The Berlin Documentary Forum (BDF) was a biennale held at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. Interdisciplinary in orientation, it engaged with the 'documentary’ across the fields of film, photography, contemporary art, performance, architecture and cultural theory.
In its inaugural edition in 2010, the festival featured five days of thematic programming, including exhibitions, screenings, performances, readings and discussions developed and realised by a group of international artists and theoreticians. The festival's second edition in 2012 took a similar approach. A third and last edition took place in spring 2014. In 2016 and 2018, the festival was not able to find both a venue and funding.
All three editions of the Berlin Documentary Forum have been conceived by Berlin-based curator Hila Peleg, who has given the festival its theoretically nuanced interpretation, pushing the boundaries of the documentary far beyond its genre definition. She writes, "As the distinctions between reality and fiction, artifact and document are challenged today more than ever, the festival engaged with the documentary not as a mere picturing of reality but as a strategic way to come to terms with reality by means of working with and through images and narratives. The festival thus seeks to explore new modes of reflection and media education in a world where images play a crucial role in the construction of histories, identities and truth.”
Held at the historically loaded location of Haus der Kulturen der Welt, the festival also places a particular emphasis on architecture and spatial design, with the aim of generating specific settings for different artistic formats and audiences. In addition to its on-site events, the festival offered an online program which captured selected shows and discussions as well as in-depth interviews and essays on the role of contemporary documentary.