Author: ralph

Director’s Statement: Next Stop: Utopia

When we started filming, almost three years ago, the attempt of the Viome workers to take over their abandoned factory, neither us, nor them knew the extraordinary experience that lied ahead of us. What we ended up documenting was an intense adventure that brought mixed feelings of uncertainty and frustration with excitement and hope and provided us with a powerful story with many layers.
The case itself is extreme; workers with no work experience outside the production line, driven by despair, decide to start a small revolution, just for a chance to win back their lives. They want to establish an island of utopia in a capitalist environment and of course they meet a thousand obstacles and conflicts at every level.

They are going against the law, the judicial authorities and the factory’s ex-owners, while they fight to gain some kind of legal status. There are conflicts within the group as well; practicing direct democracy among people with different attitudes, convictions and ideas can be very hard. But what proves to be the hardest, is the inner conflicts each individual has to face as the times are calling for a deep personal transformation. These people in their fifties are forced to develop a new identity, one that will allow them to survive in dignity and withstand the sufferings of an “outrageous fortune”. The giant shifts they have to perform can sometimes seem comic and tragic at the same time.

As a filmmaker I felt the need to present, as deeply and as respectfully as I could, characters with opposing point of views. In a way they all represent pieces of a collective social mosaic that is not indicative only of the Greek case, but reflects most European societies today. Ultimately this is a bittersweet tale of real people whose lives cross with history. I am deeply grateful to all of them for honouring me with their trust and letting me tell their story as an adventure of our times.

Apostolos Karakasis


Next Stop: Utopia screens during Document 2016 at 5:30pm on Friday 21 October in the CCA Theatre. Buy tickets here.

Director’s Statement: Kings of Nowhere

I visited the town of San Marcos, Sinaloa, for the first time when I was 13 years old with a theatre company (TATIU) that organized plays in rural and hard to reach communities. In 2009, after enrolling in the CUEC-UNAM film school in Mexico City, I heard that this town of more than 200 years was flooded due to the construction of the Picachos dam. I decided to go back to San Marcos to spent some time there and began to get to know the people that had stayed in the flooded town. With the support of the entire community, we produced the fiction short film Venecia, Sinaloa (Venice, Sinaloa), which was inspired by the families that endured the flood.

During my time there, I often asked myself why did some decide to stay in a town that was flooded with not only water but also with fear. After the construction of the dam, the submerged town became a breeding ground for violence. From being a town with 300 families, it eventually went down to only three. It would seem that the flood had arrived as a metaphor of fear.

I then made the decision to take some time off film school to make a documentary inspired by the stories of the people that had stayed there even in the most adverse conditions. Pani was ambushed and shot while driving his truck, but instead of leaving, he decided to stay and rebuild the town. “In life there are no handles… We are floating in the universe”, says Pani, who tries to grab on to life through faith. Everyday, Miro takes food to a cow that was stranded in a small island with the rise of the tide and feels just as trapped in San Marcos as the animal in the island. He feels the urge “to float away” and that the town is doomed to be buried in the mud. After the exodus of most of the inhabitants, Jaimito and Yoya moved from a wooden shack to the town’s biggest house and live day to day enjoying life as it comes. They all have has their own stance concerning the flooded town and life in general: whether it is idealist, pessimistic or realistic. Los reyes del pueblo que no existe (Kings of Nowhere) is their story.

Betzabé García


Kings of Nowhere is the opening gala of Document 2016 at 20:00pm on Thursday 20 October in the CCA Theatre. Buy tickets here.

Director’s Statement: Angry Buddha

I spent more than three years shooting in the Romany settlement of Sajókaza. The first thing I had to learn was humility. Those people hate cameras. Permission to shoot was eventually granted by some families, albeit reluctantly, and was often withdrawn all of a sudden. I learnt to take things as they happened. I was told to fuck off, experienced pompousness, was bitten by a dog, but was also shown unexpected warmth and humiliating hospitality and got to know – some stereotypes contain a core of truth – a lot of music and partying.

I am not a helper and no activist. I do not claim for myself to lend my voice to the suppressed or to share their fate. I am a guest, a stranger, an outsider. I observe and try to distil a story from the many conflicting impressions.

People in the west tend to believe that everything can be mended by providing enough money and sending experts. But centuries of exclusion are part of many Romany people’s lives. They cannot be helped by money or experts only. But hopefully, they can be helped by the persistence of people like Teacher János – people who have experienced the stigmatization first hand. János and his colleague Tibor have no ready-made recipe. They try something out, they fail, they arouse hostility, they try again. They are revolutionaries who would continue their fight even if they had three fighters and a semi-functioning gun only. Their gun is education. India has proved that education works. There the untouchables simply left the caste system behind by becoming Buddhists. János and Tibor ask themselves why Romany people cannot do the same.

I take my hat off to such stubbornness.

Stefan Ludwig


Angry Buddha screens during Document 2016 at 2:30pm on Saturday 22 October in the CCA Theatre. Buy tickets here.

Desaparecidos: New Mexican Documentary

Leaving your house knowing that you might never come back is an ordinary feeling amongst people living in Mexico. It doesn’t matter who you are, or who you’re not, no one is immune to the day-to-day dangers. But people don’t really think about it; it has become part of life. In the past decade, levels of violence have escalated to horrifying numbers. Gradually, drug cartels merged with the government, the police, the army, the media…and suddenly Mexicans were left with a country where political campaigns are funded by the cartels, the army and the police follow orders of anyone above them, and the mainstream media covers up all the grimy work done by the authorities, manicuring stories and presenting them as if everything was normal. In a country where kidnapping, rapes and human trafficking are a common occurrence, mass graves are found day and night, and people disappear by the hour, while the current president invites Donald Trump for a visit, citizens have found a way to normalize the chaos in order to get on with their lives. They’ve gotten used to the perpetual presence of the army and armed police in public spaces, the sound of gunshots as a background noise, the constant search for missing people…the country is going through an invisible war that no one recognises, and therefore it keeps crawling into every corner of every street, going through every crack of every building and flowing through the veins of every individual whose shouts for justice are persistently muted by the establishment.

This year, Document presents a strand of New Mexican Documentary where three women filmmakers depict poetic stories of individuals that expose the complexities of the current state of affairs in Mexico. Betzabé García’s Kings of Nowhere conveys the recurrent fear that people have of invisible forces appearing out of nowhere to destroy lives and communities. Tempestad, directed by Tatiana Huezo, interweaves the stories of two women that have been victims of Mexico’s invisible war: Adela, one of the many mothers looking for her disappeared daughter, and Miriam, one of the countless innocent people that are incarcerated to pay for the crimes of others. An intimate portrait of prostitutes is captured by Maya Goded in Plaza de la Soledad, where she paints a picture with a new light featuring the women’s beauty and dignity, and the strength of an underground community that has been around since the Aztecs.

The courage of filmmakers like Betzabé García, Tatiana Huezo and Maya Goded are a contribution towards triggering change in Mexico; it is through these efforts and the efforts of many others that we are able to make this invisible war visible to the world by bringing these stories to international audiences and generating global awareness of Mexico’s status quo.

Carla Novi

Welcome to Document 2016

They expect us to call in sick, 
watch television all night,
die by our own hands. 
They don’t know 
we are becoming powerful. 
Every time we kiss 
we confirm the new world coming.

Extract from American Wedding by Essex Hemphill

Welcome to the 14th edition of Document Film Festival. Year on year we look to foreground the most innovative and challenging documentary film from around the world – from artists and activists committed to raising awareness and developing understanding of our shared human rights.

We look for films that demonstrate that at its best, cinema encourages us to look differently. It asks us to question the meaning and presentation of images and in doing so, to think differently about ourselves, our relationship to each other and to the world.

Over this extended weekend of screenings, workshops, performances and discussions we look particularly at the poetics of documentary form. We examine the creative, experimental and affective techniques filmmakers develop in order to work through complex, often overlapping systems of oppression that characterise so much of the global landscape.

The impulse to experiment finds many echoes, not only in the history of radical protest and thinking, but also in the explicitly contemporary context of social networks, grassroots organising and the emergence of genuinely intersectional political movements like Black Lives Matter.

Festival highlights include the sci-fi rendering of Zhao Liang’s polemic Behemoth and Hubert Sauper’s hallucinatory modern-classic We Come As Friends; a searing double bill charting the b-side of the Palestinian refugee experience from filmmaker Mahdi Fleifel; and a rare screening of Peter Watkins’ six-hour quasi-documentary La Commune (Paris, 1871), which reimagines the communard uprising of 1871.

We’re delighted also to showcase the work of Glasgow photographer and filmmaker Chris Leslie, whose lyrical urban portraits chart the shifting geography and changing communities of our city, and to hold a hands-on video activism workshop in collaboration with Camcorder Guerrillas and Reel News collectives.

Few filmmakers typify the art of looking differently more profoundly than the subject of our retrospective strand, Marlon Riggs; a black, queer artist who, until his untimely death, worked tirelessly as an educator and activist to confront overlapping legacies of oppression. His work stood as a defiant response to the US government’s inaction in the face of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Inaction that revealed whose lives mattered and whose didn’t in the eyes of the state.

Riggs understood the language of visual culture, how it is used to oppress and how it can be used to liberate. His was a striking, incisive and above all generative cinema of liberation. With this in mind, we hope you will join us for an exciting and invigorating weekend of looking, thinking and discussing.

The Document 2016 team