Yes, it is documentary festival time, indeed. In this and in the coming month. My mailbox is full of news from festivals that want to tell the film communities about the selection that has been done for competitions, for retrospectives, for focus on a country, for ”panoramas” + the new organisational steps that have been taken.

Yes, it is festival time among my FB friends as well, texts are posted that proudly state that ”my film was taken for xxx”. Good news for many, those whose films were rejected do not announce that on FB.

The documentary film festivals of today want to be open to the current discussions going on in the world (climate, environment, politics, refugees) and invite influential artists, commentators and activists to take part. We have already written about the CPH:DOX (November 5-15), that invites Naomi Klein and Olafur Eliasson as curators and that the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival (October 27 – November 1) will have visual and verbal contact with Julian Assange. The festival now also announces ”the participation of the former member of Pussy Riot, Masha (Maria Alyokhina),

who has a first-hand experience from Russian prison where she was incarcerated after her performance in Moscow’s most prominent orthodox cathedral. This experience further encouraged her to fight for human rights.”

The DocLisboa International de Cinema (October 22 – November 1) wants ”to question the present of film, bringing along its history and assuming cinema as a mode of freedom. By refusing the categorization of film practice, it searches for the new problematics that cinematic image implies, in its multiple ways of engagement with the contemporary. Doclisboa tries to be a place to imagine reality through new modes of perception, reflection, and possible new forms of action…” Not quite clear what is meant but from the programme I can see that fiction films are at the programme as are the so-called hybrid.

At DOKLeipzig (October 26 – November 1) there are many new things happening under the leadership of Leena Pasanen, whose first festival this is. There is a mix of documentary and animation in one of the competition programmes, there is an interactive tent set up on the market square called Neuland (photo) for the presentation of interactive documentaries. And juries are to include people from outside the film circles.

Read this clip from a newsletter: “An animator and director from the USA who gained fame through the animated cartoon series “The Simpsons”, David Silverman, is coming to DOK Leipzig as a member of the jury. He is one of 40 jurors on 12 panels who decide on the winners and awards given at this year’s festival. As of this year not only experts on film will be sitting on the juries: artists from other fields are taking part as well. Leena Pasanen, the new festival director, wants to open up the evaluation of the films to include other artistically creative influences. As a result, Christoph Ruckhäberle, a painter from Leipzig, and writer Ingo Schulze, a native of Dresden, shall be co-deciding on a number of award-winners. The jury for the Next Masters Competition is equally new and now made up of only one person. This year British video artist John Smith is going to decide on the ‘next master’ in Leipzig’s competition for up-and-coming film-makers. In light of the current debate regarding refugees, the new structure of the Ecumenical Jury is a noteworthy factor. For the first time it not only consists of representatives of Christian churches but has been expanded by adding one Muslim and one Jewish member to the jury.”

Filmkommentaren will report – and bring reviews – from DokLeipzig, CPH:DOX and IDFA. The latter after the end of the festivals in Leipzig and Copenhagen. IDFA takes place November 16-29.

And I am sure I have forgotten to mention other important festivals in this small line-up…







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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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