The competition films for the 66th edition of DOK Leipzig have been finalised. The schedule of films is now complete. A total of 71 films, including 35 world premieres, are competing for the Golden and Silver Doves this year.
“Quite a few films made during the pandemic had a personal angle. This year, the films have gone back to looking at broader societal and political themes – partly in order to understand what’s going on at the moment and explore how we can work towards a different future,” festival director Christoph Terhechte observes.
The International Competition Documentary Film includes 10 feature-length films and 13 short films from such countries as Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Madagascar, the Philippines, Serbia, South Korea and Ukraine. The productions include debut films as well as works by established filmmakers. Peter Mettler reflects on life cycles and human existence in “While the Green Grass Grows”. Nikolaus Geyrhalter presents the world premiere of his latest film, “The Standstill”, which observed the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Vienna from March 2020 to December 2021. In “The Wages of John Pernia”, Ben Young explores a homosexual love story in the Wild West. “Beauty and the Lawyer” tells the story of a young Armenian family who attempt to assert a queer normality for themselves and others. In “Kumva – Which Comes from Silence”, survivors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda address their traumatic experiences. And “Where Zebus Speak French” visits a Malagasy village community that is resisting a construction project motivated by capitalist greed.
The International Competition Animated Film features 27 productions from Germany, Canada, Colombia, India, Spain, Taiwan and elsewhere. Five works are competing for the Golden Dove for a feature-length animated film. In the hybrid film “Johnny & Me”, a graphic artist immerses herself in the satirical work of the anti-fascist photomontage artist John Heartfield. “Knit’s Island” also straddles the line between documentary and animated film. In footage shot entirely within an online game, the filmmakers conduct interviews with the other players inside a virtual dystopia. “No Changes Have Taken in Our Life” tells the story of a sousaphone player’s difficulty in finding work in China after graduating from music school. Two different coming-of-age stories are told in “Tender Metalheads” and “When Adam Changes”. While the heavy-metal fans find friendship and refuge through their shared passion for their music, Adam notices how criticism of his appearance actually transforms his body. The feature-length animated film “Sultana’s Dream”, in which a young Spanish woman goes on a journey of discovery to the utopian land of women, will be screened out of competition.
The German Competition Documentary Film includes 8 short and 9 feature-length documentaries, many of which offer new perspectives on subjects that are often discussed in society. “Sick Girls” deals with ADHD in adulthood; its female perspective is quite intentional. Drawing upon her own heritage, Grit Lemke portrays the still vibrant culture of the Sorbs in the film “We Call Her Hanka”. “One Hundred Four” documents a rescue at sea in the Mediterranean in real time. “Home Sweet Home” uncovers a story of domestic violence that is invisible in the idyllic family life captured in old Super 8 footage. Also hidden for a long time are the cases of abuse in a Protestant children’s home, which “The Children of Korntal” recounts. Three films (“Make Up the World”, “Togoland Projections” and “Showhouse”) deal in different ways with Germany’s colonial past and its remnants in the present day.
Eight feature-length documentaries have been nominated for the Audience Competition. Some of these films have already made a name for themselves at major international film festivals; examples include “A Still Small Voice” (Sundance) and “Eat Bitter” (Hot Docs and others). In “Bye Bye Tiberias”, which was screened at the Venice Film Festival, actress Hiam Abbass (“Succession”, “Blade Runner 2049”) takes her daughter back to the Palestinian village she once called home. Other films in the competition tell true crime stories (“The Gullspång Miracle”), face repressed traumas (“The Mother of All Lies” and “My Father, Nour and I”), follow an 84-year-old female DJ (“Vika!”) and look behind the scenes of Italian beach holidays (“Vista Mare”).
The “Camera Lucida – Out of Competition” section groups together five films with strong signature styles that challenge the conventions of cinema. Jim Finn returns to the festival with “The Apocalyptic Is the Mother of All Christian Theology”, a humorous, psychedelic montage concerning the impact of the apostle Paul. In “Man in Black”, the composer Wang Xilin, who performs nude, confronts the cruelty of the communist regime in China. “The Tuba Thieves” explores the meaning of sound and hearing; “Feet in Water, Head on Fire” brings together the past and the present in its contemplation of Californian date palms; and in “Play Dead!” Matthew Lancit uses first-person body horror to confront his fear of the consequences of having diabetes.
The film selection can be found in the PDF file of the press release (see above)