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The Films of the Nine Special Programmes at DOK Leipzig 2018

From Werner Herzog to Ruth Beckermann, from animated films to personal essays. The around 150 films look to the past and to the future in equal measure – and take their bearings from this year’s festival motto: demand the impossible!

The Special Programmes of the 61st edition of DOK Leipzig demand the impossible in a range of different ways. In keeping with this year’s festival motto, they each revolve around films which seek to bring about change or depict processes of transformation. The around 150 films of the Special Programmes to be shown during the week of the festival from October 29 to November 4, 2018 have now been selected. Numerous filmmakers from the Special Programmes will present their films in Leipzig in person.

Many films of this year’s Special Programmes are frequently about the emancipatory power of art. Lithuanian documentary film for example, which is the subject of the 2018 Country Focus, captures the sense of longing for independence from the Soviet Union. The programme animated film equally takes a critical look at the world with a healthy dose of fantasy. With its Homages to Ruth Beckermann and Werner Herzog, DOK Leipzig is honouring two filmmakers whose respective oeuvres are marked by their subjective views of the state of society: the former connects her own biography to political questions, while the latter simply creates truths of his own. Equally, Lutz Dammbeck’s biography is present in his filmmaking, as he used to work in the former GDR before later emigrating to West Germany. He is now the subject of a retrospective at DOK Leipzig. Two further Special Programmes look to the past: the 2018 DEFA Matinee shows early, experimentally-minded student films from the film school in Babelsberg, known today as the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF, while the programme Re-Visions pays tribute to festival films that have made a lasting impression on the history of DOK Leipzig. And last, but not least, this year’s Retrospective explores the political potential of (documentary) film art by presenting films linked to the 1968 protest movement.

More Information on the Individual Special Programmes:

The year 1968 stands for a time of protest, of upheaval, of renewal. 50 years have now passed – all the more reason then to look back at the years around 1968 which left a considerable mark on film history. Instead of focusing on the centres of the revolts, DOK Leipzig’s Retrospective “68. An Open Score” seeks to explore the hinterland of ’68: what happened in the provinces? How did the unrest resonate there? The retrospective consists of seven programmes dedicated to the culture of 68 and its desire for a new cinema. The retrospective is supported by means of the Federal Foundation for the Study of Communist Dictatorship in East Germany and supplemented by a matinee screening in collaboration with the Saxon State Archive and a panel discussion.

To coincide with the 100th anniversary of independent rule in the Baltic Republics, DOK Leipzig turns its attention to Lithuania. As a lone fighter of sorts, this small country between Poland, Belarus and Latvia with around the same number of inhabitants as Berlin developed its own unique form of poetic documentary that sprung up between the traces of the Soviet Union and a longing for Europe – always looking to its own history in the process. The programme Country Focus “Lithuania – Challenges of (In)Dependence” is being presented in collaboration with the Lithuanian Film Center and the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania in the Federal Republic of Germany and delves deep into the history of a country often at odds with itself, showing a selection of shorts from the war era, four additional films on Lithuanian independence and two films from the so called digital age.

“To demonstrate or to document?” isn’t just a key element of Ruth Beckermann’s “The Waldheim Waltz”, which received the Documentary Award at the 2018 Berlinale and is now Austria’s candidate for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. The same question also frequently pops up in the director’s filmmaking. Beckermann is regarded as a co-founder of the independent film scene in Austria. The programme “Document/Demonstrate. Homage Ruth Beckermann”, which is being realised in cooperation with the Leibniz Institute of Jewish History and Culture – Simon Dubnow, offers a varied overview of her work: from found footage films to personal essays, from poetic hybrids of acting and reading to analyses of political events. It doesn’t just show her most well-known works, including “The Waldheim Waltz” and “The Dreamed Ones”, but also many of her earlier films in which she already connected the personal and the political. “Suddenly, a Strike”, for example, examines the political situation in the Austria of the late seventies.

A second Homage showcases the idiosyncratic, unashamedly subjective documentaries by Werner Herzog. With the opening film “Meeting Gorbachev”, the Munich-born director isn’t just presenting his most recent work, but is also being honoured as an essential documentarian of our time with the programme “Ecstatic Truths. Homage Werner Herzog”. Herzog will also be discussing his films at a public talk.

Another Showcase, called “Outlines of Power” is dedicated to Leipzig artist Lutz Dammbeck, taking the viewer into the world of an artist who engages with his environment and the conditions in which we live in critical fashion. He works at the interstitial spaces between various forms of art and repeatedly addresses his own status as an artist in connection with socio-political questions: how free am I in my art and what consequences does my work carry within particular political systems?”

The Special Programme animated film, “About Us”, equally demands the impossible. The films of the four-part programme examine people and challenge how we treat each other as well as exploring our relationship to nature and the environment. They work with all the inventive qualities of animation, sometimes criticising the world we live in.

This year’s DEFA Matinee looks back at the history of the Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen “Konrad Wolf” between 1957 and 1990. Various films with a penchant for experimentation were made there, which looked to Italian Neorealism, the French Nouvelle Vague, or other international movements for their inspiration. Under the title “Six Babelsberg Freedoms”, DOK Leipzig is screening an illustrative cross-section of the films of this era, including early works by directors who would later become some of the most interesting representatives of East German cinema, such as Thomas Heise, Peter Kahane or Petra Tschörtner. The programme was put together in collaboration with the DEFA Foundation and the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF.

With the new programme “Re-Visions. Looking Back Ahead“, DOK Leipzig examines a section of film history. While the festival looks to the future with the current films, this programme shines a light on the festival’s multi-faceted past, giving particular importance to returning those films to centre stage which represent important milestones for DOK Leipzig from the perspective of today.

DOK Leipzig’s Kids DOK once again presents documentary and animated films for young film fans. Funny and inventive stories, but also thoughtful ones from a total of eleven different countries allow children and adults alike to dive into some fascinating worlds.

Please contact the press department for film stills. Festival impressions and logos can be found here: http://www.dok-leipzig.de/de/dok/presse/download

The Official Selection will be announced on October 10, 2018.

For any questions regarding this press release, please feel free to contact:

Julia Weigl, Nikta Vahid-Moghtada, Nina Kühne | presse@dok-leipzig.de | +49(0)341 30864-1070