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The Gatekeepers

The 10th International Festival of Documentary Cinema DOCUMENTA MADRID unveiled the first titles of the Official Selections for 2013, and will open May 5, 2013. with the controversial Oscar nominated documentary “The Gatekeepers”, featuring the Shin Bet, the Israeli domestic secret service agency. Directed by Dror Moreh, the film shows for the first time the inside operations of the agency, through the testimonies of six of its former directors. 

The festival contest will have an Official Selection with 15 films, fourteen within the competitive section and a last film, out of contest, which will screen at the closing ceremony.  The festival revealed the first selections in the competitive section, including “Winters Nomads” directed by Manuel Von Struler, described as a beautifully filmed documentary which tells the everyday life of the last Swiss shepherds. The film has won, amongst many others, the 2012 Best Documentary Film European Award. 

“The Act of Killing” is the documentary film winner of the Panorama Berlin 2013, and of the First Prize at the CPH 2012 (Copenhagen´s Documentary Cinema Festival) and shall be another of the competitive section selection. The film was directed by Joshua Oppenheimer together with Christine Cynn and an anonymous co-director, and tells the story of the atrocities committed by the sinister paramilitary groups in Indonesia during the 1960s, which ended up with the extermination of more than a million people. The film´s originality is that the story is told by the assassins themselves, who appear in it as if they were cinema starlets.

The festival will also screen the 2001 Oscar winner Jean-Xavier de Lestrade latest film: “The Staircase 2. The Last Chance”. The film is the follow-up of the enthralling documentary series THE STAIRCASE which feature the trial of the writer Michael Peterson, charged with killing his wife, a case which was never solved. This new documentary film gives a turn to the story, reconsidering the basis of the approved sentence.

THE GATEKEEPERS – Belgium/Germany/Israel/France. 2012. 96 min. – OPENING
Director: Dror Moreh

The Gatekeepers

For the first time ever, six former heads of Israel’s domestic secret service agency, the Shin Bet, share their insights and reflect publicly on their actions and decisions. 

Since the Six Day War in 1967, Israel has failed to transform its crushing military victory into a lasting peace. Throughout that entire period, these heads of the Shin Bet stood at the center of Israel´s decision-making process in all matters pertaining to security. They worked closely with every Israeli prime minister, and their assessments and insights had –and continue to have- a profound impact on Israeli policy.

“The gatekeepers” offers an exclusive account of the sum of their successes and failures. In the process it sheds light on the controversy surrounding the Occupation in the aftermath of the Six Day War.

WINTER NOMADS – Switzerland. 2012. 90 min. 
Director: Manuel von Stürler 

Winter Nomads

Pascal, 53, and Carole, 28, are shepherds. In the month of November 2010, they embark on their long winter transhumance: four months during which they will have to cover 600 km in the Swiss-French region, accompanied by three donkeys, four dogs and a eight hundred sheep.

An exceptional adventure is about to begin: they brave the cold and the bad weather day in day out, with a canvas cover and animal skins as their only shelter at night. This saga reveals a tough and exacting profession requiring constant improvisation and unflinching attention to nature, the animals and the cosmos.

An odyssey through a region undergoing profound changes that render this kind of expedition more difficult every year, particularly when the grass for the sheep has to be found between villas, railroad tracks and industrial areas. An eventful journey with surprise encounters, moving reunions with farmer friends, nostalgic figures of country life that is shrinking away fast.

A film dominated by the strong personalities of Pascal and Carole, whose relationship and joie de vivre transform this transhumance into a magnificent hymn to freedom, at opposite extremes of our comfortable reality.

Winter Nomads is an adventure film, a contemporary road movie, a reflection of our current world, which takes us back to our roots and our inner questions.

THE ACT OF KILLING – Denmark. 2012. 115 min.
Director: Joshua Oppenheimer, codirected by Christine Cynn & anonymous associate


When the government of Indonesia was overthrown by the military in 1965, more than one million people were killed in less than a year. Anwar and his friends were promoted from ticket scalpers to death squad leaders, and Anwar killed hundreds of people with his own hands. In The Act of Killing, Anwar and his friends agree to tell us the story of the killings. But their idea of being in a movie is not to provide testimony for a documentary: they want to be stars in their favourite film genres – gangster, western, musical. They write the scripts. They play themselves. And they play their victims. The Act of Killing is a nightmarish vision – a journey into the memories and imaginations of the unrepentant perpetrators and the shockingly banal regime of corruption and impunity they inhabit.

Director: Jean-Xavier de Lestrade


‘This is the sequel to the documentary thriller The Staircase, an eight-part miniseries from 2004 that meticulously reported events inside and outside the courtroom following the mysterious death of Kathleen Peterson. Were her injuries caused by falling down the stairs, as her husband Michael claimed, or was there foul play involved? The six-hour miniseries ended with the sentencing of Michael Peterson to life imprisonment for premeditated murder. In this sequel, the makers pick up the thread when Peterson files his appeal, after doubts have been raised about the reliability of expert witness testimony. Eight years after his conviction, there is a glimmer of hope that Michael Peterson will be released. But while his sons and adopted daughters remain as loyal to him as ever, his stepdaughter Caitlin has lost faith in his innocence. In addition to showing the ups and downs within the family, the film provides insight into the U.S. justice system, where often self-proclaimed “experts” play a crucial role in the interpretation of evidence. The Staircase 2 adds a new and revealing chapter to this thrilling epic.

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