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Documentary Film Festival 2020 highlights community struggles – Entertainment



The annual Documentary Film Festival returns with 40 films from 19 countries to be screened online from Nov. 25 through to Dec. 14.

Organized by Yogyakarta-based Forum Film Dokumenter and the Education and Culture Ministry, the 19th edition of the Documentary Film Festival (FFD) received more than 300 submissions during the May-August period.

Growing community: A resident watches the opening of the 2020 Documentary Film Festival. Yogyakarta-based singer Leilani Hermiasih, known as Frau, performed and shared her reflections on the pandemic situation in a continuous shot, documentary style video. (Courtesy of FFD 2020/-)

“We decided to continue to hold the festival as we are committed to providing access and to developing a space for society to interact with documentaries,” said FFD 2020 director Anita Reza Zein at the virtual opening ceremony.

“This pandemic situation has challenged us to find an alternative to physical gathering. We believe it to be an opportunity to reach a wider public audience without geographical boundaries.”

The festival presents six main programs, which will include competition programs in the international full-length film, Indonesian full-length film, short film and student categories.

The winners will be announced on the closing day.

The Lanskap (Landscape) program will present eight documentaries that depict Indonesia in the past three years.

Dutch filmmaker Bert Haanstra has been chosen for Retrospektif — a program focusing on the works of a filmmaker and their contribution to the industry — to see his cinematic journey, artistic integrity and humorous creativity through his four short and two full-length documentaries.

The first-ever of its kind in Southeast Asia since 2002, initially known as the Yogyakarta Documentary Film Festival (FFD Yogyakarta), this year it has chosen the theme of imagined future of the world as its perspective.

The opening film In Touch, a 2018 Polish film directed by Paweł Ziemilski, resonates the most with the world today in which people rely on telecommunications technology to shorten the distances between each other.

It follows a community in Stare Juchy, a small town in Poland, one third of whose people — mostly the young — have moved to Iceland to settle down.

Using video mapping to create a situation as if the aging parents and their children were in a room together, the director has captured their conversations and the longings that even a phone call will not satisfy.

The other five films in the Perspective section also show how different communities struggle for their survival.

A collection of memories in Map of Latin American Dreams by Martin Weber shows how people dealt with authoritarian regimes for two decades, while Letter to Buriram by South Korean director Oh Minwook is a reflection of the unpleasant memories of the occupation of a country.

The eviction of a farming village in Guangzhou, China, to make way for a hotel and an ecopark and how the community tried to return to their land in the span of seven years was captured in A New Era by Franco-Argentino director Boris Svartzman.

Similarly, Doel by Danish filmmaker Frederik Sølberg follows a small community determined to stay in the Belgian “ghost town” of the same name and how they react to the danger of being overrun by corporate interests.

The curatorial note for the Perspective program states that the documentaries could be an eye-opener for the world in the future, instead of becoming a global futuristic society, people are left helpless and to their own devices or, as the last film suggests, becoming empowered communities.

Into the Movement by Lorenzo Melegari follows Art Lab, a social activity center in Parma, Italy, and the student movement at the front line of the collective movement in the fight for the right to housing.

Besides the film screenings and competitions, FFD 2020 will also hold a series of film discussions in DocTalk and Public Lecture programs and a workshop for film critics. (ste)

— The public is invited to watch all films for free at

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