The Vibrant Landscape of Documentary Film

How many faces does documentary have? They’re countless. We have picked directors with an original way of expression and we invite you to explore the diverse ways in which they perceive the world, society, reality and time.

In Khavn de la Cruz’s film Squatterpunk, you will get a feel of the atmosphere of Filipino punk slums where you can’t simply call the police. Despite being set in a rather depressing place, the film radiates energy and humor.

Helena Třeštíková will take you on a touching journey in A Marriage Story revealing how the micro-world of one family evolved in the 35 years of living together. Many things happen in that period of time, ranging from absolute understanding to dramatic drops.

Peter Mettler’s three-hour trip Gambling, Gods and LSD explores the desire for the absolute across time and cultures. Different corners of the world share the smell of ecstasy, sex, money and eternally sought divinity. Mettler offers an ambitious associative space of the modern culture of ecstasy, its various forms and their roots.

The vanishing point of Harun Farocki's Images of the World and the Inscription of War is the conceptual image of the “blind spot” of the evaluators of aerial footage of the IG Farben industrial plant taken by the Americans in 1944. Commentaries and notes on the photographs show that it was only decades later that the CIA noticed what the Allies hadn’t wanted to see: that the Auschwitz concentration camp is depicted next to the industrial bombing target.

Salome Jashi's film The Dazzling Light of Sunset follows the story of a small local TV station in Georgia, using a rich film language to document the diverse events in the life of the local community: a wedding, a funeral, a beauty pageant and election debates. The film had its World Premiere at Visions du Réel and won the prize for the Best First Film.

According to critics, Hoolboom’s film straddles the daring poetics of Derek Jarman and the political courage of Pier Paolo Pasolini. His film essay Imitations of Life has one more basis: psychoanalysis. In his film, too, the director treats film history, a material not unbound from interpretation. The film cut-outs do not exist on their own but are layered with regard to their developmental context.

In The Swedish Theory of Love, Swedish director Erik Gandini focuses on the image of his homeland as the modern paradise on Earth. However, a surprising drama is taking place behind the scenes. After forty years of a social engineering experiment accentuating individuality and independence, Sweden is not a paradise but a land of severed family ties.

El Sicario is a specialist in abductions, torture and arranged murders. In the services of the Mexican drug mafia, he has killed hundreds of people in the past twenty years but was never caught. There is a reward of 250.000 dollars put on his head. Yet he decided to tell his story on camera to Italian documentarist Gianfranco Rosi whose documentary Fuocoammare / Fire at Sea won the Golden Bear at Berlinale and was nominated for the Academy Award.

The experimental documentary Illinois Parables by Deborah Stratman is comprised of regional vignettes about faith, force, technology and exodus. Eleven parables relay histories of settlement, removal, technological breakthrough, violence, messianism and resistance, all occurring somewhere in the state of Illinois.

Eric Baudelaire‘s conceptual documentary Also Known as Jihadi is inspired by Masao Adachi’s renowned film Ryakushô renzoku shasatsuma (A.K.A. Serial Killer, 1969) and is based on the landscape theory. Its representatives try to capture the forming influences of the environment on the personality and the impact of particular places on the life of man through art. The director analyzes the journey of a young Frenchman of Algerian origin from his homeland to Syria and back, from social security to radicalism and ruin.

War, hate, distrust, mutual armed attacks and hopelessness. The never-ending Palestinian-Israeli conflict is all that. Israeli director Avi Mograbi reflects on the Jewish identity in his maverick authorial style, making fun of himself without ceasing to take his subject matter seriously. Premiered at Berlinale in 2016, Between Fences presents African migrants in a refugee camp in Israel.

Selected films

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