In the framework of the festival a Congress was organised on the Saturday December 12 at the Galatasaray University that is situated wonderfully at the Bosporus. The Congress, organised for the 9th time (the festival for its 12th time), had the theme of ”Documentary. An art Form?” and included invited foreign guests to speak on the first day and Turkish academics on the second.
The Congress proved that filmmakers want to talk about their own work and experience, and are not able to theorize on an academic level – generally speaking, and that goes for a blogwriting documentary promoter as me as well. Nevertheless, let me just give you some notes from the day as it ran:
Dutch film journalist Pieter van Bueren wanted to change the conference focus by putting a more important question instead of the reflection on whether documentaries are art or not: What is a good documentary?, and he answered himself by advocating exclusively for cinematic qualities and not topical. Greek veteran Manthoulis, living in Paris, who showed the audience his fine film on the Greek civil war, said that if an artist is not completely free, he is not an artist, and confessed to have done self-censorship in order to reach the audience. He rejected the notion that documentaries are made without an audience in mind and used the image of a man standing on a mountain shouting to the woman on another mountain ”I love you”, as an illustration of the relationship between director and audience!
The only director who was able to speak theoretically about her work in a fascinating way was Portuguese Susana de Sousa Dias, a unique filmmaker (and an academic who is currently writing her phd on ”the image”) working on the image, the still photo and the archive material. She made the masterpiece ”Still Life. Faces of a Dictator” in 2005 and this year premiered ”48” (PHOTO). I will review that film later this month. I am not able to summarize her intervention at the conference, but hope that she will send her text to DOX Magazine and/or this site for publication.
Many others took the floor, among them: Daniela Broitman from Brazil, whose latest activist film I will review later this month, Rigoberto Lopez Pego from Cuba who advocated for the new travelling Caribbean documentary festival, Greek Gerasimos Rigas who revealed warmly how his film ”Parvas” had come to life, Belgian Jean-Noel Gobron who complained about all the systems that you have to face as a filmmaker to get funding.