This year’s International Competition spotlights some of our society’s unique means of perception and expression.
If the great challenges of our era are defined by their universality, the media tends to homogenize experiences and to impose a common language to convey impressions, which nevertheless remain irreversibly unique. It is precisely this tension between general themes and particular ways of expression that drives this year’s competition. Through its selection, the International Competition offers a panorama of the current state of documentary film, at its most conceptually and formally ambitious, and proves that the language of cinema is a living organism, perpetually transforming and reinventing itself.
With three noteworthy exceptions, the films selected in the Competition see their author pointing the camera to the world outside. Sometimes, it takes on human traits — of a solitary woman, who owns a cafe din the middle of the desert, in “143 Sahara Street” (Hassen Ferhani), of a Nigerian immigrant in Austria, in “Movements of a Nearby Mountain” (Sebastian Brameshuber), or of a man who dies alone, thus awakening a cascade of memories in his fellow villagers, in “Oroslan” (Matiaž Ivanišin). Other times, the directors establish pertinent connections between the neocolonialism of the early 20th century, as in “Fordlandia” (Sousana de Sousa Dias), the Vietnam War, as in “The Future Cries Beneath Our Soil” (Phan Thu Hang), or the first concentration camps that cropped up shortly after Hitler’s rise to power, in “Status and Terrain” (Ute Adamczewski) and the current state of the world.
The other three films in the Competition are narrated in the first person, but by no means offer narrower outlooks on today’s society. The filmmakers’ personal experience mediates and emphasizes crucial issues, such as European emigration in “La Mer du milieu” (Jean-Marc Chapoulie), depression in “Ne croyez surtout pas que je hurle” (Frank Beauvais), or geopolitical changes from the 1970s and onwards in “Around the World When You Were My Age” (Aya Koretzky).