Germany’s longest-lived documentary festival, DOK Leipzig, celebrates its 57th year beginning today, Monday, October 27, and running through Sunday, November 2. Dedicated to both documentary and animation, the event traditionally champions a unique range of films, tending to more unusual and sometimes challenging fare. This year is no different, as the following nonfiction highlights reveal:
The festival’s signature competition singles out twelve films from twelve countries. Among these are the world premiere of Sophie Bruneau’s DEVIL’S ROPE (pictured), chronicling American Western expansionism through the history of barbed wire; the international bow of Claudine Bories and Patrice Chagnard’s RULES OF THE GAME, following three young adults as they rigorously train to find a job; and the German debuts of Ioanis Nuguet’s SPARTACUS & CASSANDRA, about two Roma children at a crossroads between family and future; Alexander Nanau’s TOTO AND HIS SISTERS, following Roma siblings contending with poverty and neglect; and Giovanni Donfrancesco’s THE STONE RIVER, a meditation on the lives of Italian stonecutters in 1930s Vermont.
Among the world premieres in the German Competition are: Gamma Bak and Steffen Reck’s personal essay on their forbidden love between the East and the West, ENGELBECKEN (picturd); Robin Humboldt and Laurentia Genske’s look at life on the fringe, AM KÖLNBERG; Andrei Schwartz’s chronicle of a ex-con’s attempt to reintegrate into a post-Communist Romania, OUTSIDE; and Gerd Kroske’s recounting of a political art project that led to brotherly betrayal, DRAWING A LINE.
Young Cinema, the event’s final nonfiction competition, spotlights unconventional new talents, such as: Kristof Bilsen’s ELEPHANT’S DREAM (pictured), an absurdist portrait of Kinshasa through its stagnated infrastructure; Oleksandr Techynskyi, Aleksey Solodunov, and Dmitry Stoykov’s ALL THINGS ABLAZE, a collective portrait of Maidan as a battlefield; Ella Raidel’s DOUBLE HAPPINESS, which follows the mayor of a German town to China to witness the carbon copy community constructed there; and Maximilian Haslberger’s hybrid THE HUMANITARIANS, profiling disabled men and their search for love and sexual gratification.
Beyond the competition categories, the festival presents a wide selection of international programming. Among the more intriguing titles are: Hauke Wendler and Carsten Rau’s look at the reactions of provincial communities to the presence of asylum seekers, A VERY GERMAN WELCOME; Uli Kick’s look at an anger management class, ANGRY YOUNG MEN; Michele Cirigliano’s portrait of a transformed Europe through the rituals of old men at a bar, MASTER AND VASSAL (pictured); Jakub Piatek’s study of a struggling actor, ONE MAN SHOW; Derreck Roemer and Neil Graham’s portrait of life along a forgotten roadway, THE LOST HIGHWAY; Paul Lacoste’s meditation on precarious work via grape picking, HARVEST; Christophe Leroy and Adrien Camus’ look at farmers vs warthogs and tourism in Senegal, JIKOO, A WISH; Edward Owles’ humorous look at brothers butting heads in business, THE AUCTION HOUSE: A TALE OF TWO BROTHERS; Daria Khlestkina’s exploration of a final order for a moribund Moscow luxury car factory, THE LAST LIMOUSINE.