There is always a film festival on. To survey just the last week of September 2014 there are (counting only those with a FIPRESCI jury): San Sebastian, Saint Petersburg, Reykjavik, Rio de Janeiro and Perm, the latter for sure being the most special of the lot, and not just because it happens in the same city that hosts the Flahertiana International Documentary Film Festival. Situated just west of Ural Mountains, Perm is Russia’s easternmost metropolis, with a million citizens on the European continent. It is the gateway to Siberia, a place you won't necessarily travel to for holidays — unless you plan on riding the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to the Pacific. Then you would certainly do well to stop in Perm.
But anybody who is even slightly enthusiastic about documentaries can strongly be recommended to do the same. And they shouldn't be too worried about "Siberian" weather: the 14th edition of Flahertiana took place in a sunny and warm city blooming with Indian summer. No gloves were needed during the festival run from September 21st to 28th. With it's first edition held in 1995, the festival took place every two years until 2006, since then the festival is held annually with an International Jury and a FIPRESCI jury present.
This year FIPRESCI jury members had to consider 17 films presented in the International Competition, all of which were Russian premieres. With Flahertiana and its award-sculpture ("Nanook") being named after American filmmaker Robert Flaherty and his classic documentary Nanook of the North, the festival regulations draw on Flaherty's principles of filmmaking. So all films in competition really were "films where the hero lives on the screen a part of his life directed by the author according to the laws of dramatic art", with running times ranging from 19 to 85 minutes. The FIPRESCI prize was awarded to Abu Haraz by Polish filmmaker Maciel J. Drygas, a film which also convinced the international jury to honour it with its main prize, the Big Golden Nanook.
Apart from the international competition and the "Russian Flahertiana" program (which this year included 17 Russian films) the festival offers numerous sidebar programs. In the 14th edition, besides a "Focus Germany" and a "Focus Caucasus", there was a special program in memory of cinematographer and documentary film director Sergei Skvortsov and an evening with two premiere films by Boris Karadzhev. At Flahertiana, documentary filmmaking isn't only alive on screen: the festival buzzes with workshops, lectures and discussions, and with "Flahertiana for Kids" making it also an educational space teeming with life.
This year a really special event took place on the last day of the festival: the unveiling of the monument to famous Russian documentary filmmaker Anatoly Baluev in his native village Kochyovo. It is the first monument in the world to a documentary filmmaker. (Kirsten Kieninger)
Flahertiana Documentary Film Festival Perm: www.flahertiana.perm.ru/2014/english/index.html