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First review 46th Cinéma du réel

The 46th edition of Cinéma du réel registered a total of 24,018 spectators who attended 187 screenings, including 158 public screenings, 8 public meetings and round tables discussions, and 18 ParisDOC screenings. The average number of spectators per screening was 128. Our program featured 149 different films this year, including 69 features and 80 shorts.


As a reminder, the festival had registered, in 2023, a total of 21,477 spectators attending 179 screenings, with an average of 120 spectators per screening. Attendance had increased by 14%, reaching an equivalent rate with  2019, the pre-covid reference year. 

This year’s attendance rate  increased by 11.8% and, with its 24,018 spectators, exceeded the highest attendance experienced so far by the festival, respectively in 2013 with 23,905 spectators and in 2014 with 23,472 spectators. The average number of spectators per screening grew by  5.7%, compared to 2023.

In addition to these cinema-goers, we should consider  the spectators who could watch  the competition films online, whether it be on our dedicated online video library, or on the partner platforms that contribute to giving greater exposure to Cinéma du réel and the films in its selections : Among such partners, Mediapart broadcasting films from the Première fenêtre section, Festival Scope pro et public offering  a collection of our competition films, Tënk with a yet available selection of our out-of competition programs, and LaCinetek choosing to broadcast 3 films from Claudia Von Alemann’s retrospective. All of these making a total of 28,388 views (27,067 in 2023) by Internet users who had access to festival programs. 

Finally, as a partnership with La Cinémathèque documentaire and Images en bibliothèques, the Cinéma du réel’s circulation in France offers  screenings of our competition films,  from April 8 to June 30,  in over 30 different locations in France. 


Among this year’s significant and gratifying figures, it’s worth noting the increased presence of professionals at ParisDOC. The number of professionals attending ParisDOC, and therefore the festival, has grown steadily since its inception, as the range of proposals for professionals has developed : this year, with 1 553 spectators, attendance rate has  significantly increased compared to  2022, and 2019. That is, by 35.8% and 89% respectively. 

As for students, the number of Student Passes continues to rise, with 489 applications accepted, compared to last year’s  461 acceptances – an increase of 6%. In addition to their presence at the Réel Université day, students – and they’re not the only ones – are also delighted with the Première Fenêtre screenings. The three sessions in this program drew 499 spectators – an average attendance of 166 per session and a 10% increase over 2023.  

In terms of school audiences, this year we welcomed 428 unique students (from primary to high school), 64% of whom were from outside Paris. Schoolchildren attendance was 617, increasing 4% compared to 2023.


But Cinéma du réel can’t be summed up in these figures, however satisfying they may be. We must also mention the audience’s support for our programming proposals. Alongside the competition, the Front(s) Populaire(s) and Première fenêtre programs have become eagerly awaited events. The growing importance given to meetings, discussions and round tables in the program also satisfies the audience, as in the case of the discussion with James Benning, where the audience, unable to enter the auditorium due to lack of seats, sat outside equipped with headsets for simultaneous translation. Curious spectators who weren’t afraid of our out-of-the-ordinary proposals, such as the “Toute une nuit” program in tribute to Marie-Pierre Duhamel :  this program  drew 704 spectators, including 144 for the 8pm and 10pm sessions, more than 100 again at midnight, some 25 at 7am and 15 dazzled merrymakers at breakfast time. 

Year after year, we allow ourselves a great deal of freedom in the way we design our retrospective programming, a way of rethinking the festival’s territory each year and asking again the question “What is documentary?”. It’s also a way of being as close as possible to our contemporary concerns. This reflective dimension of the festival guides the programming, meetings and proposals made to professionals within the framework of ParisDOC. It also plays a part in the festival’s efforts to support students and emerging filmmakers, which are strengthened every year. Last but not least, Cinéma du réel’s mediation team goes out to meet groups from the social field, to introduce our programming to people who, for various reasons, are far removed from cultural offerings. We work with them to design specific, tailor-made projects that provide long-term support. In 2024, 111 people took part in the festival, with backgrounds as diverse as emergency shelters, Emmaüs communities, migrant reception centers, local missions, activity centers and a prison.

This 46th edition, as we are about to leave the Centre Pompidou for 5 years, was also marked by Réel Remix, a memory effort carried out in the form of an art installation, made by the filmmaker Yves de Peretti. The installation highlighted the evolution of the festival and of documentary production, at the very moment when Cinéma du réel prepares to open a new chapter in its history. 

The closure of the Centre Pompidou should be seen as a challenge and an opportunity for the festival to reinvent itself, rethink its user-friendliness and open up to new audiences. We will soon give you news of this new stage and we look forward to seeing you from March 21 to 30, 2025 for the 47th edition of Cinéma du réel.

Catherine Bizern, May 3, 2024