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Dockanema: Reality surprised and reinvented

Among the artistic and other disciplines that pursue the representation of reality, the documentary film is most certainly one of those that raise the most questions. Traditionally favouring a fragmented glimpse of the world around us, and of what arises from events, documentary films today pose problems and challenges for us, with the added difficulty of both attempting to fit it in to some predetermined type and of interpreting its message.

48, de Susana Sousa Dias48, de Susana Sousa DiasIf the perspective of the directors is more intensely explored on the one hand, there is greater convergence with traditional filmmaking as an art form representing reality, on the other. And herein lies the ambiguity that unfolds before us and where we often see the merger of bewildering elements and motives, with the people being filmed acting like personalities in a work of fiction and with the situations portrayed seeming more and more to have such a degree of detail as to call into question their factual, or if you will, documental nature.

Accustomed as we have become to attending or hearing about film festivals with their interminable but appealing processions of Hollywood stars, with mega TV broadcasts that keep us bound for hours on end to our sofas at home with their frenetic chains of images trying to immortalise moments and gestures of the figures on the film posters, one question might certainly leap to mind about this 5th Edition of Dockanema. So what is the purpose of a documentary film festival, and even more, in a country and a city on the fringes of the major film circuits?

In the wake of the previous editions, as well as a lavish and varied offering of films, not only from Mozambique, but also from the region and other parts of the world, we are also promised debates and talks, professional get-togethers that above all will be opportunities for serious interaction among producers, directors, journalists, critics and the general public.

In that light, we would say that one of the functions of this festival, as with others, is precisely to afford a special place for social and intellectual interaction, with the purpose being the documentary and its limitless potential, both as art and as a vehicle to interpret reality.

At the same time, if we remember that the origin of cinema was by nature to capture and reproduce in silence moments and fragments of reality, we would have to concede that the documentary is a return to that origin, by its characteristics and purpose, a celebration and a lesson of a memory that time, our time that all the speed and perversion tends to make us forget.

The documentary is also an act of resistance, especially in our case, and that of anyone who believes in this genre, to bypass the insensitivity of the people with decision-making power, the financial constraints and other forms of threat. In the specific case of Mozambique, filmmaking activity sticks heroically and almost exclusively to short documentaries.

Kinshasa Symphony, de Matin Baer e Claus WischmannKinshasa Symphony, de Matin Baer e Claus Wischmann
The Dockanema team and all the other people who have made this 5th edition follow smoothly and seamlessly from the previous ones, while broadening its scope and depth inside and outside the country, have done no more than make this subversive act have a lasting and far-reaching impact. Intelligence, imagination and determination are after all the solid pillars of all utopias.

We can thus expect ten of the liveliest days. Over 80 films will be shown in which the documentary will be the principal protagonist. And here we will have the opportunity to see how life, in its multiple nuances and networks has been surprised by the chance indiscrete glance of the camera – to enjoy ourselves and have fun, to bring ourselves up to date and ponder, but mostly perhaps to recapture conditions that daily life persists in blanking out. That is, we reinvent ourselves, even though momentarily, through our critical faculties that we must identify and distinguish before this profusion of images and topics that encompass history, culture, science, politics, economics, geography, ecology, ethnography and all the rest.

Come Back Africa, de Lionel RogosinCome Back Africa, de Lionel RogosinThe idea that culture and in this case the cinematographic arts are mere diversion belongs to history. Today more than ever, there is talk of the culture industry, of cultural tourism as factors promoting a country’s development. Dockanema is therefore a golden opportunity to which we must all be alert and thus reduce the gulf that separates us from the future.

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