The Strength of Documentary Lies in Its Cultural and Political Role in the 21st Century

The Apordoc Portuguese Documentary Association has become in the course of 16 years one of the leading platforms of documentary film development in Southern Europe. What programme does it offer? What audiences does it address? And why support documentary film at all?

Catarina Mourão, whose first online retrospective is hosted by the DAFilms.com portal from January 20 to February 2, 2014, ranks among successful South European documentary filmmakers as well as among the initiators of the Apordoc Portuguese Documentary Association. In the course of 16 years, Apordoc has become one of the leading platforms of documentary film development in Southern Europe. What programme does it offer and what audiences does it address?

Founded in 1998 as an independent organization, Apordoc aims to foster and promote documentary film. Why support documentary film at all? To the organization founders, this is a simple question, as they believe that “documentary gained an undisputed position - but there is more to be achieved. This will for expansion does not come from a blind ambition but from believing that the role of documentary in culture and society still falls short of its cultural, social and political role in the 21st century”. What are the results of this vision? There are definitely more than a few. Apordoc’s collection of more than 10 000 documentary films, including approximately 3 600 fully digitized ones, as well as its publishing, production and education activities leave nobody in the dark.

The key project developed by Apordoc in a long-term co-operation with Doclisboa festival (Doc Alliance member) is the Lisbon Docs platform. Supported by the European Documentary Network (EDN), the Lisbon-based festival organizes an annual meeting of distributors, producers and filmmakers who take steps together to establish new contacts and gain financial means for South European cinema. The discussion and education forum Doc’s Kingdom is also based on open discussion and collaboration. Through this forum, Apordoc organizes international seminars introducing the medium of documentary film to general audiences. The future documentary viewers are not forgotten either as they are targeted by the Docs 4 Kids education service.

The wide scale of Apordoc’s activities is wrapped up by its rich publishing activities. It was under Apordoc’s auspices that the only printed magazine focusing solely on texts dealing with Portuguese documentary was published. The bilingual magazine Docs.pt was published twice a year. Thanks to the association, several publications reflecting contemporary cinematic trends (Minimal Stories of Contemporary Japanese Documentaries) and summarizing the works by remarkable filmmakers (Ross McElwee, Tue Steen Müller) have seen the light of day. Apordoc also introduces the Portuguese documentary scene to the general cultural public by means of film poster exhibitions and offers a local video library including over 6 000 films to the interested public.

Portuguese documentary has already found its guardian in Apordoc. However, how are other European countries doing in this respect? Discuss it at our social networks and check out Apordoc’s website www.apordoc.org.

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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.