Now in its thirteenth year, the Lemesos International Documentary Festival is part of Moving Docs (a new EDN initiative supported by Creative Europe, founded for the joint distribution of documentaries across Europe), and has some pretty weighty names behind it, as befits a festival of such calibre. Organised by Brave New Culture and supported and funded by the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education, the series takes place at the Evagoras Lanitis Centre from August 1 to 8, and sees, organisers promise, “some of the best and most ground-breaking documentaries of the year from Cyprus and the world!”
Dedicated to presenting contemporary creative documentaries in Cyprus, this international film fest offers – through the organisation of workshops and lectures – the opportunity for local professional directors and producers to better acquaint themselves with the latest trends and tendencies in the documentary genre, while learning more about the prospects of fund raising and promoting their own projects within the broader European spectrum.
That said, the real winners are the audiences. Year after year the festival’s viewers increase, as people realise that contemporary documentaries are “not what you might think they are!” reveals Festival Media & Communications Director, Danae Stylianou.
“There’s a notion that this genre is all National Geographic films about lions giving birth!” she laughs. “But documentaries today are actually an incredible vehicle for creativity. They’re a narrative created through reality, which allows the viewer rare access into real lives, focusing on unseen human stories which convey powerful messages that often define the way we look upon our world. Every year,” she adds, “we show a very diverse programme, with films covering the whole spectrum of subjects…”
More than 20 documentary titles telling stories of love, tolerance and respect, crisis and war, music and rhythm, money and poverty will be featured in this year’s programme, offering a unique opportunity for alternative access to information and a creative dialogue on issues that concern the contemporary citizen. To this end, both first-time directors and established auteurs are represented in what’s billed as “a fantastic line-up of films – many of which have won multiple awards at international events, all of which are being screened in Cyprus for the first time…”
The festival kicks off on August 1 with Faces Places, a heart-warming documentary which won the L’Œil d’or award at Cannes and was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 90th Academy Awards. The brainchild of 89-year-old Agnes Varda, one of the leading figures of the French New Wave, and acclaimed 33-year-old photographer and muralist JR, the film is a tribute to rural life. Together the directors have travelled round the villages of France meeting locals, learning their stories, producing epic-size portraits of the people they meet, and documenting their encounters.
Also making the cut is a documentary from Greek filmmaker Lefteris Charitos which documents the compelling journey of Jacques Mayol, the legendary free-diver whose life became the inspiration for Luc Besson’s cult-movie The Big Blue. Named Dolphin Man, the film “immerses viewers into the sensory and transformative experience of free-diving; a portrait of a man who reached the limits of the human body and mind, not just to break records but hoping to discover the deeper affinity between human beings and the sea.”
There’s a similar focus in Over the Limit from director Marta Prus. Described as “an intimate portrait of the world’s most outstanding rhythmic gymnast, Russian Margarita Mamun”, the film documents a year in the life of its protagonist – from the 2015 World Championships to the 2016 Olympic Games. “What does it mean to live constantly under the pressure of expectations?” asks the director, as she charts the athlete’s struggle to attain her dreams, overcoming the mental pressures and desperate solitude of her chosen discipline.
A beautiful line-up from both local directors (Missing Fetine by Yeliz Shukri, HLA by Valentina Fedonos, and Birth Days by Danae Stylianou) and foreign film-makers (including Of Fathers and Sons by Talal Derki, Τhe Price of Everything by Nathaniel Kahn, I Am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin, and Instant Dreams by Willem Baptist) complete a programme which delivers, organisers promise, “something for every viewer.”
Lemesos Documentary Fest
At the Evagoras Lanitis Centre in Limassol from August 1 to 8. Screenings start at 8.30pm each evening. Tickets cost €2 per film or €25 for a Festival Pass. For more information and bookings, visit www.filmfestival.com.cy, email [email protected] or call 99 517910. All screenings will have English and Greek subtitles