Through the Revision section of this year’s edition of Dok Leipzig, the festival takes a retrospective glance at past documentaries that are still potent today.
- What is the focus of this year’s edition?
«From a regional point of view, we are focusing on films coming from the former Eastern European block, and actually this has been our focus for a long time. We have quite a lot of interesting films this year, with new cinematographic languages; films coming from Poland and the Balkans. Apart from this, we have many films looking at young people’s minds in the current political and cultural situations, films dealing with the new right wing politics in Europe and beyond.»
«What is really important to me is not the topic a film deals with, but how it deals with it.»
«When we put the program together our intention was not for it to be mono-semantic, but to explore how the state of mind and the feeling of being in this world right now find a cinematographic expression. We will open the festival with Werner Hertzog’s Meeting Gorbachev, and we will screen films such as Vitaly Manski’s Putin’s Witness and Victor Kossakovsky’s Aquarella, which has been shown in Venice this year.»
2. What else is new this year?
«This year we have a section through which we look back at the festival’s history. We call it ‘Revisions’, and through it we try to look with new eyes at films that have been important for the history of the festival. For example, we will screen Ordinary Fascism by Mikhail Romm, and we added to all sections something historical that has a connection to discussions taking place today.»
- What does the term «movies that matter» mean to you?
«A movie can matter due to its topic, but what is really important to me is not the topic a film deals with, but how it deals with it, and how a filmmaker finds his own voice and expression. That expression communicates a way of being in this world.»
- How did the documentary landscape change in the last decade?
«The question seems to aim at a better/worse diagnosis. I would rather understand the documentary landscape as a field in permanent change, and a snapshot from ten years ago compared to a snapshot from 2018 would not really help to see things clearer. Instead, I would point out four symptoms that automatically give some perspective. First, the energy of testing the borders of what documentaries are, or what they should be, is constantly increasing, as well as the variety of documentarian idioms.
For example in this year’s competitions we have two films that come across as ‘symphonies’, which is in both cases not just a pompous label, but a clear cinematographic-musical vision of how this work should be perceived. Second, the borders between documentary and animation are continuing to crumble. For filmmakers in both fields it has become quite normal to smuggle things in from across the border. Third, decisions regarding the commitment of a festival towards filmmakers have to be made faster and earlier and more compulsory – for both sides. And last, we think that the ideology of ‘World Premiers’ will be reconsidered nolens volens during the years to come – only due to the fact that new players (Netflix, Amazon Prime etc.) are entering the game.
Ralph Eue is the head of the selection committee and festival program at DOK Leipzig.