Jeddah Doc Workshop /2

Yes, ”we were blown away” as Kirsten Johnson, American filmmaker and tutor at the workshop, said on the second day, where several of the young visual reporters and artists, who took part in the workshop, presented their projects of online content in an energetic manner, full of joy and excitement and proudness over what they have achieved. ”We are a voice now”, they said, and the numbers of visitors to their YouTube accounts speak for themselves. ”No Woman, No Drive” has been watched by close to 11 million people, and many other shows and short music based videos of satirical character also reach big numbers. A side story according to the producers: What is interesting about the extraordinary visual comment on women with no right to drive is that many orthodox people actually think that the video advocates for/documents that women should not drive! What to draw from that – we should remember that films and videos can be interpreted in many ways. Satire does not go well with everyone.

The young visual artists (all male!) represented two content producers, Uturn and Telfaz11. Names Eyad Maghazil and Husam H. Al-Sayed (PHOTO, left to right). They explained how they get the programmes made. Or should one call them shows or videos or films? Doesn’t matter. The themes come from the ones involved and from the YouTube viewers who are asked to contact them if they find some interesting stories that must be told. Television for these 25-30 old visual artists is not the way. YouTube is. If you go to the links below, you will get an idea of what is being done. A lot is made from a humorous angle, and if it has the same artistic quality as ”No Woman, No Drive”… Bravo. I asked them if they consider themselves as an alternative, commercial tv channel, the answer was Yes. The programmes are made from advertisement income, and there is a paid staff. A longer article about the YouTube online programmation by the two providers and others is to be found through the link below.

Second question: Is there a chance to include what we call ”creative documentaries”, a niche genre in a YouTube context? The answer was yes, we have and will make documentaries of artistic nature, as well as more experimental stuff. We will just make them and post them, said Husam H. Al-Sayed, who works with Telfaz11 and C3 Creative Cultural Catalyst, showed me several short documentaries that he had done. If you click the Telfaz site and go to ”watch” and ”filmmakers” you could see ”In The Eye of the Beholder”, 10 minutes, shot in Kuala Lumpur, definitely a sketch for a bigger observational documentary. And just one example by one of the creative young people, I met in Jeddah.

The title of the workshop was ”Creative Documentary Workshop”, it went far beyond that in terms of genres. Hybrid… indeed, how foolish we are when we always to want to categorize…

And a small observation piece: Wednesday night at a classical Saudi restaurant in Jeddah. Good food once again, women with no mandil (scarf), women with niqab which sometimes is changed so you see the face, and sometimes (that’s what I felt a couple of times) made back to niqab if you look in their direction, women with colorful scarf and abaya (the dress) (producer Danya Alhamrani takes the price!)… and women and men together smoking the sisha water pipe. All at midnight, good atmosphere, still heavy traffic, you don’t walk in Jeddah except for promenades on the corniche. Back to luxury hotel, perfumed air, air condition fight, windows not to be opened, super service…which can’t be said about what I experienced in the airport of Jeddah, 2 ½ hours of waiting to have your passport controlled, arrogant treatment of Pakistanis waiting in my line, suitcase arriving 24 hours later, taxi driver young student with no identity card even if he was born in the country but father of Yemenite origin… Lots to be done, many stories to be told, the people to do it are there, no doubt about that.

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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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