Photo of people watching a movie in a dark theater. Photo by Brands&People on Unsplash.

DOK 2023 Preview: Everything You Need to Know


Did you know that our fair city is home to the oldest documentary film festival in Europe?

From 8 to 15 October, the 66th International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film–DOK Leipzig for short–will bring 225 films and extended reality works to local cinemas and other venues around the city. For those more comfortable screening from the comfort of their own home, there’s an option for you, too. You’ll also have the opportunity to attend discussions with the filmmakers and other live events throughout the week. 

Festival poster of the International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film returns 8 October to 15 October 2023.

DOK 2023 opens with White Angel

The festival’s opening film, which is also the world premiere, is White Angel: The End of Marinka, directed by Leipzig investigative journalist Arndt Ginzel. The 103-minute film documents the evacuation of residents of Marinka, a small town in Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast region, in the spring of 2022. The footage is in part captured by a police officer’s helmet camera, and six months after the rescue, Ginzel interviewed the survivors, and the filmmakers say the account is of “loss, of pain and sadness, but also of hopes and dreams.”

“Panorama: Central and Eastern Europe”

Indeed, the Russian war in Ukraine is persistent throughout the festival, which includes a series of films called “Panorama: Central and Eastern Europe.” Films in this category include Valerija by Sara Jurinčić, which document two women’s unwavering commitment to caring for graves on an island cemetery. Other films explore the importance of women in Belarus’ pro-democracy protests, learning a foreign language while maintaining your sense of self (which sounds like a perfect pick for us Glocals) and what happens when you live for weeks in an underground metro station while a war rages above the surface. 

Animation and extended reality

On the animation front, in 27, the protagonist Alice enjoys a night of freedom and expression on her 27th birthday; Families’ Albums abstractly explores found photo albums. DOK Neuland, from 10 to 15 October, features 10 extended reality works under the banner of “Nowhere is Only Somewhere.”

There are numerous other film categories that you can browse here.

What we’re excited to see

With more than 200 films, we know the DOK has something for you. We’re excited to see The Apocalyptic Is the Mother of All Christian Theology, directed by Jim Finn, which “dissects two thousand years of appropriation and propaganda” on the Christian Apostle Paul; Bo Wang’s An Asian Ghost Story, on Communism, capitalism and the demand for “real Asian hair” wigs; Beauty and the Lawyer, directed by Hovhannes Ishkhanyan, which explores gender, sexuality and “traditional” Armenian values; and 17 June in Saarland, a short film from 1964 with a vox-pop approach to the 11th anniversary of the GDR uprising.

Visit DOK 2023

You can purchase individual tickets to the films or a festival pass for €75, either online or at one of the local box offices. There are also select events with free admission. In keeping with the festival spirit, there are no seat reservations or reserved seating. There are more resources for planning your visit here.

Are you attending DOK Leipzig for the first time or the 66th time (or somewhere in between)? Let us know your impressions in the comments or on our social media page.

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