Vivos by Ai Weiwei
Thirteen works will compete for the DocsBarcelona Best Documentary Award in its Official Panorama Section. Titles include Vivos, by Chinese artist, activist, and dissident Ai Weiwei and Czech filmmaker Helena Třeštíková’s Forman vs. Forman, which she co-created with Jakub Hejna.
The selection also includes the first feature (and final testament) of the recently deceased producer Artemio Benki, Solo, which follows composer and pianist Martín Perino and the struggle between his own genius and the effects of mental illness.
Women in focus
With 55 percent of the program being by female directors, this year’s edition of DocsBarcelona is “especially sensitive with issues that put women in the foreground.”
The film That Which Does Not Kill, by Alex Poukine, is described as “one of the jewels in the What the Doc! section which opens a window to the most innovative and risky approach to documentary, dealing with the subject of rape from a perspective as original as it is rigorous, as subtle as it is devastating.”
Back to Panorama and the selection of Advocate by Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaïche, arriving with awards from festivals in Thessaloniki and Krakow. The film presents a portrait of Israeli Lea Tsemel, known as “the Devil’s Advocate,” for her risky defence of human rights and, more specifically, of Palestinian political prisoners accused of resisting the occupation of Israel.
In Latitud is Arid Zone, where the Brazilian director and visual artist Fernanda Pessoa comes to the fore to demystify the American lifestyle from her experience living for a few months in Mesa, considered the country’s most conservative city. Screened as part of What the Doc! is Salka by Xavi Herrero, who takes us to Mauritania to follow the 1,500 km journey through the Sahara undertaken by a girl disguised as a man looking for a better future.
DocsBarcelona states how it “will continue to play an important role in the development of new projects and the search for funding both for feature films and, for the first time, for documentary series.” Forty funders have so far confirmed from platforms and TV broadcasters such as Netflix, Disney, Al Jazeera, Arte, Movistar + and NHK in Japan.
In addition, the festival has organized a series of conferences and round tables aimed at professionals from around the world – but open to everyone.
A particular festival highlight is a conversation between Danish editor Niels Pagh Andersen, editor of feature films such as The Act of Killing, The Look of Silence and Human Flow, who has two films at the festival (Vivos and Songs of Repression) and the festival’s Head of Programming, Tue Steen Müller.
The festival will host two online conferences, one on the impact of Covid-19 on the doc industry, and another on how festivals are having to reconfigure now and in the future.
There will be a round table on unconscious prejudices in documentary creation (moderated by Míriam Porté, president of Dones Visuals), assessing who speaks, who explains and who looks. In documentary, the festival notes read, protagonists talk about reality and the viewer watches, but who explains this reality, and how?
During another round table entitled Beyond the Director’s Gaze, the essential work of significant others within the process of audiovisual creation will be highlighted, from music scoring to sound, photography and the post-production process. Speakers will be Bernat Aragonès (winner of a Gaudí Award for the editing of Incerta Glòria), the director of photography Núria Roldós, and Víctor Coronado (from Music Library).