Competition Programme - Documentaries 2011
23 Exciting Reasons to be With Us!
A creative documentary film requires the footprint of the filmmaker’s developed personality, because only its presence separates the work from commonplace actuality or mere photography. A good filmmaker stands in the middle of the matter, in the middle of reality and utilises his or her artistic eye to observe, process and contemplate on the world around. As a result of following this guideline, this years’ selection of the documentary competition consists of 23 remarkable films that have been chosen out of almost 150 submitted from the Region.
Many are made by very young, first time film makers and film students, who understood how important it is to tackle their subject, from an authentic cinematic angle, using not only narration but exploring multilayered, creative film language. It’s flattering to notice that so many film makers are aiming to have the world or international premiere at Sarajevo Film Festival. This year we have seven world premieres and six international ones.
As the world changes and immigrants are less welcomed and more considered a burden by a growing number of countries shifting to strict right wing policies, films in all Europe, and consequently in our region too, seem to focus more on stories about ‘the others’. Although the stories are local, they are at the same time very much universal, recognizable in every part of today's world, including our region that knows so many shapes of ‘others’. That’s why I have chosen to open our competition program with the intriguing Austrian film SCHWARTZKOPF, strong, well researched, having a great access to the characters.
It’s encouraging news that documentaries from the region are also making it big on the European films scene. Serbian films: RUN FOR LIFE and CINEMA KOMUNISTO had their world premieres at the biggest documentary film festival - IDFA in Amsterdam while Austrian OCCIDENT, one of the most sophisticated film essays ever, already won major prizes. These and few more films from our program got also theatrical release and for a documentary, that is an amazing achievement. As never before, this year we have several great dramas. Stories of common people, from the film maker’s local environment, are skilfully framed into universally appealing forms. Bulgarian MY MATE MANCHESTER UNITED focuses on a man who is an obsessive football fan but goes much further towards critique of a contemporary society. RULES OF SINGLE LIFE is a kind of “sex and the city” from a male point of view, unrevealing the lives of migrants from the South. All of them, as well as the intriguing drama from Hungary INVISIBLE STRINGS: THE TALENTED PUSKER SISTERS are results of a huge process; many years of researching and shooting, many months of editing and post production. It’s thrilling to see how all of these films managed to get on board several strong Western broadcasters as well as independent producers from different countries.
I am very glad that many film makers are going back to an almost forgotten form – short documentary. Bosnian ONE DAY ON THE DRINA RIVER and LOADED, doc from Monte Negro TRIALS, TRIBULATIONS AND SUSTAINABLE GROWTH OF A COCK, Turkish I'VE COME AND I'M GONE, Serbian diploma film OLD MOUNTAIN, or Croatian RAZORUBICENJE and ten minute THE WAY OUT are all short gems done either in the form of a cinematic miniature, small poetic essay or observational impression. In the tradition of old school documentaries, from Oscar winning Bert Haanstra to the famous Sarajevo school of documentary films, these new authors are also deeply involved and at the same time, calm and observational towards the subject, leaving room for the viewer to contemplate. The very powerful direct cinema doc MAGNET is also one of those films that observes but also interprets within creative editing and sound design process.
It seems that contemporary documentary film has a leading position in determining the cinematographic aesthetics and cinema tendencies, breaking stereotypes and establishing new, brave, different cinema. In documentaries, film makers can still be free, independent and ready to experiment. They can put together traditions of Dziga Vertov , Joris Ivens and Flaerthy. They can make an intimate diary film impregnated with strong war archive and events that we follow only on television. WAR REPORTER from Croatia or CINEMA KOMUNISTO from Serbia are great examples of films that lean on archive footage, structured in a thrilling, exciting manner. Archive images are also having a specific role in films that deal with contemporary society, such as BOSNIAN RHAPSODY… ON THE EDGE OF SCIENCE or in the confronting, very well made EKUMENOPOLIS, a Turkish long documentary that skilfully incorporates elements of animation.
There are several films that use a ‘talking heads’ approach, Slovenian WHERE HAS THE WORKING CLASS GONE? , Bosnian investigative journalistic documentary HERO OF OUR TIMES, Romanian MY VOTE, and Croatian LAND OF KNOWLEDGE that follows a huge student strike during a long dramatic process. However, most of them, don’t apply the traditional form of interviewing people, but rather an intriguing, open conversation between appearing characters in the film. There is one film that very inventively uses talking, it’s just finished Bosnian A CELL PHONE MOVIE that charmingly plays with the form of recorded conversations and mobile images.
Having great talents, fantastic and amazing stories, our Region could become one of the nests for great documentaries. So far, we lacked money, but also ‘know-how’, especially this precise ‘needle work’, elaborate perfections that would open doors at the Western broadcasters and world festivals. How to match these two? From this year on, we bring to the Sarajevo Festival 5 top documentary experts to have an intensive encounter with our great story tellers and give them guidance and concrete feedback. By showing rough cuts to European top professionals we provide sessions that will take their projects further. By showing rough cuts to European top professionals we provide sessions that will take their projects further. Rough Cut Boutique is done in collaboration with Balkan Documentary Centre from Sofia.
The best project from our Rough Cut Boutique will have an opportunity to be presented at the CineLink Work in Progress and have a chance to win The Work-in-Progress Post Republic Award (80.000 EUR) and The Work-in-Progress RestArt Award (20.000 EUR). One project that deals with human rights in the best way will also get € 1,500 from the FIFDH Geneva and will be promoted and screened at the same event.
Our Docu Corner hosts again Youth initiative for human rights. Forty five young people from the Region will be spending intensive festival days in Sarajevo watching the documentary competition program, interacting with directors and producers and debating publicly about their films.
Welcome to all of you!