pm
El Mar La Mar
dir Joshua Bonnetta and J.P. Sniadecki
USA | 2017 | 94 min |
An immersive and enthralling journey through the Sonoran Desert on the U.S.-Mexico border, El Mar La Mar weaves together harrowing oral histories from the area with hand-processed 16mm images of flora, fauna and items left behind by travelers. Subjects speak of intense, mythic experiences in the desert: A man tells of a fifteen-foot-tall monster said to haunt the region, while a border patrolman spins a similarly bizarre tale of man versus beast. A sonically rich soundtrack adds to the eerie atmosphere as the call of birds and other nocturnal noises invisibly populate the austere landscape.

Emerging from the ethos of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, J.P. Sniadecki’s attentive documentary approach mixes perfectly with Joshua Bonnetta’s meditations on the materiality of film. Together, they’ve created an experience of the border region like nothing you’ve seen, heard or felt before. Followed by a Q&A with visiting filmmakers.

Friday, April 27 / 3pm
Juror Screening: Alison S.M. Kobayashi
Alison S. M. Kobayashi is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist whose short videos and performances that have been exhibited widely in Canada, the United States and overseas. She was a guest artist at the 2008 Flaherty Film Seminar and her work was the focus of a Spotlight Presentation at Video Out, Jakarta International Film Festival, Indonesia. She was a 2016 Yaddo and MacDowell Colony fellow. Her performance Say Something Bunny! currently running in New York City has received critical acclaim, heralded as “The best new theater experience in town” by Vogue. Alison S. M Kobayashi was born in Mississauga, Ontario and is based in Toronto and Brooklyn where she is the Director of Special Projects at UnionDocs, Center for Documentary Art.

From Alex to Alex

Canada | 2006 | 6:11 min | Digital

In the fall of 2003 I found a letter on the Winston Churchill Blvd QEW overpass. It was labeled From: Alex To: Alex. This is a film based on the contents of that letter.

Hungry Kitty
Canada | 2011 | 0:28 min | Digital
Hungry Kitty is the first installment of Kobayashi’s YouTube Diptych series. By carefully reshooting YouTube videos from the perspectives of animals, babies and other beings, Kobayashi experiments and playfully reinterprets the gaze of YouTube videos.

Canada | 2009 | 2 min | Digital
I catalogued my family’s home video collection. I came across videos of my sister and I in Brownie and Girl Guide ceremonies. It made me want to DO GOOD. It made me want to invite others to DO GOOD too. Five Brownies created new badges.Each Brownie made a video that explained what was required to earn her badge.

Music is Magic

Canada | 2015 | 15 min | Digital

A 15 minute personal documentary and live performance about Sisterhood, music and teenage lust using family archival footage. Featuring live music by Joshua Gen Solondz.

Personality Unlimited

Canada | 2015 | 2 min | Digital

Personality Unlimited is adapted from a self improvement book of the same name. The book, written by Veronica Dengel and published in 1943, features a series of photographs of young women in domestic spaces demonstrating positions “to flatten that stomach” and aimed at “that hard-to-get-at fat”. These photographs are translated into a choreography performed to Solomon Burke’s Cry To Me.


Canada | 2009 | 3 min | Digital

Just Relax

Canada | 2016 | 11 min | Digital

Over the course of a painful and humorous afternoon, three best friends attempt to stick and poke a tattoo on particularly sensitive skin.

Say Something Bunny (excerpts)

10-15 min | Digital

With Say Something Bunny!, Alison S. M. Kobayashi and UnionDocs present an enthralling performance based on an amateur audio recording made over sixty years ago. The origin of this audio was a mystery. Two spools of thin steel wire were found tucked inside an obsolete sound device purchased by a collector at an estate sale. There were no labels; no dates, no names, and no context. Through her obsessive research and active imagination along with hundreds of times listening through, Kobayashi decodes the rich dialogue in the recording and discovers the detailed history of an unforgettable Jewish family from New York that bursts with humor, surprise and drama. The one-woman show annotates, illustrates, and reconstructs the scenes of the recording, while revealing the stranger-than-fiction biography of the eldest son, David, who made the wire recordings. Using video, installation, performance and plentiful archival material, Kobayashi leads the audience through a close listening, spinning “a multigenerational yarn of Rothian heights.”

Saturday, April 28 / 3PM

Juror Screening: Jean-Paul Kelly*
Jean-Paul Kelly (born London, Canada; lives and works in Toronto) makes videos and exhibitions that pose questions about the limits of representation by examining complex associations in the production, reception and circulation of documentary and other socially-generated images. He was a resident artist at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (New York) and Delfina Foundation and a featured artist at the 2013 Robert Flaherty Film Seminar. Kelly received the 2015 Images Festival Award and the 2014 Kazuko Trust Award from the Film Society of Lincoln Center. His solo exhibitions include: Delfina Foundation (London), Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus), Scrap Metal Gallery (Toronto) and Gallery TPW (Toronto).  His screenings include: Canada House (London), Courtisane Festival (Ghent), Vdrome, Film Society of Lincoln Center (New York), TIFF Cinematheque (Toronto), International Film Festival Rotterdam, New York Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival.

The Innocents

2014 | 12:54 min

The Innocents features an image stream, an interview with Truman Capote’s desire, and shapes that correspond to the former through the instructions of the latter. “Jean-Paul Kelly's elegant and enigmatic The Innocents is partially constructed around a shot-by-shot re-enactment of segments from the Maysles brothers' 1966 documentary With Love from Truman, with Kelly ingeniously recasting Capote's desire as the speaker. With its own formal predilections, the film succeeds in drawing parallels with the legendary author's brazen statements about form and style.” – Andréa Picard, TIFF

A Minimal Difference

2012 | 5:10 min

A Minimal Difference is shot using a multi-plane camera setup and features receding cell paintings referenced from widely circulated press images (barricades from political protests in Bangkok, bodies piled after the 2010 Haitian earthquake, furniture from an eviction in Cleveland, destruction in Gaza) and more metaphoric pictures (a logjam, clouds or smoke). Each tableau is separated into visual planes that, when filmed with movement, mimic the perception of optical distance.

Movement in Squares

2013 | 12:43 min

Movement in Squares is a two-channel video comprised of three documentary sources: video appropriated from a Florida-based foreclosure broker who documents the condition of bank-owned properties at the time of their repossession; studio recordings that document retrospective exhibition catalogues of painter Bridget Riley; voice-over narration from filmmaker David Thompson’s 1979 profile of Riley’s work for the Arts Council of Great Britain. “In conversation on the screen, these elements put forth questions about representation, ethics and perception in how we look at images.” – Pablo de Ocampo, Flaherty Seminar

Service of the Goods

2013 | 29:10 min

Service of the goods is comprised of selected scenes from American filmmaker Frederick Wiseman’s seminal documentaries on state-run, tax-funded institutions, including Titicut Follies (1967), High School (1968), Law and Order (1969), Hospital (1970), Basic Training (1971), Juvenile Court (1973) and Welfare (1975). While creating shot-by-shot reproductions of each chosen scene, including accompanying subtitled dialogue, Wiseman’s representational strategy–his overall production and editing process–is, itself, evoked as an institution subject to the same means observation and expression.

That Ends That Matter

2016 | 16:52 min | Single-channel version of three-channel original.

That Ends That Matter is a three-channel video installation incorporating: a re-enactment of events witnessed in a courtroom; an image stream of found photographs in which the artist’s hands appear to caress or outline details in each image; and a graphical-sound animation choreographed from movements of Kelly’s hands in the previous sequence.