Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Planete + Doc Film Festival opens this Friday, May 10 in Warsaw, expanding to Wroclaw on Sunday, May 12, and continuing in both cities through Sunday, May 19. One of Poland’s signature cinema events, the festival screens over 100 feature docs, in addition to shorts, panels, masterclasses, music events, and family programming. Ten competitions totaling over 20,000 Euros will be presented, along with awards with names like Chopin’s Nose (music docs), Green Cross (ecology docs), and Magic Hour (mid-lengths) in addition to audience awards and the like. Programming is organized around fifteen thematic sections, which include three retro series on the films of Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, Canada’s Peter Mettler, and Russia’s Sergei Loznitsa. Here are some of my picks of new or unfamiliar films from the remaining twelve sections:
In Political Sciences, the fest spotlights a broad range of global politics in over a dozen films, including: Igor Bezinovic’s THE BLOCKADE, a chronicle of the month-long student protests in Zagreb in 2009; Michal Dvorak’s CITIZEN K (pictured), examining the limits of state control in a group art project revolving around identity cards; and Tone Andersen’s WHEN THE BOYS RETURN, following a group of West Bank Palestinian youth upon their release from Israeli prison.
An unusual pairing, Fetish and Culture, is the theme for nineteen titles, including two films about African influences on other societies – Oliver Hardt’s THE UNITED STATES OF HOODOO, exploring American pop culture through the lens of race and religion; and Bartek Konopka and Piotr Rosolowski’s THE ART OF DISAPPEARING, the story of a Haitian voodoo priest’s visit to Poland in 1980; as well as Maciej J Drygas’ ABU HARAZ (pictured), about the impact of a dam on the future and traditions of a Sudanese village; and Alice Schmid’s THE CHILDREN FROM NAPF, following a year in the lives of fifty school children in the mountains of Switzerland.
Personal stories and character profiles figure in both Intimate Stories and Heroes Among Us, making up nearly thirty titles. The former section includes Mohamed El Aboudi’s DANCE OF OUTLAWS, a look at the second-class status given the victims of rape, daughters of sexworkers, and other forgotten women in Moroccan society; and Jaap van Hoewijk’s KILL YOUR DARLING, an investigation into the brutal 1990 murder of am American model in Rotterdam. Heroes, meanwhile, offers Olga Arlauskas and Nikita Tikhonov-Rau’s IN AUT, a portrait of a mute autistic girl; Dana Ranga’s I AM IN SPACE, an immersive experience of life on a space station based on a French astronauts private films; Francesco Cavaliere’s (R)ESISTENZA, a multi-character profile of an infamous Neapolitan district; and Paolo Barberi and Ricardo Russo’s THE WELL: WATER VOICES FROM ETHIOPIA (pictured), a look at way Ethiopian shepherds survive the dry season.
Sixteen titles are featured in LSD: Love, Sex & Dreams and Inspiration & Muse – Free Your Mind. LSD includes Patricia Correa and Valentina Mac-Pherson’s THE WOMEN AND THE PASSENGER, a look at Chilean cleaning women at a sex motel; and Bruno Hullin’s FEU (FIRE) 3D (pictured), documenting French shoe designer Christian Louboutin’s curation of the notorious Le Crazy Horse cabaret. Inspiration also explores creative outlets, such as Suzanne Raes’ THE SUCCESSOR OF KAKIEMON, about the latest in a long line of Japanese porcelain makers; and Martin Wilderberg’s EVERYONE IS OLDER THAN I AM, a documentary about the director’s father’s attempts to make a documentary about his own father.
The environment and our interrelationship with it are the focus of Climate for Change and the new section, Eat Locally, Think Globally. Amy Miller’s THE CARBON RUSH explores the pros and cons of the developing carbon offset industry, while Mats Bigert and Lars Bergström’s THE WEATHER WAR (pictured) investigates man’s efforts to control mother nature for good or ill. In the Eat section, Anneloek Sollart’s RAWER follows up on a previous film detailing mother Francis’ decision to raise her son Tom on a raw diet, and the trouble she runs into as a result.
Additional sections include Faces of Photography, a largely retro based Special section, a collaboration with Doc Alliance that includes Lukas Kokes and Klara Tasovska’s FORTRESS, about the contested would-be nation of the Pridniestrovian Moldovan Republic, and a new section, The City’s Ours, exploring urban spaces, such as the fest’s opening night film, TRAIN OF THOUGHTS, an essay film on city subway systems.