International Documentary Film Festival nourishes mind and spirit

DOCUTAH is a documentary festival hosted by Dixie State University, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of DOCUTAH, St. George News

FEATURE — When Dixie State University and the DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival announced its 2015 lineup, 77 films were chosen, each of high quality and worthy of any festival. Many of those films were submitted first to DOCUTAH. The result was an event that more than doubled DOCUTAH’s previous records for attendance and revenue.

DOCUTAH is a documentary festival hosted by Dixie State University, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of DOCUTAH, St. George News
DOCUTAH is a documentary festival hosted by Dixie State University, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of DOCUTAH, St. George News

Phil Tucket, executive director of DOCUTAH, associate professor at DSU and director of the Center for Media Innovation of DSU Films, said:

Independent documentary films inspire audiences by providing a global connection to the universal human experience. DOCUTAH brings together independent filmmakers, aspiring film students, citizens of the world and the Southern Utah community in an educational setting. 2015 set another record with the most filmmakers and out of state documentary devotees in attendance in the history of the six-day event.

In September, DOCUTAH headed into its sixth season with a stellar field of films from which to choose. Over 400 films from 31 countries and 36 states were submitted by the deadline with subjects as diverse as “#ChicagoGirl,” the story of a teenager helping to run the revolution in Syria from her bedroom in Chicago, to “Flying the Feathered Edge,” a chronicle of the life and times of Bob Hoover, known as “the pilot’s pilot,” and “The Hermits,” a film made using Buddhist principles.

Each year, DOCUTAH has grown in size, audience and prestige, and this season was no exception. Judges decided to expand the festival from its usual 50-plus to 77 films, because they felt more films deserved to be seen.

The sixth season of DOCUTAH also featured several films that opened commercially after the festival. One such film, “Prophet’s Prey,” the chronicle of the abuses of Warren Jeffs and the FLDS church, was viewed by more than 2,000 ticket holders in only two screenings.

DOCUTAH is a documentary festival hosted by Dixie State University, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of DOCUTAH, St. George News
DOCUTAH is a documentary festival hosted by Dixie State University, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of DOCUTAH, St. George News

Tuckett planted the seed of DOCUTAH in 2009 with a small group who went to work to create the inaugural event in September 2010. Since then, more than 1,100 films have been submitted from 70-plus countries. The festival will begin accepting films for the 2016 season in February of next year.

DOCUTAH is unique because it is a pure documentary festival hosted by a university, which allows both visitors and students to have easy access to this art form.

The documentary genre can open the eyes of the audience to experiences both global and intimate, familiar and foreign.

The genre truly nourishes both the mind and the spirit. As part of DSU’s academic component, DOCUTAH also offers master class seminars and filmmaker panels where student, amateur and professional filmmakers can interact and advance their skills in the art of filmmaking.

“What really struck us about the submissions this year was the diversity — cultural, national, regional, topical, informational — and how often stories of people from one era or region can relate to the lives of others far away or far removed,” Jeffery Jarvis, dean of the School of Visual & Performing Arts at DSU, said.

“We felt that this sixth year of the DOCUTAH Festival was the best we had ever presented and the response from both filmmakers and audiences bore out that conclusion.”

DOCUTAH’s mission is to enlighten, entertain and envision the world through documentary film. As such, it is an integral part of the performing arts at DSU and a perfect fit for the performing and cultural arts program at DSU. DOCUTAH provides quality entertainment combined with a robust filmmaker seminar program to the surrounding community and to the thousands of visitors who come to enjoy the natural beauty of Southern Utah and discover the gem that is DOCUTAH.

author_dellaloweWritten by Della Lowe for St. George Health and Wellness magazine and St. George News.

Della Lowe is an Emmy Award winning news producer, who worked for ABC News in New York for 23 years. After moving to Silicon Valley, she spent 14 years in marketing and PR for several tech companies. Lowe is the marketing and PR Consultant for the DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival.

St. George Health and Wellness website

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