DokLeipzig continues to develop its industry events, this year introducing a digital doc market. At the same time the festival also boasts a selection of high-class films.

October and November are probably the busiest months for documentary film festivals. Many major doc festivals are held at almost the same time: Doclisboa, Jihlava, Sheffield, Leipzig, cph:dox, and then IDFA. The competition for getting the best documentary films is tough-and since IDFA is the most prestigious of all and requires a world premiere to participate in its competition, the other festivals often have to wait till the last minute to know whether the film they want will be available.

However, when attending the 49th DokLeipzig festival, there is no sign of standing in IFDA’s shadow. Its industry events and Discovery Campus pitching forum have made DokLeipzig a major international documentary event. This year the organizers introduced a new digital market that puts the festival at the forefront of documentary film markets. DokLeipzig has invested in developing a system especially for film markets like this. All films for the market are digitised and placed on a central server from which each computer at the market can download the films. No more waiting for copies of DVDs or VHSs to be available- in principle every market attendee can watch the same film at the same time. Not only that, the organizers have also made a system that enables the user to write comments about the film, both to be sent to the filmmaker and to oneself, and to directly request a screener from the producer, etc. The system is user-friendly, easy to use and effective. Other festival directors enviously regarded the system, which will undoubtedly be standard in a few years.

As for the film selection, we seem to be lucky that there are many good films out there. At Leipzig the films were certainly not leftovers from the table of the established festivals, as the international competition programme was composed of many powerful films with significant authorship.

Exile Family Movie

Leipzig’s awards are golden and silver Doves, symbolizing peace, and in that sense it was in keeping with this tradition that one of the main awards went to “Exile Family Movie” by Arash (Austria). The film goes right to the heart of one of the most central conflicts of the times in which we live: the clashes between the Islamic and Western worlds. The film tackles the subject first of all from a completely human perspective that everybody on earth can relate to, an issue central to everyone: family ties. Everyone empathises with the difficulty of being unable to travel to one’s own native country to see one’s father one last time when he is dying or even participate in his funeral.

exile_family_movie“Exile Family Movie” is basically about the filmmaker’s own family. He came to Austria at the age of nine as a refugee from Iran, together with his father, mother, sister and brother. His father, who had served 5 years of a 15-year sentence for having read the wrong books, was forced to flee. The family have relatives in Sweden and the US, while the rest still live in Iran. The refugee families could not enter Iran, so they decided to set up a family reunion in Mecca, pretending they were on a pilgrimage. Arash films this trip, the reunion, and his family’s daily life in both Austria and the US.

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