When one of the world’s largest documentary film festivals takes place in November, it will feature two very special guest curators: the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and author and activist Naomi Klein. Both will focus on climate change.

The 196 countries gathering for COP21 on November 30 in Paris face a difficult challenge. COP21 is referred to as the most critical conference ever. There is much at stake politically, but emerging from the previous international climate conferences there is also an active civil society that has learned that politicians are not the only ones who can solve the problem.

Therefore, CPH:DOX sets this year a special focus on climate. The festival has for long distinguished itself by focusing on how art and documentaries can address and actively engage themselves in creating real social and political change – most recently with last year’s initiatives MEGATRENDS. This year at the core of the political agenda are two guest-curated programmes: one by contemporary artist Olafur Eliasson and another by the author Naomi Klein and her partner, the journalist Avi Lewis.

Political commitment and artistic originality
The Canadian journalist and author Naomi Klein is a leading voice of modern action-oriented activism. Klein became known for her bestselling book ‘No Logo’ that linked the environmental and anti-globalisation movements in a criticism of the neoliberal world order. She stated that activism is not (only) about protest, but also about providing constructive, practical and feasible solutions – and living by them. This sentiment shines through the programme curated by Naomi and the film director Avi Lewis.

The programme will consist of 10 documentaries with suggestions on how political commitment, artistic originality and strong narratives can make a difference. During the festival you will be able to experience the film ‘This Changes Everything’, based on Klein’s sensational book of the same name, which raises a controversial claim that the climate crisis is not only the most urgent challenge of our time, but also the biggest opportunity we ever have to change the world.

In the programme you will also find classics of documentary cinema such as ‘Hour of the Furnaces’ and ‘Harlan County USA’ and the cinematic and innovative ‘West of the Tracks’ and ‘Leviathan’, the Berlinale winner ‘The Pearl Button’ and activist manifestos ‘The Corporation’ and ‘The Take’.

The climate in the Anthropocene epoch
The programme curated by Olafur Eliasson, close to the core of Eliasson’s own work, consists of films that are based on the physical world around us and the human perception of it. The programme moves through nature and examines the important man-made changes of both climatic and geological character that have given the relatively novel concept of Anthropocene a marked relevance in contemporary art as well as philosophy and geoscience. The concept indicates an age where traditional views of nature are phasing out. The Anthropocene epoch refers to a period in the history of the Earth, when humans influence the environment to such an extent that nature is no longer in its “natural” state. It is this new era that the films explore in particularity – films that call for presence, sensory perception and commitment, but also films that underlie the critical perspective of the human influence on the planet’s landscapes, both natural and artificial. The films are moving far from dogmatic agendas, but instead offering a space for reflection and inspiration to man whom as the spectator gets into character and joins the game.

The programme is rich in visionary and innovative works by artists and filmmakers such as Werner Herzog, Claire Denis, Zhao Lang, James Benning, Anouk de Clercq, Pierre Huyghe and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

High profile guest curators
CPH:DOX has a long tradition of high-profile guest curators. Naomi Klein, Avi Lewis and Olafur Eliasson follow in the footsteps of previous years’ guest curators, which included Ai Weiwei, The Yes Men, Douglas Gordon, Nan Goldin and Harmony Korine, among others.

The full list of the curated programme will be available from October 16 at cphdox.dk at the same time as the ticket sale starts.

Photos by Heike Göttert & Kourosh Keshiri