Presenting the 14th BELDOCS – REALITY CHECK

03. September 2021.

The fourteenth edition of the Beldocs International Documentary Film Festival, taking place from September 9th to September 16th in Belgrade, will host more than 100 documentaries and other video content. Beldocs, like last year, will be held in a hybrid format, in several spaces in Belgrade as well as online. All festival events will be fully organized in accordance with Covid-19 control measures.

Ieva Ūbele, Igor Stanojević, Marko Grba Sing, Mara Prohaska Marković, Ivan Aranđelović

“In this edition, we will present 107 films in 16 program units. I am proud of the fact that we have outdoor screenings this year as well. I am also very much looking forward to the projection of Nelson Sullivan’s video diary, which many say is the first vlogger in history, a man who anticipated selfies back in the 1980s. There is also a retrospective of documentaries by the Portuguese great Pedro Costa, whose feature films we had the opportunity to watch in Belgrade in the last decade,” pointed out Marko Grba Sing, the artistic director of the festival.

Marko Grba Sing

Beldocs will be held outdoors in the amphitheater in front of the Museum of Yugoslavia, but also on the terrace of the Art Cinema Kolarac. The festival screenings will aslo take place at  the Yugoslav Cinematheque, the Belgrade Youth Center, the Belgrade Cultural Center Hall, the Belgrade Museum of Contemporary Art, the Vlada Divljan Cultural Center and the Balkan Cinema – where the visitors can enjoy the world’s best recent documentaries.

“I think that this year we have one of the strongest and most creatively adventurous selections to date, and I am proud to be able to present a program that is so uncompromising and daring. I am glad that this year, apart from retrospectives, we will have Serbian premieres of great documentaries from the years when the documentary did not have as much space in Serbian cinemas, such as the film This Big Heart by Francois Reichenbach,” said Igor Stanojević, the selector of Beldocs. “My dream came true to show films by great authors such as Frederick Wiseman or Spike Lee at Beldocs. We will also show the new film by Kazuo Hara, whom the audience in Serbia had the opportunity to get to know better through the retrospective we prepared. There are also excellent films from the Serbian competition program, which is inspirational and a sign that it is possible to make significant works even in difficult circumstances. In short, we try to respect the rich heritage of the documentary film and at the same time not allow its new paths to remain unlit,” added Stanojević.

Igor Stanojević

This year’s Beldocs Industry events bring together more than 60 film industry professionals – sales agents and distributors, representatives of festivals, VOD platforms and TV broadcasters, from more than 30 countries. There will be more than 30 documentary filmmakers participating in the Beldocs in Progress, Serbian Docs in Progress, Beldocs Academy and Documentaries for Kids & Youth programs. They represent the Western Balkans, but also the wider geographical area from the Baltic states to Ukraine and Georgia.

“We are glad to see that some of the projects that participated in the Beldocs Industry program in previous years have now returned to Beldocs as finished films, for example, all films shown in the “Ukraine in focus” selection. This year, Beldocs Industry provides a wide range of activities that are available both physically and online. Documentarists from Serbia and abroad are especially welcome to join the September 13 panels focusing on changes in audience behavior and new ways of watching films, as well as the sales and distribution strategies that accompany those changes. We are also very pleased to welcome Vitaly Mansky, director and director of the ArtDocFest festival. We will organize a special event – a conversation between Mansky and Želimir Žilnik under the title “Documentary Cinema: A Mirror or A Magnifying Glass?”, Said Ieva Ūbele, head of the Beldocs Industry program.

Ieva Ūbele

“In the dynamic and turbulent times we live in, Beldocs strives to maintain authenticity in a creative way, while at the same time adapting to the changes caused by the global health crisis and its technological and biological consequences. Taking into account the innovative aspects, one of Beldocs’ priorities is to fully master the processes of digital transformation, which will be manifested not only in the online version of the festival, but also in launching the Beldocs VoD platform, which will come online after the festival, both in Serbia and the region later in the year. A special challenge for us will be live broadcasts of hybrid events such as panels, picks, intended for film professionals, and master classes by established film greats such as Vitaly Manski and Pedro Costa. I remind you that the audience has at its disposal the festival’s online ticket sales service that we implemented last year, which means that tickets for all offline screenings can be bought in one place at all locations, while tickets for online screenings will be purchased through Vimeo, “said Mara Prohaska Marković, director of the Beldocs Festival.

Mara Prohaska Marković

This year’s special program of the Beldocs Festival will be dedicated to mental health, and the selection entitled eleMental will feature five international achievements. “Although the topic of mental health is increasingly finding its way to a wider audience, only after the past year and a half have we come to the realization that radical change is needed in the way we treat mental health as a society. This year’s special eleMental program will bring the topic of mental health closer to the audience through an inspiring range of life stories and human perspectives, and five carefully selected films will speak about this topic in an exciting, honest and uncompromising way, resonating with our inner worlds, awakening empathy and breaking barriers and stereotypes. After the screenings, a series of accompanying discussions and conversations with authors, protagonists, beneficiaries and experts in the field of mental health and human rights will open a dialogue on the most sensitive issues and the importance of solidarity and support for all, “said Aleksandra Vušurović, editor of eleMental.

Aleksandra Vušurović i Marija Vukić with Ivanom Aranđelović

As in previous years, the Beldocs Academy will focus on developing VR / AR projects. Beldocs Academy is held in cooperation with the Film Center of Montenegro, which this year is the sponsor of the award for the best project at the academy.

“For this year’s edition, we have selected four projects by artists from Latvia, Moldova, Croatia and Serbia who will develop their immersive content at a three-day interactive workshop under the mentorship of Sara Tireli, one of Italy’s most important contemporary artists. In addition to the introductory lecture, introduction to technology and concrete work on content production, participants will have the opportunity to hear a master class by Ana Knežević, our artist who lives and works in New York, and whose work was exhibited at Beldocs last year, “said Marija Vukić, the producer of Beldocs Academy.

The film crew of Faith and Branko

At the opening of the festival on September 9th, under the open sky in the amphitheater in front of the Museum of Yugoslavia, the film Faith and Branko directed by Catherine Harte, an intimate documentary that follows the love and relationship of two musicians, a British accordionist, Faith Elliot and Roma violinist Branko Ristić, will be shown.

“This premiere means a lot to both of us: Serbia is a country where the two of us and Catherine met 11 years ago, and our hearts are here,” said Faith Eliot and Branko Ristic, the main protagonists.

Tickets for physical screenings are on sale from August 21st through the Beldocs online service, while tickets will be available at festival venues from early September to the end of the festival, except for the Yugoslav Museum Amphitheater, where physical sales will only be possible on the spot, half an hour before the screening. The price of tickets is 300 dinars for all screenings, except for those in the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade, which will be sold at a price of 100 dinars.

More than 90 films at the Beldocs Festival will be available for viewing online, from Sept. 9th  at 10 pm to Sept. 16th at 11:59 pm. Tickets for online screenings will be available for purchase during this period and will be valid for most films 48 hours after the purchase. The price of the ticket is 200 dinars or 2 dollars for feature films, and 150 dinars or 1.5 dollars for short films. The films tickets are purchased on the individual pages of every film at the Beldocs website.

Beldocs was realized thanks to the support of the European Union through the Creative Europe program, MEDIA subprogram, Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, Film Center of Serbia, DOKSrbija, embassies of Australia, Portugal, Ukraine, Israel, Switzerland, Slovenia, Goethe Institute, Austrian Cultural Forum, Italian Cultural Center, the French Institute, the Film Center of Montenegro, the Greek Film Center, the OSCE Mission to Serbia, RYCO, DOX TV, Al Jazeera Balkans TV and Orion Telecom.