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NFB docs Assholes: A Theory by John Walker, What Is Democracy? by Astra Taylor and The Apollo of Gaza by Nicolas Wadimoff debut at Copenhagen’s CPH:DOX.


(Image provided by the NFB)

March 4, 2019 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada

Three timely and provocative National Film Board of Canada (NFB) feature documentaries are debuting at CPH:DOX (Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival, March 20–31).

CPH:DOX is presenting the world premiere of John Walker’s Assholes: A Theory, co-produced by John Walker Productions Ltd. and the NFB—which then has its North American premiere as a Special Presentation at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, April 25–May 5.

The Copenhagen doc festival will also play host to the Danish premieres of Astra Taylor’s NFB feature What Is Democracy? and Nicolas Wadimoff’s NFB/Akka Films/RTS co-production The Apollo of Gaza.

Assholes: A Theory

With venomous social media, resurgent authoritarianism and rampant narcissism threatening to trash civilization as we know it, the time has come for Assholes: A Theory—an entertaining and oh-so-timely feature doc.

Inspired by Aaron James’ New York Times bestseller of the same name, Assholes: A Theory investigates the breeding grounds of contemporary “asshole culture”—and locates signs of civility in an otherwise rude-’n-nasty universe.

Venturing into predominantly male domain, Walker moves from Ivy League frat clubs to the bratty princedoms of Silicon Valley and bear pits of international finance. Why do assholes thrive in certain environments? What explains their perverse appeal? And how do they keep getting elected!

Lively commentary is provided by the likes of actor John Cleese, former Canadian police officer Sherry Lee Benson-Podolchuk, Italian LGBTQ activist Vladimir Luxuria, who famously locked horns with Silvio Berlusconi, the prototype of the 21st-century demagogue; as well as former Economist editor-in-chief Bill Emmott.

Assholes: A Theory is produced by John Walker and Ann Bernier (John Walker Productions Ltd.) and Annette Clarke (NFB).

John Walker is one of Canada’s most prolific and respected documentary filmmakers. His films have been widely broadcast and have appeared at major international film festivals in Toronto, Vancouver, New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, London and Tokyo. He has received over 60 Canadian and international nominations and awards. In 2018, he was honoured with a Hot Docs Festival Retrospective.

What Is Democracy?

If we want to live in democracy, we must first ask what the word even means. What Is Democracy? is an idiosyncratic, philosophical journey spanning millennia and continents: from ancient Athens’ groundbreaking experiment in self-government to capitalism’s roots in medieval Italy; from modern-day Greece grappling with financial collapse and a mounting refugee crisis to the United States reckoning with its racist past and the growing gap between rich and poor.

Celebrated theorists Silvia Federici, Cornel West, Wendy Brown, and Angela Davis are joined by trauma surgeons, activists, factory workers, asylum seekers, former prime ministers and others, in a film that connects past and present, the emotional and the intellectual, the personal and the political, to provoke critical dialogue about our future.

What Is Democracy? is produced by Lea Marin and executive produced by Anita Lee for the NFB’s Ontario Studio in Toronto.

Taylor is a filmmaker, writer, and political organizer whose credits include the NFB documentary Examined Life (TIFF 2008) and Zizek! (TIFF 2005). She is also the author of a new book entitled Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone, published by Metropolitan Books.

The Apollo of Gaza

In 2013, an ancient statue of Apollo was found in the waters off Gaza—before disappearing under mysterious circumstances. Is it the work of forgers, or a gift from the gods to a Palestinian people desperately in need of hope? Soon the rumours start to swirl, while behind the scenes local and international players start jostling—some driven by historical preservation and others by purely commercial interests. Filmed in Gaza and Jerusalem, The Apollo of Gaza plays out like a mystery built around a national treasure that is the stuff of dreams.

The Apollo of Gaza is an engaging reflection on the passage of time and the fragility of civilizations, as well as a poetic and philosophical meditation that immerses us in the often-misunderstood realities of life in a place that continues to pay a heavy price for the seemingly endless Israeli-Palestinian conflict—a place where life doggedly carries on, resisting.

The Apollo of Gaza is produced by Colette Loumède (NFB), Philippe Coeytaux (Akka Films), and Irène Challand (RTS).

Swiss-born filmmaker Nicolas Wadimoff’s longstanding interest in Palestine can be seen in such early works as Les gants d’or d’Akka (1991) and Aisheen (Still Alive in Gaza), an award winner at Berlin in 2010, as well as in his collaborations with filmmakers in the region, working as an educator, director and producer.


Related Products

Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopsis: Assholes: A TheoryThe Apollo of Gaza | What Is Democracy?

Assholes: A Theory – trailer

Associated Links

John Walker Productions Ltd.
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival
Assholes: A Theory – website
Akka Films

Media Relations

  • About the NFB

    The NFB is Canada’s public producer and distributor of award-winning documentaries, auteur animation, interactive stories and participatory experiences, working with talented creators across the country. The NFB is taking action to combat systemic racism and become a more open and diverse organization, while working to strengthen Indigenous-led production and gender equity in film and digital media. NFB productions have won more than 7,000 awards, including 12 Oscars. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.