As the future fast approaches, Dimitra Kouzi raises questions about how evolving technologies are impacting the way we produce and present information.
In the past, my father would make up fairytales for me while driving, to pass the time on the endless journey full of turns and mountains, from Athens to Galaxidi (Delphi municipality). The fairytale was made for me only: I suggested the ingredients (a fox, a forest, night time, etc.); the budget was zero. It was a story in which he interweaved many elements from everyday life – all that he was concerned with, and all that he wanted to tell me.
Today, when I’m not making stories myself, I seek them out by reading or going to festivals and watching documentaries. I believe that the documentary is a new (or perhaps old) kind of independent journalism (in a very broad sense), and that festivals and their selections are a place for public debate, similar to the one created by news. Meanwhile, I’ve established a festival addressed to a very demanding audience – children and young people, to familiarise them with the creative documentary and to foster media literacy, highlighting issues and encouraging public debate with educational programmes and activities for an audience in the making.
«I imagine a festival as a spaceship, an ark full of images and stories from one planet – that of the filmmaker, landing on another – our own.»
In this context, I have attended many festivals over the last 11 years, and I always wonder: What more can a festival be? What other needs can it fulfil? Why do documentary festivals keep growing and expanding their audiences?
I regard a festival as a spaceship, an ark full of images and stories from one planet – that of the filmmaker, landing on another – our own. A place to communicate, to meet. And perhaps to change something. When I was six years old, my parents sent me to a summer school in Germany, where I spent a month interacting with children from all over the world, speaking German (though I picked up quite a bit of Italian along the way). I returned there for seven summers, up to age 13. The colourful world (the ‘industry’ people) gathering at documentary festivals felt intimately familiar to me; I knew the code – it was just like the world of my childhood.
Documentaries as complex newsroom