DOKer: How We Made The Festival Of Rare Documentary Films

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DOKer: How We Made The Festival Of Rare Documentary Films
DOKer: How We Made The Festival Of Rare Documentary Films

Video: DOKer: How We Made The Festival Of Rare Documentary Films

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IN THE HEADING "COMMUNICATIONS" WE TELL ABOUT GIRLS, who came up with a common cause and achieved success in it. And at the same time we expose the myth that women are not capable of friendly feelings, but can only compete aggressively. The DOKer International Documentary Film Festival will take place in five Russian cities in early April. The program of "DOKER" is traditionally built around works of authorship - and this is an almost exclusive chance to see films that, most likely, will not be able to be seen anywhere else (not only on the big screen, but also on the Internet). We talked with the founders of DOKer Irina Shatalova and Nastya Tarasova about how it is possible to grow a representative international film festival, how it is being prepared and how difficult its work is due to the new laws adopted by the Ministry of Culture last year.


Dmitry Kurkin

How DOKer appeared

Irina Shatalova: I graduated from the camera department of VGIK, Vadim Yusov's workshop in 2007, since then I have been working in documentary, occasionally switching to fiction or, rather, hybrid cinema. I think my main profession is cinematography, despite the fact that "DOKer" makes serious changes in the life and professional schedule - the festival even influenced the acceptance of proposals for filming.

Nastya Tarasova: I am a director, graduated from VGIK, I have been doing documentary films for more than ten years - at different studios and my own production. She shot films not only in Russia, but also in Poland, Italy and the USA.

Irina Shatalova: We decided to make the festival twelve years ago, when we first visited such a foreign event as authors. It was the German DOK Leipzig, whose history stretched back more than half a century, that is, it attracted the third generation of city dwellers. But then it was not this that shocked, but the program - a documentary film, which we had never seen before, despite the five-year study at VGIK. It was there that our common bottomless isolation became obvious to me, the isolation of both us, documentary filmmakers, and Russian film critics, and even more so the audience from the most important cultural processes, including the author's documentary cinema.

After this experience, it took another five years before we started organizing film screenings ourselves. From the very beginning, we saw the festival exactly as it became. But we were not event managers and realized that if we didn’t prepare the ground and gained experience, we wouldn’t be able to achieve a serious level. Therefore, in 2011, we first opened the DOKer Film Screenings Project - it was a non-commercial, in some ways even charitable activity, because we endlessly invested our time, efforts and money. The project existed in that format for four years.

We regularly, it happened that with a frequency of once a week, organized screenings and master classes, were not tied to one place, were ready to embark on any adventures, just to promote documentary films. During this time, the team has grown and gained experience, so in the summer of 2014 we felt that we were ready for more - and announced the birth of a film festival. The main thing is that we ourselves are clear why we are now at this point. We are not trying to artificially inflate something from ourselves, no one pushes money into us, no one stands behind us. We are where we are. And the philosophy here is very simple: "Do what you must, and come what may."

How films are selected

Nastya Tarasova: The work of selecting films does not end there. Now there will be a festival in April, and from June we will again start accepting applications for next year. Most likely, from the middle of summer I will start considering the general flow, and it will last until January inclusive. There are many applications, more than a thousand.Among them there are a lot of "rubbish" - unprofessional works concocted by amateurs, and purely tele-format projects, so you have to carefully divide everything into plastic, paper and precious metal. However, such random applications come across very interesting films either by independent directors or debutants, so I watch absolutely everything that comes. In parallel, we are working with distributors in a separate stream - there are companies with which our tastes coincide.

Now it is no longer necessary to travel all year round to festivals, most of the new works can be seen remotely. But our team traditionally goes to a number of key events in the fall, for example, to the Czech Republic - to the city of Jihlava, where the largest author's dock festival from Central and Eastern Europe takes place, or to the same DOK Leipzig - one of the oldest festivals in Europe. We have a complete understanding with the organizers of these events since the time when we ourselves participated there. In addition to the films that we do not forget to grab from there, we also catch changes in the atmosphere of film screenings from the point of view of the organizers. World festivals are changing, and we want to change too. It is important for us to be inspired by the experience of other people.

After processing all applications, searching for films on film markets and in distributors' piggy banks, we form special festival programs. In addition, I compile longlists for full-length and short-length contests. By the winter, I have already connected the commission, which, by selecting the short list, helps to make sure that the display of this or that work is interesting and important. It is my responsibility to assure everyone of the importance of the find, and Irina is responsible for making sure that the find becomes a prey.

Irina Shatalova: If the film is difficult to bring or there are no negotiations with the copyright holder, and you understand that without this work the festival will be different, the surest way is an open dialogue with the author, best of all, directly with the director. When the author understands the importance of his film for the festival, he is ready to help and come, and in general he is ready for a lot.

Last year, DOKer opened with the Polish film Beyond the Limit by Martha Prus about the Olympic champion in rhythmic gymnastics Margarita Mamun. I knew that such a film was being prepared already a year before its premiere at the IDFA Film Festival in Amsterdam and followed the news closely. As soon as I realized that the tape was ready, I immediately requested a review. On the same day, Nastya and I watched the film, then passed it on to the rest of the selectors and instantly realized that he should open the festival. However, for this to happen, it took another four months of persuasion and negotiations, and not only with the producers, but also with one of the heroines of the film, Irina Viner, and with the Russian Federation of Rhythmic Gymnastics, lawyers and with a bunch of people whose existence you do not even suspect. … On this path, many times one could give up and choose some less problematic film. But I clearly understood my motivation and knew that she was driving the director Martha Prus, so everything worked out.

About problems and festival laws

Irina Shatalova: The main problem is an insufficient budget for our requests and endless attempts to find it in conditions of total independence. The fact is that the presence of authors at the shows and their discussions with the audience is of fundamental importance to us; we consider this part of the event to be meaningful. Therefore, our main expenses are just bringing authors from different parts of the world to Moscow.

As for the new laws on film festivals, this is just a bureaucratization of processes. Judging by the news from the Ministry of Culture, the majority of Russian festivals, regardless of political views and orientations, were included in the official list and, according to the law, can show films without distribution certificates. That is, no one at the state level introduced any special prohibitions, but everyone, just in case, was counted and taught to brochure documents.

About favorite movies and sensations

IRINA Shatalova: What is important for me is a sense of awareness, acceptance of myself and the world in a new way, a naive sense of delight and simultaneous wisdom, which arose twelve years ago in a dark cinema when watching a documentary on a big screen. If I felt it, then someone else will certainly feel it. Experience shows that this is such an acquisition for life, it does not fade away.

NASTYA TARASOVA: When you compose a program, all the films from it are favorite and important. But from a distance, over time, I understand that some films are better remembered - perhaps because of the impressions that you experience, watching them already at the festival, together with the audience, catching the emotional reaction of the audience.

For example, Return to Self, a film about a boy who travels to Tibet to begin his monastic life, is a powerful emotional movie about growing up and parting. It won the Grand Prix, and this is the rare case when the opinion of the jury coincided with the opinion of the audience. We showed it once, the second and the third, because the word of mouth couldn't calm down and the audience walked and walked. People were crying when they left the session. There was also Makala, a stunning example of a very humane art house: camera work, direction, hero, place and, as in truly outstanding documentary filmmaking, the ability to get into another reality without words - the reality of a man who carries coal for sale to provide for his family, drags carrying a huge load like an ant.

“Little Given”, again, was remembered not just as a film, but as an event: about eight hundred children and parents left the hall, beaming with happiness. Then we were asked how this “documentary Avatar” could be released. As a program director with ambitions, I am always pleased to open debuts, which then go to festivals and collect prizes. For example, the Chinese film "The Harvesters": I was not sure that the jury would understand it - let alone the audience. It was removed by a nugget, which did not study anywhere at all, but somewhere resembled courses. This is an autobiographical film about the situation of a poor family who is starving, trying to find money and survive. It was filmed with seven (!) Shots, and everything is conveyed in these shots.

Cover: thenatchdl -


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