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Èric Motjer • Director, DocsBarcelona Industry

“We must contribute to guaranteeing a future for documentary that will involve a more diverse social and class-based representation”


- The director of the professional sidebar of the Barcelona-based documentary festival analyses the current landscape of the sector and the event’s position within it

Èric Motjer • Director, DocsBarcelona Industry
(© Castor Pérez)

Èric Motjer, the director of the professional strand of DocsBarcelona, which will hold its 27th edition from 2-12 May, breaks down the current landscape of the documentary industry and the event’s position within it.

Cineuropa: How would you evaluate the role that DocsBarcelona has played in the Southern European documentary film landscape over the last few years? How has this market evolved, and what has its contribution been to the growth and the promotion of this genre in the region?
Èric Motjer:
DocsBarcelona, as both a festival and a market, has played a crucial role in the development of the documentary genre, not just in our region, but also in Latin America and Southern Europe. In this regard, I believe that DocsBarcelona Industry’s commitment over the last few years has contributed to the professionalisation of the sector and, at the same time, has helped catapult local directors and producers onto the international stage with projects that are very much comparable with international productions.

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We like the idea of conceiving DocsBarcelona as a festival that bridges gaps. It’s a bridge for Latin American productions with international potential that are in search of partners in Europe, and it’s also a link between countries in the north and the south of the Mediterranean region. This combination, paired with the unmistakably European gaze that the festival was founded with, makes it a unique rendezvous.

At this edition of DocsBarcelona, there’s a particular focus on prominent figures such as John Wilson and Albert Serra, as well as on artificial intelligence. What impact do you hope they will have on the event and on the film landscape in general?
At first glance, they are very different figures that are exploring the complexity and the richness of contemporary non-fiction. Nevertheless, we understand that it’s our duty to push these new forms forward and also serve as a meeting point for new trends. Albert Serra’s cinematic relevance is undeniable, and it will be extremely interesting to have the opportunity to find out, at first hand, how a director who until now has been working mainly in the realm of fiction – but with an approach to his mise-en-scène that’s more in keeping with documentary – is tackling a purely documentary production. We hope that his presence and that of John Wilson, together with other case studies and master classes that we will organise during the DocsBarcelona Industry week, will have a more cross-cutting impact, not only among the accredited professionals, but also among the film buffs and the professionals from other artistic disciplines.

What are the main challenges and opportunities facing Southern European documentary film at the moment?
For years now, the sector has been grappling with constant changes in both production and distribution models. The impact of the VoD platforms and the underfunding of some European public broadcasters are merely a couple of these challenges. On the other hand, artificial intelligence represents one of the areas where technology can potentially alter not only the way we create, but also the perception of the idea of "truth".

Given the growing interest in documentary film worldwide and the increasing influence that technology is having on film production, how do you think DocsBarcelona can continue being relevant and stay at the cutting edge of the promotion and exhibition of Southern European documentaries in the years to come?
Markets have to be a space for discussion, analysis and envisioning the future. This year, we’ve created i+Docs, a space that we are convinced will grow in the next few years, and which will host all those activities and non-fiction projects related to emerging technologies. We are guided by a calling to rethink and innovate in the industry, not only in terms of production and distribution, but also in terms of equality. We must contribute to guaranteeing a future for documentary that will involve a more diverse social and class-based representation, with perspectives that bring us closer to the myriad realities of our world. In line with this, DocsBarcelona Industry has historically made a commitment to showcasing a balanced selection of projects in development. We will continue our work to turn Barcelona into Southern Europe’s documentary hub. This year marks 20 years since the Oscar nomination for Cuban Rafters by Catalan director Carles Bosch. Lying behind a milestone like this is usually a whole ecosystem of managers, creators and producers, among other parties, and our role, as a market, is to be an agent of change and a meeting place.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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