Identity, Beliefs, and Activism: DocPoint Films Shine a Light on a World in Crisis

In her editorial, DocPoint’s Artistic Director Kati Juurus introduces the festival’s 2022 programme and its main themes.

Dear fan of documentary film,

Happy news! Despite the pandemic, documentarists have managed to film the world and the people in it – and created touching, relatable, eye-opening and enchanting films. For the DocPoint programme, we have gathered what we consider to be a meaningful and rousing selection of them.

I hope that you agree.

The festival’s coming of age

Held online due to COVID-19, the DocPoint festival beginning on Jan 31, 2022 is the 21st DocPoint. Even online, DocPoint is DocPoint, and now it has by all standards become a grown-up festival. DocPoint is a competition festival  the most interesting new documentaries have again been selected to the International and National Competitions. For the first time ever, DocPoint also has a market industry event: in DocPoint FINEST Market, Finnish and Estonian documentary filmmakers get to present their new films or works in progress to international industry experts. In this way, the festival wants to help with promoting Finnish and Estonian documentary films internationally.

We wanted to be in cinemas, but that is not possible now. On the other hand, now we can make our wide documentary programme available all around Finland. For us, the most important thing is that the audience can watch the finest documentaries of the year at the festival. Those that linger in the viewer’s mind for a long time.

DocPoint’s vital mission is to showcase international documentaries with strong cinematic expression, films that challenge the audience. The viewer must be able to make discoveries and have realisations and cinematic experiences. Many forms of documentary film are present in the programme. Included are experimental documentaries and hybrid films that balance in the edges of fact and fictions. The majority of the international films in our programme will not be seen anywhere in Finland but here.

One of DocPoint’s central goals is to bring forth points of view from outside of Europe and North America. This time around, our programme includes films from 33 countries. 6 of the 11 films in the International Competition are directed by non-white individuals. The majority of the films in the programme are directed by women.

Films that ask big questions

The world is in crisis, and there are many crisis on top of each other. There is a huge need for interpretations and explanations of the world. In the midst of the climate crisis, the decline of nature, the pandemic, and the rise of extremist movements, we are asking big questions. What kind of world do we live in? What is my place in it? Others rely on religion and beliefs, fake truths and extremist movements. One of the main themes in the DocPoint programme is belief – be it in god, myths, political worldviews or dictators.

Dark Red Forest

Awarded as the best documentary at the Cannes Film Festival, Payal Kapadia’s A Night of Knowing Nothing (India 2021) is a poetic study of the private, the political and the religious, of the caste system, and the effects of Hindu extremism rising in India. Jin Huaqing’s Dark Red Forest (China 2021) takes us on a visually stunning journey to the reality of a Tibetan Buddhist convent. Norwegian Emil Trier’s Trust Me (Norway 2021) tells a young man’s story that is too good to be true. The film reveals how easily we love to believe fascinating lies.

Could materialism become a matter of belief, a world view? That is something to ponder while watching Jessica Kingdon’s amazing Ascension (USA 2021). Sergei Loznitsa’s shocking Babi Yar. Context (Ukraine, Netherlands 2021) recounts a massacre of Jewish people in Ukraine, and how the same nation followed – believed in – any dictator, be it Stalin or Hitler.

But dictators are not only followed and believed. They are also rebelled against. One of DocPoint’s main themes is activism. In the films, we see those who rise against ones in power or otherwise strive for a better world. There are not one but two delicious, yet creepy films that take a look at the heroes of free speech in Putin’s Russia. Vera Krichevskaja’s F@ck This Job (Germany, UK 2021) tells the story of socialite Natasha Sindeeva’s rise to become the founder of a critical television network – and ending up at odds with Putin’s government. The same thing happens to Siberian taxi driver and vlogger Viktor Toroptsev in Julia Sergina’s wild documentary Far Eastern Golgotha (Russia 2021). When talking of activism, one can’t ignore Extinction Rebellion. Maia Kenworthy’s and Elena Sanchez Bellot’s Rebellion (UK 2021) takes a look at the world famous movement, giving a fascinating glimpse into the turmoil on the inside.

Children of the Mist

Identity is the third main theme of DocPoint this year. How did I become me? How can you grow into the person that you want to be? Several fantastic films focus on young people’s fight against their parents’ conservatism. Turkish Ahmet Necdet Cupur intimately films his own family and his siblings’ confrontations with their old-fashioned parents in Les Enfants Terribles (France, Germany, Turkey 2021). With a little help from the director, a Vietnamese girl of the Hmong people struggles against the tradition of bride kidnapping in Hà Lệ Diễm’s stunning work Children of the Mist (Vietnam 2021).

Sorry, my praising of DocPoint films seems to be getting out of hand. I would like to continue and go through the rest of our films – but perhaps I will just suggest that you read the introductions on our website and discover your own favourites. Documentary films open up and deepen your worldview, and they are also a pleasure to watch.

I have enjoyed picking out the films for DocPoint’s programme immensely. I wish that you have an enjoyable DocPoint festival as well!

Welcome!

Yours truly,

Kati Juurus, Artistic Director of DocPoint (translated by Inari Ylinen)