The 24th edition of the International Film Festival-Marseille, commonly known as FID Marseille, begins this Tuesday, July 2 and runs through Monday, July 8. Historically, the event was an exclusively non-fiction festival, but that changed about five years ago when the organizers began to screen fiction work as well, part of a shift in philosophy that aims to break down the differences between the two, champion all film as cinema, and embrace the idea that both forms are equally constructed by filmmakers. This, combined with the festival’s often labyrinthine program notes, sometimes makes it hard to determine what is and is not what most would consider a traditional documentary – clearly part of the festival’s overall point. That said, the following spotlights the new non-fiction (and potentially a few hybrids) that sound most intriguing to me.
The International and French Competitions include several world premieres, including: Travis Wilkerson’s LOS ANGELES RED SQUAD: THE COMMUNIST SITUATION IN CALIFORNIA, an exploration of the LAPD’s hunt for communists in the early part of the 20th century; Dora Garcia’s THE JOYCEAN SOCIETY (pictured), about a group of James Joyce amateur scholars; José Luis Torres Leiva’s TO SEE AND TO HEAR, following blind and deaf people as they teach one another how to communicate; and Pierre Creton’s SUR LA VOIE, an observational road movie following two men on separate, but intersecting, paths. Among doc competition entries having their international premieres are Gerardo Naumann and Nele Wohlatz’s RICARDO BÄR, a portrait of an Argentinian village constructed as a film within a film; and João Vladimiro’s LACRAU, an experimental, observational movement away from the city.
Outside of its competitions, FID Marseille’s Parallel Screens offers five sections – this year very loosely inspired by Pasolini’s oeuvre, which is presented in a large retrospective here. Among the newer work are: Pilar Arcila’s COSTEL’S PENDULUM, a portrait of Europe through the experiences of a Romanian Roma and his family; Gereon Wetzel’s CASA PARA TODOS, a meditation on what’s been wrought from Spain’s disastrous real estate speculation; Graeme Thomson and Silvia Maglioni’s IN SEARCH OF UIQ (pictured), an essay on Félix Guattari’s unfilmed sci-fi project; and Salomé Lamas’ NO MAN’S LAND, a character study of a Portuguese mercenary.
The festival also holds a number of Special Screenings, including partnerships with various organizations and associations. Among these is a series of selections in collaboration with DocAlliance: André Gil Mata’s CAPTIVE, exploring the relationship between a woman and the home she occupied for all of her 91 years; Axel Salvatori-Sinz’s THE SHEBABS OF THE YARMOUK, about the close-knit friends who grew up in a Syrian Palestinian refugee camp; and Klára Tasovská and Lukás Kokes’ FORTRESS (pictured), on the unrecognized sovereign state of Transnistria.