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Leipzig, May, 12th, 2017 (DOK Leipzig). In its 60th anniversary edition, which will be taking place against a backdrop of political polarisation and the erosion of democratic values across the world, DOK Leipzig will propose forward-thinking strategies for art and politics. The leitmotif of this year's festival is Nach der Angst (Post-Angst) and also runs through the Special Programmes.
Taking place as it is 100 years after the October Revolution, the Retrospective will be about totalitarian regimes' filmic strategies for the representation of power after 1917. It will highlight the geographic and temporal range of visual politics in communist states and also show how methods resorted to in the past are once again being employed today, in times of heated political debate. The festival’s Country Focus will be Georgia; thus DOK Leipzig will be paying tribute to a country whose flourishing film industry has been witnessed and admired at international festivals for some years now and at the same time shedding light on a region which has had to develop a new understanding of itself as it has cast off its Soviet past. This year’s Homage is dedicated to the US filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt, a master in the art of deconstructing archival footage. In his experimental filmmaking, he frees images and sound from their original context, enabling new associations and interpretations.
"At a time when many political foundations are on shaky ground, we want to know what could come after the angst?" says festival director Leena Pasanen. "What visions for the future can be developed when fear is driving people towards authoritarian power structures? What can art and society do with regard to the erosion of democracy, the developments in the US and Europe's uncertain future? We want to learn from history, rub salt in the wounds but also dare to dream of utopia," she continues.
The other Special Programmes will also highlight the festival's theme. The programme for young audiences will focus on films that depict how many youths are fleeing reality, through fancy dress (e.g. "cosplay"), role play or other types of games. It will examine the reasons youths have for wanting to escape the world and their needs and at the same time explore the creativity and potential involved with developing new realities. An animation programme inspired by the festival's theme and a DEFA Matinee will complement the Special Programmes.
The theme is not only the leitmotif of all the Special Programmes but also alludes to the festival's eventful past, as Leena Pasanen says: "In the GDR, from the time the festival was founded, filmmakers and audience members would seek places that were free during the documentary film week - despite the censorship and interference – where artistic exchange could take place in a safe zone, a refuge. Looking to the past and the future, we intend to uphold principles that the festival's founders always sought to defend: freedom of speech, artistic freedom and human dignity. At the same time, the festival's history teaches us that post-angst can also be pre-angst. In the GDR, festival years that were more liberal tended to be followed by years when the state's censorship was more rigid. We have to fight constantly for democratic values."
This year's DOK Leipzig will take place between 30th October and 5th November. The Official Selection and the Special Programmes will comprise over 300 films from all over the world. As in previous years, the Official Selection is chosen independently of the festival's theme.