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DocsBarcelona defies health crisis to go ahead on Filmin platform

This year's edition of documentary film festival will feature 35 productions from 22 countries from May 19 to 31

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29 April 2020 06:38 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

Despite the health crisis, the 23rd edition of DocsBarcelona will go ahead in its entirety in an online edition that will reach the whole of Spain through the Filmin platform, featuring some 35 documentaries (28 feature films and 7 short films) from 22 countries. 

The latest work by Ai Weiwei ('Vivos'), Helena Třeštíková ('Forman vs. Forman'), and Anders Østergaard ('Winter Journey') top the program of this year's Barcelona International Documentary Film Festival, which will be held between May 19 and 31.

The festival will also premiere the documentary 'Comelade Constellation' about Pascal Comelade and 'Can You Hear Me?' dedicated to Catalan sculptor Jaume Plensa, in an edition in which over half of the films featured are by female directors.

While DocsBarcelona is able to go ahead thanks to the fact that it will be held on the Filmin platform, the number of titles featured drops slightly compared to previous editions, with 35 documentaries instead of 40, and with 19 directorial debuts.

"We wanted to protect the festival," says head

The event's director, Joan Gonzàlez, said: "We wanted to protect the festival and its annual date, the team that works on it, and the work of the brave filmmakers who through their art will bring us stories they have been crafting for months or even years."

Pol Roig, the coordinator of DocsBarcelona's programming, said that the collection of films scheduled "constitutes a map to guide us in the new world that is emerging" with topics such as "the impact of Artificial Intelligence, the use of collective hypnosis techniques to manipulate the masses, or spirituality as an antidote to existential disorientation."

Some 13 films will compete for the Best DocsBarcelona Documentary Award in the Official Panorama Section, including 'Vivos' by Chinese artist, activist and dissident Ai Weiwei, 'Forman vs. Forman' by the Czech filmmakers Helena Třeštíková and Jakub Hejna, 'Solo' by Paris-born producer and director Artemio Benki, 'Winter Journey' by Danish director Anders Østergaard, ‘Overseas’ by Korean filmmaker Sung A-Yoon, and ‘Hi, A.I.’ by German filmmaker Isa Willinger.

Catalan productions

As for Catalan productions, there will be 11 titles, the most prominent in the 'Latitude' section dedicated to Ibero-American films. Among them is 'Can You Hear Me' directed by Pedro Ballesteros and produced by Paco Poch, which delves into the work and personality of the Barcelona-born artist Jaume Plensa.

'La nova escola' by Ventura Durall, deals with the educational revolution promoted by the Escola Nova 21 program based on skills-based learning, while 'Comelade Constellation' by Mallorcan director Luis Ortas explores the musician's creative universe.

Female directors

With 55% of the films in the festival by female directors, this year's event is "especially sensitive to themes that bring the figure of the woman to the fore" with titles such as 'That Which Does Not Kill' by Alexe Poukine, ‘Advocate’ by Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaïche, 'The Magic Life of V' by Tonislav Hristov, 'Zona árida' by the Brazilian director and visual artist Fernanda Pessoa, and 'Salka, en la tierra de nadie' by Xavi Herrero.

As every year, DocsBarcelona will also hand out a dozen awards, with journalist Montse Armengou, writer and film critic Jordi Costa, journalist Maria Xinxó, and Brigid O'Shea of the Dok Leipzig festival deciding who will get the awards for the Panorama section. 

Winner of two Goya Awards Teresa Font, filmmaker Cosima Dannoritzer, and film critic Eulàlia Iglesias make up the jury of the event's Latitude section, while the award for the What the Doc! Section will be decided under the supervision of film critic and professor Manu Yáñez. The award for Best Film in the DOC-U section will be decided by journalist Roger Carandell, editor and director Nila Nuñez, and documentary filmmaker Pol Galofre.

The festival, which will include the collaboration of such organizations as Netflix, Disney, Al Jazeera, Arte, Movistar +, and Japan's NHK, will be rounded off with conferences and round tables aimed at professionals from around the world but open to everyone.

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  • An image from the film 'Forman vs. Forman' showing at the DocsBarcelona 2020 film festival (by DocsBarcelona)

  • An image from the film 'Forman vs. Forman' showing at the DocsBarcelona 2020 film festival (by DocsBarcelona)

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