In order to celebrate our tenth anniversary, we have brought together some of the most emblematic films that have been shown at Play-Doc, those which have set the standards which have defined the festival, the films which have constructed and moulded its personality Each of them embodies different perspectives, ranging from autobiographical cinema to direct cinema, taking in social critiques, political essays and found footage. They are perhaps the most personal pieces of the directors in question and yet also the most universal. For us, they are true masterpieces. We would like to revisit them with you.

East of Paradise

Lech Kowalski

Lech Kowalski / 105’ / 2005 / FRANCE - USA

At the beginning of World War II, Maria Werla was captured in Poland and deported to a Soviet labor camp in Siberia.


Maria’s struggle for survival had a profound influence on her son Lech Kowalski, who grew up in the United States in close association with the underground culture of the 70s and 80s. In East of Paradise, both mother and son –one in front of the camera, and the other with sequences of his past films–, tell the stories of their lives: two stories of sadness and rage which become one, an intense tale of universal significance.

Leck Kowalski films the margins of society, those who live on the edge. As a key documenter of the punk movement, Kowalski made several cult documentaries such as D.O.A. – which records the first and last Sex Pistols tour of America – or Story of a Junkie. He made portraits of punk musicians such as Johnny Thunders, one of the leading figures of the New York Dolls, or Dee Dee Ramone of the Ramones. The struggle to survive and a passion for life are the central themes of his work, always questioning the discourse of power and authority, whatever that might be. It could be said that Kowalski is one of the muses of Play-Doc, which he has attended on several occasions. In 2008, the festival screened his trilogy, The Fabulous Art of Surviving. The superb East of Paradise forms part of it.

Kilka Opowiesci o Czlowieku | Dwuboj Klasyczny | Szapito A Few Stories about a Man | The Biathlon | Szapito

Bogdan Dziworski

PLAY TRAILER Bogdan Dziworski / 1983 / 20' / POLAND

The main character of this film is Jerzy Orłowski - a man who achieved top physical fitness despite being seriously crippled - he doesn't have arms. He is very good at sport and draws extremely well.
PLAY TRAILER Bogdan Dziworski / 1978 / 12' / POLAND

A film impression about the beauty of skiing and the risk connected with it. The camera accompanies the competitors presenting their breathtaking skills and during the moments of defeat.
PLAY TRAILER Bogdan Dziworski / 1984 / 30' / POLAND

This very poetic film presents the last performance of some circus artists, who decided to test their skills once again when their lives were almost over.

The Polish film-maker Bogdan Dziworski was one of our most wonderful discoveries. The maker of more than 40 short films and documentaries, Dziworski is also a cameraman, scriptwriter, teacher and a photographer of great prestige in Poland. However, his film work is relatively unknown in the rest of the world. His films, poetic and surrealist, are of an overwhelming beauty. One of their most intriguing features is the unusual use of sound, taking the place of dialogue, which is almost not to be found in his work. The 2009 retrospective devoted to him was the first of its kind in Spain.

The Smell of Burning Ants

Jay Rosenblatt

Jay Rosenblatt / 21' / 1994 / USA

The Smell of Burning Ants is a haunting documentary on the pains of growing up male.


It explores the inner and outer cruelties that boys perpetrate and endure and illustrates how they are socialized by fear, power and shame. The film provokes the viewer to reflect on how our society can deprive boys of wholeness by alienating them from their femenine side.

The indisputable master of found footage, Jay Rosenblatt has seduced us with extremely concise and evocative films, experimental and poetic and of great psychological and emotional intensity. The winner of more than a hundred prizes at numerous international festivals, Play-Doc devoted a sizable retrospective to him in 2010.

Wszystko może się przytrafić Anything Can Happen

Marcel Łoziński

Marcel Łoziński / 39’ / 1995 / POLAND

The 6-year-old son of Marcel Łoziński, Tomaszek, chatters with the old people who are spending the beautiful summer day in the park.


The boy's ideas of future and life are confronted with those of men at the end of their lives.

In 2011 and for the first time in Spain, Play-Doc screened a retrospective devoted to this wonderful Polish film-maker. Together with Krzysztof Kieślowski, Marcel Łoziński has been one of the most important cinematic figures of his generation. The work he undertook in Communist Poland, somewhat like socio-political essays, was censored in the main by the authorities. One characteristic of his films is the deliberate and provocative way in which they act upon reality, something which seems to blur the boundaries between documentary and fiction.

Time Indefinite

Ross McElwee

Ross McElwee / 1993 / 114'

The death of a father and a grandmother, a marriage and the birth of a son. As McElwee observes, 'everything begins and ends with family'.


And in the life of a family, as in everything else, it is those seemingly inconsequential moments that often turn out to be profoundly important, such as the moment when McElwee's father picks up his son's movie camera, and the moments when McElwee decides to put it down. Filled with black humor and deepest pathos, Time Indefinite is a magisterial chronicle of place and character, capturing the fullest range of human emotion.

Ross McElwee is the key figure in the genre of autobiographical documentaries. Internationally acclaimed, his films have won major prizes at prestigious festivals across the world. With Sherman’s March, he won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Festival in 1987, and was chosen to form part of the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry due to its importance in American history. The intelligent humour, existential depth and humanity which impregnate all of his films have made it difficult to choose just one of those which were screened as part of the retrospective shown in 2012. Time Indefinite is perhaps the one which moved us the most.

Grey Gardens

Albert y David Maysles

1976, a film by David and Albert Maysles, Elen Hovde, Muffie Meyer, Susan Froemke, 94 mins

Grey Gardens is the unbelievable but true story of Mrs. Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edie, the aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.


Mother and daughter live in a world of their own behind the towering privets that surround their decaying 28-room East Hampton mansion known as "Grey Gardens". Mrs. Beale, a.k.a. "Big Edie," was a born aristocrat, sister of "Black Jack" Bouvier, Jackie O's father. "Little Edie" was an aspiring actress of striking beauty who put her New York life on hold to care for her mother - and never left her side again. Together they descended into a strange life of dependence and eccentricity that no one had ever shared until the Maysles arrived with their camera and tape recorder. The film is a bittersweet love story, a record of the powerful and complex relationship between mother and daughter.

A legendary film-maker, labelled the “godfather” of documentary film-making, Albert Maysles has been, together with his brother David, a pioneer and key figure of direct cinema. Together, they made films which have stood the test of time as classics in the history of non-fiction films. It was a true honour and a pleasure to receive him at the last edition of Play-Doc, at which we devoted a retrospective to his work. Grey Gardens is at the top of our list of our all time favourite films.