From the 18th to the 24th of this month, DOK Leipzig will be presenting its 53rd edition. As one of the world's most established and important documentary and animation festivals and markets, this year they will present close to 350 films from 58 countries, 223 of them docs. The festival reports that it received about 2,800 submissions (!!!) from 97 different countries. The festival will kick off its amazing program with Patricio Guzmán's Nostalgia de la luz.
In addition to the international documentary and international animated film competitions, the German documentary competition and the International Young Talent Competition (aka, Generation DOK), for the first time there will be a competition for best short documentary film. Also new this year, an award presented by the Peaceful Revolution Foundation, which includes a cash prize of 5,000 euro, will go to the film that artistically demonstrates "a commitment to democracy and human rights in an exemplary manner, or that was created in the face of resistance and limitations to freedom of the press and opinion due to great personal dedication and courage on the part of the director." The award will be presented in a special ceremony at the Nikolai Church (pictured), the spot from which the Monday demonstrations were launched. RealScreen has a list of the nominated films for the prize here.
Special programs will include: a focus on the still roiling region of the Caucasus called "Caucasian Lessons," curated by Barbara Wurm. As part of this special strand, there will be an appearance by filmmaker, Andrei Nekrasov (Russian Lessons, 2010). Wurm states that Nekrasov "is not only one of the most controversial Russian documentary filmmakers, human rights activists and partisan denouncers, but also a man who will question the flippant associations of press and media images." (Pictured, still from The Last Tightrope Dancer in Armenia by Inna Sahakyan and Arman Yeritsyan)
"Money Matters" will consist of six programs featuring 23 short and feature-length nonfiction, animated and experimental films with money as their core subject. The section was curated by Luc-Carolin Ziemann, who states, "Hardly anyone out there understands what is now happening with money in the global network of stock exchanges and banks. The economy appears to have become a kind of natural phenomenon over which humans exercise no influence. Economic crises break like storms or floods over the world and tear our lives apart." (Pictured, still from The Anarchist Banker by Jan Peter Hammer)
There will also be a significant spotlight on the brilliant work of New York-based animator, Signe Baumane ("Love, Sex & Signe Baumane"). Baumane's work will be celebrated with a comprehensive retrospective. In her work, the artist focuses on alternative versions of conventional images of the female. Curator, Annegret Richter: "Signe Baumane's animations are definitely no child's play. Cheeky, fresh and always unconventional, the Latvian-born New Yorker focuses on the issue of sex in her cartoons. . . . They are provocatively erotic yet don't send the audience forth blushing, as the subtle satirical elements of the stories also provide much humor." Baumane moved to New York from Riga in 1995 where she met film director, Bill Plympton (who will be doing a masterclass at the fest), whom she worked for until 2002. Baumane will also be presenting "Signe's Favourites," a series of animated films that influenced her own work. As well, she and Plympton will also be re-presenting a program they did at the IFC Center in New York (read about it here) called Battle of the Sexes: Animated! As the New York audience had a chance to do, the audience in Leipzig will get to decide who makes animated films better--men or women.
The festival will also pay homage to 80-year-old documentary flmmaker, Klaus Wildenhahn (The Quiet Moment of Improvisation). Festival director, Claas Danielsen: "Wildenhahn's work is the polar opposite of Formalism, as it is the documentary content that seeks and defines the form. In the patient observation of the unspectacular and the gestures and details of everyday life, an instinctive search for peaceful moments emerges, in which humans find themselves in front of the camera. The 'moment of improvisation' in which the existence of a human unfolds and its inner magic becomes manifest, creates a feeling of joy--and this is the sensation that Wildenhahn's films leave behind." (Pictured, still from What Do Pina Bausch and Her Dancers Do in Wuppertal? / Was tun Pina Bausch und ihre Tänzer in Wuppertal? by Wildenhahn)
To see the full listings for the entire film program, master classes, talks, and other special events, visit DOK Leipzig's website here. As a budding animation curator, I will be focusing almost exclusively on the animation program since there is a wealth of riches here. But never fear, I will be doing the Sheffield, Copenhagen, Amsterdam trifecta next month, so will have plenty of new discoveries to write about. More from Leipzig soon.