International Documentary Film Festival Vienna 2021

Thursday 6th of May – Thursday 13th of May 2021

The 15th edition of the ethnocineca – International Documentary Film Festival Vienna will take place as an online festival from May 6 – 13, 2021. Over the course of eight days, the ethnocineca Online Edition will showcase contemporary documentary cinema with 20 feature-length and 5 short films. The films present a selection of the total of 52 outstanding documentaries that we had curated for the programme of our anniversary edition that was originally planned for the hybrid edition. The films are accompanied by a series of multifaceted side events, which will also take place online in the form of Live- Events.

Programme Folder (pdf in German)

The ethnocineca Online Edition starts on May 6 with a festive opening evening featuring the European premiere of THRESHOLD by Brazilian filmmaker Coraci Ruiz and the Keynote Lecture by Christos Varvantakis. In this year’s opening film, Ruiz tells an autobiographical story of emancipation, turning points and social upheavals, as well as the struggle for self-determination of three generations of her family. In his keynote lecture, Varvantakis, building on his activist-academic background, illuminates how cultural and social anthropologists use film to make their research heard, especially in times of great change. In the course of the festival week, you can enjoy numerous film discussions, a master class, an in-depth film discussion, various film talks and the award ceremony, during which the winners of the five competition categories are announced.

This year’s theme TURNING POINTS deals with films dedicated to cultural, ecological and socio-political turning points and disruptions and take their dynamics as an opportunity to deal with personal, interpersonal and social changes. We illuminate how documentary filmmaking can help shape or even initiate upheavals or turning points. The theme TURNING POINTS thus stands for the hope of always taking advantage of one’s opportunities – even against all odds – and becoming an active part of great changes.

In this year’s Masterclass with Teboho Edkins, whose filmmaking is represented in the ethnocineca for the third time, we will explore hybrid forms of documentary filmmaking. Teboho Edkins, director of DAYS OF CANNIBALISM, will talk about his cinematic approach to the crossover genre between documentary and feature film.

The Panel Discussion “Body Politics – On Emancipations, Turning Points and Transformations” is dedicated to the cinematic approaches of three directors working in Brazil in their examination of their (own) bodies. In conversation with the filmmakers Coraci Ruiz (THRESHOLD), Moara Passoni (ECSTASY) and Mattijs van de Port (THE BODY WON’T CLOSE), Ana de Almeida will discuss the role of the body as a locus of love and desire, as an expression of and for self-determination and as a resource for resistance and empowerment.

In the Round Table Discussion in cooperation with the CAFFE network (Coordinating Anthropological Film Festivals of Europe), we speak with Peter Crawford (NAFA), Beate Engelbrecht (GIEFF), Barberine Feinberg (Festival Jean Rouch) and Jari Kupiainen (Viscult) about the role of European Ethnographic Film Festivals in the postcolonial engagement with film production and the global distribution of image worlds. We reflect on the mission of anthropological film festivals and outline perspectives for the future.

In this year’s Film Talk, Pavel Borecký speaks about his feature film debut LIVING WATER. As a social anthropologist and audiovisual ethnographer, Borecký devotes his research to the conflict over the last abundant source of drinking water in the Wadi Rum region, which is being fought out between the Jordanian state, agricultural companies and the inhabitants of the town. In cooperation with the Vienna Visual Anthropology Lab (CEU/IKSA) we discuss new forms of ethnographic filmmaking and explore the ecographic and geopoetic dimensions offered in the documentary LIVING WATER.

On Tuesday, May 11, 2021, the Award Ceremony will take place as a live-event. Notwithstanding the Corona pandemic, and despite the festival’s shift to virtual space, the five ethnocineca film awards will be handed out to the winners. The categories International Documentary Award (IDA), Austrian Documentary Award (ADA), Excellence in Visual Anthropology Award (EVA), International Shorts Award (ISA) and ethnocineca Student Shorts Award (ESSA) underline the excellence of these outstanding productions.

We look forward to bringing a little festival feeling into your living rooms and onto your displays. We hope you enjoy the films of the ethnocineca Online Edition and wish you exciting exchanges at the live events.

Marie-Christine Hartig, Martin Lintner, Katja Seidel
Artistic Directors