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DOK Leipzig Competition Programmes

- International Competition Documentary Film | Traditions, Families, Political Issues

A total of 19 films from 15 countries have made it into this year’s International Competition Documentary Film. Productions come also from countries rather exceptional for documentary film-making, such as Myanmar or Thailand ("Buddha's Lost Children", "The Longest Day"). Just as in 2005, the selection committee for the category documentary film was made up of festival director Claas Danielsen, film-maker Matthias Heeder, curator Cornelia Klauss, author Dr. Grit Lemke, film journalist Ralf Schenk and film expert Barbara Wurm.

Films selected for competition reflect the very broad range of productions over the past year, in terms of content as well as style. And yet, some common ground in respect of topics is clearly recognisable considering all nominated productions: four films alone are dealing with aspects of loneliness and death. Dutch film-maker Heddy Honigmann (Golden Dove for "Metal and Melancholy" in 1994) meets passionate admirers of late artists on the Parisian cemetery "Pere Lachaise”, and learns quite a bit about the universe of human life, as a result of these 'morbid' encounters ("Forever"). The immediate proximity of a cemetery is also meeting point for members of the "Cemetery Club" in Jerusalem. All of them pensioners, they engage in lively debates about fundamental questions of life and death - they even continue after their club had to be relocated to a caring home (Tali Shemesh, Israel). Loneliness in view of their own age is also felt by two old women in the very poetic competition contribution from Thailand: "The Longest Day" by Uruphong Rasasad. Also the Finnish Film "No Man is an Island" by Sonja Linden focuses on the topic of imminent death, and follows an old man on a meticulous documentation of his legacy.

The difficult situation of traditional life forms and cultures in modern times are the focus of the Czech/Slovak co-production "Other Worlds". With a lot of profound humour, film-maker Marko Skop illustrates the life of different ethnic and religious groups and their respective traditions in a Carpathian village. Retaining indigenous life forms - at least partially - is also the principle topic of the visually impressing production "Yaptik-Hasse" by Edgar Bartenev from Russia. To escape poverty, drug-related conflicts and a gloomy future in the region of the "Golden Triangle", children find shelter in a monastery run by a Thai monk. Tirelessly he fosters and educates children and provides a chance for a new start in life to them: "Buddha's Lost Children" - elaborately filmed by Mark Verkerk (the Netherlands/Myanmar/Thailand). "The Holiday" by Marina Razbezhkina (filmed by the renowned Russian camera-woman Irina Uralskaja) follows a girl, who only returns to her Siberian village during school holidays. Yet, traditions in her former home were largely abandoned - poverty and hopelessness determine daily life. An appreciation of dying rural worlds is illustrated with very powerful pictures in the film "Alpine Saga" by Swiss film-maker Erich Langjahr (previously award-winner of a Leipzig Dove).

Personal stories and family-relations continue a trend evident within documentary film in recent years. "The Seeds", a hesitantly and vividly filmed production by newcomer Wojciech Kasperski (Poland), shows the life of a Russian family destroyed by alcohol and poverty. "Beth’s Diary" tells a tale of woe of a former prostitute focusing her relationship to her mother, who had sent the daughter to walk the streets when she was only a child (Mikala Krogh, Denmark). "Exile Family Movie" documents the get together of an Iranian family, whose members are dispersed all over the world. The encounter causes conflict as well as deep affection in the face of discussions and dealing with aspects of the Islamic way of life. A very difficult relationship is at the focus of "And Thereafter II". Film-maker Hosup Lee, award-winner of the Silver Dove in Leipzig in 2004, portrays the dramatic story of a Korean woman in the USA. Yet, in a very self-reflected way he points out the relationship issue between film-maker and protagonist - challenging for almost every documentary film-maker.

The surprising and impressive fusion of artistic signature and political issues is illustrated by two very distinct productions of this year's competition. In his conceptual production "A Day To Remember" film-maker Liu Wei poses a very simple question and - by doing so - shows the enormous dimension of political taboo in China. Sergej Loznica, multiple Dove winner in Leipzig, edits and mounts some previously unreleased archive material about the Siege of Leningrad. He succeeds in presenting an intensive and focused document of horror, during the German siege in the years between 1941 and 1944. "High Plains Winter" by Cindy Stillwell (USA) is an artistic and experimental short film about the seasonal changes of a landscape in the American West. The second contribution from the USA, "Jonestown - the Life and Death of Peoples Temple" documents the rise and atrocious downfall of an utopia, a charismatic and deeply disturbed personality, and a phenomenon of contemporary history. Film-maker Stanley Nelson succeeds with his work of never previously presented images of very personal interviews with former members, as well as relatives of the victims of what became the "largest mass suicide in history" in the jungle of Guyana.

The International Jury Documentary Film nominates award-winners of the Golden and Silver Doves in the category documentary film, as well as the Talent-Dove of the Media Foundation of the Sparkasse Leipzig. The total prize money amounts to 28,000 Euro. The following international colleagues will be part of this year’s jury: Ulla Jacobsen (film expert and DOX-chief editor, Denmark), Arunas Matelis (film-maker and winner of last year's Golden Dove in Leipzig, Lithuania), Chris McDonald (festival director "Hot Docs", Canada), Zoran Popovic (film-maker, festival director and director of the film school "Kvadrat", Serbia) and Ilana Tsur (film-maker and festival director "Docaviv", Israel).

- German Competition Documentary Film | Women Get Going

A total of eight productions made by female film-makers in the category International Competition Documentary Film already hints at a trend, confirmed by the German Competition category with six out of ten productions by female film-makers. Women get going! Not only as protagonists, but as film-makers too. Personal tales are very popular topics - but not exclusively. By the way, they are also at the centre of attention in the male world of film-makers. Ulrike Franke and Michael Loeken open this year's festival with the world premiere of their film on globalisation: "Losers and Winners". Chinese shift workers dismantle a huge industrial plant in the Ruhr Area - an undertaking impossible without some bizarre moments. In her political film-essay "The short life of Jose Antonio Gutierrez" Heidi Specogna unfolds bit by bit the almost unbelievable story of the first GI victim in the war against Iraq. In "It Started Well" Susanna Salonen carefully traces the complicated relationship with her hippie-mother. Karin Jurschick deals with the death of her own father in a video production ("Not Any More") - the way she films the deceased touches not only on personal, but ethical boundaries too. Death is also the topic of Lars Barthel’s film "My Death, Not Yours". At very different levels he traces back the relationship to the mother of his daughter and the time as a film student in the GDR. He unfolds memories of long past emotions and the Indian descent of his ex-wife. The death of parents has a huge impact for all families. Kirstin Krüger illustrates the break-down of a fragile family structure in her film "Geld und Angst haben wir nicht gekannt" where the parents of a large family in Saxony-Anhalt die. Also taking place in the region of Saxony is the story of "Kehraus, wieder". Just as in the previous two parts of the trilogy (1990, 1997) this film follows the sad destinies of road sweepers in Leipzig. Marion Kainz follows her protagonist over a long period of time too: Often she gets painfully close to Johanna, who has everything, yet doesn't know what to do with herself ("What Is Becoming?"). In his film "Eggesin ... maybe", Olaf Winkler demonstrates that even a hopeless situation as exemplified by the desolated area of the former NVA-base in Eggesin, (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) can be confronted with courage, ideas and some unconventional optimism. Shrinking cities from a different perspective! In his film "Kobe" Rainer Komers portrays a town that had to re-evaluate it’s self-image at very different level: a film without commentary, intensive in terms of images and sound, rhythmical and artistic.

The German Jury nominates the award-winner of the "Discovery Channel Film Prize", worth 10,000 Euro. This year’s jury members are: producer Thomas Kufus and film-maker Frauke Sandig. The third member of the jury will be announced soon.

- International Competition Animated Film | German Film at the Forefront

Characteristic for the Leipzig Festival 2006 is the huge variety of animation films: many different topics, many different styles and techniques, as well as a broad range of production countries are represented in this year’s international competition programme. An exiting novelty for the audience in terms of film selection is also the specific view of Jacqueline Zeitz: for the first time, Jacqueline, who holds a degree in cultural studies curated the animation film section as successor of Otto Alder, who was head of animation film since 1993. In total, 48 films from 24 countries - subdivided into five programmes - compete for this year’s awards. The very large variety of topics and styles of film-makers unfolds in many different stories: "Mind the Gap!" by Anastasia Zhuravleva (Russia) tells the tale of one day in Moscow’s metro by applying the technique of flat-figure animation. The affectionately-ironical story about an English catastrophe family wrapped up in documentary-soap-style ("Dreams and Desires - Family Ties" by Joanna Quinn, UK). The puppet animation "Ichthys" by Marek Skrobecki (Poland), posing the question of being, becoming and waiting in an innovative way, and last but not least the finally unveiled, metaphysical secret of a two-holer - in 3D ("Boitel", Russia). A lot of diversity, but not a trend? Actually, yes: after many relatively quiet years for the German animation film, it is now back, and right at the forefront! The six German productions are very promising. Gabriela Gruber shows a very different perspective of life in her beautifully painted experimental production "Come on Strange". The renowned animation film-makers Hannah Nordholt and Fritz Steingrobe apply the rather complex and unusual Rotoskop-technique in their film "Three Graces". Jan Bitzer and Ilija Brunck show in "458 nm" per 3D-animation, how much tension can be generated in a flirt between two snails, and Vuk Jevremovic remains faithful to his fine drawing style in his brilliantly produced black and white film "Close your eyes and don’t breathe". Jan Koester from Potsdam combines an adolescent theme with classic silhouette film aesthetics in "Our Man in Nirvana" and Hyekung Jung illustrates the dramatic story of a man suffering from an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder in "Drawing the Line". The big stars of animation film were productive too, and present their most recent productions in Leipzig. Alongside Vuk Jevremovic, Mikhail Aldashin will be present at the festival with his film "About Ivan the Fool", as well as Dmitri Geller ("Declaration of Love") from Russia. Matti Kütt is expected from Estonia with "Institute of the Dream" just a the Swiss Georges Schwizgebel with "Play".

Part of the International Jury for Animation Film in 2006 are: film-maker Bärbel Neubauer (Germany), expert film journalist Stanislav Ulver (Czech Republic) and film-maker Priit Pärn (Estonia). The jury nominates award-winners of the Golden (5,000 Euro) and Silver (2,000 Euro) Doves, as well as the mephisto 97.6-audience prize. The festival direction is particularly pleased about support provided by the Filmverband Sachsen e.V. In collaboration with DOK Leipzig it donates the Golden Dove – the main prize in the section animation film.


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