Festivals & Events

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Going Virtual in the Pandemic Age: CPH:DOX 2020, The Digital Edition

Hard to believe just a few weeks back I was eagerly preparing for my annual pilgrimage to Copenhagen to begin the spring doc fest season. Well, we all know how that turned out. Or not. As a deadly virus forced festivals the world over to cancel, CPH:DOX, long a champion of outside-the-box filmmaking, counterintuitively decided the show must go on. Rather than cut losses and hunker down in social isolation, festival director Tine Fischer and her scrappy team did the exact opposite, reaching out online to actually expand the CPH:DOX audience on a global scale. Picking up and relocating to […]

DAFilms, DocAlliance’s Streaming Service for Seven European Nonfiction Festivals, Launches in the US

DAFilms is a VOD platform run by the DocAlliance, which (per their press release) is “a creative partnership between seven of the major European documentary festivals.” Those seven are CPH:DOX, Doclisboa, Millennium Docs Against Gravity FF, DOK Leipzig, FIDMarseille, Ji.hlava IDFF and Visions du Réel. As of March 30, America-based streamers can start streaming for the site for $6.99/month (or $4.99/month with an annual subscription, with individual rental fees for certain titles). While the exact catalogue has yet to be determined, the plan is to showcase some of the best titles from these festivals, both old and new, with future […]

“Avoid Time Blur”: at CPH:DOX, the Red Heaven Filmmakers on Surviving Isolation

Keeping calm and carrying on (digitally, that is) during the global pandemic, CPH:DOX fittingly launched its five-day CPH:CONFERENCE series with a program titled “Science is Culture.” The “day celebrating the value of science in society and exploring how new approaches to science storytelling can engage the audience” was moderated by Jessica Harrop, supervising producer of science-centric doc studio Sandbox Films. (And impressively so. Not only did Harrop seem to be downloading questions directly from my head, but she kept the proceedings running swiftly and smoothly, all while sheltering in place from her Brooklyn apartment no less.) While every discussion was […]

“…A Film Only with Voiceover and Empty Spaces, Mirroring the Process of Becoming Anorexic”: Moara Passoni on Her CPH:DOX Debut Ecstasy

Premiering in the DOX:AWARD main competition at this year’s (now digital) CPH:DOX, Ecstasy (Êxtase) is the astonishing debut of Brazilian filmmaker Moara Passoni, a longtime collaborator of The Edge of Democracy Oscar nominee Petra Costa (who serves as the doc’s producer). It’s a mix of fiction and nonfiction, of historical images and staged scenes, of autobiographical diary entries obsessively developing a “geometry of hunger” even as political chaos grips ’90s Brazil (and it’s all tied together by a stunning soundtrack, including music by David Lynch and Lykke Li). It’s also a startlingly unusual coming-of-age story, one in which the director […]

True/False Film Fest 2020: The Value of the Theatrical Experience (Coronavirus Remix)

“You guys are going to spend the next year stuck quarantined with buskers,” a friend wrote on my way to True/False, which seemed to be sliding just under the wire of possibility even before I got there–a foreboding confirmed by day two, when SXSW became the first film festival to cancel. Onscreen, every handshake and hug was charged with an unintended jolt; in the theaters, elbow bumps were exchanged, nervous jokes made and telltale pools of soapy foam collected at the bottom of bathroom sinks. On its last day, True/False added one of SXSW’s now-homeless premieres, a special by (noted […]

CPH:DOX Goes Live (and Virtual): Online Talks and Debates

CPH:DOX, having already established itself as one of the most cutting-edge festivals on the circuit, can now take the prize for the ballsiest fest around. As a global pandemic causes cancellations and postponements from SXSW to Tribeca on these shores, the feisty Copenhagen International Documentary Festival has nevertheless refused to concede defeat. Within hours of the Danish government announcing restrictions on public gatherings, the festival made an announcement of its own. CPH:DOX 2020 would keep calm, carry on, and simply pivot to the virtual world. And as manmade “natural” disasters are primed to become the new normal, it might also […]

An Evening of Derek Jarman, Before the Lockdown: Jeffrey Babcock on the (Temporary, We Hope) Loss of Underground Cinemas

In 2011, Lauren Wissot wrote about underground cinema curator Jeffrey Babcock, who programs films in theaters throughout Amsterdam. She forwarded me the below email, from his Jeffrey’s underground cinemas newsletter, and I think it captures beautifully the emotional tenor of the present moment as it pertains to film exhibition. With Babcock’s permission, we’re reprinting it here. — Editor Greetings everyone, I hope you are doing well, of course. This is one of the saddest announcements since I started the cinemas, because all the screenings have been cancelled by government orders. I hear people panicking, and others are suggesting good things […]

Death of a Moment: A Muslim Filmmaker at SXSW

For the first time in its 34-year history, the SXSW Film Festival got cancelled amid coronavirus fears. For an indie filmmaker like me, I’ll Meet You There – Bismil, which was one of only ten films out of thousands to be selected in the narrative competition, was the film of my life; that personal story I was dying to tell, as best as I could, with as little as I had. The film that took a decade to decide to really shoot. The film that faced hundreds of rejections before one yes. Being in competition at a world-renowned festival like SXSW is not […]

Watch: First Look Selection If We Say That We Are Friends in a “Socially Distant” Online Screening

Yaara Sumerek’s short film If We Say That We Are Friends was scheduled to have its New York premiere tonight at the Museum of the Moving Image’s First Look series. Of course, it’s been cancelled, along with the majority of the city’s cultural activity in the wake of the Coronavirus. But in what’s perhaps a forerunner of the way filmmakers may be responding to the screening cessations in the weeks ahead, Sumerek is going ahead with the event, but online, in a “social distant screening.” At 7:00 PM, viewers can click on this Vimeo link and use the password “Dine” […]