Festival director Leena Pasanen announces quota for female filmmakers in the German competition | Prof. Monika Grütters highlights importance of documentary film
+++ EMBARGOED until 9.30 pm tonight (31.10) ++ EMBARGOED until 9.30 pm tonight (31.10) +++
Some 700 people attended the opening of DOK Leipzig on Monday (30 October) at Leipzig’s CineStar. Festival director Leena Pasanen, German Minister of Culture and Media Prof. Monika Grütters, Saxon State Minister for Science and the Arts Dr. Eva-Maria Stange and Leipzig Deputy Mayor for Cultural Affairs Dr. Skadi Jennicke all gave speeches.
Prof. Monika Grütters highlighted the importance of documentary film: “With their documentaries and animated films, DOK Leipzig’s filmmakers show that they have a political mindset and are not afraid of confrontation or conflict. In particular today - in the digital age of information overload - we need documentaries and their extensive research, art of narrative and strong atmospheric imagery, more than ever. They are able to make relevant themes visible and make reality in all its complexity understandable. This is their greatest strength! A democratic culture of debate basically lives from the willingness to examine reality. This is why documentary cinema deserves to be given more attention, to be appreciated more and to have bigger audiences.”
“Audiences can look forward to another great festival,” said Dr. Eva-Maria Stange. “The festival frequently responds to emerging socio-political questions with its programme. A good example of this is the DOK’s prize for female filmmakers. I am very glad to once again take over the patronage of this prize for the best documentary project by a female director.”
It is the second time that the prize is being awarded as part of the DOK Co-Pro-Market in conjunction with the European Women’s Audiovisual Network (EWA). A second prize to promote female filmmakers will also be awarded as part of the Co-Production Meeting and will allow one female filmmaker to attend the festival.
Since she was appointed, Leena Pasanen has been a strong advocate for equal opportunities in the film sector and worked towards this with her team. “We have had a relatively constant presence of female directors in our international competition,” she said. “But we’ve noticed significant fluctuations in the German competition over the past few years. This year, there is only one female filmmaker and she is a co-director. The whole German film sector has structural problems in this regard. We are aware that we are part of the problem and want to help to abolish the imbalance. So for the next two years, we are going to introduce a quota for female filmmakers in the German competition.”
The festival has examined socially-relevant and controversial themes ever since its first edition in 1955. The three-day pre-opening weekend programme paid tribute to its eventful past and to the films which made most of a mark. “We have no more physical walls in our immediate surroundings, but the ideological walls of many are increasingly noticeable,” said Pasanen. “We need DOK Leipzig as a platform to better understand what is going on around us, through films.”
This year’s festival theme is “Nach der Angst” (“Post Angst”). Leipzig’s Mayor for Culture Dr. Skadi Jennicke also underlined the festival’s role for social dialogue: “For the city of Leipzig, DOK Leipzig is an international ambassador whose significance at a time of increasingly exacerbated political tension and simplified explanations is particularly clear. DOK Leipzig is an important contributor to social discourse. The chosen documentary and animated films show us multi-faceted perspectives of the world and reality and teach us to have a critical eye. This is why we will continue to support DOK Leipzig in future.”
David Spaeth, the director of the opening film “Betrug”, a documentary crime thriller about a con man from Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, that takes place in Munich, closed the ceremony with a short speech before the screening of his film. It was shown at the same time in the Osthalle of Leipzig’s train station.
DOK Leipzig will show 340 works from 57 countries until Sunday 5th November. The Golden Doves will be awarded at a ceremony on Saturday 4th November, which is taking place in Leipzig’s Westbad for the first time.
From Tuesday onwards, a detailed statement by the festival director about the quota for female directors in the German competition will be available at www.dok-leipzig.de.