Doc.Incubator 2023

Always a fine experience to attend the yearly presentation of upcoming documentaries developed at the dok.incubator workshop that has its address in Prague due to its Czech founder and manager Andrea Prenghyova. There was a presentation at IDFA this year, I was not there, but the presentation was repeated in an online form: a welcome by Head of Studies, French producer Christine le Goff and Prenghyova with le Goff giving a brief welcome intro to the film and filmmakers, nine there were, seven of them women as le Goff pointed out in the beginning. All very precise and professional. To remind you, dok.incubator is a rough cut workshop, this was the 13th edition… During the years the workshop has existed I have only heard positive feedback from participants praising the selection of tutors, many of them of course editors…

Looking back at previous posts on this site I see only praising words, Doc.Incubator has found its presentation format, you get a good impression of the upcoming films, and the timing is perfect as many of the 9 projects will be ready for premiere in the beginning of 2024, so I am pretty sure that festival representatives have been attending the show to pick up what they find good for their profile. Let me pick out 3 of the seven that I would like to watch and review when they are completed:

“Agent of Happiness”, “Amber is one of the many happiness agents working for the Bhutanese government to measure people’s happiness among the remote Himalayan mountains. But will he find his own along the way?” is the short description of a film that will travel I am sure because of its subject, Happiness, and the charming Amber, who we follow in the clips provided. Directors are Arun Bhattarai and Dorottya Zurbo, it’s a Bhutan/Hungarian production, it’s in the good hands of the distribution company Cinephil. In itself it is wonderful to see how Amber and his colleagues go around asking people if they are happy… one answers “yes, as every grain of rice in my storage”!

“If Freedom Were a Song”, Iranian films and subjects have always drawn my attention and I am reading the weekly Iranwire published from London by Maziar Bahari. This week with interviews with people who go around in the streets of Tehran taking photos of women, who do not wear hijab! The film coming up, by Leila Amini, Iranian/French/Swiss, has this beautiful description and the visuals presented were absolutely promising a fine film: “Growing up in a loving middle-class family in Tehran, my older sister Nasreen used to fill our apartment with her beautiful voice. She loved music and gave me the courage to become a filmmaker. Today, Nasreen is trapped in an arranged marriage to Mohamad, who disapproved of her singing. She’s a housewife with two kids, suffering from depression and loneliness. As she struggles with her identity, her lost passion for singing ignites–a passion forbidden to women in Iran. Filming my sister for the past seven years, this was my turn supporting her. Nasreen takes steps towards her dream as she breaks free from her marriage. Her emancipation inspires change, not only in her children  but also in me, our other sister, our mother, and hopefully our country.” No singing…!!! A brave film.

“Just Hear me Out”, Polish by Małgorzata Imielska, and produced by renowned company Kaleidoskope that I remember from way back (Marcel Lozinski’s “89 mm from Europe”), always high quality, and the presentation had a fine doubleness, first a trailer and then scenes, where you get close to Gosia, the protagonist, who suffers from a mental illness. Precise description of a film full of warmth and respect: “Gosia’s schizophrenia has kept her away from home for most of her adolescence. After 7 years in and out of mental hospitals she is returning to her family and friends. All she wants is a chance at ordinary life just like any other young woman. But how do you get by when inner voices are a threat to you and your loved ones? And how do parents cope with the constant fear of losing their child? Between the difficult rehabilitation of her beloved convicts, and bureaucratic roadblocks, Mina realizes that the task may prove impossible. But her determination makes her go on at the cost of her personal life.”

The logo – photo – says “a fine cut” for the films presented, excellent – and fun – choice for a professional and inviting presentation.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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