DocsBarcelona: DocsBarcelona is growing. Festival director Joan Gonzàlez Herrero says that they also premiere a film in 90 venues every month.

Bianca-Olivia Nita
Bianca-Olivia Nita
Bianca is a freelance journalist and documentary critic. She is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: May 13, 2019

– What is the overall theme or focus of 2019’s edition of DocsBarcelona?

– DocsBarcelona is not centered on a theme, but we have a focus on Latin America in a section called «Latitude». We, therefore, had two editions of the festival in the past – one in Valparaíso (Chile) and one in Medellin (Colombia). Our mission is to help documentaries reach a wide audience in Spain – but also in Latin America which we historically have a strong connection with.

– Are there some particular criterion or aspect you look for in the selection process?

– We want to have films from different countries, but the main criteria are their cinematographic value. But also an audience appeal. We have films that are very cinematographic, but also films that perhaps are less so, but that touch on a subject we feel is very appealing for the audience.

– Do you have a documentary that was seminal to your interest with the genre?

– In the 70’s I watched a Spanish film called El Desencanto (1976, Jaime Chávarri). It is a portrait of a family and I think I watched it eight or nine times. I will always remember it because it made me realize that one film can portray not only its characters but also the soul of a family. This film was for me a turning point.

– Can you think of a film that had a political or social impact in recent years?

– I believe that most films help to change something for their audience. In the space between the beginning and the end of the film people change, they discover and learn something, and that can change their point of view on a subject.  But one concrete example that had a great impact is Give Up Tomorrow (2011, Michael Collins) – this film changed the death penalty in the Philippines.

– Where do you see the documentary landscape progressing in the next decade?

– The key point will be distribution. The viewer sees more and more films through individual channels, like digital platforms, paid TV and so on. And I think documentaries will occupy different spaces – for example to be used more in education.

– From our experience, access to docs through digital platforms has grown spectacularly and we expect it will grow more. Perhaps this will be the main way to discover films. The value of seeing films in a community will also grow. For the last 13 years DocsBarcelona has built a network – DocsBarcelona of the Month – and every month we premiere a film in 90 venues. In 2018, 130.000 people watched documentaries – that is including the online platform. And we stimulate the audience to not only watch but also to get involved in discussions, because they love to discuss – not to make a cinematic analysis but about the subject of the film.


Modern Times Review