North South doc alliance bolsters AmDocs 2017 lineup


By Meagan Kashty

With 14 films from three international festivals on this year’s slate, the American Documentary Film Festival (AmDocs) promises to bear the fruits of an earlier partnership agreement.

AmDocs inked a deal last year with DokuFest (Republic of Kosovo), DocsDF (Mexico) and EDoc (Ecuador). Together, the four festivals form the North South Doc Network (NSDN) — an alliance designed to allow each of the festivals to share content and provide independent documentary filmmakers with greater access to worldwide audiences.

This year’s DokuFest submissions provide a powerful look at several very different issues relative to the countries and residents of the former Yugoslav state. One of the films, Depth Two, looks back to the atrocities of the Yugoslav wars, while another film, Tourism!, looks at the present-day impact of tourism along the Croatian coast.

A third film, a short called A Short Family Movie, introduces audiences to Marica, a woman who was convicted for assaulting her daughter-in-law with a knife and served two years and seven months in prison.

In Batusha’s House (pictured), audiences meet Batusha — a man who has been building a tremendous house in the outskirts of Prishtina in Kosovo for 15 years; without any plans, architects or building permits.

The offerings from DocsDF offer unique insights into pieces of the Mexican culture. Aurelia and Pedro tells a pastoral tale about life in the remote green highlands of the Wixáritari in Western Mexico, while Dotted Lines tells the stories of people who have disappeared without explanation, and the impact those disappearances have had on their families and loved ones.

Bath of Life, also from Docs DF, explores the inner life of a public bath in Mexico City, and The Underground Traveler, takes viewers deep into the metro in Mexico City, which carries an average of 3.9 million passengers per day.

EDoc returns to AmDocs this year with five films. Dream Town follows a young soccer player in Ecuador over the span of six years while The New Man follows Stephania, a trans woman living in Uruguay, as she returns to Nicaragua, and to the town where she lived as a little boy.

Another film, Impression of a War, examines the impact of living in Columbia, which has been plagued by armed conflict for over seventy years. On the other side of the spectrum is Territory, a stunning travelogue of Ecuador that was inspired by the travel journals of Henri Michaux, a Belgian avant-garde poet who traveled to Ecuador in 1926.

Finally, EDoc offers up The Flight – an intimate dialogue between mother and child, where love mediates the passage between the infinite world of desire and fantasy and the finite world of fear and rationality.

Several NSDN filmmakers are attending AmDocs this year, allowing audiences to further explore the subjects covered in their films. “We try to bring as many filmmakers to the festival as we can,” said Debbi Hinton, director of operations, in a statement. “Having them in attendance adds so much to the overall experience of the film screenings.”

The American Documentary Film Festival takes place March 31 to April 5 in Palm Springs, CA.

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