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Doctor Who Am I - Documentary Review (Melbourne Documentary Film Festival 2022)

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by Jennifer Muirhead (subscribe)
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~ Eartha Kitt
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When fans attack



Doctor Who Am I is the debut feature for director Vanessa Yuille. It's about her friend Matthew Jacobs, a fellow filmmaker and writer of the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie. The film was supposed to act as a pilot to introduce the show to American audiences but instead proved to be a disastrous flop. It was so hated by many fans of the original show that Jacobs was reluctant to attend Doctor Who conventions for fear of being tarred and feathered. Now, 25 years on, he finally returns to the fandom of a show he has loved since his own childhood and finds himself embraced by a community of like-minded weirdos.

As a Doctor Who fan myself I have met plenty of Aussie fans of the show, but I had no idea before watching this movie that it was popular enough in the US to have its own dedicated conventions there too. This film introduces cosplayers, including an adorable baby Dalek and a 'time fairy', the "keeper of the fourth Doctor's TARDIS console", and the owner of a TARDIS that can be flat packed to be driven across the country from convention to convention. Besides the fans, we meet Paul McGann, the eighth Doctor, who has aged suspiciously well, and Daphne Ashbrook, who played the Doctor's companion, Grace Holloway, and is an absolute hoot at conventions.

The title for the film comes from the pitch for the 1996 film, in which the newly regenerated doctor has lost his memory and must figure out that he is a Timelord. This ties in with Jacobs' touching personal story as he reinvents himself within the film industry and reluctantly talks about the connection between the show and his tragic childhood.

Doctor Who Am I is a lovely, feel-good film about dealing with dashed hopes and belonging to a community. If you are not a Doctor Who fan, or Whovian, this documentary will leave you wanting to know more about the show. If you are one, you will probably want to go and re-watch some of your favourite episodes. It is screening online as part of the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival from the first to the 31st of July 2022.


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