They insist on being different – they are and they are not. CPH:DOX launched its two day Forum within its Industry Section as ”Business as Unusual”, being performed in a huge tent in the Royal Garden in Copenhagen opposite the Film House where you find the accreditation desk, two cinemas, a market, a place to meet and network. Fine and unusual. And not the fault of the organisers that the November windy weather gave additional sound to the presentations and made the inside screen for the teasers sway mildly in the wind. It gave the event its special unusual flavour as did the hearable sound of the marching Royal Guard next door at the Rosenborg Castle! ”Hygge” as we say in Danish, and there was indeed a fine atmosphere in the tent – and unusual is the Forum compared to the many other pitchings around the world in dividing the selected projects into categories like ”Cinema”, F:ACT, Fictiononfiction and Art. This is part of the profile of a festival that wants to place itself between documentary and visual art and is innovative in arranging conferences, showing films in former churches, exhibitions etc. etc. To be a voice in the society. All under the umbrella of Documentary! John Grierson would have loved it!
And what concerns the panelists to comment on the pitched projects: more non-tv people than usual, many representatives from film funds and institutes,
European and American, museums, sales agents… who were brought on stage to react verbally to the presented projects, five persons per project to be followed up with individual meetings with many more across the road in the restaurant of the Film House, ”Sult” (”Hunger”) named after the film of Danish Henning Carlsen.
But also ”Business as Usual” – the format was the same, 7 minutes for presentation including a trailer/teaser and 7 minutes for the panelists in sessions moderated by Jess Search from Britdoc ( she is brilliant) and Ingrid Kopp from Tribeca Film Institute. 30 projects over two days, the usual remarks ”give them (those pitching) a round of applause”, ”amazing”, ”compelling”, ”thank you for a great pitch”, ”I am intrigued” and so on so forth. For one who has attended and taken part in pitching sessions for twenty years you get a bit tired as you lack the many critical questions that could be raised, hopefully they were at the one-to-one meetings. In this kind of public pitching it is (almost) halleluja all the way through. Another critical remark – there is no time for dialogue, debate. So as an audience the reason for being there is to listen to new projects, see the trailers, the way of presentation and sometimes also enjoy precise and competent comments from those in the panel.
Let me highlight three of the filmprojects from the first day – films I am looking forward to watch. First one ”The Camp” to be filmed and directed by master Leonard Retel Helmrich and produced by veteran Dutch Pieter van Huystee. They showed fine observational material from a refugee camp for Syrians in Lebanon and said that ”we don’t come with a story, we are there to find it”. And thank you for not pouring music to the material, for treating us as grown-ups! Second one Czech Filip Remunda, producer of ”The White World According to Daliborek” to be directed by Vit Klusak (the two of them did ”Czech Dream”) described as ”… a horror about the Czech desire for a white Europe… Remunda was powerful and engaged on stage and the trailer was indeed a scary meeting with Dalibor, who says that he was ”looking for warmth and found it in a nazi group”. Third one ”Ghost Wives” by German/British Eva Weber and Danish producer Signe Byrge Sørensen, placed in the FictionnonFiction category and contrary the two above mentioned straight forward subject-orientated documentaries with a lot of mystery around ”arranged marriages for the dead, an ancient tradition in parts of China” taking place today with a serial killer as the protagonist.