Krafta Doc: Scotland's newest film festival

The creative process is under the spotlight at Krafta Doc, a new documentary film festival devoted to the work of artists, craftspeople and designers, from world famous creatives to unsung artisans

Feature by Jamie Dunn | 19 Sep 2017
  • Action Space (Dir. Huw Wahl)

Scotland does not want for specialist film festivals during the autumn months, but a new one is entering the mix this September offering something unique. Krafta Doc, the brainchild of Silvia Righetti, is an ambitious new documentary festival devoted entirely to the creative process of artists, craftspeople and designers. We sit down with Righetti in Edinburgh's bustling Fruitmarket Gallery a few months before the inaugural event, and the Italian producer and curator explains that the first seeds of the project go back to her time working at the Venice Biennale.

Righetti had worked at the Biennale for over a decade, and had started to become disillusioned with the world’s greatest art festival. “More and more it feels like an exclusive event for elites, a huge party for millionaires,” she tells us. “For an artist to become part of the Biennale catalogue, for example, you have to pay thousands of euros just to have a logo included, meaning that a small organisation, say the Albanian pavilion, can’t afford to be part of the catalogue so they have to participate independently.”

Righetti was interested in creating a festival that celebrated the work and efforts that go into an artist or craftsperson’s practice. “I had this vision to collect these stories of the people who are behind these artworks,” she says, “so I developed this idea to create a small film festival about art and design, and art and craft.”

This vision is compellingly expressed in the Krafta Doc programme: “Behind the materials there is history and memory, a lively network of partnerships and professions, a commitment, very often lived as a vocation. In a world of great change and fast information, we wanted to stop to listen to the voices of those who work in art, design and architecture.”

The response from people with whom she shared her initial idea wasn’t all that encouraging. “The idea was definitely criticised,” she laughs. When she began the search for films to programme at the debut event, however, the reaction was rather more enthusiastic. “When I launched the open call, which was inserted inside Visit Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design brochure, the response was fantastic. That gave me more energy to go ahead to see if it could become a project.”

This first edition of the festival has three primary areas of focus based on geographic locations: 'the Scottish Production', 'the Creative Environment in London', 'the Italian Artistic Traditions that are disappearing'. These locations are ones in which Righetti has worked and lived. She explains that the films from these regions also offer very distinct but interesting sensibilities. “There is a kind of style that you can recognise between the three nations: the documentaries from Scotland are very community focused and also have an interesting relationship with landscape; in the London films you see a lot about innovation and they’re maybe more open to the world; and the Italian films suggest that we Italians are still very classic in the way we express information, and there’s an interesting focus on traditional craft in the Italian films too.”

Righetti hopes that the festival can help start a debate about the vital role artists play in our daily lives. “The funding to the arts is continuing to be cut everywhere, so maybe it’s a good time to think about, appreciate and celebrate the people who make art in our society,” she says. By bringing people from art, design and craft industries together, Righetti suggests the festival will also act as a crucible in which we can rethink how art and design fits into our modern economy, particularly with Brexit looming.

Most importantly, however, the festival will act as a way to bring art and design to a new audience, and be an opportunity to see art in a different way. “When I worked at [the Venice Biennale] you would meet a boatman who would say he had no interest in art and had never seen anything at the Biennale, but he did have a connection – he’d be meeting all these artists who he’s ferrying around and could tell you so much. So I wanted to create a festival to be a different way to experience art, a different space, and to make it accessible.”


Krafta Doc runs 27 Sep-1 Oct at the Lighthouse, Glasgow; the festival will also tour to London and Venice. For programme details and more information, head to kraftadoc.com