Miguel Eek • Artistic director, MajorDocs
“Having a pared-down selection of films allows us to fight for them”
- The artistic director of the Palma de Mallorca-based festival talks to us about his concept for the gathering, and about the spaces he strives to create for audiences and filmmakers alike
Miguel Eek, the artistic director of MajorDocs – Mallorca Documentary Film Festival, the fifth edition of which unspools in the city of Palma from 3-7 October, breaks down his gathering, which is billed as a “slow experience” where audiences can “reflect on, question and debate each film that is screened, together with its auteur, in an intimate, close-up setting”.
Cineuropa: Could you explain the festival’s editorial policy and how you select the documentaries that will be shown there?
Miguel Eek: MajorDocs is a festival that revolves around three pillars: the auteurs, given that we base the whole experience around them and their presence; creative processes, because we’re interested in the original ways in which movies are made; and finally, slowness, because in the face of this excess of content and this constant rush, we offer a festival with only eight films in order to be able to take time to explore them in depth.
This philosophy also conditions the manifesto that governs the programming. The programming team seeks out movies that are diverse in terms of where they come from, in the methods used to make them, and in the experience of their auteurs. We are fundamentally interested in the perspectives of the auteurs, and risk-taking and innovation in the storytelling methods, which go beyond the present day and its fads; we look for films as works of art, which dig deeper than other movies and which speak to our hearts, rather than our sense of reason.
What is MajorDocs’ vision in terms of enhancing the visibility of documentaries in the next few years, and how do you plan to contribute to this?
The documentary-film ecosystem is different. Although we operate in a global domain, we make progress unevenly in some areas compared to others. In addition, political changes can speed up, slow down or even delay the development of national film industries.
At MajorDocs, we are keenly aware of the difficulties that auteurs encounter when trying to make films freely. The mainstream is monopolising the movie theatres, and this is where certain festivals have a responsibility to create spaces of resistance dedicated to this challenging type of cinema, which is not especially commercial or produced from positions of power. Having a pared-down selection of films allows us to fight for them, to give them maximum visibility in the media, to work on each film as an event, and to look for niche audiences for each and every one of them or share them with young students who are not familiar with this type of cinema. Audience development in the wake of COVID-19 is a challenge, and in this sense, we still have much to observe and to learn.
Could you give us a few specific examples of successful cases in which MajorDocs has helped films and producers enhance their visibility?
MajorDocs is a small festival, and that’s done on purpose, but it’s well known for its way of doing things that gives filmmakers a certain security in an environment that is not so secure. Market saturation, and the difficulties inherent in making a film profitable for producers, distributors and exhibitors is generating a pressure that destroys the authenticity of many films and dooms any chance they have of existing. For example, MajorDocs facilitated a meeting between the makers of the film Knit’s Island [+see also:
film profile] and its screenwriter at a past edition. It’s an honour to screen it at this edition, while being fully aware of the hard work involved in hand-crafting a film. MajorDocs is a place for encounters where you can delve deeper into relationships. We know that co-productions and other alliances are being forged on projects thanks to this top-quality event. Mallorca is an ideal film set, and thanks to the Mallorca Tourism Foundation and the festival itself, a number of visitors have found a fantastic place for future productions.
(Translated from Spanish)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.