58th International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film
Germany, October 26 - November 1 2015
Being amongst the oldest international events focusing on documentary filmmaking and still rapidly growing, the 58th DOK Leipzig presented a panorama of international works from October 26th to November 1st. By now the selection committee annually reviews around 3,000 entries and during the current edition invited a selection of over 300 films for its competitions and sidebars. DOK Leipzig offers the largest variation of awards amongst the German events, highlighting and supporting long and feature length filmmakers in 19 categories and through a total of 75,000 €. This years’ audience attendance reached 48,000. The fest was opened by Time Will Tell (Alles andere zeigt die Zeit) by German documentary veteran Andreas Voigt.
After ten years, the festivals’ former director Claas Danielsen retired and Leena Pasanen from Finland took over his position. Rooted in a television background she underlines in a recent interview that this field is hers no more, as she regards contemporary routines of audiences, exhibition and funding strategies as no longer linked to the necessity of cinema or television screens. A formal openness that she exemplified in the new interactive program section DOK Neuland, a series of exhibitions that invited visitors to use tablets, smartphones, virtual reality glasses or screens as windows to circulating pieces of documentary culture. While her opening speech was overshadowed by a massive local demonstration of the neo-rightwing movement LEGIDA, she explicitly linked the festival to her experience with recent Hungarian politics, raising questions of political responsibility and action. Pasanen defended documentary images as enlightening tools to learn about the world and understand its dynamics. Free tickets were offered to refugees located in the city, as well as to the people out on the street who opposed their presence.
For the first time, the program explicitly combined animation and documentary throughout the whole structure of all sections, questioning perspectives on authenticity, cinematic language and auteurism. The festivals’ former separation of the two forms was replaced by a consideration of length as the only structuring element to remain. The special programs of the event focused, amongst a considerable amount of other subjects, on recent perspectives in Europe (Moving Borders … Europe Since 1990), films from South Korea (Skywards), the work of filmmakers John Smith (Associations) and Witold Giersz (Galloping Colours), animation from the Hungarian underground (Collages from the Underground) as well as Africa (Animated Afrika. Sub-Saharan Animations).
The international competition juries were composed of Kim Min-chul (Korea), Ulla Simonen (Finland), Jasmila Žbanic (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Diána Groó (Hungary), Salomé Jashi, David Silverman (USA), John Smith (UK), Tony Donoghue (Ireland), Christoph Ruckhäberle (Germany) and Anna Wydra (Poland). As representatives of FIPRESCI three members of an international film critics jury focused on the festivals’ competition of twelve international feature length documentaries and animation works. The main awards of the festival, the Golden Dove in silver and gold for long and short forms as well as for one promising voice in filmmaking, were presented on October 31st, followed by screenings of the awarded films on the closing day of the event. (Dennis Vetter, edited by Steven Yates)
International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film: