Founded in 2008, Beldocs is based on the idea that the documentary form has a special power to inspire people to think, create, and believe in change. The main goals of the Belrade-basded festival are to develop, support, promote, network, and educate in the field of international documentary film.
With Beldocs scheduled to run from 10 to 17 May, we had the opportunity to speak with its Festival Curator, Igor Stanojević. In our conversation, we explore the role of the festival among the crowded continental documentary landscape and get some insights into what the 2023 edition has on offer, includiong its special focus on contemporary Greek documentary.
As the Festival Curator of Beldocs, how do you personally define your role and responsibilities?
As the head person in charge of festival programming, I am primarily responsible for the films in any given year’s selection. But we have a small core team where the roles aren’t so rigidly defined, so I often take on other responsibilities as well. Once, I organized an Abel Ferrara concert.
we have a small core team where the roles aren’t so rigidly defined
How would you describe the place of Beldocs in the broader continental film festival landscape?
Being less prestigious than, say, Cannes or IDFA also means that we get to dig deeper. Pick and choose what we like from big-name directors and titles without pressure to include any or all of it, while often unearthing gems from younger and more outre authors. Regionally speaking, Beldocs is one of the most significant meeting points for filmmakers and film professionals in this part of the world. We like to think that all goes towards new films being made in addition to screening the ones that already exist.
Among the festivals, the programme will focus on contemporary Greek documentaries. Why did you choose this as a focus, and how would you say the contemporary Greek documentary differs from the traditional? In other words, what are you looking for to fill a section like this?
Each year we host a Focus on a different country. In recent years, Greek documentaries have become more aesthetically diverse and intriguing, so we felt such a Focus would be apropos. The approach to the curation of this section varies from case to case. This time we chose to centre the program entirely around contemporary authors and films since it seemed to us that the Greek documentary present and future seems exceptionally bright.
What other aspects of the programme are of particular importance/impact for audiences?
Each audience member invests their money and time to attend a festival screening, and it is my primary goal to make sure that they don’t feel like it was time and money wasted. This by no means implies “safe” programming. Quite the contrary and a cursory glance at our selection will confirm that. Filmgoers have access to plenty of regular film screenings throughout the year, and Beldocs is a chance for them to see something different, perhaps something unlike anything they’ve ever seen. This is the goal, and this is the dream.
In recent years, Greek documentaries have become more aesthetically diverse and intriguing, so we felt such a Focus would be apropos.
What are some of the primary documentary films, filmmakers, or filmographies that give you interest in the genre?
Working at Beldocs has blessed me with the opportunity and the privilege of curating a Kazuo Hara retrospective, a master whose films have significantly influenced my approach to film, life and life in film. A bit closer to home, the recently departed Slovenian master Mako Sajko, another filmmaker slash troublemaker, was a beacon in his time and a great example of how powerful documentaries can ruffle feathers far beyond the cinemas. In recent years, I have been inspired and impressed by the works of Khalik Allah, Vincent Boy Kars, Aiste Zegulyte, The Ross Bros, Alina Gorlova and others too numerous to mention. But my main inspiration is the beautiful works of contemporary Serbian authors, my friends and colleagues, too numerous to mention, who make it worthwhile to work in the documentary field in Serbia.