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Documentary highlights at the Berlinale 2016

Berlinale 66 2016 posterThe Berlinale is one of Europe’s film festivals which has championed the documentary genre for many years. And 2016 is no different, this year a total of 77 documentaries will be screening in a variety of forms. 

In addition to these films, there is a wide range of documentary workshops, panels and presentations to attend.

Some of the screen highlights for us must include the latest Alex Gibney film Zero Days, about the victims of internet surveillance, and the new Michael Moore film, Where to Invade Next., in which the documentarian travels through Europe in search of the best place to invade next, noting all the obvious and not so obvious differences with the US.

Another title to look out for is The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble. This music documentary was directed by Morgan Neville, whose name you might remember from Twenty Feet from Stardom.

Sonia Kennebeck’s documentary National Bird also promises to be a fascinating investigative piece as it follows the journey of three whistleblowers who are determined to break the silence around the secret US drone war.

These are just a few, and we’ll give you a link in a second where you can see all the documentaries screening in Berlin, but first we’d like to highlight some events for you as well.

So, back to Gibney. The master of the investigative docs (the man is a machine) doesn’t just have a film on the programme, no he also hosts a talk on investigative documentary storytelling, entitles To the Dark Side. This takes place on 18 February (more details on the festival’s website).

Over at the European Film Market (EFM) there is “Meet the Docs”, the EFM documentary networking platform.

The initiative, in collaboration with the European Documentary Network (EDN), promotes exchange among the international documentary industry, who can meet and mingle at the “Meet the Docs” stand in the Martin-Gropius-Bau. Market visitors can also participate in the enhanced panel series programme and one-on-one meeting format “Meet the Festivals” with programmers of international documentary film festivals and benefit from a documentary film project consulting by EDN.

It is also at the EFM Producers Hub where there are a variety of events taking place designed as a Who’s Who and What do They Want? There is Meet the Docs: Distributors on 13 February and Meet the Docs: Festivals on 12 February, further more there are some interesting talks taking place there you might want to check out.

DOK Leipzig have put together Campaigns Around Documentaries – Busting the Myths! This talk will take care of some of the misconceptions you might have about outreach campaigns commonly used by documentary filmmakers to engage audiences in new ways and/or build non-profit partnerships.

Finally, CPH:DOX hosts an event on 13 February entitled Truth and dare: The art and politics of contemporary documentary practice, this could also be an interesting one.

For a full and – luckily – long list of all the documentary films screening and events taking place, please take a look here.

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Alexandra Zeevalkink is a Dutch-born journalist living in London who founded DocGeeks in August 2011 in order to have a legitimate excuse to watch every documentary under the sun. She freelances for various publications and writes mainly about documentaries and the film production industry. When she is not blogging or watching films, she enjoys theater, photography and reading loads of books. She is always on the look out for potential partnerships with other creative minds.

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