«Mallorca is an island full of secrets»

MAJORDOCS / Ahead of its fourth edition, Modern Times Review speaks with the Mallorca-based «slow» film festival Artistic Director Miguel Eek, on this year's edition and the wonders of its host island.

With its most international edition to date, MajorDocs returns to Mallorca from 4 to 8 October 2022. With a focus on home cinema, the unique «slow» film festival experience offers screenings, professional activities, masterclasses, and talks on the creative processes of non-fiction. Screenings of the eight competition films are all accompanied by a discussion with those involved, putting the focus on the authors and bringing them closer to the public to create a shared experience around creation. In addition, its unique filmmaker-focused industry section, MajorDocs PRO, in the festival garden.

Ahead of this, the festival’s fourth edition, Modern Times Review spoke with its Artistic Director Miguel Eek on the wonders of Mallorca and the positioning of MajorDocs across the wider festival landscape.

Majordocs Mallorca 2022

In the past, we have discussed the topic of the «slow» festival. For this year, can you speak on how the eight selected films fit within this mission and ethos? Meaning, are there some criteria that make a specific film fit the MajorDocs mission? Or does the mission adapt to the film?

I understand slow as a way to move around a festival, to watch a film, internalise it, to comment on it, but also as a way of socialising among filmmakers. As for the programming, it is undoubtedly one of the most gratifying and, at the same time, complex moments of MajorDocs. Programming only eight feature films is a challenge full of sacrifices that the team, which is made up of Miquel Martí Freixas, María Campaña, Margot Mecca, Andrea Guzmán, Cíntia Gil and myself, has taken on. Despite the diversity of views, these three years together have led us to a natural consensus regarding identifying what a MajorDocs film is. Indeed, the manifesto we wrote four years ago is still valid, where the author’s gaze, artistic risk and diversity are fundamental. This year we have films that are radically different and at the same time joined by invisible threads where resisting, reclaiming memory, questioning the truth and observing our interiority beat strongly.

As Artistic Director of the festival, you hold a unique vision as to its presentation and evolution. How would you describe the role of the Artistic Director and its responsibilities?

Before being an artistic director, I am a filmmaker, and this reality marks many of my successes and mistakes at the head of the festival. However, the learning never stops, which is one reason why the project continues to stimulate me. In my work, programming is essential: in addition to directing the programming team, I devise the masterclasses, the presence of other disciplines such as music or philosophy in the programme, the themes of the Doc Sessions or the selection of the jury. On another level, I look for creative ways of experiencing film and bringing it to the public in the best possible conditions. Here, reflecting on the slow experience is fundamental. It’s about tiny and often invisible aspects, from the purely social aspects to the gardening, the making of the playlists that play before each film or the audiovisuals with which we explain the festival. All of this is joined by an enormously committed and dedicated team who work under a lot of pressure but also with a lot of enthusiasm. We are a small team where we all do everything.

Majordocs Mallorca 2022

Aside from the Artistic Director, you also actively work as a documentary filmmaker. How are you able to balance the two, as each does require an ongoing commitment?

You’ve touched on a sensitive subject (laughs). In my life, the roles of filmmaker, producer and artistic director come together, and at times the pressure is huge to attend to everything and maintain the quality that I expect from my work. I have to say that there is constant feedback between the roles I play, and that is a great incentive. As a filmmaker, I grow enormously as a film curator, fraternizing with filmmakers and with diverse ways of filmmaking. Conversely, my background as a filmmaker has been essential to design and directing a festival for filmmakers where we seek to provide answers to creative, existential or personal challenges for those of us who make this cinema. I am aware that I would live more comfortably if someone else directed MajorDocs. Still, until we consolidate the festival and that person arrives, I am incapable of giving up what I believe in.

Aside from the screenings, there is also a PRO aspect to MajorDocs. Can you speak on this year’s programme, and also how the Industry side of things fits within the «slow» festival ethos?

MajorDocs Pro is an unconventional industry space. Filmmakers prevail over producers. We are not talking about sales but about sharing the processes of scriptwriting, directing or editing. The space is a romantic garden of orange trees in the historic centre of Palma that invites us to get to know each other among creators in a safe space, far from noise, productivity and haste.

Majordocs Mallorca 2022

Since its beginnings, home cinema has occupied a privileged place in the MajorDocs programme. This year, we wanted to focus MajorDocs PRO on this particular cinema. We aim to explore from different perspectives and look at how these innocent films of our relatives or our own can become a material of memory that also fixes territories, people and moments in a powerful way.

Filmmakers such as Andrés Duque and Lynne Sachs will present ways of understanding cinema based on these materials. The archivists and curators Karianne Fiorini and Gianmarco Torri will discuss aesthetic and ethical issues when dealing with this type of material as a filmmaker. Pablo Gómez Sala and Clara Sánchez Dehesa will dedicate a session to practical and problematic issues of home cinema.

Since its beginnings, home cinema has occupied a privileged place in the MajorDocs programme.

For 2022, Modern Times Review will also be on site for MajorDocs. As this will be the first time for us on the island, what are some must-see/try/experience things to do? (aside from the festival offerings, of course!)

Mallorca is an island full of secrets. But, I won’t reveal them here (laughs). Instead, I recommend getting up early and taking a dip in the sea to start your working day with a clear mind. In addition, Mallorca has delicious local gastronomy, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend that you get lost walking around Palma at ungodly hours, visit its local markets and surprise yourself with it. During the festival, we will take you to discover Mallorca’s impressive cultural and natural heritage.

What are you personally looking forward to at MajorDocs 2022?

We are a young festival with a long way to go. I would like this year’s edition to bring back an audience that has not yet overcome the trauma of the pandemic. I would also like those who visit us to discover a Mallorca where creation, authors and slowness mark their experience on the island. I trust that the public will find their MajorDocs film and a lasting experience of the why and how of this cinema.

Steve Rickinson
Steve Rickinson
Steve lives in Bucharest, Romania. He writes for some platforms and does some other things as well.

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