DOK.focus DEMOCRAZY: Back to the future?



Democracy’s greatest potential as a form of government exists in its power for integration and in its potential to represent and preserve the interests of many different sections of the population. This even applies to the forces that oppose democracy. A dilemma: these powers are increasing and they are using the openness of the system to erode democracy’s foundations. The process is following a similar pattern over and again in different countries: it begins with the aggressive dissemination of fake news via social media and an active exertion of influence over the established public media landscape, it then develops further through links to financially powerful commercial enterprises and culminates in an attack on justice designed to seriously alter the fundamentals of the constitution.

The films in the DEMOCRAZY focus series shed light on the sometimes dramatic developments that are taking place in several European countries. Since the end of the Cold War, on their road to democracy, Russia and Hungary have arrived at pure autocracies. In Austria, Norway and Germany, there is a more or less open conflict around populist tendencies. What happens next? Does democracy have a future as a form of government? Is it well placed to defend itself? “Never again is now!” This is the slogan that many people are now rallying around in order to change the course of history, which sometimes does repeat itself, for the better.

Daniel Sponsel

The films

Germany/Denmark/Hungary/USA 2024, Connie Field, 116 min.

“Our only hope is the EU,” says Tímea Szabó, who has been fighting against the Orbán system for years. Though it is also the EU that has sent money to Hungary, knowing full well how blatantly the democratic structures are being eroded there. The film portrays three women fighting against the autocrat – in their country and, with it, the whole of Europe because Orbán serves as a prime example for others.


Germany 2024, Martin Weinhart, 84 min.

“We are colourful, we are diverse and committed – but all you ever read in the headlines is: the Nazi village.” This film does things differently. It takes us into the everday life of an existential struggle for power, freedom, and public reporting. A film about neo-Nazi strategies and East German counter-movements that show us how to resist the right-wing extremist threat.


Norway 2024, Bård Kjøge Rønning, 87 min.

The appearance of the SIAN (Stop the Islamization of Norway) organisation on the streets of Norway puts the ideals of freedom of expression and democratic dialogue to the test. The right-wing camp and their opponents are irreconcilably opposed – leading to violence. Where do you draw the line between legitimate debate and dangerous extremism?


Germany 2024, Askold Kurov, 90 min.

“The first casualty of war is the truth.” This also applies to Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine. In the weeks before and after 24th February 2022, the Russian media landscape was radically reconstructed. As the clock counts down, Askold Kurov documents the increasing repression of the press. New laws prompt some to censor themselves, strengthen the courage of others and lead some towards exile.


Austria 2023, Kurt Langbein, 101 min.

He entered the political arena with great plans and risqué ideas. Edgy and non-conformist, Sebastian Kurz wanted to show that “politics does not always have to be deadly serious and that it can also be fun.” An exceptional career followed with an inglorious end. Langbein’s film presents 13 years of political history, a rogue act and fragments of rehabilitation. A reckoning with the Kurz era.

DOK.focus DEMOCRAZY at the festival

The films in the DOK.focus series will be presented as part of the 39th DOK.fest München in May 2024:

2 to 12 May at the Munich venues
6 to 20 May @home