At this very moment, giant urban organisms are growing at unprecedented rates. Today 50 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2030 this figure is predicted to increase to 80 percent. Growth has far outpaced city planning. The challenges and solutions to the problems in four of the world’s biggest cities — Bogotá, Cairo, Mumbai and Shanghai — are the focus of the film series Cities on Speed, a documentary project commissioned by the Danish Film Institute and the national broadcaster DR.
Bogotá Change, directed by Andreas Dalsgaard, is the unique and surprising story of two mayors, Antanas Mockus and Enrique Peñalosa, who have changed behaviour patterns in the Colombian capital, bringing Bogotá out of a negative spiral of violence and chaos and remaking it as something of a visionary role model for other megacities.
Humour is a powerful element in Mumbai Disconnected, directed by Camilla Nielsson and Frederik Jacobi. Mumbai is growing like it was on steroids. But a collapsing infrastructure is threatening to put an end to the booming economy, and is making the daily commute close to unbearable for Mumbai's 20 million citizens, where 13 people die every day on the railroads.
Cairo Garbage, directed by Mikala Krogh, takes us on a journey into Cairo's "garbage cities", entire neighbourhoods where people earn a living sorting and recycling garbage. Cairo shows us the culture and habit factors at play in this Middle Eastern city, where Italian contractors are hired to solve increasingly unmanageable waste-management tasks.
Shanghai Space, directed by Nanna Frank Møller, takes a poetic and contemplative look at the abnormal growth of China's great port city, where a new building is constructed every other day, and where the population increases by half a million people each year. A photographer, who has documented the city's changes over the decades, is now himself a victim of that development, while a professor of urban planning fantasizes about an underground city.
"The Accidental Terrorist", a documentary for young people, is a side-by-side look at two young men. They are the same age, from the same culture and religious background and they had the same opportunities. Why did one become a terrorist?
A profound interest in Japanese culture led the director Kaspar Astrup Schröder by coincidence to Dr. Nakamats, an eccentric inventor who by his own count holds more than 3400 patents and is planning a final coup: living to be 144. The portrait of Dr. Nakamats is told with tongue in cheek, and it is not always clear, who stages the story – the director or the inventor …
Albert's Winter, Anders Koefoed's graduation film from the National Film School of Denmark, tells the story of an eight-year-old boy who is goes through a tough time after his mother is diagnosed with cancer. Koefoed seeks to examine those times when life first knocks us off our feet, but also lets us grow.
In "Northern Lights", Kristoffer Kiørboe's graduation film from the National Film School of Denmark, two brothers go in search of the northern lights, each other and themselves. Samuel is brain damaged and Simon is caught in a struggle between helping his older brother or making a life for himself.
Miri has isolated herself in the real world, while generously sharing her thoughts and photos on her blog. "Book of Miri", Katrine Philp's graduation film from the National Film School of Denmark, looks at the need for self-staging.
For 20 days, the reporter Mads Brügger toured North Korea with two Danish-Korean comics and a TV crew. Officially, they were a theatrical troupe on cultural exchange. Unofficially, they were peeking behind the facade of a dictatorship. How that turned out can be seen in the film version of "The Red Chapel", screening in IDFA’s Reflecting Images programme.
In every school class there are usually two or three kids who experience social isolation. Sidse Stausholm’s "Invisible Girls" follows three girls struggling with the loneliness that comes with having no friends. The film is one of seven in a series of documentaries with the umbrella title "Coming of Age".
An apt choice, emblazoning the cover of this year's CPH:DOX festival programme with a statement by the anarchist Emma Goldman. In seven short years CPH:DOX has grown into Scandinavia's biggest documentary film festival exactly because the organisers have managed to take the festival to the streets while maintaining high artistic ambition and challenging the limits of what documentaries are and can do. This year there is a new and exciting addition to the DOX empire: DOX:LAB
People filmed in a room in an apartment in a house on a street in a city. The city, Copenhagen, is the subject of a unique film portrait by Max Kestner, one of Denmark's most outstanding young directors.
As a child, every time director Omar Shargawi asked his father about his life and his family's flight from Palestine in 1948, his father invariably closed up. After he became a filmmaker, Shargawi vowed to get his father to tell his story in a documentary. "My Father is from Haifa" turned out to be a therapeutic process that allowed the director to explore his own roots, too.
It's okay for a documentary to stage reality – any documentary will always be a personal interpretation of reality anyway, Birgitte Stærmose says. In "Out of Love", the first documentary by this award-winning fiction director, Kosovar-Albanian street kids in richly atmospheric locations recite monologues about their lives, memories and the challenges they face.