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Dox Box (Arabic: أيام سينما الواقع) was established and launched in Syria in 2008 as an annual documentary film festival and suspended in 2012, and in 2014, it became ″Dox Box Association″, a Berlin-registered non-profit.
Dox Box Festival was organised by a Syrian production company, Proaction Film, as a non-profit free-admission event to spread awareness and increase interest in documentaries. In its fourth edition, Dox Box 2011, it reached 28000 admissions according to the festival's website.
In March 2012, The organizers of Dox Box festival decided to refrain from holding its fifth edition in protest against the killing and oppression of civilians in Syria according to a statement released on the official festival site. On 15 and 16 March 2012, a "Dox Box Global Day" screening was launched and exhibited several Syrian documentary movies in 39 cities across the world.
In its 4 editions, 2008-2011, Dox Box showed annually a selection of 40+ international creative-documentary films from around the world, to present the genre to the Syrian audience and at presenting regional documentaries.
Among such screenings included documentary films such as The Beloves by Russian director Viktor Kossakovsky, The Eye Above The Well by Dutch director Johan van der Keuken, The 3 Rooms of Melancholia by Finnish filmmaker Pirjo Honkasalo, a retrospective of France's Nicolas Philibert, old masterpieces like Jean Vigo's À propos de Nice, and recent productions such as The Mother by Switzerland's Antoine Cattin, The One Man Village by Lebanese Simon El Haber, The English Surgeon by Australian Geoffrey Smith, among many others.
Previous festival's guests included Patricio Guzman, D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus, Pirjo Honkasalo, Nicolas Philibert, Niels Pagh Andersen, Malek Bensmail, and Jehane Noujaim, among others. Among guests were documentary experts and tutors such as Tue Steen Muller, Isabel Arrate, Mikael Opstrup have been attending the festival every year.
The activities of Dox Box usually split into public screenings and professional/capacity-building and networking activities. Screenings are divided into 5 sections, the Official Selection, where films from around the world compete for the Damascus Audience Award (the very first audience award to be introduced in Syria), and two thematic sidebar selections (in 2009 these were: Voices of Women & Notes on War), then a "Meet The Master" section where four films of a master of the documentary art are shown in the presence of the filmmaker, and finally a selection of four films that took the documentary world by storm most recently. Dox Box screenings are with English and Arabic subtitles and of free admission.
Organizers and sponsors
Dox Box operates in close collaboration with the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam and the European Documentary Network, in addition to other festivals, such as DocPoint Helsinki and the Copenhagen International Documentary Festival.
Support and grant-making organisations are supporting Dox Box annually, these include The Netherlands' Prince Claus Fund, Denmark's KVINFO, Germany's Goethe Institute and Heinrich Boell Foundation, and the newly established regional fund The Arab Fund for Art and Culture, among others. Dox Box, which is annual and runs in 3 Syrian cities, Damascus, Homs and Tartus, is organised by two Syrian filmmakers, Diana El Jeiroudi and Orwa Nyrabia, among others. Dox Box was also supported by several volunteers who contributed towards writing, editing and translation of articles (English-Arabic)
Suspension in 2012
Before the time for the 4th edition of Dox Box in March 2012, the organizers made a public statement announcing they will hold back the edition, and all further editions, in protest against the violation of human rights in Syria. In 2012 and 2013, Dox Box Global Day for Syria was the festival's international showcase of Syria documentary films, screened in various venues around the world, and in 2014, the festival became a non-profit association registered in Berlin, Germany, aiming to support and train documentary filmmakers from the Arab World.