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Documenta Madrid Program complete

The 6th International Documentary Film Festival of Madrid will be held from May 1 through 10 and will showcase 108 films from 40 countries

In its 6th year, DOCUMENTA MADRID furthers its commitment to the Competitive Sections, which are made up entirely of films previously unreleased in Spain for the first time in its history. Of the 1078 documentaries received to participate in the competition, 108 have been selected. By category, they will compete in: 54 films in the Original Documentary Section (22 full-length films and 32 short films); 32 in the Documentary Reporting Section and 22 in the National Competition (11 full-length films and 11 short films).

The 108 films from 40 different countries making up the Competitive Sections are just one part of the documentaries to be screened at the festival, which will also offer numerous others in its Parallel Sections. This venture into the different realities of all over the world will feature a strong Spanish representation--30 films in competition, plus four that will be screened out of competition as part of the Official Section, the figures for which have increased significantly as far as participation is concerned. In addition, there will be a diversity of countries represented in the films in competition from abroad, with a solid European presence (France, Italy, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Belgium, Greece, Poland, and Finland, among others); North and South American (United States, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela, Uruguay and Paraguay), as well as others (India, Japan, the Philippines, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel).

Juan Carlos Rulfo and Sonia H. Dolz's most recent films will be competing

As part of the festival's sixth competition, there are a several remarkable films made by directors with already-established careers competing for awards in different categories of the competition, the monetary prize-winnings of which amount to 73,000 €.

Chema Rodriguez, who won a Special Mention at the Festival of Malaga for his full-length film Estrellas de la linea (2006) about a group of women prostitutes fighting for a dignified life, returns this time to this marginalized world with his short film Triste Borracha, which will compete in the National Competition. This is the story of Marina, a 70-year old ex-prostitute who has the happiest day of her life when she learns she will finally sing in the National Theater of Guatemala. The director will also participate in the Reporting section with his full-length film Coyote, the story of three undocumented Central Americans and the smuggler who guides them from Guatemala to the US border. The film was screened in the Panorama section of the Berlin Festival.

Other Spanish productions included in the National Short Film Section are: Soledad, a Spanish-Argentinean co-production by Ricardo Íscar, co-director (with Nacho Martín) of the short film El cerco (2005), a film awarded Best European Short Film at the Berlin Film Festival in 2006; Ventrada, a portrait of the probably only paraplegic shepherd in the world, by the Catalonian director Óscar Pérez, whose short film If the Camera Blows Up (2008) will also be projected in the Parallel Section Documentary and Comedy. The Oblique Laugh; and El pequeño Elogio de la Distancia, by the director from Leon Felipe Vega, the director of, among other acclaimed films, Mujeres en el Parque (2007), for which he received the latest Luis Buñuel Award for Film one month ago from the Mayor of Madrid.

In addition, Javier Aguirre will compete in the National Competition Section in the full-length film category with Sol, which he already showed an extract of at the festival two years ago. This documentary, as part of his experimental work, is a genuine visual tour de force filmed over forty years with images of the customs at Madrid’s Puerta del Sol, which build up into a history of the capital with rare truthfulness. As part of the Reporting Competitive Section, there will also be a film directed by his daughter, Arantxa Aguirre, called Un ballet para el siglo XXI, which analyses the precarious situation that dancers in Maurice Béjart’s great dance company found themselves in after his death in 2007. The director of photography was José Luis López Linares, who already competed himself with Un instante en la vida ajena at the first festival, and was on the jury of full-length films in the second.

In the same line, with dance as its subject matter, the Spanish-born director residing in Holland, Sonia Herman Dolz, who was on the Jury in 2007 and whose work was featured in a retrospective, shows the creation of a choreography in her most recent film, Blanco. One of the international films competing in the Original Full-length Film category, it shows the first spark of inspiration between the Dutch choreographer Conny Janssen and her dancers, in a process that is usually hidden but whose secrets Dolz manages to reveal to the viewer thanks to her unique skill of gaining entrance to the private lives of her characters.

Another one of the Jury members in the 2007 festival was the Mexican documentary-maker Juan Carlos Rulfo, the director of the full-length film En el Hoyo (2006), and his fellow countryman Carlos Hagerman, This time they delve into the lives of families that have left in search of a better life, risking their lives, in Los que se Quedan. This full-length film, which is competing with the previous one in the Original Documentary Film Section, inquires into the everyday nature of absence generated by migration, nostalgia, identity and memory, the capacity for fulfilling one’s dreams and the mysterious nature of love.

In this same section, the latest film by the visionary Chinese director Wang Bing will also be competing. His various “river-films” uniquely reflect the decadence of the Communist regime in present-day China, as in A l’ouest des Rails and Crude Oil, the latter of which was screened as part of the Noche en Blanco (White Nights) program. L'argent du Charbon deals with the adventures of drivers constantly transporting coal along the route connecting Shanxi to the port of Tianjin.

Another jury member at the 2006 festival, the Chilean Ignacio Agüero Piwonka, presents his latest film in the Reporting category of the competition: El Diario de Agustín, in which documentaries, eyewitness testimony and characters go about tearing apart three cover-ups carried out by a newspaper during the Chilean dictatorship for the purpose of hiding brutal violations of human rights.

In this same category, a film with backing from such executive producers as George Clooney, Steven Soderbergh and Julia Ormand will also participate: Playground, directed by Libby Spears, which shows the existence of child prostitution and sexual trafficking of minors in the First World, and specifically in the USA.

Two key figures in contemporary American art are featured in two films competing for the Award for Best Report and Best Original Documentary, respectively: The Art of Failure: Chuck Conelly Not for Sale by Jeff Stimmel, which accurately depicts the character of the painter played by Nick Nolte in the episode directed by Scorsese Life Lessons in the collective film New York Stories (1989). Chuck Conelly, the enigmatic artist from the 1980s featured in museums and galleries and known for his unmeasured affection for alcohol and women, appears in this documentary as a shadow of himself, signing his work with a pseudonym so as to introduce himself once again onto the art market. For their part, Tom Donahue and Paul Hasegawa-Overacker's Guest of Cindy Sherman describes the private life of one of the most highly-paid photographers on the international scene, who is known for keeping her private life and creative process under close guard.

Lastly, another one of the films to be screened in the Reporting Competitive Section is the latest film by the Mexican director Nicolás Echevarría, the director of Cabeza de Vaca (1991), a chronicle of the student massacre in the Plaza de Tlatelolco called Memorial del 68, which gives an overall and broad look at the conflicts dealt with in the Series Echando la Vista Atras: Mayo del 68’ at last years’s DOCUMENTA MADRID.

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