Annegret Richter

Host of the oldest regular program for animated documentaries since the mid-90s, DOK Leipzig celebrated the genre with a strong selection this year. The Animadocs program, a term coined by the Festival itself, strives to open up new discussions on all aspects of what animation can do for documentary storytelling.

Annegret Richter, the Head of the Animation Program, finds the ever-growing intersections between animation, fiction and documentary very exciting. “Filmmakers increasingly incorporate interdisciplinary elements of animation to make documentaries worthwhile,” she says. In the past couple of years, the use of animation has expanded from mere illustration to include more creative techniques like comics, drawings, puppet animation, photographs, graphic novels and paintings, indicating that there is a growing recognition of animation as an art form.

The increase in animated documentary submissions this year, around 150 applications, led DOK Leipzig to expand their Animadoc program to incorporate two curated programs: About Life and Destiny, featuring 19 films from 13 countries. Some of the countries represented were the UK, Canada and France, where the tradition of animated film is quite established, as well as Poland and the Czech Republic, which stand out with their innovative contributions to the genre.

Nurse Gretel #2 – Escape by Barbara Hlali

Personal stories, often told via interviews with friends and/or family members, lie at the heart of many of the animated documentaries that were a part of this year’s Animadoc program. In Nurse Gretel #2 – Escape by Barbara Hlali, for example, the titular protagonist, now an elderly woman, tells the story of her escape from Silesia to West Germany at the end of World War II. Herstory by Kim Jun-ki is another poignant memoir that revisits some of the darker pages of the World War II era. Chung Seo-woon, a victim of sex slavery, tells the traumatic story of her survival after she was captured and brought to the island of Java by the Japanese military to be used as a ‘comfort woman’. For this agonizing account, the director chose to use 3D, an unusual method for animated documentaries, yet one that greatly enhances the visual impact of reenactments depicting the fearful life comfort women had to endure.

In certain instances, the use of animation helps audiences maintain a certain distance to images and themes that would otherwise be too emotional, controversial or shocking to readily confront. Centrefold, by British director Ellie Land, for example, explores the reasons behind a woman’s choice to have labia surgery. Through brave black and white illustrations, Land presents the stories of three women who decide to undergo labiaplasty to make their genitals look better.
Centrefold by Ellie Land

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