DOK Leipzig 2013 Overview

dok leipzigOne of the most senior doc events in the world, DOK Leipzig, founded in 1955 as East Germany’s first independent film festival, is set to kick off its 56th edition this coming Monday, October 28. Running through Sunday, November 3, the festival – which focuses on non-fiction and animation – will screen 187 documentaries, including over 100 new feature docs. With a reputation for German efficiency and a business-focused environment, the event draws a large national film and television industry to participate in its market and professional programs. Its expansive programming tends toward the more esoteric and rigorous, with far fewer films recognizable from elsewhere on the circuit than many other European doc fests. The following presents some of the more intriguing selections in the event’s various competitions and other sections:

opticalDOK Leipzig’s International Competition, twelve titles representing fourteen countries, making their world or international premieres here, includes: Bregtje van der Haak’s DNA DREAMS, about a Chinese biotech company exploring the potential for creating the perfect baby; Gang Zhao’s A FOLK TROUPE, following a touring Szechuan opera company into rural China; Piotr Stasik’s A DIARY OF A JOURNEY, in which an older photographer trains his young apprentice while traveling through Poland; Marina Razbezhkina’s OPTICAL AXIS (pictured), a reflection on modern day Russians through comparisons with their 100-year-old counterparts; and Virpi Suutari’s HILTON! – HERE FOR LIFE, a portrait of residents of a Helsinki slum.

majubNational cinema takes the spotlight in the German Competition, made up of fourteen films, including: Janina Jung’s WHERE THE COLD WIND BLOWS, revealing provincial Germany from the comfort of the kitchen table; Elke Margarete Lehrenkrauss’ CLINICAL ROMANCE, following the efforts of a decade-long estranged couple to once again live together; Yael Reuveny’s FAREWELL, HERR SCHWARZ, in which the director traces how her Holocaust survivor relative reconciled the past in order to live among his former jailers; Eva Knopf’s MAJUB’S JOURNEY (pictured); the tale of a black B-list actor in 1930s German cinema, the victim of the concentration camps; Robert Bohrer and Emma Simon’s LOST HORIZON, a look at the Bolivian navy in a country with no coastline; and Marco Wilms’ ART WAR, about the eruption of street art in post-Mubarak Egypt.

silence radioThe final feature doc competition is for Young Cinema, a grouping of eleven cutting-edge films, including: Daniela De Felice’s CASA, about memory as the director clears out her old family home; Valéry Rosier’s SILENCE RADIO (pictured), a profile of a senior-run community radio station and their listeners; Jan P Matuszyński’s DEEP LOVE, following the dangerous plan of a stroke victim to return to his passion of deepsea diving; and Juri Mazumdar’s KALYUG, in which an indigenous tribe in India faces an outbreak of HIV.

my stuffScreening out of competition in the fest’s International Programme are a large number of features, including world premiere titles like: Tina Bara’s BIANCA IS RUNNING…, a portrait of a painter and runner whose body is failing her; Kesang Tseten’s MEN AT WORK, a multi-character exploration of masculinity and work in Nepal; and Stephanie Weimar’s MY BROTHER’S VOWS, the filmmaker’s attempt to understand her brother’s decision to enter a monastery. Among the other films screening are: Nizam Najjar’s DIARY FROM THE REVOLUTION, following Libyan rebel fighters over a year; Petri Luukkainen’s MY STUFF (pictured), the affable filmmaker’s experiment to live as minimally as possible for a year; Luca Bellino and Silvia Luzi’s ON THE ART OF WAR, about the struggle of striking Italian workers to save their factory; Alejandro Solar Luna’s THE CONVICT PATIENT, the strange tale of the would-be assassin of Mexico’s president; and Caterina Monzani and Sergio Vega Borrego’s THE VALLEY OF THE JATO, a profile of an independent Italian journalist and his crusade against local corruption.

quelanNotable mid-lengths in the International Programme are: Yotam Feldman’s THE LAB, an exploration of Israel’s growing arms industry; Yehonatan Indursky’s PONEVEZH TIME, an inside look at an Israeli Talmudic yeshiva; Irit Gal’s FADING VALLEY, about the struggle over water in the occupied West Bank; Dominique de Rivaz’s ELEGY FOR A LIGHTHOUSE, a portrait of a dying remote Russian village; Myriam Bou-Saha and Ananda Henry-Biabaud’s DE QUE VUELAN, VUELAN (pictured), following two Venezuelan women turning to the occult to find answers to their problems; and Kim Brand’s AMONG WOMEN, an exploration of the preparation young Zambian women make before marriage.

my summerDOK Leipzig’s other nonfiction programming includes several retrospectives, a focus on Brazil, masterclasses, and selections from various partners, including sponsor broadcaster programming like Carsten Fiebeler and Daniel Remsperger’s MY SUMMER OF ’88 – WHEN THE STARS ROCKED THE GDR (pictured), a nostalgic look back at a historic series of top-name music concerts in East Berlin.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Overviews, Recommendations

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