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CPH:DOX - Highlights From The Sofa #2

Updated: Feb 15, 2021

by Alex Elder

"The current, and in many ways devastating, situation might lead to new ways of thinking, behaving, and caring for our world and each other.”
A still from the recently released documentary Robolove as shown at CPH:DOX
Still: I Walk On Water (dir. Khalik Allah 2020)

Last week, CPH:DOX wrapped up its 17th edition - the first to occur outside of cinemas and physical space.

It can’t have been easy to take 700+ planned physical screenings, talks & seminars and roll them out online, so our hats go off to the organisers for all the hard work that made this year’s festival a (virtual) reality.

As we said in the first part of our festival roundup, film fans should keep an eye out for these titles on the UK circuit but also on any online streaming services.

The Reason I Jump (2019) (dir. Jerry Rothwell)

Still: 'The Reason I Jump' (2019)

Book-to-film adaptations get a bad rep on the whole, but Jerry Rothwell’s cinematic version of ‘The Reason I Jump’ will certainly restore your faith in page-to-screen.

Based on the international bestseller of the same name where Naoki Higashida, then 13 years-old, answers 58 questions about autism, Rothwell forgoes the literal adaptation treatment for a much more nuanced ‘filmic supplement’ to Higashida’s incredible memoir. It was SO GOOD that the less we say about this groundbreaking film, the better. Met with the immediate challenge of Higashida’s decision not to feature the film, this obstacle actually makes for a structurally more creative patchwork of book extracts; interview clips with English translator and ‘Cloud Atlas’ author David Mitchell plus intimate footage of 5 young people with autism captured across 4 continents. The end result is a beautiful and sensitively crafted film that will change your understanding of the condition. This is not a film to miss when it comes to the UK later this year.


Related: Free online cinema for the clinically self-isolated


I Walk on Water (2020) (dir. Khalik Allah)

Street photographer Khalik Allah, the cinematographer and 2nd unit director for Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ film, continues his quest to document Harlem by picking up from where he left off in his 2015 film, ‘Field Niggas’.

Imbued with his unique and hallucinatory approach to filmmaking, ‘I Walk On Water’ is a 3+ hour masterclass in moving portraiture, edited together with a creative zeal.

With fully unsynchronized audio and video from the get-go, Khalik’s film turns into a blissful sensory overload that cinematically echoes his own experience as a daily consumer of magic mushrooms. The viewer is met with a countless snatches of conversation and a deluge of 8mm and 16mm film images depicting both Harlem’s streets but also serene shots of flowers, water with heavy use of lense flare.

As well as documenting the homeless of New York’s 125th St. and Lexington Ave. and focusing on one of Khalik’s muses, Frenchie, intimate moments of the filmmaker’s own life are spliced into the audio track. His friend warns him about including some of his photographic subjects who are prone to spice-induced aggression. We even hear his girlfriend and shooting-partner, tired of running around the streets at night filming, break up with him mid-movie.

You could see this as a window of opportunity for Khalik, especially as a staunch Five Percenter, to enlighten the ignorant masses but his decision not to explicitly teach lessons is appreciated. His gorgeous kaleidoscope of images is merely presented ready for the viewer to find meaning in the wonderful chaos.

We Hold the Line (2020) (dir. Marc Wiese)