If paraphrasing Tea Time, the marvellous Chilean documentary to be screened within the scope of the Intimate Portrayals section, this year’s Documentary Film Festival will be replete with compelling, decisive and urgent films, documentaries that count out time, docs that scream, “Look, we’re finally revealing the truth!” In skimming through the selection, one quickly realises that these documentaries are striving for solutions; they claim that it’s time for a dialogue to be established between fanatical Islamic traditionalists and seculars (a theme addressed by Iranian), time for peaceful co-existence between the Palestinians and the Israeli (The Green Prince), time for the West to admit having plundered the African continent for centuries and that colonialism has not been extinguished yet (Concerning Violence), time for The Hague court of justice (The Serbian Lawyer), time to denounce rapists and paedophiles (No Lullaby), time to give up sugar (Sugar Blues). And there will be time to dance: the celebrated Argentiniandancer and teacher Maria Fuchs, whose venerable age of ninety has not diminished her love of dance, stars in the Festival’s opening film, Dancing with Maria. There will also be time for love, better said, “there’s always time for love and sexuality”, a belief cherished by the elderly villagers of a Transylvanian village, protagonists of the Hungarian documentary Stream of Love,who refuse to abandon either their profession or pursuit of love.
Stream of Love, the Festival’s concluding film, takes us towards another life, a less stressful one, an existence marked by introspection and reflection. Examples of such contemplativeness are the museum premises, tackled in National Gallery by Frederick Wiseman, one of the Festival’s most regular guests, a director capable of creating an incredibly lively cinematic texture out of a portrait of an institution, and the afternoon tea taken by octogenarian (though indestructible) Chilean ladies, who have been meeting on a monthly basis, for tea and biscuits, ever since high school.
The Festival’s most urgent film is undoubtedly Citizenfour by Laura Poitras, a political thriller reviewing Edward Snowden’s decision to leak NSA’s classified documents. The documents leaked by the whistleblower revealed numerous global surveillance programs run by American intelligence services. That today old sins are being committed all over again (by no means farcically) shows 1971, a film testifying to the fact that wiretapping and general surveillance from the 1940s have far from died out, on the contrary, the methods have only been improved. Both of these films herald this year’s theme retrospective that celebrates the history of political documentaries from the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the recent study carried out by Andrej Šprah, who has for the past fifteen years been pursuing a systematic and in-depth research of politically-engaged documentaries.
CD Film Programme Director
Dear film lovers
It might be true what the Syrian rebel Abdul Basset Saroot said in last year's winning film Return to Homs - that God's greatest gift to humans is Oblivion. Documentary films, like life itself, do not spare us from striking personal stories and realities. Subconsciously we know that the protagonists of these stories and life itself can only bear it because of oblivion. It is often about violence in many different forms: physical violence, psychological abuse, abuses of freedom and free thinking, abuses of human dignity.
But still we all appreciate the value of memory, evoked by stories and documentaries. A documentary film is so straightforward and credible and can put a human face on everything we otherwise only know as political, economic, sociological, statistical, anthropological...
Amnesty International’s mission is to present human rights in such a way that people might perceive them personally. We know that a documentary film can do it better than researches, reports, and written accounts. Therefore we pay tribute to it, join it and again award it. This year as well, we have invited young people to make their own documentaries; the second competition for the best short documentary film focuses on migrants. We know that they will not only create and record memories. Like the rest of the audiences at the festival, they will also open their minds to the new and the unknown; it will be a process of learning and of learning to respect. We hope it will also encourage them to step forward for a better world.
Director of Amnesty International Slovenia