DOK Leipzig 2021 | Flee (director: Jonas Poher Rasmussen), ©FinalCutforReal

A total of 20 films from 21 countries have been entered in the Competition for the Audience Award Long Documentary and Animated Film and the Competition for the Audience Award Short Documentary and Animated Film. These include two world premieres and four international premieres. The feature-length films are competing for a Golden Dove, the short films for a Silver Dove.

Many of the films approach current political issues from various angles and in a range of aesthetic styles, such as in the look taken at the organisation “Breaking the Silence” in Israel and Palestine (The Good Soldier) and its polarising role in the Middle East conflict. The plight of refugees is explored from children’s perspectives in the animated film The Crossing and in the animated documentary Flee, the latter a story about a long journey, made in many stages, by one man from Afghanistan to Denmark. In Our Memory Belongs to Us, Syrian activists now in Paris use video clips to recapitulate their experiences fighting in the Syrian civil war. What Remains on the Way addresses a refugee experience outside of Europe in the challenging journey made by a mother of four from Central America towards the border between the United States and Mexico.

Various films focus on personal stories, such as 98 kg, which deals with domestic violence, and the moving animated film There Is Exactly Enough Time by Virgil Widrich, who completed the cinematic flipbook of his son Oskar Salomonowitz after the latter’s death. A family history is also revealed in Love, Dad, in which a young woman comes across a letter her father had written from prison 15 years prior and commits to answering it. In Dida, Nikola Ilić presents a sensitive portrait of his mother, a charming elderly lady from Serbia, co-directed with his wife Corina Schwingruber Ilić, whose All Inclusive was entered in the 2018 International Competition Short Film.

The Competitions for the Audience Award also bring together some films with light-hearted approaches and narrative styles, such as the true-crime story For a Fistful of Fries. In The Cars We Drove into Capitalism, Boris Missirkov and Georgi Bogdanov take a close look at a passion for cars that were manufactured under the socialist system. The two directors had a film at DOK Leipzig in 2018 with Palace for the People. The seemingly voyeuristic film The Balcony Movie by Paweł Łoziński, whose films have been screened at DOK Leipzig since 2009, inevitably produces moments of comedy. The filmmaker points his camera from a balcony on to the street and interacts with passers-by. Garages, Engines & Men by Claire Simon, who took part in the festival in 2016 with The Graduation, humorously tells of the day-to-day drama in a car-repair shop in rural France.

Fluid Life, a poetic portrait of a woman who converted a cargo ship into a houseboat on the Vltava, deals with life on and in the river. In Shallow Water also takes place on the water. The idyllic image of fishing in the winter landscape of eastern Slovakia is deceptive, as prison inmates eke out their living with it. The Gray Shrimp Report, for its part, finds traces of the Second World War on the seabed off the Belgian coast, where 35,000 tonnes of chemical munitions lie to this day and indirectly end up in delicacies.

A further cinematic exploration of the Earth’s ecosystem and the environment is 0.2 Milligrams of Gold. In the wake of a new gold rush in the forests of Brazil, filmmaker Diego Quinderé de Carvalho compares these forests to their smaller counterparts in Belgium. Based on the observation that animals live out their sexuality free of gender norms, the animated film In Nature looks at the many different types of relationships that develop among fauna.

To Pick a Flower uses photographs to engage with US-American colonial rule in the Philippines. The photographs of the island’s bountiful flora, taken from the perspective of those in power, are simultaneously inscribed with their classification and appropriation as a resource. Madrid, Bad Life looks at the marginalised and recalcitrant in the Spanish capital around 1900 and thus at the social structure encompassing all those who, despite being outsiders, were nevertheless a visible part of everyday life in the city.

This year’s audience jury, which will announce the winners at the award ceremony on 30 October, consists of Lara Hübelt, Pauline Reinhardt, Lisa Marie Rothe, Sarah Schreiner, Paula Schumann, Aviv Sheyn and Alfonso de Toro.

The Silver Dove Short Documentary and Animated Film is granted by the Leipziger Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Filmkunst e.V.

Please find the film selection here: Competitions for the Audience Award DOK Leipzig 2021