“New ideas” from Fipadoc 2022, the major documentary festival

It is the flagship of documentaries in France. This Monday, January 17, Fipadoc opens its doors to show in theaters in Biarritz its selection of the best documentary creation, 150 films from around the world. Interview with its president, Anne Georget.

RFI : Many cultural events have canceled or postponed their 2022 edition scheduled for the beginning of the year. Will Fipadoc 2022 be a festival of resistance ?

Anne-Georget : A festival of resistance, I don’t know, but I hope it will be a festival of desire and conviviality. In the world of culture, there is an immense need to get together in order to be able to finalize collective projects, co-productions, etc. And then, for creators to find their audience, their works on big screens.

Fipadoc’s goal has always been to show documentaries in all their forms. Has the Covid crisis and the rise of streaming platforms changed forms or brought about new formats ?

I believe the documentary showed how necessary it was. We understood how much we needed each other, the outside world, and that our existence had meaning only in exchanges with others, with the world. And the documentary tells that. It tells the new ideas of our neighbor and our “distant”. The documentary is the incarnation of this need, of this desire.

Afterwards, technically, it’s true, the platforms discovered the value of the documentary. During the months of confinement, we saw how much demand was high for this genre. As a result, they added a certain number of documentaries to their proposal. For the rest, television and cinema still remain the backbone of our professions, for the moment.

Have you observed any other changes ?

Among the 1,500 works sent, we did not notice any very strong trend, whether in relation to the duration or the theme of the works. Everyone has traced their path, often quite difficult, to pass between the drops of travel bans, difficulties in turning in the street with people without masks… Last year there was a great demand for the manufacture of archival works. To respond to these travel difficulties, a lot of people have embarked on full archive films. In the professional environment in Paris, it was impossible to find a documentalist all this year, because they were all “booked” on projects.


Flee, by Dane Jonas Poher Rasmussen, an animated documentary on the life of an exiled Afghan, and moreover nominated for an Oscar. Is it representative of a new self-confidence of the documentary genre ?

Flee is an absolutely terrific film and the Oscars got it right, as they nominated it – and I wonder if this isn’t the first time a documentary has been nominated in three categories: Best Documentary, Best Animated Film and Best Foreign Film Representing Denmark. We feel that it is an exceptional work. It’s a very poignant, very ambitious film.

For us, it also represents the idea that the documentary takes over the whole grammar of cinema: archive images, images of reality, animations, etc. All stories are possible. And when he tells true stories, all forms of narration that allow it are welcome. And it is all this richness that we are keen to show. And the use of animation is something that we see more and more, either in all animation, it is the case of Flee, or in animation sequences, and it is something quite relevant. And these works are unquestionably documentary in my eyes.

Among the 150 films programmed at Fipadoc, there are no less than twelve films made by African filmmakers or having Africa as their theme. Is it a surprise ?

I have no explanation for this strong presence of African directors or films with African issues as their theme. I am delighted that there is a variety of views that tell the realities of this continent. But I don’t know why, all of a sudden, many eyes turned to Africa. There are mysteries like that… We only realized ita posteriori, and we are very happy about that.

Take the example of last refuge, by Malian director Ousmane Zoromé Samassekou on the migrant house in Gao, Mali. Why did he manage to compete for the International Documentary Grand Prix ?

The Last Refuge is a very fresh look at the issues of migration. For years, we have had many films on this theme every year. In the same way Shadow Game, by Dutch directors Eefje Blankevoort and Els van Driel, in the Impact Documentary category, these are two offbeat looks at migration compared to what we have seen in recent years.

The Last Refuge is a great film and it has already had great recognition in different festivals. He carried out this project in a place that is halfway to many migration routes. And he put himself in the inner journey of characters. This allows us to realize what this departure means, this abandonment of their friends, their cultures, their foods…


In the Impact Documentary category, you also programmed China: the Uyghur drama, by French director François Reinhardt. He addresses what some consider to be genocide, speaking of more than a million people arbitrarily interned, forced labor, torture, forced sterilizations… Knowing that China’s pressure on artists continues to increase, should we courage today to make such a film and show it at a festival in France ?

Since the foundation of Fipadoc, the category of Documentary impact is something very important for us. These are films which we think can help to understand things, to raise awareness, so that people mobilize on such and such a theme. This film on the Uyghur drama is an exceptional investigation, with an insight, of something extremely complete on the Chinese policy which seeks literally to annihilate and the culture and physically this people and the civilization of the Uyghur populations.

It certainly takes a lot of courage to make this film. We must pay tribute to all the people who testify in this film. At some point, it is necessary at all costs to try to alert to stop this infernal machine. On the other hand, I don’t think you have to have extraordinary courage to program a film like this. It is a blessing that he registered with Fipadoc and we are delighted to give him the most beautiful echo.

Throughout the Fipadoc programme, nowhere is the word “ netflix “. Isn’t this a subject for documentary professionals gathered in Biarritz ?

The word “Netflix” does not appear in the catalog because Netflix, for the moment, has a certain policy, a certain relationship with festivals. He prefers not to participate too much, at least in Europe. There were one or two films that we would have liked to see registered. The producers were asked if they would agree to enter them. They checked with Netflix executives if it was possible, but were told not to. Despite this, we are hopeful that, little by little, links will be forged and that this policy will change, because it is sad for creators not to benefit from all that a festival can bring. It is this little extra soul that a film can claim when it has been shown to a festival audience.

► To listen also: Taste of the Doc at Fipadoc: “the veracity of the stories makes the umami of the documentary”

fipadoc, from January 17 to 23, 2022, in Biarritz.