Boom year for submissions to DOK Leipzig; Jihlava plans new inspiration forum.

Fernand Melgar’s Locarno competition title Special Flight (Vol Spécial) and UK filmmaker Grant Orchard’s seven-minute animation film A Morning Stroll will open this year’s International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film (Oct 17-23) which will be showing a total 341 films from 47 countries.

Festival director Claas Danielsen told ScreenDaily that a record 3,012 titles had been submitted for consideration to DOK Leipzig’s 54th edition which will have a record €74,500 to distribute in its five competition sections.

The International Documentary Competition will include world premieres of such films as Giovanni Giommi’s Bad Weather about an island of brothels in Bangladesh and Jian Du’s Made In China about working practices in textile sweatshops as well as international premieres of Victor Kossakovsky’s Venice title Vivan las Antipodas, Israeli filmmaker Avner Faingulernt’s War Matador and Aliona van der Horst’s Water Children.

Danielsen pointed out that the 2011 lineup for the German documentary competition – ranging from Sobo Swobodnik’s The Pope Is Not A Jeansboy, through Hannes Lang’s Peak and Britt Beyer’s Becoming German to Heidi Specogna’s Carte Blanche is “the strongest German selection since this competition section was established in 2004.”

Another observation Danielsen made during selecting this year’s programme was that there is “considerable movement” in Latin American documentary production, yet he had found “few strong productions from Central and Eastern Europe – with the exception of Poland – and this is a situation which fills me with concern. The same goes for the Baltic states; clearly, the financial crisis is having its repercussions and funding has been cut.”

This year’s special programmes include a showcase of independent Indian documentaries in Filmmakers as Changemakers – The Rhythms of India, a Focus on Arab cinema – with the first films chronicling the Arab Spring such as I Am In The Square by Egypt’s Olfat Osman and No More Fear by Tunisia’s Mourad Ben Cheik, tributes to filmmakers Jürgen Böttcher, Gitta Nickel and Kurt Weiler, and the Best of Animadoc at DOK Leipzig since 1996.

Meanwhile, DOK Leipzig’s industry programme will include the digital DOK Market with a record 450 titles, and a new initiative, the DOK Training platform, aimed at young talents and established filmmakers with masterclasses, a crossmedia lab, and Docs in Progress where directors can show excerpts of new projects.

This year’s international co-production meeting will be hosting 33 producers from 19 countries presenting new film ideas to potential partners, including Germany’s Gebrüder Beetz Filmproduktion (An Apartment In Berlin), the UK’s Braidmade Film (Baltoro Passage), Israel’s Heymann Brothers Film (6 Million in Two Rooms) and Austria’s Golden Girls Filmproduktion (What’s Wrong With A Free Lunch?).

Many of the professionals attending DOK Leipzig are then likely to move next door to the Czech Republic for the 15th edition of the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival which kicks off on Oct 25.

Jihlava has four competition sections – Opus Bonum for the best world documentaries, Between The Seas for the best Central and Eastern European documentaries, Czech Joy for local documentary productions, and  Fascinations for world experimental films.

The competition lineup for Opus Bonum, for instance, will include such titles as Marcelo Felix’s Eden’s Ark, Alberto Serra’s lyrical The Lord Worked Wonders In Me, Phil Cox’s The Bengali Detective, and Sebastian Mez’s A Letter From Germany, while Between The Seas features international premieres of Bosnian Nedzad Begovic’s A Cell Phone Movie and Almanac: Fires In Russia, Summer 2010 by a collective of Russian documentarists as well as the world premiere of Andrea Slováková’s film essay In Sight on traditional and postmodern surveillance mechanisms.

The festival boasts numerous sidebars ranging from retrospective tributes to such filmmakers as Vittorio de Seta, José Val del Omar and Lillian Schwartz as well as a focus on Israel-Palestine.

An innovation this year will be the staging of the Inspiration Forum to discuss new themes and perspectives of forthcoming documentaries with inspiring personalities from other fields: the Cuban poet and writer Carlos A. Aguilera, Indian educational expert Y.A. Padmanabha Rao, and Alexei Plutser-Sarno and Jana Sarna of the provocative Russian art group Voina.

The parallel programme of industry events will include the 11th edition of East European Forum which is organised by the Prague-based Institute of Documentary Film (IDF). The Institute’s board of experts went through 58 applications and selected eight projects for public pitching to commissioning editors, distributors, buyers and film festivals.

The 2011 lineup includes Polish filmmaker Eliza Kubarska’s Baltoro Passage, to be produced by the Andrzej Wajda Master School of Film Directing and Braidmade Films; Nebojsa Slijepcevic documentary comedy Gangster of Love; Slovak director Ladislav Kabos’ The Bloody Sands Of Libya about the Arab Spring and civil war raging in Libya; and Peter Kerekes’ Velvet Terrorists about minor and foiled terrorist plots in former Czechoslovakia.

In addition, workshops will be led by such international experts as Wide Management’s Anais Clanet; Sean Farnel, former director of programmes at Toronto HotDocs; producer Denis Vaslin (Volya Films); and Georgian filmmaker Salome Jashi as well as masterclasses by such leading documentary practitioners as Audrius Stonys, Vitaly Mansky, Erik Gandini and Maran Koszalka.

IDF will also be organising the eighth edition of the East Silver Market which presents more than 300 documentaries from Central and Eastern Europe, and, as part of the event, the Silver Eye Awards — for short, medium and feature-length films — will be presented during the festival’s closing ceremony on Oct 29 to the best documentaries featured in this section.

Moreover, last year’s new initiative — Doc Launch — will be staged for a second time, giving festival programmers, distributors, and sales agents a sneak preview of eight or nine projects currently at the stage of post-production.

Doc Launch’s first edition in 2010 had presented such films as Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s Abendland and Pavel Kostomarov’s You Too which have since come on to the international festival circuit.