DOK Leipzig 2020 – a hybrid film festival for our times

This year’s DOK Leipzig documentary and animation film festival will be quite different. While still imbued with the same spirit of creativity and exploration, DOK will have to move, at least partially, online. Like every other major event this year, our beloved DOK fest has to get creative to address the current world-wide crisis, becoming a hybrid film festival. Especially with its global reach and audience, the festival cannot invite the world to congregate in our city as it’s used to.

With a smaller than usual but still impressive lineup of 120 films, DOK Leipzig is not willing to let the COVID threat extinguish its cultural mission towards the film-making community and our city’s culture-hungry masses.

Opening DOK 2019, Hauptbahnhof Osthalle, copyright by DOK Leipzig 2019, photo by Jana Maria Lippitz

There will still be live cinema screenings.

However, the audience won’t be able to ask filmmakers and creatives their question in person. Rather, the DOK team will be hosting a variety of different digital solutions to get audiences and filmmakers in contact with each other. Be it through pre-screened introductions to be shown before premieres, live-streaming Q&A sessions, or mixing on- and offline interaction in new, exciting ways. Typical for the festival’s pioneering spirit, this year’s challenges could create new avenues for filmmakers to present their work.

In this participatory vein, the hybrid film festival will also have a new audience jury and award: The Golden Section

This new awards section will make use of the local Leipzig audiences and ask them to vote for their favorites in each category, long and short form documentary as well as animation short films. A selection of Leipzigers who will get to see all the entries on our city’s silver screens will add another glocal facette to this year’s hybrid DOK Leipzig.

DOK Leipzig Sommerkino, copyright by DOK Leipzig

There is also another new project from DOK Leipzig that has already started. The DOK Sommerkino adds another exciting avenue for documentary screenings. In cooperation with Parkbühne Leipzig, there will be outdoor screenings of some of last year’s favorite docs.

The next two screenings will be held on the 5th and 13th of August at 8 pm in Clara-Zetkin-Park.

Next up, on the 5th, will be an intimate, humorous look at the farcical Royals of Romania. The Royal Train by Johannes Holzhausen shows up close and personal what monarchy and royal business looks like in the 21st century. We had a chance to participate in the original screening with a Q&A by the director who is actually a distant relative of the Royal Family. He mentioned that the subjects of the documentary were silent during their first screening of the film. Afterwards, he quoted Princess Margareta’s review: “Extremely strong, but I do not know if it’s good or bad for us.”

Finally, the Sommerkino closes with the super-cute animated feature film Marona’s Fantastic Tale about the turbulent life of a dog who has lived through various owners during her lifetime. In her own, canine voice and illustrated with gorgeous, multi-facetted animaiton techniques, Marona’s life is indeed brought to fantastical life.

Heiner Uebbing originally hails from rural Lower Saxony and is based in Leipzig. His passion for film dates back to his teenage years, when he started attending film festivals, writing and corresponding about his experiences. You can probably spot him in one of Leipzig’s OmU/OV screenings in the front rows.

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