Frankfurt am Main | 13 – 20 October 2024

B3 Focus 2024

In 2024 the B3 Festival, along with many others, has set its focus on Democracy. Our form of government with all its achievements is something that should not be taken for granted and must be protected at all cost.

Democracy is at a turning point in the era of moving images and new, continuously evolving technologies, such as artificial intelligence. 

Democracy is at a turning point in the era of moving images and new, continuously evolving technologies, such as artificial intelligence. The power of moving images and their various platforms to shape public opinions and mobilise political engagement is undeniable. Storytelling in film and other moving image media often plays a crucial role in making complex social and political issues accessible and emotionally involving the audience. Thus, creative narration in moving images, in films or digital content, can address profound questions of justice, freedom, and solidarity, entertaining, enlightening, and inspiring.

Moving images and social media can serve as catalysts for democratic movements by also drawing attention to social injustices and giving a voice to marginalised groups. This narrative power can evoke empathy and build bridges between different life worlds, essential for understanding and accepting various perspectives within a democratic society. Moving images and (social) media democratise access to information and promote a pluralistic discourse, proving essential for the vitality of democracy.

However, these media also harbour inherent dangers. The spread of misinformation and targeted disinformation campaigns can undermine democratic processes, for instance, by sowing doubts about the integrity of elections and promoting polarisation. Algorithmic filtering and personalisation in social networks create echo chambers that weaken social cohesion and hinder constructive dialogue between different political camps. Moreover, the commercialisation of attention presents a challenge. Content that triggers emotions and is therefore more likely to be shared dominates, leading to a distorted perception of reality. Platforms, both online and offline, originally intended perhaps to democratise, can unintentionally reinforce anti-democratic tendencies.

In this context, it is crucial that storytelling art in the digital age is consciously employed to promote the diversity of voices and stories that underline our commonalities and give each individual the necessary space. Thus, moving images can also strengthen democratic values.

Preserving democracy in this context requires a multifaceted approach: Educational institutions or festivals, like B3, must enlighten, strengthen discourse within the creative industries, and impart media literacy to enable us to critically assess and re-evaluate information. Regulatory measures are needed to ensure transparency and accountability of platform operators and content producers without compromising the freedom of creative expression. Civil society, academia, and politics must collaborate to allow creativity to flourish freely. Media and digital spaces serving as platforms for creatives must be designed to promote and protect democratic values.

Only through a joint effort can democracy not only survive in this era of upheaval and uncertainty but emerge strengthened. How difficult this can be and how it can be achieved, we want to discuss with national and international guests and creatives, among others, using the example of their works presented at B3.