For all the alternative ways to see your movie (DVD, that newfangled Internet), any filmmaker worth his or her light meter wants the finished product to be seen on the big screen by a paying audience, with overpriced concessions and everything.

It’s hard enough to get your movie into a theater if it’s in a popular fiction genre — for example, I hear wan, pasty vampires are pretty hot right now. But what if your m?er is something less obviously commercial, like documentaries?

Or short documentaries?

The best a director of a sub-one-hour documentary can usually hope for are festivals dedicated to the genre before the busy oblivion of YouTube. Unless they’re good enough for the Doxita Festival, that is.

Season four of this respected short documentary festival is headed to Portland’s Space Gallery ( at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday as part its national tour. I spoke with Doxita founder and curator Karen Cirillo from her office in New York City (where she works for UNICEF’s children’s broadcasting initiative) about what we can expect.

“The theme for this year is ‘Inside/Outside’ — the films are all, in their own way, about being on the edge or the border,” Cirillo said.

This year’s films — all less than 40 minutes long — are “Ganape Sur,” about Peruvian guano harvesters; “Wagah,” about thousands of spectators going to a daily flag ceremony on the embattled border of India and Pakistan; “My Name Is Sydney,” about the travails of a strikingly artistic and profoundly autistic young woman; and “Arsy Versy,” about a Slovakian bat enthusiast. While clearly different in content and style, all share a commonality, according to Cirillo, “of being a part of something or not being a part; of doing something other people don’t do.”

Cirillo, formerly the coordinator of the prestigious Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, saw hundreds of fascinating short documentaries over the years, but laments, “They had no life after the festivals. I wanted people to see them on the big screen, and not just on their computer.”

To that end, she created Doxita, culling the best of the short docs she sees each year and bringing them to venues around the country. This is Space’s third year hosting Doxita, and Cirillo will be on hand to present the films and answer questions.

“This is one of the only places people are going to be able to see films like these,” Cirillo said, adding with a laugh, “and while I think they’re all excellent, the beauty of a short film festival is that, if you don’t like one, another one is coming right up.”


Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.


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