The films in competition show the best documentaries of the current international scene. The Official Section gives the DocsBarcelona TV3 Award to the Best Documentary and the New Talent Award to the best film of newcomer directors.
A dreamlike journey through the New York metro which captures the 21st century’s emotional spirit. We discover an extravagant mosaic of 21 characters in the New York underground and we emerge with them to the surface to learn about the dreams and failures that mark their lives.
Bill Binney developed a ground-breaking surveillance program to intercept electronic signals without invading people’s privacy. Three weeks before 9/11, the program got cancelled: it was too cheap. His system would have been able to prevent the terrorist attack.
Sean McAllister United Kingdom 76min. VOSCat, VOSEng
Amer and Raghda fell in love 20 years ago in prison. In 2009, Raghda is in prison again for political reasons and Amer looks after their 4 children. The repression of the Arab Spring in Syria hastens a story of exile that involves choosing between love, revolution, and family.
Ale and Rocío are two teenagers from Honduras who have emigrated illegally to Mexico and whose mother is unjustly sentenced to jail. The challenge of looking after their two young siblings is a maturity test. Despite their efforts, the wall that separates them from their mother creates a deep emotional conflict.
In Alentejo, Southern Portugal, amateur choir groups get together to sing traditional tunes and improvise lyrics about current issues. It’s called cante. A unique form of expression that conveys Portugal’s past through the passionate voices of a changed present.
What makes someone a good mother? Clare Weiskopf, the film’s director, was 11 when her mother run away to the Colombian jungle, leaving her and her younger brother behind. Thirty years later, Clare meets her mother to look for answers and heal wounds.
Angélica Liddell is preparing a new piece and Manuel Fernández-Valdés experiences the evolution of the rehearsals with unprecedented access. Liddel has achieved international success with her autobiographical theatre showing her most intimate pain. A visceral portrait about the hectic relationship between life and creative process.
Seals are a symbol of the environmentalist struggle and they are also the main food for the Inuit, the indigenous people living in the Arctic tundra. Inuit filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril gives voice to her people so that they can defend themselves against the cultural prejudices surrounding their lifestyle.
A young couple of biologists arrive in the harsh lands of Tierra del Fuego to investigate a devastating beaver plague. They observe how over one hundred thousand beavers, voracious at night and camouflaged during the day, destroy the ecosystem without the threat of any predator.
Herz Frank, Maria Kravchenko Israel, Latvia, Russia 80min. VOSCat, VOSEng
Director Herz Frank followed for 10 years the complex story of Larisa Tremblover. Married with 4 children, she got obsessed with Yigal Amir, the assassin of Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Larisa fell in love while visiting him in prison, she decided to get a divorce and they ended up having a child together.
They went on a journey through the snowy Andes; they were young and inexperienced but they were in the Chilean army. A march of novice soldiers who had joined the ranks voluntarily, and which ended up tragically in Antuco. Many didn’t finish the march.
After 10 years enjoying success and fame in Israel, the prestigious dancer Bobbi Jene, makes the difficult decision to return to the United States and work independently. At the age of 30, and madly in love with a young Israeli dancer, she will have to face the consequences of leaving her stability and comfort zone and fight for her art, which will become more personal and ground-breaking than ever.
Neta Shoshani Israel, France 63min. VOSCat, VOSEng
The traumatic story of Deir Yassin, the Arab city conquered during a military massacre in 1948 and which led to the war between Israelis and Palestinians. The photos that are preserved are classified material. Currently, Deir Yassin is a psychiatric hospital owned by the Israeli government.
A tender story about two brothers in their eighties, a dreamer artist and a pragmatic scientist who share the last stages of their lives in their native Poland. Together they survived Stalin’s gulags. Two contrasting personalities, full of jokes and energy, who argue, fight and love each other.
After 40 years living inside a man’s body, Marianna starts a new life. Her mother continues to call her “son”, her ex-wife doesn’t want to see her and her children reject her. Isolated from society, she’s still adamant to undergo an irreversible sex reassignment surgery.
Reality changes based on the words we use to define it. Research is carried out through the analysis of more than 20 experts, amongst them Owen Jones, George Lakoff, Íñigo Errejón, Christian Salmon, and Iñaki Gabilondo, on the impact of political language on the way we understand the world.
Daniel, a 25-year-old student, is the first member of the Czech paedophile community to speak openly about his illness. He has never abused a child and he’s considering undergoing chemical castration. A sensitive portrait of his daily struggle which brings us face to face with an uncomfortable reality.
Two political rivals are asked to draw up the Zimbabwean constitution. A unique opportunity to end President Mugabe’s regime. Will they be able to build a constitutional democracy? A seemingly impossible challenge that will involve the whole country.
In 2001, a huge communal grave was discovered in a suburb in Belgrade. The courageous investigation of Serbian filmmaker Ongjen Glavonić sheds some light on a silenced massacre. An experimental thriller about the atrocities of war, narrated by victims and executors.
Nuri and Joan have been together since they were 15, a whole life of couple habits. At 56, Nuri discovers an intense passion for dance which triggers a radical transformation. The routine of the marriage crumbles. A deep and unusual dissection of the light and the darkness of the human condition.
A father films his son’s daily struggle with homework. The ghost of school dropout oppresses the creative passion of a restless, imaginative boy. The endearing relationship between father and son, a real rollercoaster of emotions, reveals with a sense of humour the contradictions in the French education system.
Lefteris Charitos Greece, Canada, France, Japan 80min. VOSCat, VOSEng
How deep can you go on a single breath? Immerse yourself in the extraordinary story of diver Jacques Mayol, the first to reach 100 metres below the sea without artificial breathing. An immersing story, a sensory and transformative underwater experience.
Martin Benchimol, Pablo Aparo Argentina 66min. VOSEng
In a remote Argentinian village, home-made cures replace traditional medicine. Every ailment is treated by neighbours except -El Espanto-, a rare disease that affects women and can only be cured with the mysterious abilities of a peculiar old man from the outskirts of town, whom no husband wants to see visiting their wife…
Two irreconcilable enemies sit at a table to dialogue. The peace process in Colombia told through unprecedented access to the main actors in the negotiations and exceptional archive material. Four years of tense meetings that culminate in a historic agreement after decades of violence.
A huge white circle under transformation. Filmmaker Ana Maria Salas portrays her father, Colombian painter Carlos Salas, while he works in his studio in Bogota. We discover the invisible doubts behind any art creation, and the influence of everyday banalities in the artist’s work.
A portrait of the most popular Cuban rap band: Los Aldeanos. Their anti-establishment message is very successful amongst young people outside the Castro culture. The band’s evolution from Cuba’s underground scene takes them on a world tour that coincides with the regime opening up.
Always dressed in black, serious, and with a whiskey in his hand: this is how Eugenio remains in the mind of several generations. But behind the man who always made others laugh, there’s another Eugenio, one outside the stage, without a stool or a microphone. What's behind the character that marked a before and after in the art of stand-up comedy in Spain?
In the heat of the Spanish Civil War, four towns in the region of Castellón woke up with bombing and 38 people lost their lives. 80 years later, the discovery of secret military archives reveals that the attack was part of a war experiment. The lethal success of the operation led to the mass construction of a weapon aimed to destroy Europe during the then unsuspected World War II.
The story of the uncovering of secret bank accounts and tax evasion as a result of Hervé Falciani’s client data theft from HSBC in 2009. In the shadow of the economic crisis, this leak changed the rules of the game.
Laetitia Schoofs The Netherlands, Germany 85min. VOSCat, VOSEng
A Chinese sexologist lets us into her visiting room in Beijing. Women of all ages go to see her, shy but brave, to discover the secrets of female pleasure. Their intimate stories break taboos. A vibrant ode to female sexual emancipation.
Denis Delestrac Spain, France 84min. VOSCat, VOSEng
90% of the products consumed in the West are made abroad and arrive here by sea inside containers. This transoceanic investigation reveals the mechanisms of a highly secretive industry that holds the key to our economy, the environment and the model of our civilization.
A young man obsessed with war games becomes a soldier. But he finds real war boring and returns home to face a family war caused by the economic crisis. Only when he realizes real life is not like in the movies, will he be able to grow up.
The Supreme Tribunal in Nicaragua, in an unprecedented decision has established that 18 sex workers act as judicial mediators to facilitate the resolution of conflicts in their profession. Their job is essential in a country with over 14,000 women working in the sex trade.
Niels Stockholm is a biodynamic farmer who believes that man and earth are fundamentally connected to the universe. He grows his food in harmony with the cosmos and supplies to the best restaurants in the world. At 79, Niels wonders if anyone will continue his work.
In Kirgizstan, the tradition of kidnapping women and forcing them into marriage is threatened by the new generations, who report an abuse of human rights. In most cases, the kidnappers defend themselves by alluding to cultural motives. A shocking film about an incomprehensible reality.
A portrait of the Greek economic crisis through a few characters who decide to take control of their own destiny and change it. While the crisis makes the inequality gap increasingly bigger across Europe, their courage reminds us that people can change reality.
Following the signing of the Peace Agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP, more than 200 guerrillas enter a demobilization camp where the rebels prepare for a life without arms. Ex-combatants, marginalized by the government, are looking for a new path within a society marked by violence.
Clara López Rubio, Juan Pancorbo Spain, Germany 90min. VOSEsp, VOSEng
The US investigate him for the WikiLeaks publishings. Sweden wants him for sexual offences. Julian Assange finds in Baltasar Garzón the kind of lawyer he needs - someone who can hack the solution to a complex case in which justice clashes with high politics.
A joyful story about how seventeen women live in a convent of Franciscan octogenarian sisters. Their life is a beautiful succession of small daily tasks and talks. As they prepare to celebrate the centenary of one of their Sisters, and after a long life of spiritual adventure and dedication, the time has come to take stock. Will their lifestyle disappear when they are not here to talk about it?
Sofi Escudé, Liliana Torres Spain, France 84min. VOSCat, VOSEng
In 2015, a TV reporter tripped Ossamah Al Mohsen and his son in their desperate flight from Syria. The image went viral, becoming one of the most shameful icons of the conflict. The aggression allowed Ossamah to reach Madrid as a refugee along with his son and resume his profession. But the rest of his family, like so many other thousands of refugees, were not as fortunate.
Born during the Sandinista Revolution, the director Gloria Carrión grew up with parents who were involved with and fascinated by the myth of the revolution. After the fall of the revolutionary dream, they never spoke of it again. 36 years later, the silence of her family inspires the director to look for what she did not have...
Neasa Ní Chianáin, David Rane Ireland, Spain 99min. VOSEsp
Latin, Maths, and rock & roll. We discover the magical world of Headfort, the only boarding school in Ireland for children aged 7 to 12. A fantasy adventure led by two eccentric teachers who have been transforming their students’ lives for 50 years.
Sophia Luvarà The Netherlands 72min. VOSCat, VOSEng
An intimate portrait of Andy and Cherry’s struggle to fulfil their parents’ expectations in a Chinese society where homosexuality is not accepted. Andy needs to find a lesbian who will marry him, and Cherry, married to a homosexual, is facing great obstacles to adopt a child.
A portrait collection of eight women from Jerico, a picturesque town in the Antioquia region in northwest Colombia. The expressive music, the powerful colours and the funny conversations with women of all ages, reveal the feminine spirit of a region with a character of its own.
Jonas is 13 and dreams of keeping the circus he built in the backyard, alive. Born in a traveling circus, some years ago his family left the circus in search of a more stable future in the city. Will he keep fighting for his childhood dream as he enters adolescence?
The story of photo-journalists Louie Palu at the front of the combat in Kandahar, south of Afghanistan. Through the diary he wrote between 2006 and 2010 we discover his psychological evolution amongst the harshness and tedium of an absurd war disconnected from reality.
In a small street in Brussels there is an unusual concentration of piano players. To one side, the house of Martha Argerich, and to the other, the house of the Tiempo-Lechners. At just 14, Natasha Binder is the last great promise in a dynasty of genius pianists.
After five decades of marriage, Aldo and Gabriella are going through a crisis and begin to wonder why they continue together. Their story, narrated with humour, distance and scepticism, tender and ironic all at once, along with that of other testimonies in their eighties, compels us to face the inevitable question: is love everlasting?
The child Zhou Hong and Mr. Xue Lian have to leave the last historical district left in the big city of Chongqing, which will be destroyed to build a new neighbourhood. Forced to abandon what has been their home until then, the narrow streets of the Shibati district are testimonies of the most traditional and historical China, which is about to disappear.
After 5 years of war in Syria, the last citizens of Aleppo prepare for the army’s siege. The daily and heroic struggle of volunteers from the NGO Syrian Civil Defence, known as White Helmets, shows the indescribable tragedy Syrian people are going through.