Nyon's light reaches all the way to the forgotten outer edges

VISIONS YOU REEL: The powerful short films Wound and Diary of Cattle prove that this year's 50th anniversary Visions du Reel has the vitality and willingness to explore the outer edges.

Young is a regular film critic for Modern Times Review.
Email: neilyounggb@gmail.com
Published: 2019-12-04
Wound / Diary of Cattle

Arthur Sukiasyan David Darmadi Lidia Afrilita (Armenia / Indonesia)

Visions du Reel (VdR), one of the oldest and most influential documentary film festivals in Europe, celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. It was the second time VdR was launched under the leadership of French Emilie Bujes, the sixth artistic director since its inception. Visions du Reel's first artistic director was Moritz de Hadeln (born in Exeter, England), who, together with his wife Erika, founded the festival in 1969. Ten years later he passed the helm and gradually took over responsibility for other film festivals - in Locarno, Berlin respectively (where he was director of the Berlin for over 20 years) and Venice. Under the leadership of de Hadel, Nyon International Documentary Festival became known for showing films produced behind the Iron Curtain - at a time when unfiltered stories from inside the Soviet Union rarely reached the international community.


The film festival was relaunched with its current name in 1995 - with a nine-day celebration in the small Swiss town of Nyon, just off the magnificent Lake Geneva - when film critic and critic Jean Perret took over the creative reins. The change of name reflected Perret's commitment and enthusiasm for "cinema du reel" ("realistic film"), which is freer in expression than the traditional and conservative non-fiction film. With the new artistic leader at the forefront, the festival program was increasingly filled with hybrid works - that is, films that are often based on a diverse mix of methods, such as recreations of situations and various narrative approaches.

During an interview in 2009, Perret stated that “from the late 80s and beyond the 90s, you could imagine a kind of idleness in the fiction film industry, which struggled to come up with complex and innovative stories. The realistic film genre opened up to depictions of reality and of real people, put into a directed context and with a new, refreshing aesthetic ”.

Wound Director Arthur Sukiasyan
Director Arthur Sukiasyan

This view has now become the normative line for the successful and challenging European festivals, such as Copenhagen's CPH: DOX, FIDMarseille, Montreal's RIDM and the North American True / False (in Columbia, Missouri). The name selection of these festivals indicates an emphasis on documentaries and…

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