Film-maker Peter Greenaway, responsible for cinematic ‘experiences’ Drowning by Numbers and The Pillow Book, is the special guest of this years Barcelona’s documentary film festival DocsBarcelona.
There is a competitive edge to this edition of the festival that screens 42, mainly contemporary, documentary films, most subtitled in English. The presence of the Welsh director, whose personal choices are shown in the ‘Dernier Repas’ section, draws attention to the creativity of contemporary documentary filmmaking that adopts the techniques of cinema to deliver a more emphatic punch.
There are 10 sections to the festival. Both the films selected to inaugurate Docs, You Don’t Like the Truth. 4 Days Inside Guantánamo by Luc Côté and Patricio Henríquez, and Janus Metz’s Armadillo, explore issues raised by hit movie The Hurt Locker. The former uses security camera footage of an interrogation to ask what is ‘permissible’ in times of war, while the latter follows a group of Danish soldiers stationed in Afghanistan to present the paradoxical mental state of deep anxiety and adrenaline addiction suffered by soldiers on the front line. Male drama of a different sort is explored in Steam of Life by Joonas Berghäll and Mika Hotakainen which breaches the sanctified domain of the Finnish sauna to eavesdrop on naked conversations.
Pamela Yates is the director behind The Reckoning included in ‘Historia’, which shows documentaries examining historical events. The film unfolds like a thriller, yet its subject matter is sobering: the International Criminal Court’s attempts to try the perpetrators of genocide in Africa. ‘D’Amèrica’ shows films made by Central and South American film makers, while Nicaragua is the setting for the Swedish/Spanish film Last Chapter: Goodbye Nicaragua featured in ‘DocsAffairs’, a new section that screens in-depth reports. Journalist Peter Torbiörnsson returns to the country to discover the truth behind the La Penca bombing that killed three journalists and injured many more during a jungle-based press conference in 1984.
‘Doc! Doc! Doc!’ highlights emerging directors’ work, while ‘Finisterrae’ features those who endured extraordinary hardship in making films. You All Are Captains by 27-year-old Oliver Laxe is an account of the Parisian’s well-meaning, but disastrous attempt to set up a film making workshop for Moroccan street children. ‘Catalan Day’ film Cuchillo de Palo by Renate Costa explores the clandestine history of Paraguay.
The presence of directors at Docs gives audiences the opportunity to ask questions and make comments. Seven prizes are awarded, including one for best film, a special jury prize and a public prize.