The schedule for Doclisboa’23 has been announced. The festival will run from October 19th to 29th at its usual locations: Culturgest, Cinema São Jorge, Cinemateca Portuguesa – Museu do Cinema, and Cinema Ideal. This 21st edition of Doclisboa will showcase 250 films from 42 different countries, including 35 premieres worldwide and 39 Portuguese films. These films capture the essence of the world and its inhabitants.
Doclisboa explores the intricacies of the human mind with Werner Herzog’s Theater of Thought, and tackles important issues surrounding labor in The Liberated Broom and Listen to the Story I Was Told by Coline Grando. The festival also delves into the memories of past wars and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine with films such as Vyrai, Magdalena Mistygacz, and Jakub Stoszek’s Waking Up in Silence, Mila Zhluktenko, and Daniel Asadi Faezi. Additionally, the festival features works that highlight film archives, such as Thierno Souleymane Diallo’s The Cemetery of Cinema, as well as music-focused films like Lovano Supreme by Franco Maresco and Peter Doherty: Stranger in My Own Skin by Katia deVidas. Finally, the festival showcases the art of dance with Pedro G. Romero and Gonzalo García Pelayo’s Seven Jereles.
The morning press conference at Culturgest was led by Miguel Ribeiro, Mark Deputter, Marco Guerra, and José Manuel Costa. Special guests included Wang Bing, director of the opening film “Man in Black,” who joined via videoconference, and Leonor Teles, director of the closing film “Baan.” “Man in Black” tells the story of Wang Xilin, a renowned Chinese composer, and his life of both beauty and brutality. “Baan” explores the concept of home and the impact of time, space, and emotions on one’s sense of belonging. These themes are intertwined as Lisbon and Bangkok are depicted side by side in the film.
Miguel Ribeiro, Leonor Teles, Agnes Meng and Wang Bing (videocall)
“We aimed to depict the current generation of young individuals struggling to survive in the chaotic and challenging city of Lisbon. Our goal was to showcase the unique experiences and obstacles we face, which differ greatly from those of previous generations, such as my parents’.”
“Initially, I was intrigued by this individual, this persona. We have a 20-year acquaintance, and I greatly admire his achievements as a composer. However, it is impossible to disassociate his music and personal experiences from China’s history; they are intricately linked to the political climate. After conversing with Wang Xilin, the idea of creating a film [Man in Black] about him in Paris arose. I envisioned capturing him on film in an empty theatre, baring his soul. The theatre’s architectural design left a lasting impression on me; when viewed from above, it resembles an ancient tomb of an Emperor in China.”
At the press conference, the program showcased films that exemplify the ongoing conversation between the past and the future in cinema: Portrait of Gina, an unreleased Orson Welles film to be screened for the first time in Portugal, and Stephen Kijak’s documentary Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed, which delves into the life of the 1950s Hollywood heartthrob, paying homage to the golden age of cinema. In collaboration with the Cinemateca Portuguesa, Doclisboa also presents a retrospective on American cinema during the New Deal period, showcasing a country in turmoil. Looking towards the future that is already present, Human, not Human by Natan Castay follows a man who spends hours blurring faces on Google Street View for a small fee, immersing himself in a robotic world that raises questions about humanity. Another film in the joint retrospective with Anastasia Lapsui, Sounds of the Northern Forest by Markku Lehmuskallio, explores the impact of human and technological pressures on the natural world.
The current International Competition will be touring 16 different countries, including Portugal. It will showcase 6 films that are having their first screenings worldwide. Out of the 39 Portuguese films being shown, 9 are part of the Portuguese Competition and 7 of those are premiering for the first time ever.
The film series “From the Earth to the Moon” showcases 23 different cinematic possibilities, ranging from the dark portrayal of the Argentinian dictatorship in Ulises de La Orden’s “The Trial” to the light-filled community of Culatra Island in the 1970s captured by Amilcar Lyra in “Areia, Lodo e Mar.” It also includes the territory of Guarani filmmaker Alberto Álvares and José Cury’s reminder in “Yvy Pyte – Coração da Terra” that borders are man-made constructs. The science fiction-inspired landscapes of “Strata Incognita” by Grandeza Studio and Locument are just as powerful as the depiction of violence in Belarusian military traditions in Alexander Mihalkovich and Hanna Badziaka’s “Motherland,” or the stories of war captured by Danielle Arbid in her films “A Killer” and “Alone with War.” Other featured films include works by Nafis Fathollahzadeh, Maxime Martinot, Uma Celma, Julien Elie, Veljko Vidak, Coline Grando, and Nicolas Peduzzi.
The Heart Beat section of Doclisboa once again presents 21 films that showcase its vibrant core. These include Let the Canary Sing, a personal portrait of Cyndi Lauper directed by Alison Ellwood; Big Bang Henda, a journey through the art and musings of Angolan artist Kiluanji Kia Henda by Fernanda Polacow; Seven Jereles, which explores the origins of Spanish flamenco through the lens of Pedro G. Romero and Gonzay García Peléon; and Life Is Not a Competition, But I’m Winning, a story of queer athletes who honor outcasts and demonstrate their skills in the face of adversity, directed by Julia Fuhr Mann. These films join the previously announced tributes to Luis Ospina, Joan Baez, and Luis Miguel Cintra. But that’s not all – Heart Beat also presents a deep dive into the life and work of the extraordinary Agnès Varda (Viva Varda!, directed by Pierre-Henri Gibert), as well as films by Jan Moss, Wincy Oyarce, Pedro Florêncio, Patricia Allio, and Justine Harbonnier.
In the “New Visions” section, the previously announced films by guest directors Mika Taanila and Paula Gaitán are now joined by Yervant Gianikian and the late Angela Ricci Lucchi’s latest project, “Frente a Guernica”. This film, according to Gianikian, is a “political, artistic, and historical exploration of the violence of the 20th century”, and was conceived by the duo, who have collaborated on many projects together. In Portugal, Edgar Pêra presents a surprising psychological-literary thriller, “Não Sou Nada – The Nothingness Club”, which revisits the works and pseudonyms of Fernando Pessoa. Other notable films include “Revolution+1”, in which rebellious filmmaker Masao Adachi reconstructs the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and works by Luciana Fina, Peter Schreiner, and the collective Terrorismo de Autor. This section is always on the lookout for irreverent and experimental films.
The latest edition of the New Visions section includes a new addition called Shadowboxing, curated by Cíntia Gil and Jean-Pierre Rehm. This feature presents a potential world that is shaped by a strong and focused passion for cinema, created by two programmers who communicate through images and movements. It includes films such as Crashing Waves by Lucy Kerr and The Connection by Shirley Clarke.
The Green Years section offers a prime platform for up-and-coming modern filmmakers. The program includes 19 first-time screenings from 15 different countries, as well as a special partnership with the Helsinki University of the Arts, providing a unique perspective on Finnish cinema in the present day.
The education programme, abcDoc, is once again emphasizing the value of documentaries as a teaching tool and a way to initiate connections with other cultures. The festival’s Nebulae section, which takes place from October 19 to 24, focuses on industry and networking activities and meetings that support the growth, production, and distribution of various independent film projects. These components come together to form the diverse program and platform for intervention that Doclisboa strives to create annually.
The complete information about the program, panels, competitive categories, and accolades (including the newly added Rights and Freedoms Award) can be found on doclisboa.org. The ticket offices at Culturgest, Cinema Ideal, and Cinemateca, as well as online through Blueticket and Ticketline, are now open for business.