The fictional character of documentary film

But a few days are left till the beginning of the 15th Jihlava Documentary Film Festival. Even a quick glance into the programme of the progressive festival will reveal that the genre scope of international film keeps extending and merging. The documentary film of today is more than cinema-verité, introducing other genres such as docu-soap, docu-drama, web documentary, mockumentary; in short, docu-fiction. To watch the genre blend on the backdrop of fiction and reality, go to the Doc Alliance Films from October 17 on.

In fact, both documentary and fiction film have the same means of expression at their disposal. In both cases, the aim is to capture and express part of the truth all of us carry in our lives. It depends on the filmmakers to choose the best means from the rich variety of film language. However, as viewers, we often have a tendency to follow the beaten path. Therefore it is only good to challenge this preconception by means of new surprising forms, and to get a hands-on experience of these before cataloguing them in the puzzle of our imagination. The new documentary-fiction film collection selected by Doc Alliance Films in cooperation with Jihlava IDFF represents a perfect opportunity for such an experience. The festival programme section Doc-fi deals with the no man’s land between the historically delimited borders between fiction and documentary film.
Therefore, the portal presents the film I Travel because I Have to, I Come Back because I Love You, a Brasilian road-movie screened at Jihlava IDFF 2010. The fictional film journal is set in the real setting of a poor Brasilian region, interconnecting the objective observation of the parched landscape with the subjective observation of the burnt-out soul of the narrator. Its essayistic style and emphasis on the partly ironical, partly pathetic commentary might recall the classic American documentary (!) film The Savage Eye by Joseph Strick and Sidney Mayers.
Defiant Brasilia, another Brazilian film, is set in the periphery of a city at the sea rather than in the parched inland. In the ruins of a former slum where a new elegant quarter is being constructed, several inhabitants of the original quarter are questioned by the film director Gabriel Mascaro, revealing their unspoken desires, wishes and notions of the sense of life.
As a certain counterpart, the student film Advent by Czech director Petr Hátle is set in the city periphery as well. However, the sunny scenes from Brazilian Recife are contrasted with darkness and frost. Lost human beings merge in with the bleak image of the repulsive environment they live in, with any flicker of hope being instantly smothered by the all-embracing sense of despair.
The film collection further presents the Mexican film All Things Were Now Overtaken by Silence and the Czech film Update. The former represents a peculiar variation on the “film on film” genre. While the film lamps flicker in the dark, the silence is disturbed by snatches of conversation between the cameraman and the director. Their endless waiting for the right scene creates a powerful aesthetic of silence and emptiness. The latter film was made by Slovak director Viera Čakányová who has been dealing with film on the border between fiction and documentary film on a long-term basis. At www.docalliancefilms.com, you can watch more of her awarded film (re)constructions 100 Days and Alda.

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Doc Alliance is a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.