Festival of Documentary Film has been prepared for the 7th consecutive time. Throughout all these years a momentous change in documentary production and selection has occurred. Documentary film production is increasing and more and more documentaries are selected by international festivals. If only a few years ago it was unimaginable that a documentary might be included in the competitive programme of the grand, aestheticizing-prone Cannes, then last year nobody believed that Palm d’Or would be given to Michael Moore’s political essay Fahrenheit 9/11. What’s more: the official programme also featured Mondovino, an extensive account on the gradual extinction of French winegrowing families struggling in the clutches of the global wine-trading industry.
Documentaries have always presented a good excuse for the selectors to establish a new festival, or a new section (what a revolution was the programme of the Forum at the Berlin film festival 20 years ago!). Since as a rule documentary film is less appealing to the buyers and thus less marketable, the producers are much less inclined to exhibit them at festivals. Even for smaller festivals, such as ours in Ljubljana, the film display authorisation were not hard to get by. Even the notorious festival copy rentals did not use to form a constitute part of the preparatory ritual. Well, even in this case there have been some changes. Films copies are much more in demand and the rental is no longer free.
The silver lining in the story is that the number of good quality documentaries exhibited at festivals is much higher, the subjects much more topical and documentary approach much less tedious and not so strictly didactic.
When seven years ago we established the Film Documents, as was the former name of the festival, our aim was to refrain from TV reportages and focus on the works of the authors such as Viktor Kossakovski. We wanted to assert direct documentary, film marked by the auctorial touch. We were disinclined to the 'voice over' productions. One of the Slovenian authors that we featured was Filip Robar Dorin, who ventured to inspire his documentary with a discernible mark (Opre roma, Ovni in mamuti).
The traditionalist criterion for first-rate documentaries – to create a convincing illusion of objectivity and factuality – has changed. Impersonal commentary has been replaced by a subjective author present at the scene of events, the text has become dialogues and statements of the persons involved. Ulrich Seidl (let us bring to mind his captivating film Tierische Liebe), Patricio Guzman (author of correct political declaration Caso Pinochet), Simone Bitton (author of poetic film Saltmen of Tibet, coming with another intimate account, this time of Sahara) and Hubert Sauper (in Darwin's Nightmare weaving a story through interviews) narrate stories, in which they are confessedly implicated. They are cognisant of the import of their view and their ideology and have replaced the cover of objectivity by auctorial signature. Naturally the amount of subjective involvement varies. Rachel Rusinek in Escape artists, for example, becomes so involved in the relationship between the two young spouses and touring performers, that it seems the protagonists have forgotten all about the camera, but an attentive spectator will grasp that it was the camera that had shaped the denouement as well as conveyed the most intimate sentiments of the concerned.
Special section of the festival is mountain and adventure films, for which the hackneyed phrase applies: because they would otherwise never have been screened in Slovenia. The festival features an overview of the most remarkable films of the last climbing season.
It gives me great joy to be able to announce a documentary film that will also enchant our youngest viewers: Story of the Weeping Camel that has captivated children and adults alike (adults daring to admit they still treasure a child inside them) with a simple and heart-stirring story, replete with lyricism so uncommon to European film. At times event the American Academy makes the right decision and pleasantly surprises us with its nominations...
Festival Selector and CD Film Programme Head
The Documentary Film Festival with three main sections will also feature a special screening of
a documentary film for children: