International Documentary Film Festival Vienna 2020

Th, 7. – Th, 14. May 2020

Breathe in and enjoy documentary cinema!This is the inspiring vision behind the 14th edition of the ethnocineca – International Documentary Film Festival Vienna. From 7-14 May, 2020 and guided by the festival theme B R E A T H E, we were looking forward to 8 days of diverse ethnographic and documentary films to be shown in the theaters of the Votiv Kino and the Kino de France. With 50 selected feature length and short films, as well as numerous side events, the team has created a program inviting conversations on sensory worlds ignited by documentary film art. However, with the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we too had to cancel the 2020 festival edition. 

The programme (that was already completed) along with the wonderful contributions by filmmakers and social scientists that we wanted to make accessible to our cinema-loving audience sadly went into our archives. The cancellation of the festival is a serious loss for all of us, on an artistic, human and professional level. The 50 selected films of this year’s programme are pearls of visual expression that would have provided unique experiences of how human beings respond to the world in all its beauty and variety: glimpses of different cultural settings, struggles for freedom, human-nature dialogues, and stories about hope for a better future.

Despite being unable to make you experience the films in the cinemas of Vienna this year, we have decided that we want, at least, to share with you on our website and in the booklet the wonderful stories and reflections that would have made up the richness of this year’s programme. Under the festival theme B R E A T H E the curation highlights those qualities of documentary filmmaking that either take our breath away or remind us that we are, in fact, also breathing. An uncanny central topic in these times. The poetry of the images, the intensity of the impressions, the art of film staging will take us into unexplored worlds. When was the last time that something took your breath away? When did you feel goose bumps creeping up our arms in front of an image? When did you feel so at awe that you had to remind yourself that you were just in a movie hall?

With the outbreak of Corona, the importance and changing meaning of breathing has entered our lives. We are faced by the uncanny paradox of a planet that starts to breathe again just when many human beings all over the planet grasp for air. More than ever we have realized our need to breathe, and to breathe deeply, in order to survive through these challenging times. It feels strange that already months ago, long before the Corona virus had started turning our lives upside down, we decided to focus on the peaceful slowness of breathing amidst the fast pace of urgent questions regarding our future. And we decided to turn our attention to the beauty within. In order to see the world from as many perspectives as possible, we devoted our attention to those films that make us ‘feel’ the burning issues of this planet through the lens of cinematic art. We were looking for “the breath of films” itself and for the strength of the cinematic form as a medium capable of bringing ideas, worlds and people closer together.

Deliberately we have foregrounded the sensory power of film, because above all it is this quality that appeal to us as humans. Regardless of whether they focus on personal fates, political upheaval, moral issues, social controversy or the climate crisis, the films we have selected emphasise the beauty and the good that sustain filmic narratives. This, we believe, is especially important in times when we are faced with uncertainty and many open questions about the future. Poetic and experimental approaches have a unique capacity to draw attention to those sensory dimensions of world events that are difficult to express in words alone. Where there is shadow there is light and documentary films can show us the beauty of relationships between human beings and the world that surrounds them. 

At the opening of the festival, Mattijs van de Port intended to take us into the disorder of the world with his keynote “Sensing the Mess”. In his talk he emphasised the ways in which film rather than the artificial order of academic texts has the capacity to embroil us in the complexities of chaos that make up the abundance of life. In this year’s master class, filmmaker Tiago Hispanha would have explored the immersive power of documentary filmmaking through the poetry of image and sound and how these can make current hot issues of our times tangible. In the panel discussion in cooperation with dok.at, Dimitra Kofti (Cracks) and Boris Svartzman (A New Era) wanted to discuss economic and social upheavals based on their impressive films giving testimony to these phenomena. Ariane Lorrain’s workshop would have dealt with philosophical and sensory understandings of a world under pressure. Building on her film Zagros, she focusses on the senses and on the meaning of traditional artisanery, and the poetry of communities.

Trailer 2020

TEAM 2020

Artistic Directors: Marie-Christine Hartig, Martin Lintner, Katja Seidel
Management: Marie-Christine Hartig, Martin Lintner, Katja Seidel
Programme Coordination: Nóra Soponyai, Simone Traunmüller
Marketing: Rocío Burchard Rodriguez
Cooperations: Hannah Hauptmann
Filmworkshop: Katja Seidel, Sophie Wagner
Guest Service: Nóra Soponyai, Simone Traunmüller
Funding: Martin Lintner, Katja Seidel
Sponsoring: Saskya TschebannPatrick Liebl
Technics and Film Prints: Matthias Grausgruber
Website: Matthias Grausgruber, Martin Lintner
Festival Assistance: Iva Bak, Martina Genetti, Julian Grill, Flora Mory, Florence Naly, Patrick Liebl 
Festivaltrailer: Martin Lintner 
Graphics: Cati Krüger, Martin Lintner
Press: Elke Weilharter, Sky unlimited

Programme Curation

International Documentary Award (IDA): Marie-Christine Hartig, Martin Lintner
Austrian Documentary Award (ADA): Marie-Christine Hartig, Martin Lintner, Katja Seidel
Excellence in Visual Anthropology Award (EVA): Katja Seidel, Hannah Hauptmann
International Shorts Award (ISA): : Rocío Burchard Rodriguez, Saskya Tschebann
Ethnocineca Student Shorts Award (ESSA): Nóra Soponyai, Simone Traunmüller