DOCU/CLASS: From TV Channels to the Poetry of Documentary Cinema

16 March 2018

The DOCU/CLASS coordinator Olha Birzul speaks about the three whales on which this year’s workshop program rests.


I remember very well the year when we realized that the festival must have space where people could learn firsthand about how non-fiction films are created. We did not know how many people would attend these events, how to promote them, but we were sincerely happy about the idea of creating a small documentary workshop with real artist talks.


The first DOCU/CLASS, by the way, was small-scale – only four lectures: by Marina Razbezhkina, the mother of the new wave of Russian documentary cinema; by Marshall Curry, an Oscar nominee; by Emily James, a British activist filmmaker; and by Givi Odisharia, a Georgian screenwriter, whose masterclass I could not attend, because I was interviewing someone at the time. And, honestly, I was terribly upset about it, because the workshop venue was a small hall at the Kinopanorama Cinema, it very cozy, and the masterclasses were incredibly interesting.


Next year, the DOCU/CLASS program already featured presentations and lectures by 9 documentary industry professionals. And every year, the project expanded and modified under the influence of its talented coordinators. Interestingly, some of them later also became directors or continued to work in documentary cinema in other capacities.


So this year’s DOCU/CLASS is the seventh. Because of the festival’s move, we found a new cozy location for the workshop – the Classic Hall at the Zhovten Cinema – and invited the best masters in their fields. The ten events which will take place in the DOCU/CLASS space can be divided into three thematic sets.


The first set includes meetings in the dialogue format. Just like in filmmaking, we don’t like talking heads, so we unite several people around a common topic. Poetry and the lack of difference between feature and documentary cinema will be discussed by two famous film critics and festival programmers, Luciano Barisone and Lauren Wissot. Construction of the image of the New Woman in early Soviet documentaries will be explained by specialists in archive cinema, Barbara Wurm, and Stanislav Menzelevsky. Arunas Matelis, the star of Lithuanian cinema, will hold his own artist talk, moderated by an equally well-known documentary expert Tue Steen Muller. Two documentary journalists, Manon Loizeau and Stephane Siohan will think about how to raise social awareness about silenced topics. The film critics who participate in the international roundtable picked an equally relevant topic: they will talk about whether history has certain topics which do not lend themselves to unbiased filmmaking.


The second set will be more practically oriented. Representatives of several TV channels will deliberate on the question of whether contemporary documentary cinema is capable of preserving its genre independence even as it works directly with television. The British expert Rebecca Ashdown will talk about how to create a unique and effective documentary distribution strategy and reach your impact goals because the documentary community today is capable of influencing social change. The Fight for the Right organization has prepared a masterclass about the process of creating audio descriptions for people with visual impairments.


The third DOCU/CLASS component is about new tendencies in documentary filmmaking. This set will be presented by the Hromadske TV. The photographer Joseph Sywenkyj and the international journalist Natalia Humeniuk will discuss their work with the VR 360 technology during the creation of the documentary project Wounds 360 about Ukrainian soldiers who are recovering from wounds they suffered at the war in Eastern Ukraine. We also invite you to our open press briefing to meet the directors who will compete in the first feature-length DOCU/UKRAINE competition this year.


Entry to the workshop is free.


Header photo: Docudays UA-2017

March 2020