As a winner of the Justin Louis Award of FreedomFilmFest in Malaysia 2013, I was invited last month by the Goethe-Institute and FreedomFilmFest Malaysia to visit the 57th International DOK Leipzig Festival for Documentary and animated Films in Germany.

Thanks again to my sponsors!

During this ten day in Germany, I have an opportunity to attend the events of Leipzig Networking Days organized by Documentary Campus of Germany with over 40 decisions-makers around international industry professionals. The decisions-makers are from Québec/Canada, Paris/France, London/UK, Mainz, Munich, Leipzig/Germany, Maine/USA, Brussels/Belgium, Vienna/Austria…, etc. The events also have the major film festival’s partners such as Sheffield Doc/Fest and DOK Leipzig as well as markets and conferences industry.

View from MDR TV Channels

Leipzig Networking Days were taking place at MDR German TV channels and the main challenge, as a documentary training initiative, was to reflect the needs of the market. During this two days of Leipzig Networking Days, 15 Masterschool film projects were all ready to be presented on the international stage. These projects have been selected and developed over three intensive workshops with their individual mentors and tutors before this pitching session.

After the welcoming of the Board and Members of Documentary Campus, each pitching participants started presenting their story project with a trailer. They stand on the stage face a panel of over 40 decisions-makers, visitors, filmmakers and producers from many professional international film industries. Some pitchers seem to be nervous but this was expected since the sessions were highly competitive and intensive.

In addition to the Masterschool projects of Documentary Campus, two other projects from MENA Program – a special documentary training program offering talented filmmakers from the Middle East and North Africa – had an opportunity to develop their stories to the international non-fiction market. It’s where I have met my friend Mohamed Siam from Egypt for his new film project “Amal” about Hope. The Federal German Foreign Office with partnership of the Goethe-Institute Kairo funded Mohamed Siam project.

I think there were many criteria to judge on the pitching including the quality of concept and story, the quality of Pitching if they are comfortable with their topic and overall the artistic values of directing.

As a first time visitor, I am so proud of them and I am really inspired by theirs challenges.

After two days of intensive, Leipzig Networking Days was closed with a warming Networking Day Party!

The 57th International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Films was started on the 3rd day of our visit. The last film by Laura Poitra, CITIZEN FOUR about Edward Snowden, solemnly opened the Festival that was finally receiving the Leipziger Ring’s prize.

The festival week, from 27 October to 2 November 2014, screens around 41 world premieres, 29 documentaries and 12 animated films. In all, the festival screens 368 films from 62 countries around the world. Everything looks very professional. I am so impressed by the sympathy of people, the film audience, the big cinema room and the quality of the films.

This year’s festival comprises of five competitions the International Competition Documentary Film, German Competition, Young Cinema Competition, International Short Documentary Competition and International Program Documentary Film.

The DOK Leipzig Award winner 2014 is on this page:

In short, The Golden Dove for Documentary Films and Videos Long Metrage (over 45mn) is “Rules of the Game” directed by a couple of French Filmmakers Claudine Bories and Patrice Chagnard. I’m glad to have chance to see this film during the festival. The film tells the story of Young adults who try to gain a foothold in the employment market in France. I really love this film. The protagonists look so natural, and the film is so potent and excited.

Another film that catches my attention and receives the Youth Jury prize is “No Land’s Song” by Mr.AyatNajafi. The film talks about the prohibition of female solo voice in Iran.

The MDR Film Prize was given to the film name “All thing Ablaze”, talking about Maiden battlefield in Ukraine. The film was breathless and has an unstoppable movement, but for me it doesn’t have clear storyline. I don’t know. It’s just my own opinion.

Besides Leipzig screening, I attended in other events like the DOK Market and DOK Industry Talk. Their program is very interesting. Every morning, I joined the DOK Industry Talk. I was not only have time for coffee, but the program gave us the chance to meet the Festival Programmers from such as Hot Docs, Berlinale, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Doku Fest…, and meet the Distributors from Vienna, Berlin, London and Brussels.., etc. It was a great opportunity to meet the professionals. They were not only sharing their experiences but they gave us a direct introduction to how certain parts of the documentary industry function.

At the DOK Market, DOK Leipzig’s digital video library, it was opened every day for guests and professionals to view all documentaries during the festival week. It was incredible. More than 400 documentaries and animated films from 66 countries including Cambodia were being safeguarded in their professional Database and I have a huge chance to view it online.

As Cambodian filmmaker, I really have a big honor and a great chance to take part in this great Festival. And I highly encourage you who read this article to participate in this kind of events because it’s not only Festival screenings but also Film Industry Market where you can meet nice people and get Network with professionals.

Thankful to Goethe-Institute and FreedomFilmFest Malaysia for your support!

Thankful for your time and your arrangements for this invitation!


Lida Chan

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