199 short and mid-length documentary and experimental films were presented this year 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 around 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.
The comfort zone of our personal echo chamber is growing more and more comfortable. Algorithms provide us with films, books and music that we will probably like and that don’t daunt us. Complex issues are served in 140 easily consumed twitter characters; polarisation is welcome. Meanwhile, web videos have established an aesthetic suitable for the mainstream, just as television, with its commonplace formats, had done before it. News are instantly pushed onto our screens, live, before anyone really knows what’s going on. Our attention is a sought-after commodity, whereas attentive listening and watching are seldom required or possible. Not so at the Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival. Here space is made for discourse; reflection and discussion are welcome. Because a film festival is always a meeting place. The audience meets the films, their forms, thoughts and protagonists. The attendant filmmakers, in turn, meet the audience. Collective reflection finds its place in the movie theatre. A striking characteristic of the curated short film compilation is that the films establish a dialogue with one another. Bundled in the program thematically, they complement and contradict one another, highlighting a subject from different points of view and taking aspects of the theme in unforeseen directions.
Each film has it’s own narrative and aesthetic form. It is not part of the program’s aims to be superficial or awkwardly controversial. Rather, the program strives to be as multi-layered and diverse as possible. The surprising, the beautiful and the enriching often lie precisely in that which is not of immediate interest, or in something that the viewer may not otherwise like. The voices of the protagonists should themselves be heard, rather than being spoken for or about.
The content and style of the short film program covers a wide spectrum. In partly cinematic journals or experimental arrangements, filmmakers contemplate the interplay between their own biographies and political systems (OCCUPATION: POLITICIAN, NEGOTIATING DEMOCRACY) or historical correlations (TEA IN THE EMPIRE’S GARDEN).
They are part of what is happening in contemporarycrisis zones and work through their experiences in cinematic experiments or as classic documentary (HOME IS NOT A PLACE). In this way, the dominant themes of flight and migration wind their way through several programs. Similarly, alternatives to official reporting can be found in SCREEN COMMUNITIES. BLIND FRAME gathers films that use their aesthetic resources to represent something that actually can’t be represented, and in THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE AIR TONIGHT, the invisible is captured.
TERRITORIAL DESIGNATIONS questions how areas are defined and are, in turn, self-formative. REPORTS FROM THE END OF THE WORLD relates times and places that have passed, disappeared, or have been forgotten, and follows the traces that remain. The significance of architecture in everyday life today is investigated in PERMANENT PROJECTS. LAYERS OF TIME will be shown as part of the interfiction workshop-summit TIME MACHINES. It dedicates itself to the registration of time on the landscape. In ALIEN ANCESTORS, films of age, science fiction, myth, science and pop are amalgamated. INTROSPECTIVE traces what goes on in a person’s inner life.
In UP CLOSE the films get close to their complex characters. In EGO-DOCUMENTS and PREVIOUS RECORD the filmmakers confront their own familial, psychic, political and religious predispositions. WORST CASE REHEARSALS illustrates how the military can become a part of our everyday life. WORK-LIFE-BALANCE focuses on the tragic-comic fusion of work and leisure in life, while CINENOVELA deals with grand emotions and our yearning for them. The matinee, MAKING IT, presents people who know how to go their own way, while STAY IN TOUCH considers how people sympathise and interact with one another. A fixed part of the Kassel Dokfest is the Art Program on Sunday, which this year deals with the EXCERCISES IN CRITIQUE. And of course there is also SHORT & SWEET, a program of very short films, which, on Wednesday evening, will set off a firework of punch lines.
Download Program Schedule