This year's Main Competition features 12 excellent documentaries, which differ wildly in origin, subject matter, the film language used, age and experience of the filmmakers. However, they all share two features - all concern human rights and all premiered at the world's leading film festivals.
The Green Dog Competition has become a permanent WATCH DOCS fixture. Five films about the environment and environmental rights compete for the 2023 Green Dog Award. They include movies devoted to eco-activists, endangered marine ecosystems and an attempt to start a conversation with one of the world’s largest animals in the world.
This panorama of contemporary human rights documentaries features current topics and difficult questions posed by engaged filmmakers. Films about the victims of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Japanese "precarians", the relationship between cryptocurrencies and democracy, or the search for the identities of anonymous victims of the border crisis and mafia are sure to engage those who want to know more.
Austrian director Nikolaus Geyrhalter, the winner of this year's Marek Nowicki Prize, composes his films with unprecedented care, but, contrary to appearances, he does not escape from reality in them. Geyrhalter has always delved into topics of great social importance and consistently endeavors to expose their unexpected angles. The premiere screening of his latest documentary, "The Standstill," opens the fascinating retrospective of the laureate's films.
Our program showcases a diverse range of Polish social documentaries from the recent season, varying in renown and length, but all are highly engaging. These films present an array of mysterious situations and unique heroes - from tourists seeking intense experiences in conflict zones to war refugees navigating their journey in a rickety van.
Big Docs is a new program section dedicated to revisiting some of the most remarkable human rights-focused films by European cinematic legends. This section features works by renowned directors who have significantly influenced film history, including Werner Herzog, Claude Lanzmann, and Agnès Varda. With introductions by Tomasz Kolankiewicz and Iwona Kurz.
This year's set of shorts includes a film about a Ukrainian TikTok influencer fighting for a just cause, a reflection on the Russian occupation of the contaminated zone in Chornobyl, a documentary about a migrant mired in EU bureaucracy and a shocking report from the Polish-Belarusian border.
Special screenings – that is, films that go beyond the scope of our program. The only feature in this year's WATCH DOCS edition is an unconventional, para-documentary thriller, reflecting the paranoid atmosphere of the dying moments of a collapsing dictatorship; there is also a Belgian documentary about young people who refuse to live in the shadow of the upcoming climate catastrophe.
Thanks to our cooperation with the player.pl platform, we are able to offer the most thought-provoking documentaries from previous WATCH DOCS editions online, free of charge. Log in to watch a harrowing account from Northern Ireland, where ex-IRA terrorists control the illicit drug market and a documentary investigation into an advertising agency specialized in servicing dictators.