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HER Docs Forum: 13-17.09, Warsaw

HER Docs Film Festival is two successful editions of the event promoting women’s documentary filmmaking, which took place in 2021 and 2022. In addition to screenings of excellent and award-winning films directed by women, the festival featured engaging discussions and Q&As as well as artistic events that brought together audiences interested in contemporary feminism, society and art. Many of the persons participating in the festival had the opportunity to find out more about the role women play in documentary cinema.

The screenings and accompanying events gathered an engaged and supportive audience, eager to discuss important topics regarding our future and current challenges. Equally involved in the HER Docs events were Polish women filmmakers who, gathered in various groups, associations and foundations, still need platforms to speak out, exchange professional experiences and share knowledge about their work. Being members of official cultural institutions, they also notice that the language used by these organizations too rarely includes women, and when producing, directing or writing screenplays for films, women want to create narratives over which they can - and should be able - to maintain control. This is a powerful community, to which we decided to direct another event organized as part of the activities of HER Docs.

HER Docs Forum is an event bringing together women professionals active in the world of socially engaged documentary film, which will take place on September 13-17, 2023 in Warsaw, Poland. The rich and diverse program of the event will include both a program addressed to women members of the film industry and a public program addressed to the general public in Warsaw.


This year's edition of the HER Docs Forum is guided by the slogan “engaged gaze”. Much has been said about the importance of the gaze in cinema - there have been definitions of the female gaze, male gaze, and the queer gaze . But does it exist, and if so, what is engaged gaze and what does it convey in documentary cinema? Can you be involved by looking, observing? Doesn't looking mean both indifference and inability to act at a given moment? Can documentary cinema be a tool of social change and, above all, serve the person at whom the lens is directed? We will look for answers to these and many other questions during the HER Docs Forum.

In her recent interview with, documentary director Laura Poitras (“All the Beauty and the Bloodshed”, “Citizenfour”) points out:

Cinema is a form of artistic expression of one's own fantasies, imaginations, but also a form that allows breaking mental patterns, existing views and historical interpretations. [...] in my case, the line between art and activism is particularly thin. A documentary film should, in my opinion, provoke uncomfortable questions. Critically comment on the present, not smooth it out.

Like Laura Poitras, we also believe in the causative power of documentary cinema, which, especially nowadays, gains special meaning - it signals important problems, calls for involvement, sensitizes to injustice, allows so far unheard voices to reach many people and provides real tools to change.

Public program

The public program of HER Docs Forum, addressed to a wide audience, will include, among others: film screenings taking place in the Kinoteka cinema in Warsaw, accompanying Q&As with invited guests, as well as meetings with foreign and Polish filmmakers, workshops on a feminist perspective on film, and an education program for young audiences, including documentary filmmaking workshop, as well as a screening and a meeting around climate education. The forum will be opened by a poetry slam with the participation of the members of the Warsaw art scene.

Admission to all HER Docs Forum events will be free of charge.

Industry program

HER Docs Forum is an event whose aim in its industry part is to connect professionals active in the world of socially engaged documentary film. In principle, it is a platform for exchanging experiences, a source of practical knowledge, as well as a space for expanding the network of professional contacts.

The event is to create a new, safer space for women, enabling them to develop personally and professionally, exchange experiences, and talk about topics often omitted in the programs of other events addressed to members of the documentary industry.

The aim of the event is also to support women documentary filmmakers from Central and Eastern Europe, especially from Ukraine and Belarus, and to build bridges between women filmmakers involved in socially engaged documentary filmmaking in Europe. Through the organization of the HER Docs Forum, we wish to express solidarity with women filmmakers from Poland’s neighboring countries who, due to the political situation in their country, found themselves in Poland, often cut off from their network of professional contacts, support channels, access to financing or even the film equipment itself.

As part of the industry program of the HER Docs Forum, invited women professionals from abroad and Poland will discuss issues as important in the profession of women documentary filmmakers as: care for others and oneself, inclusivity and (un)awareness of language, the specifics of the documentary filmmaking profession from the perspective of women, building impact campaigns around documentaries , activism and social commitment, collective concern, film institutions in exile and film collectives. The event will be attended by women members of the documentary industry, including from France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Ukraine and Belarus.

The HER Docs Forum is carried out as part of the Franco-German Cultural Fund (Fonds Culturel Franco-Allemand / Deutsch-Französischer Kulturfonds). The fund was established in 2003 on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Elysée Treaty and promotes German-French cooperation on cultural and artistic projects in third countries, stimulating global intercultural exchange.

The organizers of the HER Docs Forum are: Goethe-Institut in Warsaw, the French Institute in Poland and the HER Docs Foundation

Project co-financed by: Capital City of Warsaw Franco-German Cultural Fund and Heinrich Böll Foundation in Warsaw Austrian Cultural Forum Embassy of Switzerland in Poland Society of Authors ZAiKS Mazovia Warsaw Film Commission

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