Full Programme


I Want To Be A People’s Representative

Can a documentary camera be a tool for democracy in China? Jia Zhitan certainly thinks so, and wields his camera like an anti-bureaucratic weapon. Jia, a member of Caochangdi’s influential Villagers Documentary Project (organizer Wu Wenguang has been training local villagers to use digital video cameras to record their participation in ultra-local politics), wants to run to be a delegate to the National People’s Congress. He wins the first round, but is deemed unqualified by officials for reasons they keep to themselves. As the irrepressibly scrappy and stubborn Jia seeks explanations and redress from ever higher levels of authority, he records their interactions scenes that would play as entertaining satiric comedy if they weren’t so frustratingly real.

Part of the cancelled 11th Annual Beijing Independent Film Festival.


Posted: 18 September 2017


The VaChina Monologues

“Vagina….I’ve said it!” Leading Chinese queer filmmaker Fan Popo chronicles the past 10 years of performances of Eve Ensler’s famous feminist episodic play throughout China following its debut by The Chinese Department of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou in December 2003. At times banned and partly censored, performances have taken over university campuses, theatres, cafes, villages, streets and public transport. Popo’s film portrays its growing popularity as a process of self-awakening, of learning and of localisation, the ten-year look-back showing the many ways in which it has played a vital role in giving people courage to find their voice.

Part of the cancelled 11th Annual Beijing Independent Film Festival.

We will be joined after the screening for a Q&A with filmmaker Fan Popo.


Posted: 18 September 2017


Vertigo Sea at Talbot Rice Gallery

This year, Document are collaborating with Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh to bring you two events to coincide with their exhibition Vertigo Sea.

Vertigo Sea is an exhibition featuring two remarkable installations by acclaimed artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah. Recognised internationally for work that engages with the human condition, winning the 2017 Artes Mundi Award, his films are powerful visions of global diaspora, expansive historical narratives and lamentations on individual mortality.

Evolving from his work with the Black Audio Film Collective (beginning in 1982) the works in this exhibition embody a political desire to allow those forgotten, displaced or repressed by history to haunt the present in order to inform alternative futures.

In the face of recent political travesty, Vertigo Sea presents an opportunity to meditate upon our place within the world, against the immense spaces and epic timescales evoked by the films. It reminds us of our interconnectedness and the diverse, ghostly community that shapes who we are.

Stranger in Paradise

Guido Hendrikx | Netherlands | 2016 | 1hr 17m (p??)

Thurs 2 Nov, 18:00

In collaboration with Talbot Rice, we will be screening Guido Hendrikx’s bold and unflinching look at the absurdities of the asylum systemThe screening will be followed by an ‘in conversation’ event framing Stranger in Paradise in the context of Akromfrah’s work. The discussion will also consider filmmakers’ approaches to addressing questions of displacement and global migration, both throughout history and in the precarious present.

Free, but ticketed.

Edinburgh Schools Screening: Stateless in Lesvos 

Guy Smallman | UK | 2015 | 26m

Mon 30 October

Shot over three days on the Greek island now famous for receiving hundreds of thousands of refugees from Turkey. Filmmaker Guy Smallman concentrated not on the refugees themselves but on the incredible dedication and humanity of the Greek and international volunteers assisting the most vulnerable people on the planet as they attempt to reach a place of safety.

Image: John Akomfrah, Vertigo Sea (film still), 2015. © Smoking Dogs Films. Courtesy Lisson Gallery.


Posted: 18 September 2017


Shorts Programme: Saturday

This year’s shorts programme demonstrates a huge amount of innovative style, untold stories, new insight – always in an impressively short space of time.

All of our shorts are free and unticketed

Children of War: A Human Rights Anthology

Various | Various | 2017 | 10m

Sat 13:00, Intermedia

In 2017, Oscar-winning director Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) challenged filmmakers across the world to tell a human rights story important to them. There were two conditions: the film had to be 60 seconds and it could have no dialogue. Creative Armenia has anthologised a few of these visions in this short film about the effects of war on children across the world.

The Girls Club

Stefania Donaera | Italy | 2017 | 35m

Sat 14:00, Intermedia

Every Saturday, around 60 children gather at the primary school of Chicunguluine, in Mozambique. They dance, sing, play and enjoy together. Moreover they learn to express their opinion, take decisions and defend themselves, in case of any untoward situation.


Berber Verpoest | Belgium | 2017 | 24m

Sat 15:00, Intermedia

Muna Alkurd (18) is forced to share half of her house with Israeli settlers. Nayef Abassi (26) can’t get a building permit for his house and his animals’ barn has been demolished. The pressure of the occupation is very present for both young Palestinians. Yet they feel at home in East Jerusalem and they are trying to build a future for themselves in the city where they were born. They have similar ambitions as their peers elsewhere in the world, but when all policies are aimed at getting you out of the city, building a future in East Jerusalem becomes an act of resistance.

There are No Syrian Refugees in Turkey

Oliver Ressler | Austria, Turkey | 2016 | 30m

Sat 16:00, Intermedia

Refugees attempting to enter the European Union play a specific role in the relation between the EU and Turkey. The EU border regime is responsible for tens of thousands of drownings in the Mediterranean, while Turkey has opened its borders to nearly three million refugees, more than all EU states combined. The film channels voices of Syrian refugees who preferred not to seek a way into the EU, choosing to continue their lives in Istanbul instead. The Syrians describe their life as “guests” in the continent’s largest metropolis. One thing they discuss at length is the difficulty of making a living in Istanbul. Another is the reluctance of the EU to admit more than a pitiful number of refugees. Quietly reversing the entire perspective of the “refugee debate”, the film develops a political analysis of Turkish and European politics from the standpoint of Syrian refugees.

Paper, Horses, and Birds

Zoran Tairovic | Serbia | 2017 | 30m

Sat 17:00, Intermedia

The documentary Paper, Horse and Birds follows a day in the life of a Roma family, who collect secondary raw materials and live in Niš. The film follows their activities – collection and division of scrap metal and waste paper, a family lunch and their everyday discussions, which helps us to understand how they make ends meet and what their hardships are. Despite the de facto difficult financial situation, we see a complex family with solidarity and warm interpersonal relations.


Posted: 18 September 2017


Shorts Programme: Sunday

This year’s shorts programme demonstrates a huge amount of innovative style, untold stories, new insight – always in an impressively short space of time.

All of our shorts are free and unticketed.


Munecas Bravas

Maximiliano González, Julieta Cherep | Spain/Argentina | 2017 | 23m

Sun 13:00, Intermedia

What happens when prostitutes get older? Muñecas Bravas describes life at Xochiquetzal’s house. In the heart of Mexico City, it’s the only home in the world for the elderly prostitutes who have nowhere else to go. Alone, broke and rejected by their children, they fight for making their last dream come true: making up for lost time.

Ne Pas Perdre Le Nord

Antoine Chesne | France, Mali | 2016 | 26m

Sun 14:00, Intermedia

January 9, 2013, Jihadi combatants attack the strategic city of Konna in order to invade southern Mali. Two years later, as the ruins still dot the town, journalist Hammidou Diarra returns to the scene of the fightings. Carried by the winds of the desert, the voice of the Malian soldiers echo the memories of the civilian population and tell the story of this decisive battle, that convinced the French army to become involved and to launch the reconquest of the country.

Green Screen Gringo

Douwe Dijkstra | Brazil/Netherlands | 2016 | 16m

Radio Ghetto Relay

Alessandra Ferrini | UK/Poland/Italy | 2016 | 16m

Sun 15:00, Intermedia

Behind a green screen, a foreigner finds his way in an enchanting – and yet turbulent – São Paulo, Brazil. Where the streets are a stage for politics, art and affection, a gringo can only watch. Dijkstra shows us São Paulo as a city of contrasts. Green Screen Gringo is a mixtape-portrait on a country and its inhabitants seen through the eyes of a visitor.

Radio Ghetto Free Voices is a radio that gives a voice to the dwellers of the Gran Ghetto of Rignano (Apulia, Italy), a shantytown that, until recently, housed thousands of West African migrants. Heavily exploited in agricultural work, they were able to share their experiences through the radio, discussing their inhumane living conditions and exposing their struggles. Building on their desire not to be photographed or filmed, Radio Ghetto Relay combines text, Google Earth and Streetview images to amplify their voices, highlighting the radio’s power to cross borders, while looking for their traces in the rural landscape of southern Italy.

Schrodinger’s Shoreditch

Ellen Evans, Matthew Holman | UK | 2017 | 19m

Sun 16:00, Intermedia

Schrödinger’s Shoreditch is a film about lost and found cats, poetry, and taking on the powers that be. After a luxury high-rise housing proposal threatened the community – and light access – of St Leonard’s parish in Shoreditch, its congregation responded with ideas. By drawing on alternative histories and imagined futures for the area, they offered a forceful case for the role of poetry in an age of dormant penthouses. At once a celebration of artistic collaboration, an indictment of failing housing policy in the East End, and – most of all – a story of friendships old and new, this is a film for our askew times.


Elena Otrepyeva | Russia | 2015 | 33m

Sun 17:00, Intermedia

The time has been stopped on Rebalda. The modern slaves get the seaweed here, as raw material for glamour industry. Men, women and children have been working in the harsh conditions, the same way as the prisoners of Solovki concentration camps were doing about a century ago. The barbed wire on Rebalda becomes a symbol of the new slavery, which squeezes out the “little” person from modern society. Rebalda it isn’t just a point on the map, Rebalda is Russia.


Posted: 18 September 2017


Panel Discussion: The Control Room & Other Stories

Panellists will discuss role of government in imposing narratives on filmmakers and the populace, dealing with the undermining of the concept of objective truth and “expert” testimony. With the rise of subjective opinion above scientific fact and the struggle to provide counter-testimony to mainstream narratives, how do we combat the weapon of media manipulation and control?


Posted: 18 September 2017


Panel Discussion: Jin, Jiyan, Azadi – Gender Equality in Kurdish Society

Women, Life, Freedom. The YPJ, the women’s protection units of the Kurdish militia, have come increasing to the attention of the world’s media to the obvious shock of the west. How, they seem to ask, can a non western society embody a progressive model without our intervention? Does the obvious gender equality within the military extend to Kurdish civil society? And can this homegrown feminism be seen as an alternative model for the broader east?


Posted: 18 September 2017