Global documentaries head to SXGlobal

Summer has already begun in the warm and wonderful capital city of Austin, Texas, as the 23rd annual South by Southwest festival unlocks its cinemas, concert clubs, garages and, well, pretty much anywhere you can project a film or stage a musical act. SXSW programmer Lya Guerra spoke with realscreen about SXSW festival's newest doc incarnation.
March 11, 2009

SXSW runs from March 13th to 22nd and for the second time offers doc-makers, doc fans and industry folks a chance to sample cross-continental documentaries in the form of SXGlobal. It’s a doc-centric event which includes six feature films, two online documentaries and ten short docs, hailing from Brazil, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Canada.

The event originated last festival as the Global Doc Days (GDD)conference. As SXSW programmer Lya Guerra puts it, ‘SXGlobal was a move by the film arm of the festival to mirror the music arm, as SXSW Music has been hugely successful at drawing on cultures and industries on a global level.’ So after last year’s experimental run, the 2009 version has emerged as a tighter event encouraged primarily by SXSW’s reputation as a stellar documentary showcase, with this year’s program rounding up to 60 docs in the official selection.

‘I wouldn’t liken this year’s program to a theme but to a chorus of very individual voices,’ says Guerra. ‘This year’s films were chosen for their distinct sounds and characteristics of their respective countries.’ Among the titles selected for SXGlobal are the Danish docs Ticket to Paradise and Love on Delivery, directed by Janus Metz, which explore the country’s relationship with Thailand. Adds Guerra, ‘The Brazilian doc Favela on Blast embodies a sprawling beat emblematic of the musical scene in the favelas of Rio De Janeiro.’ Each documentary is screened in its entirety, with the web docs followed by panel discussions with guests, such as IDFA Doclab head Caspar Sonnen, who Guerra thinks is a real inspiration. As far as distributing and buying at SXGlobal is concerned, says Guerra, ‘although we welcome the idea, currently it’s not the top priority.’

Several international film agencies, institutes, broadcasters and producers teamed up with SXGlobal this year. Among them, the ‘always extremely reliable Danish and Swedish Film Institutes,’ as well as the traveling Ambulante festival, IDFA’s Doclab, the NFB, the Britdoc Foundation, and the Institute of Documentary Film in Prague.

About The Author