BIFF 2020



Ukraine is not a brothel and Europe is not a land of promise. Locating the mythical center of Europe seems to be a losing battle, so in order to take a good look one should rather cruise around the peripheries – of a city or of the continent. The three references to the documentaries featured in our programme are self-evident so let’s just clarify that a periphery of Europe, i.e. Abkhazia, was filmed by the authors of DOMINO EFFECT while it was Gianfranco Rosi who roamed on Rome’s ring road in his SACRO GRA.

When preparing our programme about the European cultural diversity, we steered clear of ethnography. We put a special emphasis on culture clash, on crucial themes, and ideas which connect and divide the Old Continent. The art of documentary perfectly rendered this erratic pulse of European culture.

The East and West with its idea of feminism clash in the real story of Femen, resulting in a juxtaposition which is peculiar or even shocking, just like the story itself (UKRAINE IS NOT A BROTHEL).

The relationship between the old inhabitants of Europe and newcomers constitutes another great theme that is approached in an atypical manner in a film we chose. In LAND OF PROMISE, a found footage documentary which employs archive material from European TV stations, we gain an insight into the narration about immigrants created by the old inhabitants of the continent for the last few decades.

After watching DOMINO EFFECT, it becomes apparent that culture clash can sometimes ensue within a single family and become an intriguing background for a… love story.

To see how diverse Europe really is one should undoubtedly embark on a journey. It might be a journey to the geographical center of the continent or rather to its centers as there are a lot of towns in various countries which claim the right to this title. DIE MITTE, a remarkable travelogue ripe with an absurd sense of humor, is the only older film in our programme. It could easily serve as a summary of the whole retrospective.

Celebrated SACRO GRA, winner of the Golden Lion at Venice, is another film with a quality of a rich synthesis. In this documentary, however, culture seems to merely be a storage room for forms, in which our daily lives stubbornly go on.

The presented programme was prepared together by the Bergen International Film Festival and the WATCH DOCS. Human Rights in Film IFF. In Warsaw the programme will also include SIBLINGS ARE FOREVER (SØSKEN TIL EVIG TID), a film well-known among Norwegian audiences, a story about the unchanging ways of a simple countryside existence and thus about tradition, for which apparently there is still room in Europe.

The joint project of BIFF and WATCH DOCS is supported by the “Promotion of Diversity in Culture and Arts within European Cultural Heritage” Programme grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland.

Maciej Nowicki

WATCH DOCS. Human Rights in Film IFF

Festival Director