Dox Box Impressions/4

So there we were at the beautiful Danish Institute in Damascus on a rainy tuesday, March 8. The small shops at the soukh were closed, not because of the International Women’s Day but to celebrate the constitution of the governing Baath Party on this very day in 1963. The sun came out later in the morning, and the shops opened for afternoon customers.

Inside the Institute a presentation of the 14 projects of the 2011 Dox Box Campus were taking place for a handful of hours. In a relaxed atmosphere where representatives from different regional and international funds were present to comment on the filmmakers projects, encouragement and constructive critique: Cara Mertes from the Sundance Institute, Lucan Rosan from Dubai Film Connection, Marie-Pierre Macia from Abu Dhabi film festival fund, Usama Rifae from AFAC (Arab Culture Fund), Melanie de Vocht from Jan Vrijman Fund – Paul Baboudjian from Screen Institute Beirut had been there days before to on-to-one meetings with the project owners. Producer Orwa Nyrabia and directors Kim Longinotto and Raed Andoni joined the panel to come up with collegial remarks… no television channels present and maybe again a sign of the future of documentary financing, also in this part of the world: public or private funding will make the creative documentary genre not only survive but hopefully also blossom. There is indeed a long way to go for the filmmakers at the Campus but they have stories and passion, and they want to tell them  NOW in times where big (and smaller) changes take place in many of the Arabic and Middle Eastern countries. At this Campus session the main theme was the role of women in muslim societies. It was approached from many different angles. There was a story about women riding bikes in Damascus, very few do so, fathers and husbands forbid it. There was a very courageous, personal project about women and their sexuality in Syria, told through three open-minded women. There was a beautiful story about an orphanage girl from Jordan. And a short one about cats – by the director to be accompanied by fragments of women monologues… and many other strong stories. And there was (photo) “Let me entertain You” by Dania Alhamrani (in the middle of this photo taken at the Toronto Documentary Forum) about three performers in Saudi Arabia. She comes from the only women run production company in the country.

Three project prizes were given, see below.

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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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