The films in this year’s Special Programmes at DOK Leipzig have been chosen. The festival motto Disobedience weaves its way through a total of seven film series which, alongside the Official Selection, constitute the film programme for the festival. 125 films that originated between 1919 and 2016 are going to be screened as part of the Special Programmes. A large number of the filmmakers will be attending the festival which takes place from 31 October to 6 November.
The Country Focus on Turkey unites politically up-to-date and controversial documentary and animated films: independent filmmaking that challenges the official narratives told by the government. Among them is “Distant...”, a film shot in the Syrian city of Kobani by Kurdish filmmaker Leyla Toprak, who accompanies women resistance fighters in their struggle against the self-appointed ISIS. The film entitled “I Remember” is also part of the programme. Following a number of censorship measures, in April 2016 the film had to be withdrawn from the Ankara Film Festival. This work by Kurdish director Selim Yıldız is a personal recollection of the massacre in Roboski by Turkish armed forces in 2011. The issue of the Armenian genocide is made the subject of discussion in “Return” and “The Eagle’s Tree”. Many of the other films selected shift the focus onto the actors from protest movements that have originated in recent years. They include, for example, an activist who involves herself to support rights for LGBTIs during the protests in Gezi Park, along with neighbourhood residents in their struggle to preserve a historic cinema in Istanbul.
This year’s Retrospective pursues the topic of Polish documentary filmmaking, which courageously and radically transcends limits of genre due to its proximity to fiction film and an affirmation towards staging. Alongside classics by Kazimierz Karabasz, Krzysztof Kieślowski and Marcel Łoziński among others, DOK Leipzig is also showing barely known works, including “Waves” by Piotr Łazarkiewicz, which concerns itself with the punk rebellion in the late 1980s. Entitled Seven Sins and Other Confessions in Polish Documentary Film, the Retrospective casts a humorous and critical eye while addressing such themes as religion, censorship, the nation or generation conflicts, consequently shedding light on the historical and cultural backgrounds behind current political developments in Poland.
The Homage is dedicated to the influential Russian filmmaker Marina Razbezhkina, who accompanies people in post-Soviet Russia in her cinematic oeuvre. Besides well-known works such as “The Holidays” about the everyday life of a Siberian family, part of the programme is equally devoted to early footage by the filmmaker, films which have hardly run on an international scale until now and have been subtitled especially for DOK Leipzig. As the head of a school for documentary film in Moscow, together with co-founder Mikhail Ugarov she established a significant alternative to VGIK, the state university of cinematography, along with a trailblazing tradition of Direct Cinema for today’s Russian documentary genre. She will also be holding a Master Class at DOK Leipzig and awarding the prize in the Next Masters Competition.
Documentary film and animated film enter into a dialogue in the Disobedient Images series. Four programmes congregate analogue and digital, short and long films that allow the rebellious nature of the film frame to come to light. Among other aspects, in the programme segment Reworking the Image the series demonstrates how artists intervene into the analogue film stock itself and create a new work by scratching or etching, to name just two methods. In “Removed”, that’s how Naomi Uman used nail-polish remover to retouch womens’ bodies out of an analogue pornographic film, leaving men with nothing but thin air. Within the course of the series Bill Morrison’s film “Decasia” is also going to be screened. Comprised of found footage collages, the film makes the decomposition of vintage nitrate film stock visible. Bill Morrison will also be holding a Master Class during the festival week.
WE ARE HIP HOP, the programme for young audiences, delves into the different elements of hip hop culture, which encompasses street art alongside music and dance. In “This Is What It Is”, French filmmaker Léa Rinaldi accompanies a Cuban hip hop duo who come up against limits set against them in their struggle for freedom of speech and artistic autonomy. Tora Mkandawire Mårtens tells the story of two successful Swedish street-style dancers in “Martha & Niki”. The two women set off on a quest to seek their respective Ugandan and Ethiopian roots.
The Special Programme An Alternative Vision? Everyday Life in the GDR brings film footage from former East Germany to the screen, the greater part of which had been heretofore unknown. The first part of the programme spotlights amateur film. Held on the Sunday of the festival, the Leipzig Matinee focuses on amateur filmmaking in Leipzig and the surrounding area. The second part grants a look into works made under the auspices of Staatliche Filmdokumentation (SFD), which primarily produced films for archival purposes and was therefore able to address topics that had mostly been regarded as taboo: problems with the state-run housing policy, alternative ways of life or the deterioration of the basic structure of old buildings in Berlin were captured on film. The project came about in co-operation with the Hannah-Arendt-Institut für Totalitarismusforschung.
On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of DEFA, the state-owned film studio in the German Democratic Republic, DOK Leipzig commemorates Joris Ivens as one of the most significant directors of the 20th century and a key early supporter of the festival. “The Windrose”, an opulent cinematic work that alternates between feature film and documentary, is being shown within this framework. The film was made by DEFA in 1957 under the direction of Joris Ivens and featured a star-studded cast.
You can find detailed information about all Special Programmes on our website, including the lists of films, here.
If you need film stills for your reporting, please contact the press department.
You can find impressions of the festival here.
The Official Selection will be announced on 10 October.