Swiss documentary film festival Visions du Réel (VdR) has revealed the full lineup for its 52nd edition, which, for the second year running, will screen as a online event, this round round over April 15-25.

The program, which comprises of 142 films originating from 58 countries, was revealed live in a Zoom press conference this morning, broadcast from the Cinéma Capitole in the festival’s host town of Nyon, Switzerland.

Among the 13 titles competing in VdR’s main (International Feature Film competition section – are Polish director Tomasz Wolski’s “1970,“ which uses archive and animation to explore uprising in communist Poland.

Other titles in this section include “The Moon Represents My Heart,” by Argentina-Taiwan’s Juan Martín Hsu, which looks at cultural intersectionality in families– as does a Turkish-Frenc-German entry “Les Enfants terribles,” by director Ahmet Necdet Cupur, which shines a light on different generational views on arranged marriage.

Valerie Blankenbyl’s “The Bubble,“ meanwhile, explores life inside a Florida retirement village while “Zinder,” a France-Niger-Germany- South Africaco-production by Aicha Macky, examines gang violence in Niger.

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Searchers Courtesy of Visions du Reel

“Little Palestine – Diary of a Siege“ sees French-based filmmaker Abdallah Al-Khatib return to his  hometown of Yarmouk, Syria to tell the story of one of the largest Palestinian refugee camps; while Ai Mograbi’s “The First 54 Years“ provides insights on how a colonialist occupation works through the lens of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Among the 15 films announced in the more experimental Burning Lights category are “Searchers” by U.S. director Pacho Velez, which looks at dating apps during the first summer of Covid-19. The 80-minute film made its international debut at Sundance earlier this year.

Other VdR selections announced include its National Competition category devoted to 12 films produced or co-produced in Switzerland, which includes “Les Guérisseurs” (“Healers”), a doc feature exploring a health system in the throes of change. The zeigeisty debut feature of Swiss filmmaker Marie-Eve Hildbrand will also open the festival on 15 April.

The festival also announced 37 medium-to-short films from first-time directors. In a statement Emilie Bujès, artistic director of Visions du Réel praised this year’s “powerful and eclectic” selection.

“It will once again enable us to take into account the independence and the emancipation of contemporary documentary filmmaking, which keeps itself at the right distance from the sometimes alienating issues of fiction and from the often excessively confined definitions – in form and in substance – of the traditional “documentary,” she added
The films were selected from 3,000 submissions and in total just over 40% of the films selected in the program were directed by women; 31 films out of the 142 films are from first-time directors.

Presenting the program, the festival’s president, Raymond Loretan described this year’s event as a hopefully “hybrid” affair of online and face-to-face events. The festival is working with the Swiss authorities to ensure public safety.

Films will be uploaded three times a day and restricted to 500 views per film. Last week, however, the festival hinted at some on site presence when it announced its industry program –stating some of the sessions at the festival may take place on site “if sanitary measures allow.”

Beyond the competition strand,  there will be a special screening of all eight episodes of U.S. docuseries “Philly D.A.,” by filmmakers Ted Passon, Yoni Brook and Nicole Salazar, a doc-series portrait of reformist Philadelphia D.A. Larry Krasner – the first time the U.S. series will have been screened anywhere in its entirety.

This year’s honorary guest is the French author, filmmaker, and screenwriter Emmanuel Carrère while Visions du Réel’s 2021 Ateliers are dedicated to Mexican director Tatiana Huezo (“The Tiniest Place”) and Italian director Pietro Marcello. The festival will hold retrospectives of their work.

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Healers Courtesy of Visions du Reel


“1970,” (Tomasz Wolski, Poland)

“Bellum – The Daemon of War” (David Herdies, Georg Götmark, Sweden, Denmark)

“Courage,” (Aliaksei Paluyan, German, Belarus)

“Faya Dayi,” (Jessica Beshir, U.S, Ethiopia, Qatar)

“Holgut,” (Liesbeth de Ceulaer, Belgium)

“Les Enfants terribles,” (Ahmet Necdet Cupur, France, Germany, Turkey)

“Little Palestine (Diary of a Siege),” (Abdallah Al-Khatib, Lebanon, France, Qatar)

“Ostrov – Lost Island,” (Svetlana Rodina, Laurent Stoop, Switzerland)

“The Bubble,” (Valerie Blankenbyl, Switzerland, Austria)

“The First 54 Years – An Abbreviated Manual for Military Occupation,” (Avi Mograbi, France, Germany, Israel, Finland)

“The Moon Represents My Heart,” (Juan Martín Hsu, Argentina, Taiwan)

“Users,” (Natalia Almada, U.S, Mexico)

“Zinder,” (Aicha Macky, France, Niger, Germany)


“After the Flood,” (Yuan Zheng, China)

“Dida,” (Nikola Ilić, Corina Schwingruber Ilić, Switzerland)

“Edna,” (Eryk Rocha, Brazil)

“The Belly of the Mountain,” Stephen Loye, France)

“Looking for Horses,” (Stefan Pavlović, Netherlands, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France)

“Non-Stop (Jo ta ke),” (Aitziber Olaskoaga, Spain)

“Our Quiet Place,” (Elitza Gueorguieva, France, Bulgaria)

“Only the Winds,” (Karim Kassem, Lebanon, Sweden)

“Searchers,” (Pacho Velez, U.S.)

“Slow Return,” (Philip Cartelli, U.S., France)

“Soldat Ahmet,” (Jannis Lenz, Austria)

“Splinters,” (Natalia Garayalde, Argentina)

“The Great Void,” (Sebastian Mez, Germany)

“Way Beyond,” (Pauline Julier, Switzerland)

“WTC A Love Story,” (Wouter de Raeve, Lietje Bauwens, Netherlands, Belgium)


“Within,” (Sabine Bally, Switzerland)

“Chronicles of That Time,” (Maria Iorio, Raphaël Cuomo, Switzerland, Italy)

“Dreaming an Island,” (Andrea Pellerani, Switzerland)

“L’Étincelle,” (Antoine Harari, Valeria Mazzucchi, Switzerland)

“Healers,” (Marie-Eve Hildbrand, Switzerland)

“Living Water,” (Pavel Borecký, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Jordan)

“Nostromo,” (Fisnik Maxville, Switzerland)

“Our Child,” (Marina Belobrovaja, Switzerland)

“Parallel Lives,” (Frank Matter, Switzerland)

“Pushing Boundaries,” (Lesia Kordonets, Switzerland)

“The Lunar Course of My Life,” (Valerie Bäuerlein, Switzerland,Germany)

“The Mushroom Speaks,” (Marion Neumann, Switzerland)