Stronger Than Fiction: Documentary Film Festival 2016Share Event on Facebook Share Event on Twitter Share Event on LinkedIn
While a good movie can take you out of your ordinary life to everything from yesterday, today and tomorrow, the art of documentaries is another genre altogether. It is story telling at its very best and opens our eyes and minds to things we never knew about, probably didn’t give a toss about and ultimately learn about and marvel at, in this complex world we inhabit.
Diverse subjects, life affirming and uplifting ones, complex issues and the wonder of discovering about the lives and some extraordinary experiences were among the Stronger Than Fiction program of documentaries chosen for the 2016 festival that wrapped up on Sunday night with the fabulous and feisty Sonita, directed by Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami.
Sonita is a 16 year old Afghan refugee living in Tehran with her sister and niece. Her family in Afghanistan wants to sell her into marriage so her brother can collect the money and buy his own wife. Defiant and determined, Sonita uses her powerful voice, a music video and talent as a rapper to find a way out of the situation with the camera her conduit to freedom. She’s just one who made it. You despair for all the other young girls caught in this bride trading market.
Meeting the director of LIFE, ANIMATED , Roger Ross Williams, you realise that the creating of a documentary can and does take over the life of the director, the subject and all those connected with the project. And for this autistic boy who finds a method of communicating through Disney characters the untangling of the complexities of his gibberish is so uplifting and a story to impel us to always look for another way to communicate. A little bit of magic, a lot of Disney memories and a better understanding of autism.
Jim: The James Foley Story was heart wrenching. It follows Foley’s life from childhood to his death so chillingly documented – but not shown – at the barbaric hands of ISIS. His family, friends and colleagues all contributed and you get a picture of a restless but sensitive man following conflicts for his stories, prepared to divest himself of most comforts and connections in pursuit of the story. It raises questions about hostage negotiations, the quest for stories to satisfy our insatiable hunger for news now on the 24/7 cycle and the photo- journalists, a disparate band of brothers and sisters, who are prepared to take unconscionable risks to get them.
Some of the documentaries will find their way into general release. And as a counter for the pap that poses as a blockbuster or another in a series that should never have gone further than the original, keep an eye out for a documentary for a change.
Congratulations to the Stronger Than Fiction team for an eclectic mix of documentaries and the range of emotions and respect they engendered.