Florence November 3rd - 10th 2018

International documentary film festival

What if the opposite of knowledge were not ignorance but certainty? There is no knowledge without encounter, and there are no encounters without a question. Therefore, let’s say it right away, to avoid any misunderstanding and for the sake of (not just intellectual) honesty: Festival dei Popoli is a place that hosts questions, you’re not going to find answers here.

I can imagine the disappointment of those who will read these lines, not so much because they expected instructions from us on how to face an increasingly uncertain world, but because this confession may seem a symptom of weakness or a manifestation of powerlessness. This is not the case. On the contrary, welcoming questions with open arms is a conscious choice, an act of love. To begin with, the sinuousness of a question mark is more intriguing than the stiffness of an exclamation mark. A question is enticing, an invitation to an encounter, an exhortation to establish a relationship. “May I seat next to you?”, “What film is playing tonight?”, “I’m excited, what about you?” To ask a question means admitting we are not enough, we can’t be on our own, because we will always need the other.

So many questions lie behind the moving stories that this year are presented at the 59th edition of Festival dei Popoli. However, a question can be the beginning of any story, not their purpose. Among the many works we have seen, we were interested in those that are not only looking for confirmation or approval, but open to surprise, elicit thoughts, and bring us to our senses. These films are like questions that set your chair on fire and prompt us to stand up and leave.

Against the vulgarity, selfishness, screaming, finger-pointing, exclusion, narrowmindedness, imposition, arrogance, disillusionment, and prevarication that are surrounding us, Festival dei Popoli answers with a load of beautiful and thorny questions, such as ‘Can we be something more than viewers?’, ‘How can we be the change that we would like to see in the world?’, ‘What you gonna do when the world’s on fire?’

This year, Festival dei Popoli initiated a profound process of renewal that will bring us to imagine how our next 60 years will be. I warmly thank all those who are working with us, helping us, and prompting us. There are many uncertainties and threats, but we can’t help pursuing the beauty underlying the tension of a question, like a promise of a future. Shall we build it together? We want to.

Vittorio Iervese
President of Festival dei Popoli

This 59th edition, an intriguing number that inevitably kindles the curiosity on what we will be able to propose on number 60, is characterized by being both the vanishing point of and the place where longstanding desires, lines of action, and sense of our project find harmony and balance, this year more than ever. All of these elements fit together, reinforcing the general plan and the ambition of our festival.

The Doc at Work Campus proposes a meaningful selection of films made during 2018 by the students of the Turin Scuola Holden, the Milan Civica scuola di cinema Luchino Visconti, the Naples Centro FilmaP - Atelier di Cinema del Reale, and the Bolzano Zelig – School for Documentary, Television and New Media. Our special guest is one of the most prestigious film schools in Europe, the Prague FAMU International Film and TV School - Academy of Performing Arts, with a delegation of students.

The renewed collaboration with the Department SAGAS of the University of Florence has allowed us to set up a round table on Memory and Archives, with the latter seen as forms of preservation of the past but also indispensable instruments to build our future.

For a long time, we had been planning the project of opening the doors of the festival to young and very young audiences, knowing how important for them is to share the movie theatre experience with family members, friends, and classmates. The project has come true thanks to the collaboration with KinderDocs; they shared competence, experience in the field, and a selection of high-quality titles, with a programme suitable for audiences of all ages - you can count on it.

The goal of our new section, Doc Explorer, is precisely to explore the boundaries of the galaxy of documentaries, venturing into those areas in which it fruitfully blends with other forms of expression and with the (virtual or not) spaces made available by technological innovation. Web doc, I-doc, Virtual Reality, and Live documentary make up an innovative programme in which the new forms of storytelling are experienced in spaces other than the cinema theatre.

All of this contributes to a high-level, varied official programme: the two competitive sections (international and Italian); two retrospectives: the first – of which we are particularly proud – realized in collaboration with IsReal, the Nuoro Festival di Cinema del Reale, is dedicated to Roberto Minervini, while the second, that presents the cinema of Dominique Marchais, sees the Embassy of France and the French Institute among our most solid partners; the theme focus, entitled “Habitat”, deals with the near future, a dimension oscillating between the suggestion of new technologies and the need of focussing our attention onto the health of the environment; to cap it all off, a section of musical documentaries and a wide offer of special events with a strong spectacular impact.

Symbolizing our desire to know more about what awaits us, an enigmatic character peeps out of our poster. This “21st-Century Monna Lisa” stares at us with a fierce, but quiet look, all the while willing to let us admire the multi-coloured landscapes that adorn her skin. In return, she asks us to accompany her on a journey, through the films that make up this edition, to discover the countless paths that lead to her (and our) future.

Have a pleasant journey,

Alberto Lastrucci
Director of Festival dei Popoli