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- 28.10.2013 9:17 -

Animated Documentary as Strong Social Testimony


The German festival DOK Leipzig has been presenting the genre of animated documentary film to the audiences for 17 years. The international significance of the festival’s Animadoc section will be definitely confirmed by this year’s launch of the new unique Animadoc Dove award which will go to directors of films on the border between documentary and animated film for the first time in the festival’s history.

To many viewers, animated film is generally linked primarily to cartoon figures of spectacular fairy-tales and children’s stories by big American film studios. However, a closer look at the contemporary production of animated films will reveal that the genre does not represent a mere source of entertainment and education for the youngest audiences but can also mediate strong human stories and serious social themes to a wide range of audiences. It is in this respect that the borderline genre of animated documentary stands out. Employing traditional narrative methods of documentary film, it is able to present them in a captivating visual form. Animated documentary is definitely not afraid to experiment either, as proved by numerous films included in this year’s Animadoc festival section, which often near the status of an artwork. The effort to present animated documentary films primarily from this perspective is characteristic for the selection of 16 films that are available at DAFilms.com thanks to our collaboration with DOK Leipzig for free from October 28 to November 3.

“The films show people in critical moments of their lives,” Animadoc organizers explain. The presented films deal with the themes of mental illness, homosexuality, immigration and the functioning of a religious society. The latter is discussed in God Is Kidding by students of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design Dima Tretyakov and Boaz Balachsan. The filmmakers combine several film genres; the audio record is complemented by a visual component as the documentary elements are set in an animated film. The result is a visual rendering of the confessions of Israeli children on the themes of faith in God and life according to religious principles and traditions. The project has been inspired by the Irish project Give Up Yer Aul Sins from the 1960s in which children retell Bible stories. The creative process is captured at the filmmakers’ blog and in a short inteview with the one of the authors Boay Balachsan.

Why did you decided to work with a special crossgenre of the animated documentary films?

In the context of the subject discussed in the film and also concerning the socio-political viewpoint, we decided that documentary animation would be most suiting medium to work with, since it helps people take everything in a more "light" manner. We also very much wanted to deal with the imagination of the children and to work together with their points of view and our sense of design. And so, as animators we found it very natural that animation was there to give the visuals to the amazing recording sessions we've had together.

How do you see the future of this genre?

I see documentary animation as one of the main future form of documentary film. As the idea of documentary filmmaking is changing now constantly and more rapidly, (mostly changing his form from a very strict one into a more flexible term that allows a lot of room for play and experimentalism), it becomes slowly the golden age of documentary animation as the sub-genre finds its way into the hearts of the public. I believe that the more we talk in documentary about core-subjects in our culture, in our human experience, we more and more find a lack in documented materials, and more and more we find the need for animation to give demonstrate the subject and the emotional value of it.

How important is the foundation of a new prize Animadoc Dove for you and for you field of interest?

For me, the Animadoc dove is an exciting breakthrough in the achievement of that vision exactly! Its an important step-stone as the world of festivals takes the step and starts to accept the sub-genre as a legitimate and a stand-alone component of the world of cinema in the 21st century. I am very looking forwards for the contest and I can't wait to see all the films and meet all the filmmakers and animators.

Can you, please, describe the main story of your film God is kiding? What was the motivation to present the topic of religion and to use the children as the main characters of the film?

The film Illustrated a very old and important question (who is god?), but dealing with the imagination of Jerusalemite children concerning the subject. The question is actually a very important part of our identity (Dima is a messianic Jew from an atheist family and I'm a secular Jew but from a traditional family) and as we believe, in the identity of every person on this planet, so we decided that we want to address that specific issue, but from a back door. We both have a lot of experience in working with children and youth so we decided to go around and start asking. and that's how the original idea started to form its shape. and the rest? I don't know. watch the film and tell me what you think :)

Sharaf, produced by the Swedish documentary film studio Story, also represents an interesting probe into the problem of otherness, be it a religious or a cultural one. The short film introduces a seventeen-year-old boy, an immigrant who has survived a strenuous journey on a refugee boat headed for Europe. Many of his friends and acquaintances were not that lucky though. How does a young man feel in a new environment, isolated and desolated by the memories of those whom he has abandoned and lost? The film represents the third and final work in a series by Hanna Heilborn and David Aronowitsch focusing on the phenomenon of children and teenagers in difficult situations.

Explore other themes, directors‘ ideas and innovative visual approaches of the other 14 films of the Animadoc festival section for free from October 28 to November 3 and award your own first Animadoc Dove online!

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