204 short and mid-length documentary and experimental films will be presented this year at the Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival.
The six 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.
Filmmaking is a constant renegotiation of visibility, which produces the new and replaces and overlaps with the old. The way in which we speak of the world and create images for this purpose is highly dependent of the generation we are part of, the times and the societal circumstances we live in; this means that history is written in the present. The view upon the past is always negotiable. It remains something that can't be fixated and rather ambivalent. The task of filmmaking – dealing with history and memory – is a challenge but it is possible, as the short films of this year's Kassel Dokfest prove. We have learned from history that there is such a thing as wrong interpretation and polarization, which incite hate, feed and create fears. These year's short films deal with this process of interpretation and encourage a debate about how we can create a narrative, which does not polarize, does not discriminate, does not label people, which takes down physical and psychological barriers and is not part of nation state discourses.
In the program REHEARSAL IN PROGRESS! the repetition and reevaluation of a moment works as a tool for a subversive appropriation of history and memory, in which the films oscillate between staged and documentary performances. This year's art program HANDLED WITH CARE tells a tale about censorship in art, precarious work in the cultural sector and rebellious art. The films show the contemplation on neo-liberal market logic on the one hand and how some artistic works can be marketed quite well, despite of their rebellious origins on the other. THE WAR OUTSIDE brings together films, which offer us insights to war-ridden areas, which have escaped our focus, either because the public media does not cover them or because war has become a part of daily life in these areas. A usual point camera view can challenge getting used to a normality of war or environmental catastrophe (CONTAMINATED). A midnight program sheds an eerie light on the current state of the USA (AMERICAN GOTHIC). In IN THE SYSTEM, there is a special focus on autobiographical approaches. Also, in our dreams, we philosophize about our views on the world (CAUGHT IN THE DREAM MACHINE). Which responsibility do filmmakers have towards the protagonists? In the program REGARDING RESISTANCE empowerment strategies of People of Color are made visible.
INTERNATL SECURITY analyzes the current inner-German political mood as well as disparities of information, power and force. Scientific utopias, fictitious ideas for the future and the construction of imaginary models describe the programs THE FABRIC OF THE FUTURE and LABORATORIUM. Thinking in images, cinematic thinking means to take a position as a person in the visual field. But what happens, if machines produce our experience of the world (MACHINE VISIONS)?
Who owns the public space and where does the private begin (HOME STORIES)? Two programs discuss how political upheaval (TO THE FUTURE TURNED WE STAY) and relations of power (URBAN REGIMES) inscribe themselves into the architecture and structure of public spaces. LEISURE INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX and WAITING FOR THE PUNCH are dedicated to the world of spectacle, consumption and entertainment. The films of SUNSET BOULEVARD tell a tale of romanticism and kitsch in a consumer society and those of FOREVER&EVER deal with the highs and lows of human relations.
Thinking in images is a learning process as well as an interpretation of one's own life – it's in a
sense autobiographical. In the program ALL ABOUT MY FATHER this relationship is tested in various ways. Keeping in mind that we have many biographies, identities, perspectives and slip into different roles (TOTEM AND TABOO). And last but not least, the legendary program SHORT&SWEET, which shall not be missed, as well as the MATINEE (THEY CALL IT REALITY), which is an integral part of the festival.
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