Category Archives: Doc-making

THE INVISIBLE CITY [KAKUMA]

I met Emmy Oost (the producer) and  Lieven Corthouts (the director) in Nyon during Vision du Reel last year. We were all attending the interactive documentary workshop id w. They had a film which was also a Dok Incubator baby, and they wanted to create an app to help the people living in this enormous "city" of 200,000 refugees in Kenya, Africa (built in 1991) to find their family and relatives. Now, the film is ready and it has already premiered in Belgium.

An amazing feature-length documentary film, it explains why, despite the closed borders and fences built in Europe, people leave (and will continue to leave), and make this devastating journey to Europe, hoping to start over and build a new existence where they can have a future. Nothing is more permanent than losing your home.

Watch the trailer:

Bugs for dinner?

 

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Hmm, I was thinking, “What to cook for dinner?" Then I received Salma Abdalla’s email: Bugs? Ben and Josh, the two young chefs from the Nordic Foodlab founded by NOMA's Rene Retzepi, investigate the eats and tastes of insects around the world – said to be the future of food. First, I will see the film, which premiered 16/4/1016 at Tribeca! Then I will taste and come back to you. In the meantime, I can tell you that the first reviews say that its the best food film since Food Inc!

Directed by Andreas Johnsen (Ai Wei Wei – The Fake Case), produced by Sigrid Jonsson Dyekjær (recently awarded Best Danish producer and the Producer´s Guild Award).

Have a bite! and watch the trailer:

 

Interview with Marianna Economou (The Longest Run)

The Greek feature-length documentary The Longest Run [Ο πιο μακρύς δρόμος] by Marianna Economou, on two underage irregular migrants detained as smugglers of irregular migrants in the prison of Volos, premieres in Greece at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival Images of the World on Wednesday 16 March at 20.30 at the Olympion Theatre and on 18 March 2016 at 13.30 at the Stavros Tornes Theatre, Warehouse 1, Port. Dimitra Kouzi spoke with the documentary’s director, Marianna Economou.

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Director Marianna Economou

The film began about two years ago, when Marianna came across the book At school I forget the prison by Prof. Kostas Magos, which features accounts by underage migrant prisoners from the storytelling workshop run by Prof. Kostas Magos at the Volos prison. “This book shocked me,” says Marianna Economou. “At the same time, it filled me with questions. How can it be possible for these kids, who are struggling to flee from their predicament in their countries of origin, to find themselves in prison, to be tried by a foreign court in a language they do not understand, and many of them to end up serving extremely long sentences of up to 25 years?”

The professor was the first person she met at the prison. “If you manage to get a filming permit, I’m in for the documentary,” this extraordinary teacher told her. Next stop was the prison director’s office. Marianna needed his permission, as well as permission from the Ministry of Justice, before she could film inside the prison. The Director was positive from the outset, since the film would publicise juvenile prisoners’ training. It took six long months to get the coveted filming permit from the Ministry – an authorisation that had never before or since been given, and this was only made possible by circumstances and people. There was “an extraordinary woman at the Ministry, Eftychia Katsigaraki, says the director, who had been involved with the issue of children’s victimization by irregular migrant traffickers; another contributing factor was that prisons were packed full of child migrants and refugees. The issue had begun to attract European attention; it had been brought up in Brussels.”

YET, HOW DO THESE CHILDREN GET IMPLICATED AND END UP IN PRISON?

“The borders have become harder to cross, especially in Evros because of the fence. Traffickers are organised in a pyramid: the head trafficker at the top and the local ones below. The last smuggler, the one to bring them into Greece, does not want to risk further. He is well aware that if he is caught, he faces prison for life. So what does he do? He brings the people to the border, finds an easy victim – a child or a minor – and blackmails them in different ways. He will say, ‘If you don’t get them across and come back to get the rest of them, we will go to your village and kill your mother.’ Or, ‘Do you see that woman and her child? I will drown them if you don’t go.’ That’s the kind of blackmailing techniques that they use. And of course the other thing they often use is to say, ‘If you take people across, you will not have to pay for your own passage.’ And so they convince these minors, who are in effect caught doing this job and are arrested by the Greek authorities. The Greek law is very strict: for each person trafficked, you get 10 years in prison.”

“I started filming during classes. That’s when I started to identify the most interesting stories and the children that were able to bear the weight of this film.” Jasim was the youngest; he was 17. He was totally lost and scared, unable to grasp what had happened and how he had found himself spending four months in prison waiting for trial. “He was just an inexperienced child,” remembers Marianna Economou. “He came from a small village in northern Iraq and found himself in Greece, a country that he did not even know existed; he thought he was going straight to Germany to his brother. Alsaleh from Syria had already been in prison for 14 months waiting for trial. He spoke Greek well, so he helped Jasim with the language. They also shared the same cell and became friends during their months in prison.”

VOICES ON THE OTHER END OF THE LINE, FROM ANOTHER WORLD

The film begins with children waiting in line to phone their parents. For Marianna Economou, this was the most shocking of all the scenes in prison. “I saw how anxiously they waited for their turn to phone and struggle to get through to Iraq or Syria. In the beginning, I did not understand a word; I only watched their eyes and expressions, and when I asked, they replied, ‘Our parents are in terrible condition. They are worse off than we are. They are in a war.’ It was the time when Kobani was being bombed, while Isis was beheading the Yazidis in northern Iraq, the ethnic group from which Jasim comes. His whole family had to flee into the mountains. I decided that these phone calls were decisive when I heard their parents’ voices on the other end of the line, from another world, speaking with such intensity, such despair, telling them about the war and at the same time asking them, ‘ Are you all right, my child? I love you! I cannot live when you are so far away from me. Take care of yourself!’ It was always a mother talking to her child. These kids have left a family behind; they are not just ‘irregular migrants’; they all had a mom and a dad who cared for them, who loved them. They could be our own children.”

The film achieved something unprecedented: it received a filming permit for the trial of one of the two characters before the court of Komotini, in northern Greece. “The legal and judicial framework for these minors in the courts of Greece is a huge issue. Very few children have legal representation. The court appoints a lawyer five minutes before the trial begins. Good interpreters are scarce,” says the director. “I felt that there is a serious human-rights issue. Social workers are doing their best to support these kids at prison, but it all stops there.”

The film began, like most films in Greece, with two funding applications: one to the state broadcaster, ERT, and one to the Greek Film Centre (EKK). Shortly after, ERT was closed down. When filming was completed, all you could do was to get in touch with foreign channels, funds, etc. As always, however, they came up against the question: “What funding have you already received from your own country, Greece?” Then came the first prize at Docs in Progress at the Thessaloniki Festival and participation in the co-production meetings of Dok Leipzig Festival, where the prevailing response was: “Go ahead; keep us informed, and we will see.” What tipped the scale was the fact that the refugee emergency had broken out and the issue was already in the news. Thus, the film had to come out and the story of these children ought to be heard. They went into editing, using their own funds, in order to submit the film to Leipzig. The film was indeed accepted by DOK Leipzig and premiered on 27 October 2015 in the International Competition for Long Documentary and Animated Film. It won two awards – the PRIZE OF THE UNITED SERVICES TRADE UNION VER.DI and the INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION LONG HONORARY MENTION.

The Longest Run has officially participated in the festivals:

DOCPOINT (Finland), TEMPO (Sweden), CROSSING EUROPE (Switzerland), ONE WORLD Prague (Czech Republic), and DOCSBARCELONA (Spain).

The film premieres in Greece at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival 2016, on 16 March 2016 at 20.30 at the Olympion Theatre and on 18 March 2016 at 13.30 at the Stavros Tornes Theatre, Warehouse 1, Port.

In Athens, the film will be screened by CineDoc on Friday 22 April at 20.30 at the French Institute (Institut français de Grèce à Athènes, Sina 31, Athens) and on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 April at Danaos Cinema.

“Leipzig was a revelation after all, adds Marianna Economou: It was a great vindication for us and, thanks mainly to the help of Sabine Lange and Madeleine Avramoussis, the film was acquired by ARTE and aired on 2 February 2016. Eventually, the Greek Film Centre also approved the proposal. This is not the way to do things, though. I hope this film opens up a path abroad for me. Yet, if the possibility for co-productions and international productions with ERT is not re-established, I don’ t know how things will be for documentaries in Greece.”

Film Synopsis

In the Volos prison for minors, Alsaleh from Syria and Jasim from Iraq are awaiting trial, facing heavy charges for irregular migrant trafficking. From inside the prison, they talk on the phone with their parents, who live under the terror of war and ISIS raids while struggling to save themselves. The Longest Run closely follows the story of the two friends in prison and in court, revealing how innocent underage refugees often fall victims of coercion by traffickers and serve heavy sentences in Greek prisons while traffickers continue to operate undisturbed. Alsaleh and Jasim know that if they are convicted, they face imprisonment for up to 25 years.

Trailer on Vimeo

Official Web Site

The Longest Run on Facebook

Interview translated into English by Dimitris Saltabassis

EXOTICA, EROTICA, Etc. on DocStories

The film by Evangelia Kranioti was selected at the 56th Berlinale Forum, and Evangelia won  the Best Emerging International Filmmaker award at Hot Docs.  Next week Evangelia's film will be the opening film at the Syros International Film Festival (Greece) and will then travel to Karlovy Vary. The director was my guest at Hellenic Radio 3 (ERA 3)'s show DocStories on documentaries and storytelling last summer.  



It took Evangelia Kranioti nine years to complete the film research and shooting. She became a sailor herself,  travelling to 20 countries, from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, venturing into the Atlantic, the Magellan Straight and the Pacific, from Panama to the Baltic, all the way to the North Pole. The material – 450 hours of video footage! – was edited by Giorgos Lambrinos.

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"Exotica, Erotica, Etc. navigates centuries-old trade routes and speaks to the universal orientation towards exploration, expression and affection. But above all, it is a love note to the forgotten, hidden and ignored men and women whose long sojourns, dangerous travels and bouts of loneliness are paradoxically essential for societies to function. Exotica, Erotica, Etc. is a documentary conceived as an endless journey, an ongoing dialogue between man and woman, nature and the world. The film's non-linear narrative embraces the rhythm of merchant ships in perpetual motion and unfolds like a landscape, an archipelago : a retired woman of the night reflects on encounters with past lovers long gone, perhaps lost at sea. We listen to her as she longs for one to return and fulfill the final romantic chapter of her life. The voice of an old captain coming from faraway –the solitude of the ocean or the hotel room of an unknown port– becomes an echo to her monologue. Both characters are real and their personal narratives, kept intact, eventually weave a dense discussion on longing, memory and loss."

Watch the trailer.

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Evangelia Kranioti with Dimitra Kouzi at ERT 3rd Radio Programme's show DocStories on documentaries and storytelling

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The Longest Run in Leipzig in Competition 2015!

The Longest Run is one of those films that can't wait until funding is found before shooting. You either do it now or not at all. And Marianna Oikonomou (Food for Love) did. It is an important story unfolding in a juvenile prison in the city of Volos, in Greece, where the director enjoyed access – which is not a common occurrence at all. The film was already presented at the 10th International Dok Leipzig Co-Production Meeting in October 2014.

Here is an interview that the director, Marianna Oikonomou, gave me at the 17th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival in the aftermath of receiving the award for best Doc in Progress in March 2015.

The story follows two teenagers, a Syrian from Kobani and a Yazidi from Northern Iraq, who spend their long days in a juvenile prison in Greece, accused of smuggling illegal immigrants, while their parents experience  the war in their home countries. The Longest Run  follows their lives  before, during,  and after their court case and exposes the  tragic  phenomenon of professional smugglers forcing  underage illegal immigrants to transport  people across the border from Turkey to Greece,  thus making them smugglers themselves. This means that innocent young boys can serve sentences up to 25 years in a foreign country while their parents are equally ‘confined’ in their war-stricken countries.

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Jasim in his cell in the Greek prison

The project garnered the top prize in Docs in Progress, receiving 17.000 euro in editing and post-production funding, but still needs a distributor, pre-sales, and more funding.

Here is a 7-minute demo of this interesting film:

https://vimeo.com/121977493  (password:32015)

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Alsaleh & Jasim in Prison

Prix Europa 2014 starts now!

Once again it's time for this year's Prix Europa in Berlin!  Although I'm personally involved in the festival since 2011, I can't help but recommend it as a showcase for Europe’s best television, radio and online productions.

A total of 13 PRIX EUROPA Trophies will be awarded. This year's competition includes 210 entries handpicked from more than 650 projects by 294 organizations from 35 countries.

Media professionals from all over the continent flock to Berlin in October 18-24 to watch the films, listen to radio projects, surf through websites and vigorously debate the nominated productions. There are no juries like in other festivals. The juries in Prix Europa categories are the nominees themselves! Starting Monday October 20 2014 they will watch all the nominated projects in their respective categories; every afternoon they will discuss and vote, and on Friday the winners will be announced.

Listen to an interview with the directors of the fantastic Meet the Fokkens, TV Documentary 2012 winners.

The festival is open to visitors. If you are involved in the media business, a director, producer in TV or Radio, a journalist, or a student, it's totally worth it to visit Berlin's Haus des Rundfunks, next to the broadcasting headquarters of the Rundfunk Berlin Brandenburg. It is a great opportunity for networking and inspiration! Check out this year's exciting entries in the programme.

PRIX EUROPA is organized by a coalition of 28 major European broadcasters and institutions, including the European Broadcasting Union.

How about a look back at the 2013 winners to relieve the tension?

See you at RBB in Berlin!

Balkan Documentary Center Module Prizren

If you are located in the Balkans or have a project related to the area and you want to develop your film with the best assistance and care, here is where you should apply. The first session was in Sofia Bulgaria in May and the second starts 21/8 in Prizren.
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Luigi Pepe (Executive Producer) and the Director and Editor Silvia Poeta from Italy working in one by one meetings with the Bulgarian director Ilian Metev (Sofia's Last Ambulance, a feature-length observational documentary film co-production of Germany, Bulgaria, and Croatia) in Sofia in May 2014

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EDN (European Documentary Network) Director Paul Pauwels and the Producer and CEO of the BDC Martichka Bozhilova

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The BDC Team !
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The Serbian Director Boris Mitic about financing documentaries and C.E.archetypes !

BALKAN DOCUMENTARY CENTER WORKSHOP

BDC Discoveries 2014 is a project development workshop, aimed at uniting professionals with documentary projects with an international potential. Module Prizren is focused on training sessions related to packaging the projects for the international market. A final pitch in front of a jury consisting of experts will give the participants feedback about their work and the much needed experience.
Place: DokuKino Conference Room
Open to participants only
Date: 20 – 24 August

Here is the Program for Prizren
BDC PRIZREN SCHEDULE 2014

How to co-produce with Denmark

The Danish Film Institute (DFI) has minor-coproduction schemes for feature fiction and animation films with three deadlines a year, and for short and documentary films with two deadlines a year. DFI may support 6-9 minor co-productions in feature films and 4-6 minors in short and documentary films a year.Read more:
http://www.dfi-film.dk/how-to-co-produce-with-denmark-feature
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The person you have to contact is Noemi Ferrer Schwenk. She coordinates the Danish Film Institute’s work with international co-productions and is one of the key figures in the Film Institute’s overall international activities.

Noemi Ferrer Schwenk
Phone +45 5096 7411
noemis@dfi.dk

The workshop for docs in a rough cut stage! DOK Incubator

Let's get personal was the motto of this year's DOK INCUBATOR at the Leipziger Pfefermühle. And the presentation was full with people who came to see the nine selected documentaries. A fine initiate witch started by Andrea Prenghyova, the creator of the DOK.Incubator in collaboration with DOK Leipzig three years ago..

Dok Incubator is a course that runs for three weeks, during half a year, where you apply with a rough cut.

dok01_color_0_2502c317b1d5fc They work with the teams of director, editor and Producer, with their films, to improve their film and work with the producers and teams to learn how to do international financing and distribution. They also work with the films to make them more international as well. Director and editor has cooperation with big european editors to improve the films. The course is held in different European cities. It is a media supported program like EAVE, but just for documentaries in post production.

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Sigrid Dyekjær is one of the central teachers

On Tuesday at DOK Leipzig...

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Claas Danielsen, the DOK Leipzig Director, together with Andrea Prenghyova – creator of the DOK.Incubator, journalist, film maker, documentary film producer and founder of Institute of Documentary Prague, and Ilo von Seckendorff.

One of the good Greek docs in Thessaloniki 2014

In times of recession three Greeks try to take their destiny in their own hands.
Could this crisis be our chance to re-invent ourselves and our society?
This is the theme of the feature length documentary "Gr. work in progress" (the title is indeed not so good - but the film is!) by Elena Zervopoulou which made its premier at the Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival in March. Elena Zervopoulou the film director who also did the production is a ethnopsychologist and holds a master in documentary making from the University in Paris.
In her film she succeed to make 3 strong portraits of Greeks who took their destiny in their own hands! This is what she was thinking about her film in December 2012... "The financial crisis strikes Greece and spreads out worldwide. We are loosing our financial security and our living standard, but how much of our values, our humanity and our decency is going down with the rest? Could this be our chance to re-invent ourselves and our society?"
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The three protagonists together reflect the current potential for transformation in Greece. Positive change dynamics move from the bottom up. We follow the single individual (Giorgos) who finds the strength to overcome his difficulties and rebuild his life. The film examinee Grigoris’ family as it retightens its bonds and seeks a better quality of life. Finally, the journey takes us to the activist volunteer group behind the “potato movement” (Ilias) as their activities impact the society as a whole by challenging the commercial foods supply chain and practicing solidarity and direct democracy.

Watch the trailer:

http://onevibefilms.com/en/creative-documentaries/produced/greece-work-in-progress-greek.html