Swiss documentary film festival Visions du Réel has opened in Nyon with a homage to Lithuanian director Mantas Kvedaravicius, who was killed while filming in Ukraine last week.
The 45 year old, best known for his conflict-zone documentary “Mariupolis,” which was screened at the 2016 edition of the fest and has been added to this year’s lineup, was a festival regular.
Ukraine will be the focus of a round table at the festival’s online Industry Talks on April 14 entitled “Filming in Resistance,” where Ukrainian filmmakers and producers will join the debate live from Ukraine to discuss the act of resistance through images.
The programming of doc films in A-list festival lineups will also be at the heart of Industry Talks on April 10 with an A-list panel, including Frédéric Boyer, artistic director of the Tribeca Film Festival, Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan, U.S. programmer and selection committee member of the Venice Film Festival, Cristina Nord, head of the Berlinale Forum, and Eva Sangiorgi, director of the Viennale.
A total of 160 films will be screened throughout the fest, which will run in a hybrid form: learning from the past two editions, organizers have decided to keep a strong online presence. A selection of around 50 films will be accessible online, along with masterclasses by this year’s special guests – Marco Bellocchio, Hassen Ferhani and Kirsten Johnson.
Morning talks throughout the festival’s industry events will invite directors whose films are being screened at this year’s edition to discuss a wide range of topics relevant to contemporary doc filmmaking, ranging from staging and casting in documentaries to the growing presence of artists in non-fiction filmmaking.
“There are many artists in the lineup in general, and this year more than ever,” says VdR artistic director Emilie Bujès. “Emilia Skarmulyte from Lithuania is presenting both a short and a mid-length film at the fest (‘Burial’ in the Burning Lights section and ‘Aphotic Zone’ in the Medium Length and Short Film competition), that’s very rare,” she says, adding that Skarmulyte will be heading straight to the Venice Biennale after Visions du Réel.
Other industry highlights include the Swiss Films Preview on April 13, which provides an opportunity for sales agents, distributors and fest delegates to discover high-end Swiss documentary films at production stage ready to be launched on the festival circuit and the international market.
Switzerland’s vibrant documentary filmmaking ecosystem will also be at the heart of industry events on April 10 with the Documentary and Audiovisual Forum, which focuses on the international distribution of Swiss docs, and Switzerland Meets Scandinavia, aimed at fostering co-production and collaborations between Switzerland and the Nordics.
“We’re always surprised to see how many films in our program are co-productions, whereas we, in Switzerland, don’t have that many. That’s mainly due to the fact that Swiss filmmakers manage to fund projects locally – which is great – but beyond the funding aspect, there are so many advantages to co-productions, so we want to foster a reflexion on how to plan the life of a film with international partners who will obviously influence its journey and how it sells abroad,” says Bujès.
A total of 27 projects in different stages of production will be presented in the three key industry forums: VdR-Pitching, VdR-Work In Progress and VdR-Rough Cut Lab. Lab and Work Sessions will also provide a chance for filmmakers and film students from across Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East to work on projects in development.
Visions du Réel runs through April 17. VdR-Industry events will take place in person and online from April 10 through April 14.