2016… should I choose 20 or 16 as the Best Documentaries I have seen this year. I took 16. They appear in a random order. I have not put them in order of 1, 2, 3 etc. with 1 being the best. Should I be asked if any of the films stand out: Yes, Abbas Fahdel’s extraordinary 5 hour long ”Homeland, Iraq Year Zero”. I was lucky to be a jury member at the Dokufest in Prizren, where the film was shown. It was my first visit to the festival in Kosovo that has found its own fine way of treating the audience with documentaries of artistic quality.
Other three of the films on the list I enjoyed at the well programmed DOK Leipzig: Sergei Loznitsa’s ”Austerlitz”, Vitaly Mansky’s ”Close Relations” and Miroslav Janek’s ”Normal Autistic Film”, which of course also reveal my love to documentaries from the Eastern part of Europe. 2016 brought a new film by Lithuanian master Audrius Stonys as well as the chamberplay by Pawel Lozinski ”You have no Idea How Much I Love You” that had its premiere at the festival in Krakow that also premiered talented Piotr Stasik’s NY film ”21 x New York”. I have high expectations to his next film(s) as I have to Georgian Salomé Jashi, whose beautiful ”The Dazzling Light of Sunset” is on the list as is Serbian Ognjen Glavonic with his ”Depth Two”.
But it is not all Eastern docs, there are three American films on the list: Laura Israel’s film on ”Robert Frank, Don’t Blink”, Kirsten Johnson’s ”Cameraperson” and Raoul Peck’s ”I am not Your Negro”. The two last ones are on the way to be Oscar nominated, I cross my fingers.
From IDFA, Amsterdam I picked ”Machines” by Indian Rahul Jain, ”Mogadishu Soldier” by Torstein Grude and Niels Pagh Andersen and ”Liberation Day” by Ugis Olte and Morten Traavik. And from DocsBarcelona Argentinian Martin Solá’s ”Chechen Family”.
16 films that will stay in my mind. And 16 films we have written about in reviews or note-wise on this site. 2016, a good year for artistic documentaries.
The photo is from Dokufest, Prizren, Lumbhardi Cinema.