By Gareth Stevens

For Olga Mamonova, artistic director at Kino-Teatr and DocFest 2019 curator, the allure of the documentary film is its inherent ability to intertwine human stories with political and cultural events and wider societal change. More than that, documentary films can increase our capacity for empathy, raise awareness and ultimately spur us on to act in ways that can make a difference. 

Following last year’s successful Human Rights Documentary Weekend, Kino-Teatr is proudly hosting its first full Documentary Film Festival  ‘DocFest 2019’ in February. Olga tells me of her aim to host a broad range of films that she hopes will appeal to a wide range of cinema goers. Some screenings will be supplemented by panel discussions and talks in order to prompt in depth exploration of the genre and the issues that each film deals with.

The diverse programme of films includes ‘Kedi’ made by Ceyda Torun which takes us on a dreamlike journey to observe the lives of Istanbul’s thousands of resident stray cats, as well as the world’s first documentary ‘Nanook of the North’ – both of which are suitable for children. 

Exploring more political themes there will be a special screening of two BBC Panorama documentaries and a Q&A with BBC executive producer Aisling O’Connor and independent director/producer Stephen Mizelas. ‘Nae Pasaran’ is a documentary and discussion which celebrates international solidarity with the people of Chile during the Pinochet coup and ‘11/9’ is Michael Moore’s film about Trump’s presidency.

Other features that will appeal to the local artistic community are ‘Kusama – Infinity’ which explores the ways of thinking and working of the Queen of Polka Dots Yayoi Kusama. and Mark Cousins’ film ‘The Eyes of Orson Wells.’

Another treat will be local filmmaker and actor Robin Hayter’s ‘Oi for England’s Green and Pleasant land’. Paul McGann (Withnail and I) and Paul Moriarty (EastEnders) will join the director for a panel Q&A after the screening.

I pay tribute to Kino-Teatr for the sheer effort that has gone into the planning of this festival. The curation is creative, innovative and worthy of any capital city. 

• DocFest 2019 runs from Feb 13th – 17th February. Children under 12 go free. Further information and tickets are available at

At 4.30pm on Saturday 16th February there will be a free screening of ‘Re: A Pier’ a documentary about the history of Hastings Pier by local film-maker Archie Lauchlan.

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