The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam is happening this week, and in addition to showcasing a ton of old and new docs from all around the world, the event features a number of discussion panels. On Saturday, for instance, was the First Annual IDFA UnDebate, which presented representatives from China, India, Australia, the United States, Israel and Brazil talking about the state of documentary film. IndieWIRE has a full report on this talk, and from their perspective it seems that global non-fiction cinema is in a great place right now.

Aside from the overall consensus that documentary films are experiencing good times all over, there were some interesting points to be learned from the UnDebate. For example, distribution for docs in China is pretty much limited to pirated DVDs. In Brazil, docs account for one-third of the country's theatrical exhibition. Australia is experiencing a thriving doc industry via television. In numerous areas, the fashion of using talking heads is going out of style.

Not everything is rosy in the doc world, however, and the American representatives were more attuned to the problems being faced with the genre (are we just more pessimistic here in the States?). Oscar-nominated director Jonathan Stack (The Farm: Angola, USA) expressed a frustration with trying to find a balance between activism and passivity. He apparently has issues with the self-servicing model happening a lot these days, having abandoned a recent project after becoming too involved in its political subject matter. Steven Bognar warned about too many pop docs following familiar models, such as the currently in vogue "contest films." He also claimed too many docs are too long (his latest, A Lion in the House, is 230 min., by the way). His directing partner, Julia Reichert, stated that because it is presently "sexy" to be a documentary filmmaker, that more docs are being produced than can find distribution.
categories Movies, Cinematical