Document Film Festival: The 2018 programme

Document returns with a rich line-up of classic documentary and contemporary films that blend both the poetic and political, and should prove a rousing, radical programme to get audiences thinking about today's most pressing issues

Article by Jamie Dunn | 08 Nov 2018
  • Black Mother

They’ve endured a date and venue change (this year’s festival takes place at Scottish Youth Theatre), but human rights festival Document will return this month for its 16th edition, bringing with it another line-up of feature length and short documentary films from around the globe to Glasgow, blending contemporary titles and older gems, with the latter playing a significant part in this year’s festival.

“A central theme of this year’s edition is the histories, afterlives and generative potential of archives – looking at what they can tell us about how we understand our individual and collective histories, particularly in relation to some of the seismic political events of the 20th century,” explains Document’s Programme Producer Sam Kenyon. “The festival is a place where we can tease out lots of interesting questions around these subjects.”

With this in mind, Document this year will explore the potential of archive film, asking what they reveal about collective memory and the role of filmmaking in the preservation of culture. You’ll find screenings and a lecture celebrating the late Egyptian filmmaker Ateyyat El Abnoudy, aka the ‘mother of documentary’, and a series of films about – and recovered from – the lost Palestinian Liberation Organisation Film Unit archive, which will be contextualised by scholar, researcher and writer Anandi Ramamurthy.

There’s the rare opportunity to see Mitsuo Sato’s blistering Yama – Attack to Attack, which documents the conflict between Japanese unions and the Yakuza in 1980s Tokyo. And you’ll find a screening of A.K.A Serial Killer, Adachi Masao's anti-sensationalist true-crime masterpiece, which screens back-to-back with The Anabasis of May, Eric Baudelaire's repurposing of Masao's fukeiron film philosophy.

Of the contemporary films, don’t miss Luz Obscura, Susana de Sousa Dias’s deeply-felt film essay on Portugal's decades-long right wing dictatorship – Sousa Dias will attend the screening. And Document team up with Scottish Queer International Film Festival for the Scottish premiere of Agustina Comedi’s Silence is a Falling Body, in which the Argentinian filmmaker creates a portrait of her father from 100 hours of footage recorded before his death

Filmmaker and artist Louis Henderson will deliver this year’s Superlux Masterclass in conjunction with Lux Scotland. The event will focus on Henderson’s collaborative work Overtures, which seeks to find an anti-colonial method of filmmaking. Steven Eastwood will also be in town with his film Island, which Document describe as “a lyrical look at death on the Isle of Wight.” There’s also a visit from Sara Fattahi, who’s in Glasgow with her multi-award winning Chaos, a meditation on the war in Syria told from the point of view of three women living in exile. Fattahi will lead a free Director's Masterclass in conjunction with the Scottish Documentary Institute (1 Dec).

Document also screen Good Luck, the latest work from experimental American filmmaker Ben Russell. Shot on 16mm, it explores the differences and similarities of two groups of men working in the mining trade in vastly different conditions in Serbia and Suriname.

Other highlights look to be Babylonia Mon Amour, about two groups of Senegalese men trying to make ends meet on the streets of Barcelona; Gürcan Keltek’s Meteors, a poetic doc centred on a meteor shower that coincides with the military lockdown of a Turkish city; and Black Mother from American filmmaker Kahlik Allah (who worked with Beyoncé on her epic Lemonade video), which the Guardian called “an epic odyssey through Jamaican identity”.

Document will see the launch of a new publication of Palestinian feminist perspectives in collaboration with Dardishi Festival and a Critical Forum panel discussion on Bernadett Tuza-Ritter's shocking modern-day slavery documentary A Woman Captured immediately following a screening of the film. The festival comes to a close with The Sun Quartet, described as a “psychedelic protest poem” made by an anonymous Mexican collective addressing the disappearance of 43 students in Igualo, Guerrero in 2014.

Sam Kenyon’s ambition for the festival is simple: “We hope that audiences will come and see some wonderful films, participate in workshops, masterclasses and panel discussions, and have lots of engaging conversations.” For full details and tickets, head to

30 Nov-2 Dec, Scottish Youth Theatre, Glasgow