The center piece of the Kassel Dokfest is the film program, divided into three sections:


Up to 16 contemporary media installations and sculptures by up-and-coming as well as well-known artists will be presented at the exhibition Monitoring.

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The DokfestLounge is not only the location for audiovisual performances by international artists, VJs and DJs but also the nocturnal meeting point for our guests after 10.30 pm.

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The Workshop symposium interfiction offers lectures, presentations and workshop-sessions concerning a yearly changing topic, which takes a closer look at the political, social and artistic aspects of the medium internet.

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This educational side program is aimed at school students from the 7th till the 13th grade as well as teachers. The project consists of special film programs as well as workshops about film analysis and criticism under the guidance of media educators.

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The DokfestForum offers panels, lectures and screenings that raise questions about the interfaces between film and art. During the daytime the DokfestForum as a festival meeting point will provide a café with a video library for accredited guests.

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With the Hessian University Film Day, the presentation of a European Film College and hands-on workshops and lectures, the Kassel Dokfest offers possibilities for further education, information on education opportunities and access to professional networks for (Hessian) up-and-coming filmmakers.

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Feature Films

The documentary feature film traditionally constitutes the center piece of the Kassel Dokfest. About 40 films are presented during the festival 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 is selected from more than 400 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 four 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.

Short Film

The Kassel Dokfest shows about 180 to 200 international and current short and mid-length films in program compilations. Each of the 80 to 90 minute programs has a topical focus but is not shy of showing contrasts or opposing positions. The short film compilation’s topical focus is the result of a curatorial handling of the submitted works. For instance: three films from last year’s program (2011) dealing with the aftermath of the severest atomic catastrophes of our time were combined under the title “Half-Life Period” or “Love’s Merry-Go-Round” showed different forms of love and relationships. The topics for the compilation programs are a result of the submitted work – each year anew. 

The variety of format and topics is especially great in short and mid-length films. The submitted films and videos (about 2000 every year), which are viewed for the short film programs, show the whole spectrum the Dokfest serves to: from the pointed clip, the short documentary or portrait to experimental forms, which combine fictional and documentary narration and show a strong artistic hand. Also animated works can be submitted and will be programmed with the other genres. (Almost) Everything is of interest – only the classical, narrative fictional short films will not be taken into consideration.

The creative, curative handling of this variety is the trademark of the short film compilations. The selection committee, consisting of six people, promises heterogeneous views on the year’s submissions. The committee members are curators, artists and critics, with diverse interests and backgrounds and they are invited to use this diversity in a constructive manner during the selection process. The constitution of the selection committee varies slightly from year to year, enabling a mixture of continuity and change, which gives new impulses for their work. The committee views films, discusses and programs them – as far as possible – together. An intense process, which usually starts at the End of June and ends with a definite selection of films in Mid-September.



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. In this film program 20 to 30 fictional, animation or documentary films of filmmakers from Northern Hesse will be presented, therefore this sections 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.