The fourth edition of MajorDocs returned to its pre-pandemic presentation in 2022 with a five-day film festival focused on the slower side of documentary. Held in Palme de Mallorca, across the accessible dual venues of the homely Cinecuitat cinema and beautiful, flower-filled gardens of Sa Nostra Cultural Center, the eight presented films and a handful of industry events across a late-season Palma is genuinely a destination event of note.
Under the creative direction of filmmaker Miguel Eek, MajorDocs brands itself as the first «slow» film festival. Across its manifesto, a focus on relationship building, reflection, and intimate engagement with film and filmmaker highlight its steady daily pace. For 2022, this concept was split between the films and pro activities, with two screenings each evening and two industry events each morning. The films were then awarded by a jury consisting of filmmakers Lynne Sachs, Andrés Duque, and producer Ainhoa Andraka.
The jury awarded its top prize to Rafiki Fariala’s We, Students! A well-deserved accolade for a young Central African Republic filmmaker, We, Students! is a promising debut feature, a portrait of the present, and a challenge to the future. Next, the Audience Award was given to Anaïs Taracena’s whistleblower doc The Silence of the Mole, the fascinating story of Elías Barahona, who infiltrated the military government in Guatemala’s darkest days of civil war. Finally, two honourable mentions were presented. The first going to Ivan Mora Manzano’s Ecuadorian production The Beach of Enchaquirados and the second to Payal Kapadia’s internationally renowned A Night of Knowing Nothing (India). Further highlights of the MajorDocs film programme included Leandro Listorti’s exloration of archive and hebraium, Herbaria (Argentina, Germany), and Lluís Galter’s teenage summertime dream, Aftersun (Spain).
With most filmmakers in town, with one unfortunate exception being Rafiki Fariala, who could not travel due to the ongoing coup in Burkina Faso, where currently located, the MajorDocs industry-geared PRO events continued to allow space for immediate dialogue across all topics. Jury member Lynne Sachs opened things up with her masterclass investigating the connection between the body, the camera, and the materiality of film itself, while Andrés Duque explained the search for aesthetic freedom and personal writing in his memory trilogy; doing so through digitised images of his own video tapes. Both fit into the festival’s 2022 PRO focus on the home movie, with Karianne Fiorini and Gianmarco Torri also offering their expertise through a masterclass addressing the crucial ethical and aesthetic questions raised by the reuse of domestic films in new artistic works. The final masterclass came from the philospher Josep Maria Esquinol who reflected on the concept of poetics, not only linked to the arts but to everything that contributes to generating and creating justice, beauty and warmth.
MajorDocs PRO also featured a trio of panels, each taking the home movie theme in their own direction. Firstly, «Quest or Discovery: the Non-fiction Language» discussed how chaos provides light and how the filmmaker tames the material. Then, the importance of not escaping the pain of creation was covered in «The Wound of Creation» before Pablo Gómez Sala and Clara Sánchez-Dehesa asked what the role of film libraries and archives is and what are the opportunities for this cinema of memory? in «Domesticated Cinema».
But what justice would such a report be without offering particular praise to the host city, island, and country that was Palma de Mallorca. During my first time on the island, the festival’s slow concept also offered the perfect opportunity for stress-free exploration of the city’s historic centre, many restaurants (please try L’INFORMNAL TACOS for the taco enthusiast out there), historical spaces (the immense The Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma can’t be missed, but get there early), cultural institutions and natural beauty. In fact, it is a place where there is something for everyone despite limits in population and space. Overall, the MajorDocs experience is one of pleasantness and positivity. It is an intimate, relaxing event focused on the creative side of documentary, and held in one of the continent’s most photogenic locales. A treat all around.