Seeing is believing



What: Doctober
When: Fri., Sept. 28-early Nov.
Where: Pickford Film Center, 1318 Bay Street; Limelight Cinema, 1416 Cornwall Ave.
Cost: Varies

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

On the surface, everything at the Pickford Film Center during the days before Doctober launches on Fri., Sept. 28 appears to be business as usual. Behind the scenes, however, the many moving pieces of the annual month-long celebration of all things documentary are being snapped into place. After months spent booking the more than 50 films that comprise the festival, PFC staffers are now busy inviting filmmakers, filling panels with experts, partnering with people and organizations within the community, setting up Skype interviews and, of course, laying in a store of popcorn to satiate the masses who are hungry for more than just truth.

Happening alongside all of that, PFC Education Outreach Coordinator Mikayla Nicholson is organizing the biggest piece of Doctober that goes unseen by the public: the Doc-ED program, which invites every public and tribal school kid in Whatcom County to the theater to watch free documentaries.

With so many documentaries from which to choose, and limited showings for all, it is an incredible challenge to see them all—although a few hardy souls have certainly tried. If you’re scanning the Doctober calendar and feeling a little overwhelmed, the ever-helpful Pickford staff is here to give you a place to begin your journey toward greater truth and enlightenment. They’ve each highlighted a documentary that’s of particular interest to them, and those interests lie all along the spectrum of Doctober films.

Since I’m a Pickford projectionist, I also get a staff pick and mine is Time For Ilhan. Let’s face it: The United States is looking less and less recognizable—and not in the good way—with every refresh of the news cycle. Into the maelstrom of American politics comes former refugee Ilhan Omar, who, in 2016, became the first Somali-American elected to any legislative office in the United States. This doc details her improbable run for the Minnesota House of Representatives, her impossible victory and what comes next for the trailblazer. Spoiler alert: Ilhan is currently running for the U.S. House of Representatives and all eyes are on her in the all-important 2018 midterm elections. Go Ilhan!

Pickford Volunteer Coordinator Hayley McVay’s selection, Bisbee ’17, also skews political, but with a far different approach and messaging. “In times like now it is important to remember the past is not past” McVay says. “Bisbee ’17 is the story of the 1917 mass deportation of migrant workers in Arizona that has, and continues to (re)surface again and again through capital gains and abuse of labor. This stylistic doc uses artistic theatrics (like that of The Act of Killing, My Winnipeg, and Spettacolo) where ancestors of 1917 events film their own ‘reenactments,’ to remind us that the past is still very present. The result is a must-see for anyone who loves a mixed-medium documentary that blends time and merges identity.”

Pickford Operations Manager Ryan Uhlhorn has rodents on his mind, nutria specifically. His selection is Rodents of Unusual Size, which takes an intimate look at the beaver-like beasts. “In 1889, nutria were introduced to the United States to supply fur for the burgeoning trade,” Uhlhorn says. “By the 1940s, the fur trade had collapsed and all those farmed nutria were released into the wild. Nutria have since spread all along the gulf coast and into California with very destructive results. From hunting them for bounties to keeping them as pets, this documentary promises to tell the human side of this large rat in Louisiana.”

Projectionist Michael Barone has animals on the mind as well, but his choice—Pick of the Litter, which follows puppies as they train to become service dogs—features creatures less invasive and way more adorable. “Hands (or paws) down, this is going to be the most wholesome and sweet film of Doctober,” he says. “Training these dogs is no walk in the park, but the ends results are guaranteed to leave your mouth grinning and you tail wagging! If I was barking up the wrong tree with those ruff dog jokes, then that bites.” Barone’s puns may be poor, but his animal instincts are spot on.

Each Doctober offers its fair share of music-related films, but Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. is no more your standard music doc than its subject, M.I.A., is your standard musician. And that’s exactly what makes her so compelling, says Assistant Operations Manager Ariana Dorshkind. “Everyone has those songs where, when you hear it, you have to stop everything and jam your heart out. M.I.A’s ‘Paper Planes’ is one of those songs for me. When I first learned the lyrics were about racist stereotypes people had about her, the song completely changed for me. She is not an ordinary pop star, so I do not expect this to be an ordinary music doc. M.I.A. radiates power and I can’t wait to watch Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. so I can soak it all in.”

All of that’s just a sampling of the Pickford staff and its cinematic proclivities. Projectionist Steve Meyers wants to journey along with a guy whose goal it is to walk every inch of New York City’s streets in The World Before Your Feet. Nicholson is looking forward to delving into the secret world of bathtub musicals in Bathtubs Over Broadway. Marketing Manager Lindsey Gerhard is curious about United Skates, which examines skating rinks, their status as community hubs and role in fomenting a hip-hop revolution.

And that’s not even the beginning. There are still 40-plus other documentaries just waiting to be watched, ruminated upon and discussed. And while you can’t trust everything that appears onscreen, during Doctober at the Pickford, seeing really is believing.

Sugar Ray
More Film...
Battle Angel

It is a view broadly held in Hollywood that writing is not the greatest of James Cameron’s manifold filmmaking gifts. The visual storytelling of his blockbusters is what sticks, not the plywood poetry he sticks in the mouths of his often-perfunctory characters. A new Cameron production…

more »
The Lego Movie 2
The Second Part

Everyone’s gotta grow up sometimes, even animated movie franchises. Kids’ movies, like the rest of us, find themselves in a difficult position these days: Ignore the sense of impending doom and pretend everything is, well, awesome? Or address the Cheeto-tinted elephant in the room, at…

more »
Cold War
Communism, a love story

Pawel Pawlikowski’s most recent film, Ida, was about a girl about to become a Roman Catholic nun. Shot in black and white, in artfully framed tableaux where the camera rarely moved, it was an almost stiflingly ascetic experience—a heavy dose of spiritual angst that also reflected the…

more »
Cascadia Weekly's Fiction 101 Contest


A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

11:30am|Whatcom County

The Imaginary Invalid

7:30pm|DUG Theater

Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit Valley

My Circus Valentine

6:00pm|Cirque Lab

Almost, Maine

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Cupid's Arrow

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Shakespeare in Love

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

West Side Story

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Our Town

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

No PDA allowed


Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

One-Act Plays at BAAY

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Always...Patsy Cline

7:00pm|Conway Muse

Serial Killers, Episode 3

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Winter Swanrise Valentine's Celebration

7:00am|Barney Lake

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

Celtic Arts Dance Championship

9:00am|Whatcom Community College

Caring for your Roses

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Winter Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Be Mindful of Minds Panel Discussion

10:00am|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship

Correspondence Club

10:30am|Mindport Exhibits

Let's Make Mozzarella and Burrata!

11:00am|Community Food Co-op

Growing Giant Vegetables

11:00am|Christianson's Nursery

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Tax Help Available

12:30pm|First Congregational Church

Native Plants and Birds

2:00pm|Lynden Library

Era of the Megafires

2:00pm|Ferndale Library

Love is in the Air Story Share

3:00pm|North Fork Library

Artist Talk with Margy Lavelle

4:00pm|i.e. gallery

Fighter in Velvet Gloves

7:00pm|Village Books

Los Vivancos presents "Born to Dance"

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Village Books
Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit Valley

My Circus Valentine

6:00pm|Cirque Lab

Shakespeare in Love

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Our Town

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

West Side Story

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Almost, Maine

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

One-Act Plays at BAAY

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Sedro-Woolley Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Rabbit Ride

8:30am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Langar in Lynden

11:00am| Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Do It Yourself Publishing

12:00pm|BRUNA Press

History Tour

12:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Bellingham's Got Talent

1:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Girsky Quartet

3:00pm|First Congregational Church

Blue Water women

4:00pm|Village Books

Sprite Night

7:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Kinky Boots Trove Web
Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Community Soup Kitchen

6:00pm|Little Cheerful Cafe

Bite of Blaine

6:00pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Seasonal Fermentation

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op


7:00pm|Alternative Library


9:00pm|Firefly Lounge

see our complete calendar »

Kinky Boots MacMaster and Leahy Trove Web Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books