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The show goes on: DocsBarcelona film festival returns partly in-person, partly online

For its 24th edition, the event is back with a reimagined hybrid format which will be ‘here to stay’


18 May 2021 05:55 PM


ACN | Barcelona

The iconic DocsBarcelona film festival returns to Barcelona and beyond for its 24th edition this year with a series of in-person and virtual events. The festival will screen 50 documentaries with 33 full-length films, 11 short films and 4 films by emerging creators, through the initiative Docs&Teens, from May 18 to 30.

While the FilmIn programme, first employed last year due to the pandemic, will continue to stream featured documentaries to viewers across Spain, the festival will also return to two Barcelona cinemas, the CCCB and Cinema Aribau. It will also reach some cinemas in the wider Barcelona area through the ‘DocsBarcelona a prop’ (‘DocsBarcelona nearby’) initiative.

The festival’s director, Joan Gonzàlez, was relieved to bring back showings to the big screen, telling the Catalan News Agency (ACN): “We want to regain the territory of our cinema showrooms and the theatre at the CCCB in order to get closer to the viewer”. 

He also told ACN that this new hybrid model would be here to stay, the benefits of streaming festivals online to wider audiences clearly some to outlive the pandemic.

33 full-length films from 33 countries

Despite the significant international influence typical of DocsBarcelona, this year opens with the Catalan documentary 'Balandrau, infern glaçat' ('Balandrau, frozen hell'), directed by Guille Cascante and produced by public broadcaster TV3. 

The film outlines a tragedy which occurred in the Catalan Pyrenean region of Ripollès, in which a strong wind caused a storm leading to the deaths of nine people hiking towards the Balandrau mountain. 

Some of the other work from Catalan directors includes the social commentary 'La vida després de l'ISIS' ('Life After ISIS') by Alba Sotorra, which follows five women who left their hometowns to join Islamic State and have a shared desire to reestablish themselves in their places of origin.

As far as for international artists, there is 'To The Moon' by the Irish Tadhg O’Sullivan, which is a film about film itself, or perhaps rather a visual poem including literary fragments and a ‘lunar’ soundtrack, as well as 'Inside the Red Brick Wall' by the Hong Kong Documentary Filmmakers about the pro-democracy student proposals seen in Hong Kong in 2019.

It seems that DocsBarcelona’s 24th edition is to be the first of the future, one which is to run a dual programme of in-person and online events from this year onwards, and becoming ever more accessible for those who do not reside in the Catalan capital.


  • Image from documentary 'Altsasy' by Amets Arzallus and Marc Parramon showing at DocsBarcelona, 2021

  • Image from documentary 'Altsasy' by Amets Arzallus and Marc Parramon showing at DocsBarcelona, 2021