Encounters Documentary Festival 2012


I’m a documentary nut. If you look at the documentary review category on this site, you’ll see a stack of reviews. Those are just the ones I reviewed, I’ve seen many more. So you can imagine the Encounters Documentary festival is something I look forward to each year.

This year I was asked to preview some of the documentaries. When I looked through the list of documentaries, I was impressed with the selection again this year. Some really interesting stuff and definitely enough variety to interest everyone.Having said that, there were less movies about environmental issues and corporate malfeasance than there usually are (my favourite topics).

I eventually managed to choose four.  There was one documentary about climate change, called The Island President.

The Island President is about the Maldives. I didn’t really know much about the Maldives, apart from the fact that people go there for a beach holiday. It turns out they have had a very difficult political history for the past few decades and only recently escaped the clutches of a dictator.

They spend some time looking at the political background, but the movie is mainly about the efforts of the new president to create an agreement between the nations at the Copenhagen climate talks. He succeeds in a way. Definitely worth seeing.

Another very interesting documentary was The Great Contemporary Art Bubble. A close look at the high prices modern art is commanding and how the prices are buoyed and inflated by dealers and collectors to ensure their collections do not devalue. I really enjoyed this documentary.

Being a bit of a foodie, I naturally asked for the only food related documentary, called A Matter of Taste. It’s the story of Paul Liebrandt. This is a candid, behind the scenes look into the life of a top chef and the restaurants he works in.

The last documentary I watched was called The African Cypher and it’s the story of several dance groups which are preparing for the Red Bull Beat Battle. If you’ve ever watched any movies about dancing, it would typically involve some heart warming story about a kid (or group of kids) which has a tough life but loves dancing and eventually gets a lucky break because of it. Well this is that sort of story, kids who have tough lives but choose to dance rather than be gangsters or criminals. Unfortunately as it’s the real world, it doesn’t end with everyone getting a lucky break, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching.

There are plenty of other excellent documentaries on the festival programme. You can view them all at the Encounters website.

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