Symposium archive is here.

Documentary Cinema Symposium 2024

“Artdocfest/Riga” Symposium is a signature element of the festival, one that creates space for frank conversation and thought-provoking perspectives on filmmaking. This year’s edition will have two formats – a battle-style debate and a conversation. The debate will feature two speaker teams chosen from the filmmakers represented at this year’s “ArtdocFest/Riga”. The debaters will be engaged in a competitive battle of arguments in front of the audience of accredited industry members. Both sides will be presented with a statement pertaining to a pressing issue in filmmaking, one will be defending the affirmative, the other – the negative. Both sides will present their case and ask their opponents questions, searching for weaknesses in each other’s arguments. The audience will select a winner, based on the strength of their arguments and persuasive speaking.

In this year’s conversation, the philosopher and a former juror of “ArtdocFest/Riga” Uldis Tirons will be talking to Adam Michnik, an eminent Polish historian, public intellectual, former dissident, as well as co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Polish newspaper “Gazeta Wyborcza”.

Additionally, in the filmmaker-only format, “ArdocFest/Riga” will continue its traditional breakfast conversations known as the Hamburg Protocol discussions. The term stems from the tradition of performative wrestling tournaments at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries when wrestlers enacted staged fights. Yet, to determine the true strength of each performing wrestler, the athletes held annual meetings in Hamburg, fighting real fights behind closed doors, without an audience. Hence the term Hamburg Protocol – an honest reflection on one’s craft. The filmmakers’ daily breakfast conversations will be honest and insightful, discussing the work of peers as well as one’s own.  

Rita Rudusha
Journalist, discussion moderator 


Tirons and Michnik. A Conversation.
In English
A closed recording*

Philosopher and co-founder of the Latvian intellectual magazine “Rīgas Laiks” Uldis Tirons in a conversation with Adam Michnik, an eminent Polish historian, public intellectual, and the editor-in-chief of the first independent Polish newspaper “Gazeta Wyborcza”.

Filmmakers’ Battle
In English, open to accredited industry only*

The debate format will offer the opposing teams of “Artdocfest/Riga” filmmakers a filmmaking-related topic to exchange arguments and rebuttals on: an “affirmative” team supports convincing arguments to the motion, while a “negative” team refutes the points made by the affirmative team. The audience chooses the winner based on the strength of their arguments. The topic will be announced during the festival.

*After the festival, the recording of the conversation will be available on Artdocfest/Riga website artdocfest.com

ArtdocFest/Riga Symposium

Hot-spot driftage or cameras of the First World are looking for emotions. Is it boring to film at home and whether or not Baltic poetic cinema has lost its voice and nerve in front of the big market? The mission and identity of a documentary filmmaker today. How does cinema change the perception of paradigms? 

During nearly 30 years the legendary Riga and Jurmala documentary symposiums (1977-2007) blasted the documentary harvest and raised its strength. 

"It was a fresh and ozone-saturated air, which is very important to breathe and feel in the process — not only in one's work but in the collective world, its closest and furthest borders.” /Herz Frank/ 1

We are not the "legitimate" heirs of the symposium, but we are once again inviting documentary filmmakers and scholars together to discuss art, thought and perspective of a modern film and together search for a “Reality reflection in documentary cinema”. 2

Artdocfest/Riga Symposium is a gathering of documentary filmmakers and theoreticians and aims to create a temporary, inspirational space of thought: transfering the knowledge, highlighting the tendencies and discussing the developments within the field. The context of the region, Zeitgeist, films presented at the festival and visions of future perspectives are important and taken into consideration. 


1 Herz Frank is a famous Latvian film director, and the Artdocfest/Riga festival Baltic Focus program award is named after him.

2 The title of the first theoretical documentary symposium in 1977.

Symposium archive is here.