Nordisk Panorama - Fair Use Seminar

Nordisk Panorama rotates between five Nordic countries every year, and this year it took place in the beautiful town of Bergen, Norway. It is a small Nordic affair but you can trust our Scandinavian friends to be uncompromising about quality. The Forum was friendly, accessible and efficient. The seminars punctuated the day with the right amount of impact.

I attended the one on Copyright and Fair Use in documentaries. Norwegian producers are starting to test the law with a few cases on the same basis that has been developed and argued in the States. David Van Taylor, director/producer from Lumiere Productions in New York was invited to share his experience and the difficulties in using the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use, a document that clarifies when documentary filmmakers can use copyrighted material into their films without permission. An excellent move.

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Can films change the world? - Paul Laverty

Can films change the world? Last night Paul Laverty in his masterclass organised by Scottish Documentary Institute for the Take One Action film festival made a passionate case for us to think about it. His speech, at times a mere whisper, is loud and clear in his message. It is inspiring to have a screenwriter to be ideologically driven by social justice and to be so humble and acknowledge that it is a privilege as a filmmaker to select our characters and through their eyes discover new realities and truths.

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Bridging the Gap 'Shift' open for submissions!

We are very pleased to announce that Bridging the Gap 8 is now open for applications! This year we are looking for Scottish-based filmmakers only to make 10 minute documentaries on the theme of 'Shift'. We want films to be told in the first person – either by the filmmaker or the main character.

12 ideas will be short-listed on the basis of the proposal and supporting materials. In the following weeks they will be developed through weekend workshops so that they can be pitched to a panel of experts who will commission the final 5 projects in December 2010. The films, delivered by April 2011, are intended for distribution in cinemas and festivals.

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Dokufest or: "Mr Love showed up too"

At the jury deliberation on Thursday which I shared with Doug Block, AJ Schnack, Pamela Cohn, Adriatrik Kelmendi, editor-in-chief from Kosovo national TV, we remarked on what a considered and excellent programme it had been, and how lucky we felt to be part of Dokufest's 9th edition. After a long discussion about the short and feature award for best international documentary, we celebrated (secretly) the decision until the early hours with local raki, peja (beer) and cheese gondolas. When it was getting light (it seems the bars simply remain open until the last person leaves), Pamela and I explored some other areas of Prizren with our stills cameras, among stray dogs and ghostly, battered shop mannequins.

Kosovo mannequins are different...
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Dokufest: Prizren, Kosovo 31/7-7/8

31/7/2010

After a stunning flight over the Swiss Alps, Venice and the Croatian coast, the weather turns hazy and I can see numerous farm fields on fire and it starts to rain. At Pristina airport I realise my luggage didn't make it through in London and that I'll have to wait for 2 days for my suitcase. Oh well! I share a lift with filmmaker Rowland Jobson who is here with his Venice-premiered film Girl Like Me. I've been invited to be on the jury for the international competition, and we're screening Peter in Radioland by Johanna Wagner, Unearthing the Pen by Carol Salter and Amy Hardie's The Edge of Dreaming at the festival. It takes us two hours from Pristina airport to Prizren, a beautiful town in the South of Kosovo, in stop and go traffic. The sun is setting and the light is stunning, looking across the mountainous countryside - houses half-built, abandoned cars on the side of the road, a traffic accident... and we pass the German army barracks as we enter Prizren; around 2000 soldiers are still stationed here we're told.

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Supetar Super Film Festival (SSFF)

Last year Adrian McDowall and myself were invited to the beautiful holiday island of Brac in Croatia to show our films Ma Bar and Standing Start on an outdoor screen for the very first Supetar Super Film Festival. We found out that Scotland and Brac have something in common apparently - we're both reknowned for being tight! I'm not sure this is true but they thought it would be the perfect idea to invite us back as we have 'so much in common'!

This year I programmed 13 films from the Scottish Documentary Institute's back catalogue including one feature doc, The Edge of Dreaming by Amy Hardie.

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Doc Week 2010 round-up

"Doc Week is on the map as a 'must-attend' industry event." (Simon Kilmurry, POV)

Last week marked the end of our very first Doc Week in association with Edinburgh International Film Festival! We were delighted  with the fantastic range of projects from Scotland and round the world presented at the Edinburgh Pitch, Doc in Progress and Docs 360. A fantastic range of films from USA, China, Italy and the UK were workshopped and pitched during the first three days.

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Bangladesh Film Workshop: 18-27 March 2010

SDI has been running very successful workshops in creative documentary storytelling from Edinburgh for the last seven years, however when we were invited by the British Council and the Bangladesh Documentary Council to train 16 inexperienced filmmakers and make four films in six days – that was definitely a challenge not to be turned down!

Many of us still go on assuming that creative documentary means “sleek aesthetics attached to an interesting topic.”  The type of workshops we run focus on the effective and creative structuring of a story in order to engage an audience.

We arrived in Dhaka via Dubai and after a shower we met our group (14 men and two women) as well as few local documentary filmmakers that same afternoon. We started the workshop by screening the Oscar nominated film Burma VJ.  It was very moving to see our new audience glued to the film. Burma shares a border with Bangladesh.

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DocsBarcelona & The Edge of Dreaming

"What is your understanding of what happens at death? What have you really understood about life? Where do you stand politically?"

The woman firing these questions at me in the marble lobby of a very stylish Barcelona hotel has an impossibly small waist. I think it’s the first time I have seen anyone whose waist you could, really, span with two hands. I should have admired her questions as well as her tiny middle, and said that of course I have no answers: I had nine years of exploring, 100 hours of film, distilled into 73 minutes to create a journey for an audience that brings them close to death, to grief, to fear, to letting go, and back to hope, to sensuality, to pleasure and to life. A shared experience of the sort that can hold contradictions, and is as rooted in the emotions, images, sounds, as in words.

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Jonathan Carr on the Peter Symes Workshop

Funding schemes and project workshops often seem a little like X Factor for filmmakers. One fellow participant in this year’s Bridging the Gap talked of a friend who had won through to an initiative in which 10 projects were to be funded from 11 workshoppers. Even Simon Cowell might think that brutal. I was told BTG was different, and so it proved.

This was the first of three development weekends before final pitching in March. Chaired by the immensely warm and inspiring documentary guru Peter Symes, each of the 12 in our group introduced their films in a sentence, and then developed them by opening the ideas up to the room.

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I AM BREATHING
FUTURE MY LOVE
PABLO'S WINTER
STEM CELL REVOLUTIONS

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