DOKU.ARTS was founded in 2006 at the Berlin Academy of Arts upon the initiative of the festival director, Andreas Lewin. Since then, the festival has become in demand by filmmakers, producers and cultural institutions. As such, from 2008 to 2010 it was invited to the EYE Film Institute of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. José Carlos Avellar invited the festival to the Instituto Moreira Salles in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where it has been a regular guest with a part of its film selection since 2012. In the same year, DOKU.ARTS returned to Berlin and presented the festival’s first edition at its current venue, the Zeughauskino of the Deutsches Historisches Museum.
The artistic creative process and its aura of secrecy have always been both mysterious and fascinating to filmmakers. Films about art and artists form an integral part of the filmography of many important filmmakers, such as Agnès Varda, Johan van der Keuken, Albert Maysles, D. A. Pennebaker, Chris Marker, Martin Scorsese, Manoel de Oliveira, Claire Denis and Wim Wenders. Even young filmmakers often devote their first films to art or artists.
Especially in times of comprehensive upheaval in media and technical acceleration, forms of memory in the arts are increasingly gaining importance. The changing media landscape usually only reports on art and artists in the form of prefabricated series and magazine articles. A deeper "second look" by documentarians on the arts remains a rarity, which stands in inverse proportion to the continuing popularity of films on art.
DOKU.ARTS shows the strengths, diversity, imagination and experimental nature of the documentary genre: from long-term observation to filmic essays, from compilation to homage films, creative documentaries by filmmakers and film documents are presented, which are characterised by their artistic or documentary quality. DOKU.ARTS promotes this valuable genre, and is unique in Europe for its stringent conceptual orientation.
The international symposium held in parallel with the festival programme is developed from lines of inquiry innate to film and conceived with the aim of reflecting and matching art, science and philosophy – as it has done during the Recycled Cinema (2013), Architectures in Motion (2014) and Essaydox (2016) symposia.
Every year DOKU.ARTS shows around 25 films from 15 countries, of which almost all are German premieres. The festival neither awards prizes nor includes a competition. All the filmmakers are invited to Berlin to discuss their films.
Previous Festival Guests (Selected)
Agnès Varda, Shirin Neshat, Olivier Assayas, Wim Wenders, Mark Lewis, Johan Grimonprez, Phyllis Lambert, Thomas Elsaesser, William Uricchio, Thomas Schadt, Helmut Lachenmann, Grant Gee, Jennifer Baichwal, Aliona van der Horst, Hans Helmut Prinzler, Stan Neumann, Julie Ahrens, Bruno Monsaingeon, Rania Stephan, Christoph Hübner, Gabriele Voss, Bettina Ehrhardt, Frank Scheffer, Tony Cragg, and many others.