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CPH:DOX unveils 2020 competition titles

The main theme at CPH:DOX 2020 is dedicated to contemporary activism and to the social, political and cultural movements that shape - and change - the times we live in. The Copenhagen-based leading documentary film festival unveils its full line-up of competition titles with a record high number of world premieres and a 50/50 gender representation that transcends the competition programmes.

The international documentary film festival, CPH:DOX, is ready to announce the entire line-up of competition titles for the 2020 event taking place from March 18-29 in the heart of Copenhagen. 

The festival enters its 17th year with a new record. Of the 65 films in the five competitions, a total of 43 films will be celebrating their world premiere, accompanied by 16 international premieres and 6 European premieres.

Following up on the festival’s 50/50 by 2020 gender commitment, no less than 52% of the 65 titles in the competition programme are directed by one or more female directors. But the gender equality representation does not stop here: Of the 409 experts and panel debate participants CPH:DOX has invited for its 160+ panel discussions and film events, 207 are women.  

Competition line up with Academy Award winners, artists and activist filmmakers 

The main competition programme of CPH:DOX 2020 features high profile and award winning filmmakers and artists. World premiering in the main competition, ‘Bitter Love’, the latest film by acclaimed Polish filmmaker Jerzy Sladkowski, who won the main award at IDFA with ‘Don Juan’ in 2015, is accompanied by films directed by some of the most celebrated filmmakers in the world of art cinema, including Berlinale and Locarno regulars J.P. Sniadecki & Lisa Malloy. 

Academy Award nominees run through the competition programme: Academy Award winner Bryan Fogel (‘Icarus’) will celebrate the international premiere of his latest, highly controversial film ‘The Dissident’ focusing on the Saudi murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Academy Award Nominee Hubert Sauper presents the European premiere of his Sundance winner ‘Epicentro’. Another Academy Award nominee, Joshua Oppenheimer, is the executive producer of the new film ‘Songs of Repression’ and Roberto Minervini, nominated for the Golden Lion in Venice in 2018, has produced Emilia Melo’s long anticipated film ‘No Kings’.

Rising talents amongst this year’s competition titles

This year’s competition programme also celebrates emerging artists and filmmakers with a singular artistic vision that will not only make up but also shape the future of film. Among the highlights are New York-based photographer and filmmaker Khalik Allah who will visit the festival with his new film ‘IWOW: I Walk on Water’, a contemporary reinterpretation of the classic street photography portraying the nocturnal streets of the New York neighbourhood Harlem. Khalik’s film is nominated for the festival’s main prize in the DOX:AWARD section. 

Another major new talent and also represented in the main competition is Brazilian born filmmaker Moara Passoni who co-wrote the Oscar-nominated ‘The Edge of Democracy’ (2019). She is back at this year’s festival with the world premiere of her debut film ‘Ecstasy’, an autobiographical hybrid following her alter ego Clara as she battles anorexia. Produced by Petra Costa (director of ‘The Edge of Democracy’), the film navigates intimacy and politics as we are immersed in Clara’s mind, intimately experiencing her agony. 

In the Next:Wave Competition, rising stars naturally abound. One of the most promising young artists in the UK, Huw Wahl, will present the world premiere of his film ‘The Republics’, acclaimed Danish photo artist Nikolaj Møller presents his first, Nordisk Film backed, feature film ‘The Soldier’ about a self-medicating Afghanistan veteran alone in the South American jungle, and Korean artist and filmmaker Areum Parkkang will visit the festival with her latest and only second film; the raw and honest ‘Areum Married’ where she points the camera at herself as she resettles in France. Her film portrays the struggles of motherhood and her difficulties with the patriarchy and marriage system of her home country.


CPH:DOX launches main theme dedicated to social and political movements

Micropolitical and activist movements - from grassroots in Hong Kong to global movements against global warming - are on the rise, and this year CPH:DOX dedicates an entire section to the movements that are shaping and changing the times we live in, presented through films, talks and events that all explore the potential for radical change.

In the section are films illustrating one single person’s ability to stir up global movements, such as ‘I am Not Alone’ about the larger-than-life story of Armenian politician Nikol Pashinyan, who managed to knock down a corrupt government through the help of persistent demonstrations and crowds of people, and ‘Now’ portraying Greta Thunberg and the young activists standing by her side, fighting for climate justice all over the world.

Indignation goes a long way within political movements, and in the program this anger comes from both sides of a political spectrum. As with the Yellow Vest movement portrayed in ‘Blow it the Bits’ or the alt-right movement trolling their way through the dark side of the web in ‘Feels Good Man’. But the energy of indignation can also be physically expressive, as in artist Phil Collins’ ‘Bring Down The Walls’ that looks at the US prison industrial complex through the lens of house music and nightlife.

The Movements theme runs through the entire 2020 festival programme and features titles such as ‘Saudi Runaway about a young, fearless woman from Saudi Arabia following thousands of other women before her in her fleeing the country’s repressive patriarchy, but documenting everything on her iPhone. Or in this year’s opening film ‘The Fight for Greenland’ about the rising independence movement among young greenlanders and rising political voices.

Emmy-winning filmmaker Jeff Orlowski presents the international premiere of ‘Social Dilemma’ which has former COO’s of Google and Facebook as well as writer Shoshanna Zuboff telling you that now is the time to get off-grid and demand your privacy back the tech giants. While ‘Welcome to Chechnya’ documents the real-time actions of a vast, secret network fighting against the overnment-backed crusade against gay and LGBTQ+ people.


An Evening with… Werner Herzog, Edward Snowden, Jonathan Safran Foer and more

This year’s festival features a series of exclusive events with artists, activists and of course movements invited to take the main stage and talk about their missions and methods to create actual change through art and activism.

The An Evening with series focuses on climate changes, digital privacy and the new, muslim women’s movement. An array of prominent people will take the stage, including renowned director Werner Herzog for an exclusive talk on the potential of art in making a difference, author Jonathan Safran Foer and former EU commisioner Connie Hedegaard on fighting climate change one breakfast at a time and whistleblower Edward Snowden on a live connection from his exile in Russia on AI and surveillance.

The festival will also present a line of masterclasses with legendary directors who will dive into in-depth conversations about method and engagement in their long running careers. Meet in person Oscar-winner Alex Gibney, legendary filmmaker Alan Berliner and investigative documentary filmmaker Mikala Krogh, as well as long running host of the acclaimed science podcast series ‘Radiolab’, Robert Krulwich.

The world’s best festival for science films

In less than five years, the festival’s CPH:SCIENCE programme has turned into one of the most prominent premiere platforms for science films. The 2020 programme will present 15 feature films of which an impressive number of 11 are either world or international premieres, making CPH:DOX the major documentary festival for science film.

The programme opens with the international premiere of ‘The Edge of All We Know’, exploring how that now world famous first picture of a black hole became reality. We also follow the overall theme of movements with a focus on Citizen Science - projects carried by a common interest and dedication from a large number of people wanting stronger and broader validated science results. CPH:SCIENCE also presents the international premieres of ‘We are as Gods’ focusing on the living de-extinction legends Stewart Brand and George Church and ‘Red Heaven’ about the Mars mission-project that put six people in isolation for a year in a dome in Hawaii.


See below for a full list of all competition titles.

DOX:AWARD

Strong personal expressions and cinematic quality are celebrated in the main competition, DOX:AWARD, where 14 films are selected from all over the world. Among this year’s selection are films from Oscar nominee Hubert Sauper who will visit the festival with the European premiere of his Sundance Top Prize-winner ‘Epicentro’; award-winning filmmaker and cinematographer Kirsten Johnson’s film ‘Dick Johnson is Dead’ portraying her desperate attempt to keep her aging father alive through the magic of cinema; Czech documentarists Vít Klusák & Barbora Chulipová’s psychological experiment ‘Caught in the Net’, investigating the disturbing world of online predators; Danish filmmaker Kenneth Sorento whose ‘The Fight for Greenland’ is set to open the festival at a gala event on March 18; ‘Long Live Love’, a coming-of-age story by Danish filmmaker Sine Skibsholt and David Teboul’s three-hour meditation on the nature of love, ‘Mon Amour’.

NEW:VISION

In the NEW:VISION competition, the festival presents 14 artists’ films, shorts and features. This year’s selection includes films such as the world premiere on ‘Ocean of Love’ from artists Ingo Niermann and Alexa Karolniski - a hybrid documentary that imagines a world where people give and receive love free of any discrimination; Italian artist duo Masbedo will visit the festival with their newest film ‘Welcome Palermo’ investigating the Sicilian society and the history of the Palermo area; renowned artist Yael Bartana is present with ‘The Undertaker’, and ‘Beast Type Song’ by artist Sophia Al-Maria is a revision of identities and histories, past and future. 

F:ACT AWARD

The F:ACT AWARD is dedicated to films in the field between documentary filmmaking, investigative journalism and activism. This year the selection includes highlights such as ‘Jozi Gold’ from award-winning filmmaker Frederik Gerrten (‘Push’, 2019) and Sylvia Vollenhofer; ‘Wood’ from filmmaking trio Ebba Sinzinger, Monica Lazurean-Gorgan and Michaela Krist, investigating the illegal production of wood and the people who make money off of it; Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and environmentalist Jeff Orlowski’s film ‘The Social Dilemma’ on the outspoken activism demanding privacy over personal data; Mohamed Nagvi’s latest documentary feature ‘The Accused’ exploring Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws; ‘Ayouni’ by BAFTA-nominee filmmaker Yasmin Fedda which documents the fates of two high-profile figures in Syria’s pro-democracy movement; ‘Only the Devil Lives Without Hope’ by Swedish filmmaker Magnus Gerrten telling the story of Dilya, a human rights activists who challenges the regime who took her brother, and Chinese visual artist Ai Weiwei who will return to the festival with his latest film ‘Vivos’. 

NORDIC:DOX

The 12 films in the NORDIC:DOX competition are a careful selection of documentaries from the Nordic countries, reflecting the diversity in films with a clear vision and a personal touch. This year’s selection presents new work such as ‘Journey to Utopia’ by Erlend Eirik Mo, depicting a Danish-Norwegian couple as they move to a self-sufficient, organic village cooperative in Denmark; Danish filmmaker Mira Jargil will visit the festival with a world premiere of her film ‘Reunited’ following a family divided by the Syrian war; ‘Maddy the Model’ by Swedish filmmaker Jane Magnusson portrays the world’s first professional supermodel with Down’s syndrome; Norwegian Mariken Halle’s hybrid documentary ‘We Are Here Now’ following a group of babies and parents during a year in their Scandinavian maternity leave; ‘Television Without Frontiers’ by Swedish artist Andjeas Ejiksson, interprets the failed attempt to establish a trans-national public service format in the EU; and ‘Inside the Diamond’ by filmmaker Viktor Johansson exploring the story of an abandoned diamond factory in rural Sweden. 

NEXT:WAVE

Emerging filmmakers from around the world are competing for the NEXT:WAVE Award for both shorts and features. The selection highlights new talents and new approaches to cinema and includes ‘Areum Married’ by South Korean filmmaker Areum Parkkang; French-American filmmaker and artist Lisa Rovner with ‘Sisters With Transistors’ about the story of female pioneers in electronic music, and by filmmakers Hassan Solhjoo and Mahdieh Sadat MirHabibi telling the story of a young woman’s plans to break with her conservative family in Iran.

The full list of competition titles:

DOX:AWARD

14 films including 9 world premieres, 4 international premieres and 1 European premieres.

  • A Shape of Things to Come, JP Sniadecki & Lisa Marie Malloy, USA, world premiere
  • Bitter Love, Jerzy Sladkowski, Sweden, world premiere
  • Caught in the Net, Vit Klusak & Barbora Chulipová, Czech Republic, world premiere
  • Dick Johnson is Dead, Kirsten Johnson, USA, international premiere
  • The Dissident, Bryan Fogel, USA, international premiere
  • Ecstasy, Moara Passoni, Brazil, world premiere
  • Epicentro, Hubert Sauper, Austria, European premiere
  • I Walk on Water, Khalik Allah, USA, international premiere
  • The Fight for Greenland, Kenneth Sorento, Denmark/Greenland, world premiere
  • Long Live Love, Sine Skibsholt, Denmark, world premiere
  • No Kings, Emilia Mello, Brazil, world premiere
  • Mon Amour, David Teboul, France, world premiere
  • Oeconomia, Carmen Losmann, Germany, international premiere
  • Songs of Repression, E. Wagner & Marianne Hougen-Moraga, Denmark, world premiere

NEW:VISION

14 films including 9 world and festival premieres and 5 international premieres.

  • Ocean of Love, Alexa Karolinski & Ingo Niermann, Germany, world premiere
  • Welcome Palermo, Masbedo, Italy, international premiere
  • Mother’s Tongue, Wingyee Wu & Lap-See Lam, Sweden, world premiere (festival) (short)
  • Clay Theory, Amalie Smith, Denmark, world premiere (festival) (short)
  • Subject to Review, Theo Anthony, USA, European premiere (short)
  • The Undertaker, Yael Bartana, Israel, world premiere (festival) (short)
  • Beast Type Song, Sophia Al-Maria, Qatar, USA, world premiere (festival) (short)
  • Untitled Sequence of Gaps, Vika Kirchenbauer, Germany, international premiere
  • If Your Heart Wants It (Remix), Pilvi Takala, Finland, international premiere
  • LOLOLOL, Kurdwin Ayub, Austria, world premiere
  • Garage, Luis Ortega Govela & Olivia Erlanger, USA, Mexico, world premiere
  • Detour, Mario Valero, France, international premiere
  • The Seismic Form, Antoinette Swirchmayr, Austria, world premiere
  • South, Morgan Quaintance, UK, world premiere

F:ACT AWARD

10 films including 6 world premieres, 2 international premieres and 2 European premieres.

  • Wood, Ebba Sinzinger, Monica Lazurean-Gorgan, Michaela Kirst, Austria, world premiere
  • Meet the Censors, Håvard Fossum, Norway, world premiere
  • Blasphemy, Mohamed Naqvi, Pakistan, world premiere
  • Ayouni, Yasmin Fedda, UK, Qatar, world premiere
  • Jozi Gold, Frederik Gertten, Sylvia Vollenhofer, Sweden, international premiere
  • Vivos, Ai Weiwei, Germany, European premiere
  • Dope is Death, Mia Donovan, Canada, European premiere
  • Only the Devil lives without hope, Magnus Gertten, Sweden, world premiere
  • We Hold the Line, Marc Wiese, Germany, world premiere
  • The Social Dilemma, Jeff Orlowski, USA, international premiere

NORDIC:DOX

12 films including 9 world premieres and 3 international premieres.

  • A Colombian Family, Tanja Wol Sørensen, Denmark, world premiere
  • Being Eriko, Jannik Splidsboel, Denmark, world premiere
  • Inside the Diamond, Viktor Johansson, Sweden, international premiere
  • Journey to Utopia, Erlend E. Mo, Denmark, world premiere
  • Maddy the Model, Jane Magnusson, Sweden,world premiere
  • Reunited, Mira Jargil, Denmark, world premiere
  • Show Dancer, Laurits Flensted-Jensen, Denmark, world premiere
  • Själö - Island of Souls, Lotte Petronella, Finland, world premiere
  • Television Without Frontiers, Andjeas Ejiksson, Sweden, international premiere
  • The Beautiful Game, Olof Berglind, Sweden, world premiere
  • The Beloved Daughter, Tiina Madisson, Finland, world premiere
  • We Are Here Now, Mariken Halle, Norway, international premiere

NEXT:WAVE

16 films including 10 world premieres, 3 international premieres and 3 European premieres.

  • A New Beginning, Ala'A Mohsen, Denmark, world premiere
  • Areum Married, Areum Parkkang, South Korea, international premiere
  • Dear Joel, Thanasis Trouboukis, Greece, world premiere (short)
  • Errans, Mira Adoumier, Mira Adoumier, Lebanon, world premiere
  • Garage People, Natalija Yefimkina, Germany, world premiere
  • Mayor, David Osit, USA, international premiere
  • Mullah's Daughter, Mahdieh adat Mirhabibi, Iran, UK, European premiere
  • Once Upon a Time in Venezuela, Anabel Rodriguez Rios, Austria, Venezuela, European premiere
  • Rendezvous, Ernst Skoog, Sweden, world premiere (short)
  • Retreat, Joeri Verbesselt, Belgium, world premiere (short)
  • Return to Epipo, Judit Oláh, Hungary, World Premiere
  • The Garden of Calabria, René Georg Johansen, Jacob Krzysztof Glogowski, Denmark, World Premiere (short)
  • The Republics, Huw Wahl, UK, World Premiere
  • The Soldier, Nikolaj Møller, Denmark, World Premiere
  • Trouble, Mariah Garnett, UK/US, International Premiere
  • Sisters with Transistors, Lisa Rovner, France, European Premiere

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