23. FDF - this year online!

    23rd Documentary Film Festival Awards Ceremony


    The 23rd Documentary Film Festival – DFF – is concluding on Wednesday, 31 March. At the 23rd DFF’s virtual closing ceremony an international jury consisting of Nataša Bučar, Dragan Barbutovski and Nivyabandi Ketty will present the Amnesty International Slovenia Best Human Rights Film Award.

    The closing ceremony will stream on www.fdf.si, DFF’s Facebook page and Cankarjev dom’s YouTube Channel. 

    Winner of the Amnesty International Slovenia Award 
    The international jury consisting of Nataša Bučar, Dragan Barbutovski and Ketty Nivyabandi bestowed the Amnesty International Slovenia Award to Petite fille by Sébastien Lifshitz.

    Petite fille 
    By: Sébastien Lifshitz 
    France, Denmark, 2020

    Jury statement
    The documentary by Sébastien Lifshitz is a sensitive and in-depth study of the distress of a transgender person struggling with a sense of conflict between her biological sex and the gender she identifies with. The distress is all the more frightful because of the fact that the person in question is an eight-year-old child, a little girl dealing with violent social rejection in order for her otherness to be accepted. Fortunately, the girl has the support of her family, primarily her fighter mother – who overcomes her own doubts to put her daughter's happiness first. Featuring excellent photography, the film paints a very moving portrait of a little girl; fully utilizing the camera’s sensitivity to observe her playing children's games and in dance classes, while giving voice to her mother who slowly reveals the everyday realities associated with whether or not her child has the right to be happy.

    The film has deeply touched us, its strong message has pierced our hearts. It thus merits recognition as the winner of this year's Amnesty International Best Human Rights Film Award.

    Special Mention
    The Special Mention goes to The Case You by Alison Kuhn.

    The Case You
    By: Alison Kuhn 
    Germany, 2020

    Jury statement
    The film focuses on five actresses at the beginning of their careers sharing their experience of abuse and manipulation suffered during the auditions for the film. Young German director Alison Kuhn places them in the safe setting of a theatre stage where the telling of their personal stories and experiences mixes with anger and a determination to break through the toxic environment of film, theatre and television castings where many things are permitted under the guise of art. It is an important cinematic work that takes a behind-the-scenes look at filmmaking, a world that is often far from romantic and professional.

    The jury awards the Special Mention not only to the film, but also to all the Slovenian actresses who have recently bravely spoken about their experience of abuse in the vulnerable milieu of artistic creation. 

    Festival sections

    Human rights films addressing some of the most critical issues of our world, from the rights of underprivileged women, minorities, labour migrants or political asylum seekers, to environmental concerns and religious fundamentalism. The section also serves as an appeal to present-day mass media which tend to neglect numerous important and meaningful stories due to their ostensible lack of newsworthiness.
    The Best Human Rights Film Award is presented by Amnesty International Slovenia.

    Current, Socio-critical
    Documentaries in many ways relating to (and complementing) the competition section, but mostly – also because of their larger budget – bringing bigger stories that enjoy more media exposure.

    Myths, Icons, Media
    In featuring films about innovative individuals, social phenomena, media-covered issues and as yet unexplored stories the section brings to light some of today’s or recent history’s most prominent aspects.
    Intimate and Global Portraits
    As suggested by the title, these are small-scale, carefully woven stories concerning either an individual or a particular place and time.

    Tribute: Matjaž Ivanišin

    Simon Popek 
    Cankarjev dom Film Programme Director

    2021 Documentary Film Festival: Foreword 

    It was only when Dušan Moravec sent me his new documentary capturing the first impressions of the March 2020 pandemic that I fully realised that a whole year has passed since the collective retreat into intimacy, into an inner world that each of us experienced differently. While at the time I was still making facetious comments in my column that isolation was “just my cup of tea”, it has these days – after a little less than a year since the first lock-down – become palpably clear that the combination of various factors and prohibitions can start to get on one’s nerves, especially if one wants to release one’s ‘brainchild’ and show it to the city and the world.  

    Our children are the 23rd documentary festival’s films; rather than letting them lie idle we decided to go ahead and show them in whichever environment. Last year, we kept postponing the festival, rescheduling it, monitoring the epidemiological situation, and then holding the festival at the beginning of summer in a rough approximation of the normal conditions. Not this year, though. The documentary film festival is a March event, and in March it shall take place; in the glorious comfort of home cinema. One’s heart bleeds, also because many films – as the saying goes – were “born for the big screen”. However, as life is also a matter of principle, we will make a principled stand this time. 

    Twenty full-length documentaries and a handful of shorts all aim to put current national and global events into context. The first context is created by Matjaž Ivanišin, a Slovenian national treasure and this year’s Prešeren Prize laureate, whose films are small, sincere, timeless cinematic bravuras exploring social dynamics, interactions among people, within different folklores, cultures and customs. The second context is provided by the unyielding pandemic that will be examined from the Chinese angle; the third, the fourth and other contexts are established by the remaining films whose formats and themes range between philosophical reflections, playful and semi-staged docudramas, the never hotter #MeToo issue, the phenomenon of online misrepresentation and deceit, questions of gender identity, as well as the ineradicable political control and repression. 

    In the film about her life and work, and her return home, Marina Abramović reveals that she had three abortions in her youth for fear of experiencing a creative block; the children referred to in the movie’s title are her young like-minded adherents. Our festival child will see the light of day here and now. Perhaps the online format will render it slightly deformed, but we are going to love it anyway. Until the next edition: which we have every hope of holding in normal circumstances again.