Cinema is dead, long live cinema! Confessions of a film festival taking place online.

Greeting for DOK.fest München @home by Daniel Sponsel and Adele Kohout


Only cinema can do what cinema can do.

Anyone who has ever attended the opening of DOK.fest München at the Deutsches Theater with us is enriched by a film experience and knows about the pure energy that arises when 1,500 people share emotional moments together, laugh or are touched. Year after year, the documentary film proves in this hall that it is both a documented reality and a cinematic experience. Unfortunately, no cinema would be helped if DOK.fest München were to be cancelled. The online edition of the festival is not a statement against the art of film in the cinema, but a sign of life for these extraordinary documentary films, which would not be seen anywhere beyond the festival.


Video killed the Radio Star.

The new seems to be the death of the old. This is how the development of our cultural techniques can be described from an emotional perspective. But the emphasis must be on seeming: Until now, no cultural technique or even cultural genre has been buried by its development. And, never before could a functioning and powerful new cultural technique be prevented because the existing one was so good. Up to now, the producers of culture and the artists have always taken possession of this new technology at an early stage, used it to their advantage and developed it in every form. Concretely formulated: We will not get people back into the cinemas if we think we can dictate to them the way they have to see films. The market is too big and too liberal to be regulated.


Money makes the world go round.

Currently, numerous cultural providers on the net are reacting to the restrictions imposed by the Corona crisis with well-intentioned offers - free of charge, of course. This is a fundamentally questionable signal, even or especially at this time. After the restrictions are lifted, film culture will continue to be seen on the net, just as it was in previous years. In this way, we are continuing to push forward the real birth defect of the Internet: the apparently copyright-free world of digital content. Even in its online edition, the films of DOK.fest München can only be seen with a ticket or festival pass. In addition, there is the extra ticket with a solidarity fee for our partner cinemas. All prices are set lower than the regular admission to the cinema, but significantly higher than the offers of competitors from Silicon Valley. The film artists who create these works with a high degree of individual commitment are at the end of a fragile distribution chain. Cinematic art has its price, even online, and there are enough visitors who feel the same way.


A film festival online - is that even possible?

A festival feeling is created by the meeting of many people in a cinema hall with the films on the big screen and by the conversations with the makers after the screenings. DOK.fest München cannot offer both of these in its online edition. However, we can offer the films themselves and have already had the positive experience that the majority of rights holders like to stay with their films and are curious about what an online edition of our festival means for the presentation of their films. There are also the series and competitions in the online edition, analogous to the festival, as it was already completely planned. In addition, there will be film talks, which we have never been able to conduct on location in this way before. In video conferences, our presenters will now not only talk to the makers, we will bring in team members and the protagonists - almost emission-free, more inclusive and sustainable in every sense.


DOK.fest München @home - a film is a film is a film!

In the spirit of a wonderful text by the theatre director Jochen Schölch, it can be said that the documentary film celebrates life in its contradictions and inner conflict. It tells us stories about humanity and its fallibility, about everything that makes us human. Documentary films are above all living places of memory: everything that seems to be very present on the screen is in reality already past and releases us into an uncertain future. Our awareness of this uncertainty is the essence and grants us the freedom to choose our further path.


When asked in an interview back in 1997 what the future of documentary film might hold, Werner Herzog remarked: "No matter through which channels we reach people with our films in the future, it will always be about showing them that they are not alone."

What drives us on and around, what is our idea and motivation to dare to create an online edition with DOK.fest München: Maybe you will actually watch our films at home alone this year, but you will share the ideas and ideals of the makers and the people in front of the camera, who will tell their story just for you.

Your festival management

Adele Kohout and Daniel Sponsel