Amnesty International Slovenija Award 

22nd Documentary Film Festival will take place between 9 and 16 June 2020

The jury (composed of Maryse Hendrix, Rok Biček and Tina Plahutnik) has made a unanimous decision to present the Amnesty International Slovenia Award to Collective by Alexander Nanau. More >>

Dear Sirs,

We are glad to inform you that the 22nd Documentary Film Festival – 22nd FDF, originally scheduled for March 2020, will take place between 9 and 16 June 2020. The programme has not been changed. Please see the schedule of screenings.

The 22nd Documentary Film Festival is being held in conformity with the Government of the Republic of Slovenia’s current measures introduced to limit the spread of the novel Coronavirus. In accordance with the Ordinance on the temporary restriction of the gathering of people at public places and areas in the Republic of Slovenia (Official Gazette RS, no. 69/20) events admitting up to 50 people have been allowed. If the restrictions are lifted by the beginning of the festival, some Cankarjev dom screenings will be relocated to a bigger venue, Linhart Hall.


Documentaries Are Back!

When it comes to box office revenue June cannot compete with March, but this sorry fact has not dampened our ethusiasm for finding an alternative date when the restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the novel Coronavirus were lifted. Documentaries will be the first to again light up the movie screens, perhaps this will be the first film festival in post-Covid times, that is, the period when life is returning back to normal. It will definitely be an event that places film back into its natural environment. The thirty-year-old slogan “one is never alone in a cinema” could in these times be transliterated into “one is never alone while watching a film”. We got used to seeing films on TV- or computer screens during quarantine, but I most sorely missed the collective vieweing experience, an experience manifested most aptly in movie theatres.

The June-held Documentary Film Festival will not be your regular film festival; but “a festival of distance”. There will be no socializing, professional meetings, post-screening exchanges of opinions. Nevertheless, we aim to preserve some of the regular features, e.g. the awards. In a virtual environment, the jury will announce the winner of the Best Human Rights Award. This will be a small, but important contribution to getting everyday life back to normal. We are fed up with extreme conditions, symbolically encampsulated by State Funeral and Jawline. The first deals with mass idolisation of a dead ruler and the second the self-sufficiency of the virtual world and communication through applications. To put it another way, this kind of state funeral would not have been viable in 2020 due to mandatory social distancing and impersonal online communication is something that we are exceedingly wearied of.

Simon Popek
Cankarjev dom Film Programme Director






Simon Popek

CD Film Programme Director

Work Ethic

Approximately ten years ago the Documentary Film Festival featured a theme section titled The Death of a Worker, which, needless to say, dealt with the difficult situation faced by the labour force. Today, in these precarious times, when people work under deplorable conditions and languish on the margins of society despite being permanently employed, this problematic topic remains a burning issue both locally and globally. Nevertheless, the topic of work is not necessarily pessimistic, for example, the common thread running through American literary genius Kurt Vonnegut’s short stories was “Work Ethic vs Fame and Fortune.”

Work ethic in extreme circumstances and commitment to one’s vocation regardless of financial compensation are some of the (conditionally optimistic) topics that emerge from this year’s DFF selection. They quietly made their way into our programme without anybody planning them; in view of the fact that they testify to an unobtrusive, nonpartisan programming (well, working) zeal, such coincidences are most welcome. Is there an ode to life and a profession more beautiful than a medical team working at a makeshift underground hospital during the unrelenting bombardment of Aleppo (For Sama)? Or Lea Tsemel, an Israeli human-rights lawyer who, contrary to all expectations, has indefatigably defended the disregarded and systematically stymied Palestinian political prisoners for over five decades (Advocate)? Or Filipino domestic workers getting ready to face the uncertainty, homesickness and possible abuses inherent in overseas work (Overseas)? Or the British journalist Robert Fisk who has devoted his entire career to war reporting (This Is Not a Movie)? Or another team of journalists relentlessly exposing the atrocious corruption and appalling state of the Romanian healthcare system (Collective)? Or a Macedonian apiarist who remains faithful to traditional methods and the golden rule of beekeeping in a secluded mountain village, and has inspired a documentary that was nominated for two Academy Awards and became a global sensation in less than a year (Honeyland)?

Indeed, the world is not just beautiful and optimistic, although some prefer to believe so, e.g. the modern-day teenage influencers (Jawline) whose potential meteoritic rise to stardom could turn them into assholes overnight, which is the subject examined by the humorous Canadian documentary Assholes: A Theory. Those who have crossed the line now contemplate crime and punishment, some in Lithuanian prisons (Exemplary Behaviour), others in Neapolitan suburbia after being released from prison (Daughter of Camorra). The cult of personality has earned communist tyrants posthumous fame (State Funeral), and enabled others to distance themselves from heated political controversies and let the public be the judge of their work (The Makavejev Case). As a rule, artists dislike talking about themselves and their work, but Andrey Tarkovsky discussed his art and life passionately and openly, even religiously (A Cinema Prayer). Cinema is not commonly a place where people come to pray, it’s more likely a place to indulge in yearning. The choice of stories is more than varied. You’re welcome to pick and choose.



Photo Katja Goljat

Nataša Posel

Director of Amnesty International Slovenia

People want their story to be heard 

We are looking forward to another collaboration between Amnesty International Slovenia and the Festival of Documentary Film, where the three members of our jury will pick the best human rights documentary for the 12th year in a row. The depiction of human rights in art is important for promoting their understanding and subsequent adoption, and documentaries are in a unique position to realistically and comprehensively hold up a mirror to reality. That is why we believe it is important to support such creativity through our competition and give it additional exposure.

The films competing this year are extremely diverse – they explore the issues of punishment and forgiveness for a crime (Exemplary Behaviour), a woman’s experience of war (For Sama), the story of an Israeli lawyer fighting for the rights of Palestinians (Advocate), the broken Romanian healthcare system (Collective) and modern-day slavery (Overseas). The documentaries are as diverse as the fates of people, with whom Amnesty International has been working to make the world a better place.

Our work centres on people, who bring human rights to life, but on the other hand also frequently violate them. While documentaries give a voice and visibility to their protagonists, providing a platform where they can share their stories with others, human rights organizations create a platform that brings the testimonies of these people to the political and/or social sphere.

When we talk to the survivors of human rights violations, they often want their story of suffering and trials to reach as many people as possible. This shows their touching hope that others will understand this was wrong, if only they learned about the injustice. When we went on a research mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018, the asylum seekers who were pushed back at the Slovenian border huddled around us to tell us why they were there and what happened to them. When a two-month Roma baby died in Ribnica, after spending his short life in a shack with no water or electricity, his grandmother and entire family were determined to get this horrifying tragedy to the media. That shows hope that putting their story in the spotlight would reveal that there are people living in such conditions amidst us, because the government does practically nothing to provide such essentials as water and electricity. Or that knowing will be the first step towards acting.

This is the same hope that fills Amnesty International – that exposing violations will mobilize people and force the governments to remedy the situation. It often works! The path to victory is never easy or short, but through years of working with people whose rights have been violated we have learned how extremely precious just knowing they are not alone is to them. Again and again, people with whom we work tell us about the strength they found in the letters of support from our members and supporters.

The latter write the letters after they hear about injustices from us. Passing on such information is one of the greatest powers of documentary films on human rights. Perhaps the events shown in them will challenge our worldview, frequently shaped from our place of comfort. This is an unpleasant experience, however, it is absolutely necessary in this connected world, where our lives depend on mutual solidarity. It is for these reasons that we are delighted that the films competing at FDF will once again bring us together. If the new awareness has inspired you to act, join us at