This past April, during the Visions du Réel festival in Nyon, Switzerland, five key European documentary film festivals joined forces and launched a new initiative, Doc Alliance, which campaigns for the best feature-length docs produced during 2008.
The association is comprised of DOK Leipzig (Germany), CPH: DOX in Copenhagen (Denmark), Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival (Czech Republic), Planet Doc Review in Warsaw (Poland), and Visions du Réel. Every year, each festival will nominate a distinguished documentary film, based on its original and innovative narrative styles and points of view. All five films will tour the participating festivals as a series, from spring to autumn, allowing the films a chance to screen for diverse expectations and reach new markets. At the end of every year, an international jury will elect a winner of the Doc Alliance Award as the most outstanding of the five nominated documentaries.
The proposal for Doc Alliance places an emphasis on a diversity of genres in creative, author-driven documentaries. The filmmakers of the nominated docs should be of a new generation who evolve their projects from an independent place of origin, structurally speaking.
Doc Alliance was inspired by a need to promote exceptional documentaries from the countries of these participating festivals in markets that are typically not inclined to assist in the circulation and commercialization of such films. This awareness extends to a campaign for industry conditions, as digital distribution inflates while broadcast funding decreases. But Doc Alliance’s primary aim, says Dok Leipzig’s festival director, Claas Danielsen, ‘is to lobby for theatrical release and top quality of films – that’s our ultimate criteria, not premiere status. This is what unites festivals.’ This month Leipzig festival held a ‘national premiere’ requirement only. In Danielsen’s opinion, the emphasis on premiere status works against the ‘creation of synergy between festivals. Doc Alliance is an example of festivals working together, not competing.’
Among their commitments to the collaboration, all partners are required to do their utmost to promote Doc Alliance in their respective programmes, and with industry events and media. The network also has plans to invite festivals from Asia, South or North America and other parts of the world as ‘special guests.’ In addition to promotional tactics, Danielsen, alongside collaborating festivals, is proud to announce the launch of an online platform at the end of 2008, which will include the nominated documentaries of highest quality on behalf of Doc Alliance.