By bringing together a spectrum that ranges from political thriller to social comedy, documentary cinema, animation and the best of entertainment, the International Programme at DOK Leipzig promises films with a wide appeal. As a special service for the Leipzig audience, for the first time the festival offers a German translation for a number of films outside the competitions. 24 of the films are world or international premieres.
Existential issues are the topic at hand: A number of works examine how the digital future influences our present, for instance Michael Palm’s opulent essay “Cinema Futures” about saying farewell to analogue cinema, or “Down the Deep, Dark Web” by Tzachi Schiff and Duki Dror, which investigates the dangers and potentials of the dark web. Equally reminiscent of a science-fiction-vision-come-true is “Future Baby”, in which Maria Arlamovsky pursues the possibilities of humans out of test tubes. On the other hand, how a real-life premature infant perceives a world full of medical devices and how the baby’s parents feel about what’s going on is explored in “Life to Come” by Claudio Capanna in conjunction with an interactive project to be seen at DOK Neuland.
The Graduation (2016); Director: Claire Simon
Modern working worlds are the theme of a whole series of films: “Mattress Men” by Colm Quinn is a social comedy filmed in the style of Ken Loach. In “The Graduation”, Claire Simon observes the entrance exams for admission to the very best of French film schools. “Working Life” by Martin Rit and Mariette Désert accompanies young Belgian men and women on their way to a craftsman’s trade, while Katja Duregger uses interviews with experts and animated scenes to give us a look into the world of managers and executives in “EGOnomics”. Two works employ lots of comic relief against a serious background to describe self-experimentation in the field of global business. In “The Chocolate Case”, Benthe Forrer portrays the attempt to produce chocolate without child labour, and Șerban Georgescu struggles with “Cabbage, Potatoes and Other Demons” for a year while farming in the Romanian agricultural sector.
German directors are providing the International Programme with strapping world premieres, too. Elí Roland Sachs displays a sensitive hand as he follows his brother’s path to Salafism: “Brother Jakob” (“Bruder Jakob”) is synonymously a spiritual quest for meaning. In “Fighter”, Susanne Binninger discovers surprising facets of mixed martial arts and the men who fight in cages. Irene Langemann paints a portrait of Pyotr Pavlensky, the contentious Russian performance artist who uses highly physical actions to provoke Putin-era Russia in “Pavlensky – Man and Might”. In contrast, Jo-Anne Velin from Canada sets off for Tröglitz in Saxony-Anhalt in “The Picture of the Day”, a German village where in 2015 an arson attack was committed on a refugee centre. She detects the repressed Foreign in the villagers’ day-to-day lives.
Pussy (2016); Director: Renata Gąsiorowska
Several animated films in the programme concern themselves with physicality and disconcerting conversations about it, for example, Alain Delannoy’s “The Talk. True Stories About the Birds & the Bees”. Anne-Sophie Raimond’s “Wind in Your Shoulders” presents us with the traditional Chinese view of the body, while Jeanne Paturle and Cécile Rousset ask: “How’s Your Prostate?” And it takes a number of difficulties before Renata Gąsiorowska’s protagonist can finally relax in “Pussy”.
The International Programme is politically up to date as well, as seen in “Oleg’s Choice” by Elena Volochine and James Keogh, who accompany a pro-Russian unit in Donbass first-hand during battlefront deployment and make the soldiers’ inner world a tangible experience. In a different vein, “Do Not Resist” by Craig Atkinson offers a shocking look into police militarisation in the USA and its economic backgrounds. “A Hole in the Head” by Robert Kirchhoff joins European Roma on a journey into their Holocaust past, revealing a shameful line of antiziganism right up to the present.
A Hole in the Head (2016); Director: Robert Kirchhoff
And yet, as always, the International Programme has the best of entertainment to offer, too. Take Finland’s worst team of cheerleaders in “Cheer Up” by Christy Garland as one example, a 25-year-long chain of ailing pets in Amy Nicholson’s “Pickle”, a founder of Brazilian Tropicalismo in “Rogério Duarte, the Tropikaoslist“ by José Walter Lima, a father and daughter’s strange trip to Kurdistan in “Paradise! Paradise!“ (“Paradies! Paradies!”) by Kurdwin Ayub, or the emotional coming-of-age story of Laura, who grows up with deaf parents in “Two Worlds” by Maciej Adamek.