DOK.fest München: MTR talks with the programmers at the DOK.fest München’s International Programme, Julia Teichmann and Monika Haas.

Steve Rickinson
Steve Rickinson
Published date: May 6, 2019

– Can you tell us what the overall theme of 2019’s DOK.fest München is?

– There is no overall theme. We show about 150 films and try to mirror the diversity of contemporary documentary cinema worldwide. But each year we set a focus on a special theme that is relevant to society – which is also showing in the number of submitted and scouted films dealing with this subject. This year’s focus section will be dealing with the relation of humankind and nature.

«This year’s focus section will be dealing with the relation of humankind and nature.»

–Is there any one particular criterion you look for when making your selections?

– Our selection process is driven by the passion for documentaries. We are looking for films that move us – in many different ways. Films are as well submitted to us as we scout films at festivals, film markets, pitching events – and we work with partners in crime.

– For our four competition sections we are looking for films celebrating at least their German premieres at DOK.fest München. Since 2018 we are also digging for ‘bigtime treasures’ for our new venue ‘Cinema at its best’ at Deutsches Theater, one of Germany’s biggest musical theatres.

– Do you have a documentary that was seminal to your interest with the genre?

Monika: – CAMERAPERSON by Kirsten Johnson (ARRI Amira Award winner 2017), a collection of documentary footage from Kirsten Johnson’s 25-year career as a camera operator, is showing in an impressive manner how images can influence the way we see the world. For my part, CAMERAPERSON is an awesome example for what a documentary can evoke.

Julia Teichmann

Julia: – In the last years for my part the films emerging from the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University like Leviathan, El Mar la Mar or Caniba were pushing the boundaries of – at least anthropological – documentary filmmaking, by finding unique, innovative formal ways to express sociologically disturbing or important political matters – and thus affecting the viewer/audience in a new and startling way.

«We are looking for films that move us.»

– Documentary as a genre has steadily been on the rise on popularity over the past two decades. What are your thoughts on why this is so?

– Documentaries have been always a genre highly relevant to society. In a very specific way documentaries are offering an affective access to themes, stories, protagonists, subjects. Talking about the rise of popularity, we think that documentaries fill people’s need for featured reality and that they can work as a kind of navigation and catalyst in modern society.

– What have you seen as being the most prominent change in the documentary industry over the past decade?

– Certainly the digitisation and the consequences resulting from this for financing, shooting circumstances and sales.

– Where do you see the documentary landscape progressing in the next decade?

– While the role of TV will become smaller and smaller, VOD etc. is on the rise. Festivals and Internet are going to be the hot spots for documentaries (as they already are). Cinemas are going to stay on the map – especially for cinema tours, films accompanied by discussions, small events around the movie being shown. Connected to digitisation it is to be seen that there is more courage for formal experiments or hybrid forms.

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