Docs Against Isolation, an online event commenced on Friday, May 8, and held by the crew of the Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival, ended on Sunday, May 17. The event attracted a whopping 16,500 participants and followers, sparking enthusiasm among the viewers—both MDAG regulars and brand-new fans. Our audience could watch movies from past editions of the festival, attend meetings with creators and experts, participate in workshops, listen to concerts, DJ sets, and lectures, as well as enter contests—all of it online.
Where did the idea of Docs Against Isolation come from? The organizers decided that even though this year’s Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival will take place in September instead of in May as in the past 17 years, they couldn’t just abandon their faithful audience. May wouldn’t have been right without MDAG! That’s why Docs Against Isolation had been held at the original date of this year’s rescheduled festival as a substitute of MDAG, giving our audiences joy and a sense of unity in these trying times. The participants actively expressed their happiness and interest: the Facebook page of the event and MDAG’s profile saw a total of 1450 comments with content uploads receiving up to 820 reactions per day. The cumulative reach of Docs Against Isolation’s Facebook presence totaled 877,000 people! Women aged 24-35 were the most active participants at 31% of the total. Almost 25% participants hailed from Warsaw, but the films clocked viewers from around the country—a testament to the possibilities of reaching new audiences through online events.
The reach of the event yielded spectacular viewership numbers! Movies offered to our audiences at Docs Against Isolation were screened over 113,000 times (counting at least ¾ of the duration of films on Ninateka and 48-hour passes to vod.pl and e-Kino Pod Baranami).
Docs Against Isolation has been frequently covered in top national media outlets including Gazeta Wyborcza, Rzeczpospolita, Onet, Noizz, Filmweb, Spider’s Web, vogue.pl, Polityka, wprost.pl, TOK FM, Polskie Radio (Jedynka, Dwójka, Trójka, Czwórka, and RDC stations), and Meloradio.
Docs Against Isolation serves as further proof that Millennium Docs Against Gravity is a yearlong affair, not merely a single event held at a specific time. The festival is organized by the Against Gravity distribution company, whose permanent portfolio features numerous movies from the past editions of MDAG, making these films accessible to viewers who did not manage to see them at the festival. This makes Millennium Docs Against Gravity a creator and promoter of the growing interest in highest-rated documentary cinema by Polish and foreign filmmakers.
Millennium Bank has been the patron of the yearly Millennium Docs Against Gravity events for 15 years so far. “The patronage of Millennium Bank allows us to increase viewership each year and expand the scope of our activities outside the festival itself,” says Artur Liebhart, Director of the Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival.
Dosc Against Isolation encompassed a total of nearly 50 movies, half of which was available free of charge. 20 films selected by the National Film Archive were available free of charge at the ninateka.pl site. Opening and closing films (Dreaming by Numbers, Thru You Princess) broadcast live during the event, as well as a screening of Walking Under Water, were available for free as well. The audience had open access to four early Paweł Pawlikowski documentaries at the director’s Vimeo channel. 21 movies were available for a low price at the vod.pl platform and 4 others were screened at e-Kino Pod Baranami.
Ninateka is the film platform of the National Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute, containing 8000 curated movies. Polish documentaries have a prominent place in the archive—both the classic works of Polish Documentary School filmmakers like Marcel Łoziński, Krzysztof Kieślowski, Kazimierz Karabasz, Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz or Maciej Drygas, as well as films by younger documentary creators like Wojciech Staroń, Bartek Konopka, Piotr Stasik, or Filip Dzierżawski.
Docs Against Isolation also featured engrossing talks with award-winning creators like Paweł Pawlikowski, Bing Liu (Minding the Gap), Mads Brügger (Cold Case Hammarskjöld), Yann Arthus-Bertrand (Human), Katarzyna Kozyra (Looking for Jesus), Barbara Miller (#Female Pleasure), Paweł Łoziński (You Have No Idea How Much I Love You), Erik Gandini (Swedish Theory of Love), Eliza Kubarska and Piotr Rosołowski (Walking Under Water) or Michał Sulima (Piano to Zanskar). The participants could also virtually attend the concerts of Princess Shaw (the author of Give It Up, the song featured in the background of the festival trailer) and Pani Jeziory (the nom-de-plume of one of the members of the MDAG crew). Associated events included DJ sets, meetings with experts, and lectures.
Here’s a selection of quotes from our delighted audiences:
“THANKS A TON!!!!!! THAT WAS THE BEST ONLINE EVENT IN THE TIMES OF THE PANDEMIC ☺”
“Thank you. This is a brilliant idea, and doubly brilliant on lockdown. My dreams about an online festival have come true and I finally had the chance to see everything I wanted, as normally the demands of daily life interfere with festival scheduling. Could the online version become a cyclical event? Just one Docs Against Gravity per year isn’t going to be enough anymore ;)”
“Thank you! Particularly for the miracle of recreating the festival energy and cinephile mania without a cinema! This was a truly engrossing cultural event. Hoping for frequent repeats!!!”
“You’ve filled an important space. Thank you. I know you enjoyed it too! :)”
Now all that’s left is counting down the days to the 17th edition of Millennium Docs Against Gravity, held on September 4-14 in Warsaw, Wrocław, Gdynia, Poznań, and Bydgoszcz.
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