The second seminar of the Athens based documentary project development Storydoc took place during the last three days of November 2011. After a prologue in Ramallah, which was a training session for around 20 Palestinian filmmakers, the first session with four selected Palestinian projects plus another 20 projects coming from Greece, Lebanon, Egypt, Algeria, Spain, Croatia, Scotland and the UK, was organised in Corfu, Greece in July 4 months later most of the project holders met again having done progress in terms of writing and visualisation through trailers on the basis of research and putting (some) financing together. As in the first session the programme is a mix of inspirational lectures, project work, lots of screenings of full films and clips, meetings with distributors and broadcasters, presentations. The idea is very simple – Storydoc invites Mediterranean documentary projects and -makers and filmmakers from other countries with stories from the region. Networking, project development, eventual (but gosh how big the crisis is everywhere (also) for documentary financing) financing.
A seminar in Greece, in November 2011, after a lot of turbulence around the Greek economy, a new government, the EU leaders meeting constantly to find a way! In Greece where – I met a daughter of one of them - politicians do not walk out alone in the evenings and where most of them have bodyguards around them. It is not easy and there is much frustration, hate, aggression, anger and little hope and optimism. The situation for the Greek film people? Well the Greek Film Centre, I understood, has been out of operation for a long time, and the representative from Greek television ERT told her colleagues that she could not tell anything as everything, slots for documentaries, funding, whatever, was up for discussion and change. That Storydoc continues is only due to the commitment and fundraising skills of its founder, Kostas Spiropoulos, and his Mama Storydoc, Chara Lampidou, who never give up and try to stimulate the sector wherever possible. Storydoc has a ”subtitle”: The Educational Institute for Documentaries. Indeed it is.
INSPIRATORS AND INFORMATORS.
Below you will find texts about some of the presentations at the Storydoc in Athens. But there was much more to take from the seminar.
It was only natural to have Syrian Diana el Jeiroudi make a follow-up of her presentation of the Syrian situation as she delivered it at the first session in Corfu four months earlier. What she focused on was the fact that people want to see themselves, contrary to before, when they were hiding. The documentarians in her country are moving towards a tradition that has been very long present in Palestine – the collectiveness of filmmaking. She had found a similar situation reflected in the television situation in Tunisia, where al Jazeera before the revolution had had the lead, now taken over by the Tunisian public broadcaster that brings local stories and aims for freedom of expression. What concerns the continuation of the DoxBox festival in Damascus, she and her team have ideas to substitute a festival and a campus that right now seem to be impossible to take place in Damascus.
A veteran in Storydoc Athens is Danish editor Niels Pagh Andersen, who again took the audience by the heart with his inspirational lecture on how to tell stories. He showed the film of Iranian/Swedish director Nahid Persson, ”Prostitution Behind the Veil”, and deconstructed the film’s dramaturgy. Andersen had meetings with all filmmakers looking at material, asking questions and giving feedback.
His words were many times echoed by ardent Madeleine Avramoussis from ARTE, a regular visitot to Greece, the contact to Greek filmmakers when it comes to coproductions (like ”Sayomé” by Anemon Productions, see below, will be broadcasted December 27 in a theme evening that also includes ”Lost in Translation”) and a strong advocate for the character driven documentary where you sense ”the progression of a character”.
As is Wim van Rompaey from Lichtpunt, who (as the only one?) was optimistic and found that the decreasing budgets in public television could help the much more cheap documentary to become stronger on the schedule. Van Rompaey gave a precise picture of the situation in Belgium for documentaries and showed clips from his channel, classic intelligent television.