Doc Festivals All Over

Tomorrow I am going to Sibiu in Romania, to a workshop that takes place within the Astra Film Festival, that runs until the 21st, whereas DocLisboa with its new leadership started on the 18th and runs until the 28th, overlapping the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival October 23-28, with DokLeipzig starting the day after, the 29th of October running until November 4, where cph:dox in Copenhagen has been running for a couple of days with the end on November 11, 3 days before idfa opens in Amsterdam!

Bulimi? Because I am sure, I have missed some festivals that have chosen the same dates for their (as idfa beautifully puts it on its website) celebration of the creative documentary. Why so many in October? Some say because it makes the funding process easier/gives you more time if you are late in a calendar year, others say that the European rainy autumn is perfect for watching films in a cinema, other (festivals) say they want to be away from Berlinale in February… and the Sheffield DocFest has moved to June from October/November to avoid competition, also because many people complain that it is too much.

The too-much’ers are professionals connected to the so-called industry events. They are buyers, commissioning editors, producers who are to pitch their projects… and they are having a busy time going from one to the other. On the other hand, it is their job!

If you look at the festival selection processes, the many festivals at the same time definitely creates strong competitive elements as festivals want films to have European or World or National premiere to boost their programme. Should I go to DOKLeipzig or to idfa, many directors ask confused knowing that you can not be at both, at least not in the competition sections.

But does the hungry doc audience in Sibiu, Lisbon, Jihlava, Leipzig, Copenhagen or Amsterdam care about these internal exclusivity rules? Of course not, they want to watch the best of the best and they expect their festival programmers to take care of that.

One of the films that go to several of the festivals mentioned is by the master Peter Mettler, titled ”The End of Time”, photo.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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