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"Los documentales son cada vez más capaces de hablar sobre temas complejos con empatía"

Informe de industria: Documental

Massimo Benvegnù y Chiara Liberti • Directores artísticos, Biografilm

por 

Los nuevos directores artísticos del festival boloñés nos ofrecen su punto de vista sobre el mercado del cine documental y sus prioridades en términos de producción

Massimo Benvegnù y Chiara Liberti  • Directores artísticos, Biografilm

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

“To be and to have” is the theme of this year’s Biografilm, taking place in Bologna from 9 to 19 June under the new artistic direction of Massimo Benvegnù and Chiara Liberti. Opening the festival will be On the Adamant [+lee también:
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, winner of the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlinale, in the presence of its director Nicolas Philibert. The tenth edition of Bio to B - Industry Days is scheduled and a focus section will be dedicated to work, with three European films: After Work [+lee también:
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by Erik Gandini, The Store [+lee también:
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by Ami-Ro Sköld and The Happy Worker - or How Work Was Sabotaged by John Webster. We met up with the new artistic directors to talk about the documentary sector. 

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Cineuropa: Documentary cinema is taking up more and more space in the European audiovisual landscape. Why do you think that is?  
Chiara Liberti: It’s true that the panorama has expanded dramatically in the last 10-15 years, with more platforms, research, talents, and greater sensitivity to the documentary. What makes the connection is the curatorship, that is how these works are conveyed to the public.

Massimo Benvegnù: I think that the documentary has reached a level that was previously only found in some Nordic countries, where it could have a life in cinemas and mainstream festivals, not just niche ones. This extended to other European countries, including Italy, where the culture of the documentary had lagged behind. This is perhaps the reason why the number of production companies, the number of co-productions between European countries and the funds dedicated to documentaries have also increased in Italy. And this has created a proliferation of products that often have a much longer life than in the past, with several passages to festivals, prizes, international recognition, and finally a theatrical release.

The expansion of platforms has increased chances for visibility. There isn’t much data; what do you perceive of the public response?
M.B.
: We do not know the numbers from the platforms, but they are there. There is an audience that watches documentaries. When we compare it to the audience of the past, we understand that platforms have allowed those numbers to increase exponentially. Even if the payoff is small - we don’t expect 220 million users to watch Flee [+lee también:
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- even a fraction of that number allows for awareness of that genre and its circulation.

C.L.: Having worked for several years at Biografilm, I can say that the festival has given me this perspective on the documentary genre enjoyed by a transversal audience and the opportunity to observe its growth: from something extremely specific, it has come closer to individual life stories that become universal stories, thanks also to the increase in talent, productions and international collaborations. Documentaries are increasingly able to gather and talk about complex themes and current events, and to restore their empathic and informative depth.

You live in Copenhagen and Amsterdam, respectively. Based on your experience, which countries are better in terms of public support for documentary, and what kind of help is most effective for this segment of the market? 
M.B.: Countries that have paved the way are the Nordic ones and the Benelux, we know those markets really well. The main support there is development funds for subjects, ideas and research, because documentary makers often start with a basic project based on an idea they may have dedicated years to. The first step is to develop the script. Development funds are in my opinion more essential than those dedicated to production. In Italy, Hungary, and many Eastern countries it would be important for the concept of minority co-production to be extended, so that Italian producers too can discuss international projects that they did not generate themselves but for which they would bring the "completion fund". It is characteristic of the Benelux; you can see for example a co-production from the Netherlands with 10% of Belgian money, which perhaps contributes artistically to the sound design. A virtuous circle is created: this year I am a minority co-producer for you, but next year you will be for me. An exchange of good practices is born, where people meet and work together.

Who are some of the directors you are observing with the most interest?    
M.B.: My dream is to have the next film from Victor Kossakovsky. That is every festival’s dream. Regarding young auteurs, in the Netherlands there is Laura Hermanides, who does great research and I think is one to watch. Among the Italian directors, everyone’s dream is to get the next film from Gianfranco Rosi, but a few years ago, Biografilm discovered Brunella Filì, whose next films is Sea Sisters, a co-production between Italy and Norway.

C.L.: Brunella is an excellent example: a woman who goes from Puglia to shoot a documentary in Norway. I have in mind many transversal co-productions which embody that European spirit of stories meet professionalism. The important thing is to look for new talent.

What are some keywords for the 2023 edition of Biografilm?
M.B.: Community… Passion…

C.L.: Humility, courage, commitment…

M.B.: Biografilm has experienced seasons of great growth, and seasons of crisis; now it seems to me focused on the concept of "glocal". We are working on some ideas to attract slightly neglected sections of the public that we would like to bring back to the theatre.

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(Traducción del italiano)

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