The documentary feature film traditionally constitutes the center piece of the Kassel Dokfest. 55 films were presented during last year's festival (2015) in the cinemas “Gloria” and “Filmladen”. This section shows documentary films with a total running time of more than 65 minutes; one focus lies on film productions from German-speaking regions.
The final program in 2015 has been selected from more than 552 feature film submissions. The criteria, which influence the selection, are the political, social and cultural relevance of the topics as well as the artistic handling of this topic in the submitted work. Next to more classical forms of presentation, the Dokfest is open for the introduction of innovative formats, which show alleged boundaries of the genre, the might and the power of manipulation of images. Furthermore low or no budget productions, works by up-and-coming artists as well as new projects of well-known filmmakers at the Kassel Dokfest receive special attention during the selection process:because accompanying documentary works-in-progress continually is as important to us as offering a platform for the perspectives of bold and extraordinary projects.
A viewing committee, consisting of five people with different professional backgrounds (since 2009), is responsible for the selection of this section. Next to their interest in the political and cultural happenings of the world and their curiosity towards courageous and unconventional (life) stories, this group of four is unified in a cinematic obsession for documentary film in all its topical and aesthetic forms as well as their pleasure in passionate discussion about the best documentary films for the Kassel film festival.
Every year the committee members take part in several national and international film festivals and other meetings of the film industry. Here the aim is to get an overview of the newest productions and foster contacts with filmmakers, before the main viewing process of the yearly submissions starts in the late summer months.
Obviously, the selection is only able to show a part of the increasing abundance of documentary work every year, trying to none-the-less cover a broad spectrum of topics and forms and reaching an equally broad audience during the festival days.
36 programs of short and mid-length documentary and experimental films were presented last year (2015) at the Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival. The 6 members of the selection committee had the task of capturing the themes and trends in contemporary film production from more than 2,000 films submitted. The result is a program ranging from observational documentaries to abstract animations, personal essays to queer political music videos to artistic-activist field tests. From films sighting places to family portraits, an incredible diversity of filmic examination of reality.
Golden Hercules – Film program from Northern Hesse
One of the declared aims of the Kassel Dokfest is the presentation of regional works next to the works of international filmmakers and artists – on equal terms. Last year's festival program (2015) included 50 fictional, animation or documentary films of filmmakers from Northern Hesse. Therefore this section is not limited to the genre of documentary but open for all genres. The predominantly short works are shown in special compilation programs as well as part of the regular program.
The screenings offer an important platform for the filmmakers to present their work to a broader audience and to network with film professionals – this is especially important for younger filmmakers in the region, who often have their festival debut in Kassel.
Not only does this create a space for new experiences, where up-and-coming talents can prove themselves in front of an interested audience and international critics but this also results in a unique forum of exchange, leaving its footprint in the region and even Europe. The commitment to the region – approximately 10 per cent of all shown works are from Northern Hesse – is very important for the Kassel Dokfest. The last years have shown that local talent and regional works must not be shy in comparison to others and that the festival can serve as a stepping stone to national and international recognition.
Since 2001 the Kassel Dokfest awards the “Golden Hercules”, endowed with 3,000 € to extraordinary film productions from Northern Hesse. The competition is open to all formats and genres presentable on a big screen. Films are accepted, whose director’s place of residence is in Northern Hesse or who are enrolled in the University of Kassel, the Kassel College of Fine Arts or a comparable institution in Northern Hesse or works that were realized and produced in Northern Hesse. The local Newspaper “Die Hessische/Niedersächsische Allgemeinen” (HNA) was the sponsor for this prize from 2001 to 2007. Since then the prize is sponsored by the Machbar GmbH, an agency for corporate communication with its head office in Kassel.
Film program from Northern Hesse (Golden Hercules) 2015: One of the declared aims of the Kassel Dokfest is to present regional works next to the works of international filmmakers and artists – on equal terms. The festival program includes 50 fictional, animation or documentary films of filmmakers from Northern Hesse. The commitment to the region – approximately 18 per cent of all presented works are from Northern Hesse – is very important for the Kassel Dokfest. The last years have shown that local talent and regional works are by all means able to compete and that the festival can serve as a steppingstone to national and international recognition.