Science Films at CPH: DOX 2024

The 21st Copenhagen International Film Festival (CPH: DOX) begins March 13, showcasing more than 200 new documentaries from around the world in venues across the city through March 24. Across 12 of the festival’s program sections, we have rounded up the science and technology-themed films to look out for, with descriptions excerpted from the festival’s programmers. Organized by section, the 44 films below represent an array of modes and topics. Many films tackle concerns surrounding humans’ most vexing relationships: with technology (David Borenstein’s CAN’T FEEL NOTHING, Krista Moisio and Anna-Maija Heinone’s HARD TO BREAK), the environment (Virpi Suutari’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN A FOREST), and our own bodies (Tore Hallas’s YOU ARE CLOSER TO GOD WHEN YOU DO NOT INDULGE, Sasha Litvintseva and Beny Wagner’s MY WANT OF YOU PARTAKES OF ME). Science and Film’s Sonia Epstein presented Sasha Litvintseva's and Beny Wagner's feature film at the Tate Modern in November 2023, as part of the museum’s Science, Body, Anatomy program, which she co-curated.

Another crop of projects contemplates awe-inspiring wonders of nature, from hummingbirds (Sally Aitken’s EVERY LITTLE THING) and moths (Anupama Srinivasan and Anirban Dutta’s NOCTURNES) to lichen (Ondřej Vavrečka’s LICHENS ARE THE WAY) and fungi (Joseph Nizeti and Gisela Kaufmann’s FUNGI: WEB OF LIFE).


LIFE AND OTHER PROBLEMS. Dir. Max Kestner. World Premiere. “The meaning of life, death and everything else? The possible answers are plenty in Max Kestner's adventurous film, which starts when the death of a giraffe at the Copenhagen Zoo goes viral from Hollywood to Chechnya.”

ONCE UPON A TIME IN A FOREST. Dir. Virpi Suutari. World Premiere. “Biodiversity and generation gaps collide in a politically urgent and thoughtful film about two young activists' fight to save the vast Finnish forests. Is it still civil disobedience when you know you have both history and the future on your side?”


HARD TO BREAK. Dir. Krista Moisio, Anna-Maija Heinonen. World Premiere. “Two young Finns are fueled by their (self-)destructive love for each other as their parallel lives on social media become further and further removed from reality.”


AND STILL, IT REMAINS. Dir. Arwa Aburawa, Turab Shah. World Premiere. “A meditation on time, justice and the aftermath of the French nuclear tests in the Algerian Sahara.”

EFFORTS OF NATURE. Dir. Morgan Quaintance. International Premiere. “A new and evocative work that combines found footage, analogue 16mm and satellite imagery – not to mention loops and repeats – in an investigation of temporal processes from two radically different perspectives: the physical being of the body and the planetary, geological conditions.”

LICHENS ARE THE WAY. Dir. Ondřej Vavrečka. World Premiere. “A close-up study of radically different life forms that puts our own human scale in a new and thought-provoking light.”

Still from LICHENS ARE THE WAY. Courtesy of CPH: DOX.

LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE. Dir. Yuyan Wang. International Premiere. “A visual essay on artificial light in an age where control, consumption and entertainment are intricately linked.”

MY WANT OF YOU PARTAKES OF ME. Dir. Sasha Litvintseva, Beny Wagner. World Premiere. “An imaginative film about the digestive process as a condition for our physical existence - and as a prism for an intellectual journey through the cultural history of the body.”

PREEMPTIVE LISTENING. Dir. Aura Satz. World Premiere. “Sound and film art on innovative wavelengths in a work that explores the function and iconic value of the siren in a time of overlapping natural and man-made disasters. A participatory piece with contributions from 20 different sound artists.”

TWO SUNS. Dir. Superflex. World Premiere. “A collaborative film work created by the artist group Superflex in collaboration with residents of the Marshall Islands, where the echoes of America's many nuclear tests still reverberate.”


MARCHING IN THE DARK. Dir. Kinshuk Surjan. World Premiere. “The widows come together to break the vicious cycle of debt and climate related chaos in Indian agriculture that has pushed their desperate husbands to kill themselves - and leave them with the debt. A powerful and compelling film about solidarity between sisters.”

THE RECOVERY CHANNEL. Dir. Ellen Ugelstad. International Premiere. “A filmmaker who has been set back by her own brother's decades-long battle with the mental health system, invents a fictional TV channel to expose the injustices of modern psychiatric treatment.”

THE SKY ABOVE ZENICA. Dir. Nanna Frank Møller, Zlatko Pranjic. World Premiere. “In the centre of Europe, one of the world's three most polluted cities has united its citizens in a common fight for a viable future. But money, power and environmental politics prove to be as toxic an opponent as the factory smoke that clouds the city.”


CAN’T FEEL NOTHING. Dir. David Borenstein. World Premiere. “An eye-opening film about numbness in the age of social media. The diagnosis is alarming, but it is made with understated humour and energy by director David Borenstein, himself a screen zombie in digital rehab.”

LIE TO ME. Dir. Baar Tyrmi. International Premiere. “They promised a digital revolution of the financial market. It all turned out to be one of the biggest scams in history, but 10 years and countless scandals later, OneCoin is still in action. A docu-thriller about psychology and manipulation in a crypto-age.”

THE BATTLE FOR LAIKIPIA. Dir. Daphne Matziaraki, Peter Murimi. International Premiere. “Drought, politics and colonial history collide in a stormy and unpredictable conflict between Kenyan cattle herders and white ranchers in the vast African country. A complex and wise film about the consequences of climate change.”


APOLLO THIRTEEN: SURVIVAL. Dir. Peter Middleton. World Premiere. “The greatest and most iconic space rocket drama in history is told in a thrilling and human way through crisp, crunchy archive footage and unique audio clips from the shuttle, the control centre and the astronauts' families.”


ENO. Dir. Gary Hustwit. International Premiere. “Experience Brian Eno's creative process and foresight in a film that changes every time it is shown! Using new technology, director Gary Hustwit has created a phantom portrait of the musical genius that reassembles his life's work.”

GRAND THEFT HAMLET. Dir. Sam Crane, Pinny Grylls. European Premiere. “Two unemployed friends have a fresh idea: They want to stage Shakespeare's Hamlet in GRAND THEFT AUTO. But even in a virtual world, reality intrudes in a wild and trippy film shot entirely inside the ultra-violent video game.”

THE PERFECT MEAL – THE SECRETS OF THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET. Dir. Alexandros Merkouris. “A food-loving and scientific tribute to the Mediterranean diet and, not least, the liquid gold: olive oil.”



ANTARCTICA CALLING. Dir. Luc Jacquet. “The sequel to the international mega-hit THE MARCH OF THE PENGUINS returns to Antarctica on an epic adventure with director Luc Jacquet as a familiar guide in the alien landscapes.”

AS THE TIDE COMES IN. Dir. Juan Palacios, Sofie Husum Johannesen. “The 27 residents of the Danish Wadden Sea island of Mandø experience the forces of climate change in the form of severe weather and the risk of flooding. Still, they stubbornly cling to their identity as islanders, as they have done for generations.”

BOTTLEMEN. Dir. Nemanja Vojinovic. “7,000 years ago, the area was one of the largest civilisations in prehistoric Europe. Today, it is the largest landfill on the continent. An unexpected festival hit about the men who fight a daily battle against the fury of the elements.”

EVERY LITTLE THING. Dir. Sally Aitken. “Hummingbirds are the fairies of nature's grand fairy tale. But for a woman who has dedicated her life to saving them from her Los Angeles mansion, the magical creatures are more than just cute.”

Still from EVERY LITTLE THING. Courtesy of CPH: DOX.

IBELIN. Dir. Benjamin Ree. “A young Norwegian gamer with an unusual double life in World of Warcraft turns out to be a true online superhero, much to his family's surprise.”

MINTED. Dir. Nicholas Bruckman. International Premiere. “How can a digital artwork that anyone can download for free be sold for 69 million dollars? Get the answer - and lots of new questions to ponder - in a critical and entertaining film about culture and capital in the 21st century.”

THE CONTESTANT. Dir. Clair Titley. “A real-world THE TRUMAN SHOW in which a Japanese man became a national superstar without realizing it through a bizarre reality TV show. A story stranger than fiction, which gets a second chapter as he is looking back at it today.”


OUR BODY. Dir. Claire Simon. “Monumental and unfiltered story about women and their bodies, told empathetically and insightfully through the eyes of patients, doctors and nurses in a Parisian public hospital.”

YOU ARE CLOSER TO GOD WHEN YOU DO NOT INDULGE. Dir. Tore Hallas. World Premiere. “A visual art film based on facts that blends queer erotic imagery with scientific research into the economic consequences of fatness.”


HERE. Dir. Bas Devos. “A quiet romance between a Romanian construction worker and a Belgian-Chinese biologist unfolds on the enchanted outskirts of a European city in Bas Devos' breathtaking feature film, where nature and the environment play the third lead role.”

TRUE CHRONICLES OF THE BLIDA JOINVILLE PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL IN THE LAST CENTURY, WHEN DR FRANTZ FANON WAS HEAD OF THE FIFTH WARD BETWEEN 1953 AND 1956. Dir. Abdenour Zahzah. “Three years in the life of revolutionary post-colonial thinker Frantz Fanon. Based on extensive research and Fanon's own notes, and reconstructed as a cinematic docufiction from a psychiatric hospital in Algeria.”


FOOD INC. 2. Dir. Melissa Robledo, Robert Kenner. “Turbo chickens, plant-based steaks and a pandemic. A lot has happened since the first FOOD INC. film, and it's time for a fresh in-depth look at the food industry and at possible solutions.”


ARCHIVE OF THE FUTURE. Dir. Joerg Burger. “The Natural History Museum in Vienna is a vast, labyrinthine archive of meticulously archived records, rare animals and curious stories. A picturesque and wryly humorous film from a veritable Noah's Ark headed for an uncertain future.”

Still from ARCHIVE OF THE FUTURE. Courtesy of CPH: DOX.

DEEP SKY. Dir. Nathaniel Kahn. “Experience the furthest reaches of our galaxy in IMAX where the incredible images from the James Webb Telescope are framed in ideal conditions on the big screen.”

ETERNAL YOU. Dir. Hans Block, Moritz Riesewieck. “Can modern technology realize the dream of eternal life? Yes, say the sci-fi optimists in Silicon Valley, who are determined to make death obsolete through artificial intelligence in a film that soberly and thoughtfully raises the biggest questions - and provides possible answers.”

FUNGI: WEB OF LIFE. Dir. Joseph Nizeti, Gisela Kaufmann. “With Björk as narrator and in IMAX 3D, we are taken on a fascinating journey of discovery into the world of fungi, which may hold new solutions to our biggest problems.”

HUNT FOR THE OLDEST DNA. Dir. Niobe Thompson. World Premiere. “Led by star scientist Eske Willerslev, a team of researchers are sequencing DNA from before the Ice Age for the first time in history. A project that could revolutionize our understanding of the history of life itself.”

LOW-TECH. Dir. Adrien Bellay. “The solution to the climate crisis is already here if you ask the growing low-tech movement, who insist that with simple means and great ingenuity, it is possible to live a modern life without destroying the planet.”

MAGIC MUD. Dir. Jakob Gottschau. World Premiere. “Star geologist Minik Rosing loves mud. Especially Greenlandic mud, also known as glacial rock flour - but can he prove that this magical mud can really save both the climate and solve global inequality?”

NOCTURNES. Dir. Anupama Srinivasan, Anirban Dutta. “The night is buzzing with life in the dense jungles of the mountains on the border between India and Bhutan, where two local biologists study a microcosm of moths. A deep, atmospheric film sensation with an exceptional sound design.”

Still from NOCTURNES. Courtesy of CPH: DOX.

PALM OIL IN THE LAND OF ORANGUTANS. Dir. Dan Säll. World Premiere. "Copenhagen Zoo is partnering with a palm oil plantation in Borneo to shift production in a sustainable direction.”

THE BONES. Dir. Jeremy Xido. World Premiere. “Dinosaur fossils are worth their weight in gold in a market where serious scientists and fortune hunters vie to be first to the next big find. An eye-opening adventure documentary about bones, cash and big egos - and an absolute must for dinosaur fans.”

THE MUM IN ME. Dir. Hilde Merete Haug. “A sensitive and scientific analysis of infertility as a social phenomenon that will make you blush if you have ever asked your colleague when they are going to have children.”


THE NATURE OF GRIEF. Dir. Sami Saif. World Premiere. “A gentle, personal story about a filmmaker who has lost his older brother and decides to explore the culture of grief with a group of experts in psychology.”

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