DocsBarcelona fixes its gaze on patriarchal violence and life in Ukraine beyond the war | Entertainment | The USA Print

'Lyra' poster

The Barcelona International Documentary Film Festival enters its 26th edition, from May 18 to 28, with the screening of 26 feature films and eleven short films that can be seen at the CCCB, the Aribau Cinema and the Filmoteca de Catalunya. This year DocsBarcelona will have the collaboration of the Scope Festival, which will allow a selection of the programming to be viewed on its platform, an essential cultural event in the Catalan capital. The contest has also renewed its organizing team to achieve, in the words of its founder Joan González, “an even greater impact on society and on the international documentary community”.

The new artistic director, Anna Petrus, reflects on the two great challenges that look them in the eye: “On the one hand, to look, listen and understand the profound changes that the documentary sector is undergoing at a local and international level. And on the other, another, to watch, listen and welcome the diverse audiences to which any festival is due. We want DocsBarcelona to be the home of all audiences avid for stories and audiovisuals in Barcelona”. The new executive producer of the contest, Xavier Conesa, adds the great objective after 25 years of history, of “positioning Docs as one of the best documentary festivals in the world”.

We want DocsBarcelona to be the home of all audiences avid for stories and audiovisuals in Barcelona

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anna petrusartistic director

This new edition of the Docs will raise the curtain with Smoke Sauna Sisterhood, a Sundance award-winning sorority song inspired by Vermeer’s painting that observes a group of women sharing emotions and intimate experiences inside a sauna. For eleven days, the festival will offer a series of productions that ensure a wide range of styles and themes, with a great line related to the violence of patriarchy in society. This is the case of the inaugural film, but also of Lyrawith which filmmaker Alison Millar vindicates the figure of Lyra McKee, an Irish LGTBIQ+ journalist and activist who was murdered at the hands of a member of the new IRA in 2019. An award-winning film from the Sheffield International Documentary Festival.

‘Lyra’ poster

Also in the Panorama section you can enjoy Polish Prayers, by Hanka Nobis, about the intimate contradictions of a young Pole who is part of an ultra-conservative group that makes a banner of homophobia. And by his side, Who I Am Notthe debut feature of the Romanian Tünde Skovrán, goes beyond gender binary within the heteropatriarchal normative framework, following the experiences of two South African intersex people.

Patriarchal violence also structures The Bilbaos, an Argentine production directed by Pedro Speroni that accompanies a boxer on his release from prison and his reunion with his wife and daughter. Similarly, the Catalan film Now the llum falls verticallydebut feature by the Greek Efthymia Zymvragaki, delves into the cycle of violence, revealing an aggressor who is also a victim of patriarchy, and contrasting this testimony with the filmmaker’s own family history.

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Image of 'The Bilbaos'

Image of ‘The Bilbaos’

As every year, DocsBarcelona continues to bet on local talent, offering the polyhedral perspectives that Catalan cinema dedicates to the documentary genre. And one of the highlights that participate in the Panorama Section is the singlewith which the director Paloma Zapata, who already visited the festival with Peret (2018), once again makes a portrait of an emblematic figure of the music of our country. And it is that the personality and career of Antonia Singla Contreras made her a sensation in Spain in the 60s, when she participated in the mythical film Los Tarantos and when her art as a dancer made her an icon of flamenco, photographed by Colita or Xavier Miserachs. Deaf since she was little, La Singla would mysteriously disappear from the stage and public life, and this documentary explains what happened to her.

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Astrid MeseguerBarcelona


Four other Catalan films will form part of the Latitude Section. In Aire, by Ricardo Íscar, we will follow two professionals in a risky sport such as freediving. For his part, Pau Faus will present Fauna, a humanist story full of contrasts that takes us to CreSA (Animal Health Research Center) in Bellaterra, where its scientists are investigating a vaccine for Covid. The contest will offer, in a special session, the medium-length film Jaume Plensa. Poetry of silence directed by Josep M. Civit, which reflects the relationship between Jaume Plensa and Antoni Gaudí, two of the most exceptional creators and artists in our country.

The festival inaugurates in this edition an anti-discriminatory code of conduct

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DocsBarcelona does not forget the war in Ukraine to reflect on the experience of the war beyond the front, based on portraits of post-Soviet society, military abuses and family breakdowns, but also focusing on adolescent dreams and in the necessary projection of a future horizon. And it will do so with the visit of the prestigious filmmaker Vitaly Mansky, who will present in a Special Session his latest work, Eastern Front, co-directed by Yevhen Titarenko and premiered at the last Berlinale. Mansky will also participate together with the Catalan Alba Sotorra in the conference “The making of documentaries in the context of a war”, moderated by the journalist Marc Marginedas.

Likewise, the Panorama section includes two feature films related to the subject in competition: We Will Not Fade Away, directed by Alisa Kovalenko, which portrays five adolescents from the Donbas and Motherland region, a portrait of contemporary Belarus and the violence that pervades it, signed by Alexander Mihalkovich and Hanna Badziaka. In this year’s edition we will have the different portraits of the human soul reflected through the beauty that directors have been able to create, from the beauty that captivates us and makes us fly to the beauty that causes us pain and anguish. ”, explains Joan González.

Still from the documentary 'We will not fade away'

Still from the documentary ‘We will not fade away’

The festival, which has implemented an anti-discriminatory code of conduct, will pay tribute to the prestigious Czech documentary filmmaker Helena Třeštíková, who will receive this year’s DocsBarcelona Honor Award and from whom a master class will be offered. The filmmaker Isabel Coixet will act as president of the jury of the Official Panorama Section.

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