Scrutinising the traits of the films that comprise the body of Carmen Cobos’ work is not only a pleasure but also a learning experience. The essence that ties the 12 feature films showcased in this retrospective together is a malleable, elastic material, but at the same time it’s extremely solid. We see the people who inhabit the documentary universe encompassed under the umbrella of Cobos Films BV emerge as victorious heroes who overcome their mundane daily existences.
The bulk of Cobos’ oeuvre as a producer has been shown in over 100 festivals around the world. Since creating her own company in 1997, she has focused mainly on funding and (co)producing film and television documentaries that have gained international recognition. Her productions have received prestigious awards at festivals including the Berlinale, the IDFA and the Chicago International Film Festival. In 2012 Cobos decided to move into directing. This event will see her debut film, Imperfect Harmony, screened in Madrid for the first time.
With this retrospective we aim to familiarise the public with Cobos’ work alongside documentary filmmakers such as Petra Lataster-Czisch and Peter Lataster, Jacqueline van Vugt, Karin Junger and Catherine Ulmer. These films, produced in places as far off as Germany, Burkina Faso, the Netherlands and Pakistan, all depict the resources of the individual in the face of the powerful historical and social circumstances that determine the past and present. Similarly, collaborations between the Spanish producer and directors Heddy Honigmann and John Appel have been particularly fruitful. Honigmann, a Peruvian who has lived most of her life in the Netherlands, has achieved unquestionable international recognition. Her work has been shown in retrospectives at New York’s MoMA and at Centre Pompidou in Paris. DocumentaMadrid offers the capital’s audiences the chance to enjoy three of the most award-winning feature films produced through Cobos Films BV: El olvido, Forever and Around the World in 50 Concerts. The latter, Cobos’ most recent production, opened the last edition of the IDFA. Meanwhile, John Appel has become one of the Netherlands’ most prestigious filmmakers. The three films included in the retrospective, The Last Victory, The Player and Wrong Time, Wrong Place, have been screened at various festivals and have met with success. What’s more, it is particularly interesting to imagine the possible conversations between the characters that make appearances in the films by Honigmann and Appel described above. These are characters who continually strive to explore their impulses, desires, yearnings and frustrations; survivors, by different definitions, who have found in the camera an honest ally and exceptional confidant to witness their catharsis.
DocumentaMadrid’s aim is to pay tribute to the work of one of the top documentary film producers on the global scene, whose career has enabled the creation of projects that have been screened the world over, receiving various awards. This retrospective is undoubtedly much needed and will allow some of these films to be enjoyed for the first time in Spain.
Laura G. Vaquero