A man sitting in the cinema audience is holding a microphone.
Susann Jehnichen

This year, DOK Leipzig will present a reduced selection of about 120 films. All of them are to be screened in selected Leipzig venues, in compliance with hygiene regulations. Most of the films will also be available online throughout Germany. Furthermore, audiences in Leipzig will be able to attend the DOK Neuland interactive exhibition. These and other decisions have been made by Festival Director Christoph Terhechte and his team in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects.

In view of the uncertain situation, the festival will not be inviting any guests this year. However, the audience will be able to participate in the established film talks, in cinemas as well as online from their own homes. A variety of new online formats will facilitate communication between filmmakers and the audience. The competitions announced for the festival will remain in place, with only the introduction of a competition for long animated films being postponed until 2021. Some special programmes will be held in Leipzig cinemas as well as on the Internet in 2020.

“Our aim is to present an artistically multifaceted hybrid festival that continues to thrive on audience participation, that is based on the idea of solidarity and that preserves the character of a film festival. We as a team have been giving a lot of thought to these aspects in recent weeks, and we will continue to do so,” Christoph Terhechte explains.

All of the films, whether in the cinemas or online, will celebrate their festival premiere at a set time and then be available on demand for a maximum of two weeks. “Retaining the character of a festival is important to us. We regard the streaming option as an extension of the cinema screenings. We wish to support filmmakers as effectively as possible,” the festival director says. Only in Germany will the films selected be accessible via the Internet, and there will be a limit on the number of tickets available per film. A charge will still be made for tickets offered online.

“The fact that filmmakers won’t be able to celebrate their premieres in person with audiences in Leipzig in 2020 is extremely painful,” Christoph Terhechte continues. “It’s all the more reason for us to establish a productive dialogue between filmmakers, the audience and our programme team.” Thus there will be a mixture of pre-recorded and live film talks. Additionally, there are plans to interlink online and offline offerings.

This year, the audience will also be asked to judge films. The prizes in the newly introduced Golden Section competition for long and short documentary and animated films will be awarded by a jury comprised of Leipzig audience members who will watch the films in a cinema on the big screen. The online audience will also be able to vote in all competition programmes. This year, however, the professional juries will judge the festival’s competitions from a distance.

Submissions are still being accepted for the 63rd edition of DOK Leipzig. Directors and artists may submit their films and interactive works to the festival by 7 July.

As previously announced, all of the industry offerings of DOK Industry 2020 will be held online. Documentary film projects may still be submitted for this year’s DOK Co-Pro Market by 1 August.