Of course the best is to meet face to face onsite but I have got used to online meetings via zoom. To say good morning “how are you” or “where are you”. I prefer the mornings and I also like to comment on the location, if there is something to comment, as many have a white wall behind them, others are in their kitchen or welcome you in their study or sitting room with books behind them. If you look at the photo attached to this article you see me hanging on the wall (!), which made one of the tutor colleagues, Danish Jesper Jack (black sweater), say “big brother is watching you”, with good friend Michael Seeber (second to the right), from many documentary sessions, nodding; I am used to talk to Michael, when online, with books behind, as I have. For Danes: Jesper Jack noticed that I have a series of “Hvem Hvad Hvor”; I got them every year as a kid and young man for christmas… Now I have reached the age, where the grown-ups don´t give each other presents for christmas any longer… And “HvemHvadHvor” does not exist any longer.
The reason I was hanging on the wall in a university in Budapest: I did no dare to travel a couple of weeks, after a hip replacement operation, for the Verzio DocLab that I attended and loved the year before. Peter Becz, the organiser, invited me to attend online and I enjoyed it, almost full time as there were some internet problems.
Good morning, can you hear me, was my first greeting for the many online meetings I had with Chingiz Samudin uulu from Kyrgyzstan, a brilliant photographer, who was selected for the CinéDoc Mentoring Program with his first creative documentary. We are still in contact after half a year, where three of the months were part of the program. He came with an idea, that became a film proposal, that became a film, “Doctor”, I love it and I do hope that the film in all its minimalism will find a festival programmer that falls in love with it as I did. I think we had around 25 zoom meetings, he was outside with his mobile or inside at the computer depending on the weather. Much of the time I was the one who asked questions, I wanted to know all about Chingiz, this kind and modest family man. And I want to go and visit him when/if possible.
This is of course what these online meetings can lead to – friendships. And I have been happy to make bonds to many filmmakers – from Georgia especially – will come back to that – also due to the mentioned Filmmaking Program operated by CinéDoc Tbilisi, i.e. Ileana Stanculescu and Artchil Khetagouri, who are some of the most professional and caring documentary people I know. (I am too old to work with non-professional organizers…). As with Ukrainian film couple Ella Styka and Dmytro Tiazhlov, whose project “Eros and Thanatos” I am looking fwd. to see finished. I have seen hours of material that looks magnificent but it needs to be put together and they need funding and time… which is difficult with a husband teaching and living in Kyiv and wife in Warsaw with her (football interested) son starting in school. And I stay in contact with Turkan Huseyn and Alemdar Faiq from Azerbadjan, I have had fine zoom meetings with these talents.
Georgia… and the DOCA, meaning Documentary Association of Georgia, has published its first year report, 20 pages of proof of an organisation that fights against the ministry of Culture, actually the Minister who has changed the organisation of National Film Centre so there is no film competence there any longer, proclaiming also that a new law will be made so prevent films like “Taming the Garden” (Salomé Jashi) and “Magic Mountain” (Maryam Chachia amd Nik Voigt) to be made as they go against government policy. Censorship in other words towards films that are winning awards around the world in a country that have so many talented filmmakers, many I have met over the years, some of them also through the Film Mentoring Program. Keep up the energy and keep also the film cultural profile you have set up with a film club and meetings with experts like one with the Danish Film Institute director Claus Ladegaard.
“Magic Mountain” won the main award at the DocsBarcelona 2023, I was happy to be part of the jury. And that I had the job at DocsBarcelona to select rough cut projects and introduce the online Artistic Consultancies, 13 of them there were, from all over the world. I am impressed how good these conversations can be, when the filmmakers are open to constructive criticism conveyed through questions AND the consultants are super well prepared as were Robert Goodman, Gitte Hansen, Martijn te Pajs, Cecilia Lidin, Marc Isaacs and Michael Seeber. This year there will be 3 tutors, the two first mentioned plus Emma Davie taking 3 projects each.