With our Interdoc programme we have been running some clandestine whisky tasting soirees at different festivals wherever we are running sessions. A special guest list is invited but only get to know the time and the place via a text at the last minute. Such evenings are good fun and great way of networking.
Of course we also get a few gate crashers and this time, one of them was a woman who stepped straight out of a Vogue magazine, and when I enquired who she was, she replied “but I am Melissa, the star of Melissa’s film”.
Funny enough the following day, American filmmaker David Wilson (True/False Film Festival), was questioning at the Soap Box event what should be the best or correct way to refer to our documentary subjects?Read more
If we had an award for "best audience" it would go to the city of Toronto. Every single screening at Hot Docs was packed with a crowd, which gave themselves over to the story on screen and lived through the roller coaster of emotions, laughter and tears. It was palpable.
There was a ritual: Every screening started with a humoristic advert to celebrate and thank all the volunteers who make the festival happen. Everyone applauded.Read more
For the last two years Hot Docs has been experimenting with ad lib sessions and one of them is The Soap Box where you can rant, shout or just wonder aloud. This year was again hosted by filmmaker and blogger AJ Schnack, and I was selected with a few other speakers, including Peter Wintonick, to speak from the 'pulpit' of the documentary church.
Ban the word "about"
The 9th Berlinale Talent Campus (BTC) took place February 12-17 2011, in Berlin as part of the International Film Festival, now in its 61st year. The lucky group of 350 participants who gathered in Berlin, were selected from over 4000 applications and hailed from 88 different countries. The purpose of BTC is to bring together up-and-coming filmmakers and around 150 experts for a series of masterclasses, workshops and networking events over the course of six days.
I was one of the lucky ones, and together with two filmmaker friends from Edinburgh, I made my way to Berlin on 11 February. Not only did BTC cover the cost of our flight, they also put us up in a city-centre hostel. It was a nice place, but we didn’t have very much time to spend there as BTC is 6 days of intense attending and socializing. I don’t think I made it to bed before 2am every single night.Read more
DocPoint Helsinki Documentary Film Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary this year and it was high time to visit this fine festival for the first time, after much recommendation by a number of filmmakers and programmers.
"Whatever you do, make sure you are there on Thursday evening," I was told. So on Thursday we were invited to “Uunisaari” – a sauna/dinner adventure....Read more
"I didn't want to be a woman looking over my shoulder. I rather go towards things that frighten me – and draw attention to the situation." (Penny Woolcock)
Penny Woolcock, born 1950, grew up in Argentina's English ex-pat community before settling in England in 1970, working in factories and other jobs. Even as a school girl she was more interested in the edges of things - for example the life in the favela underneath the bridge she passed every week on the way to church. She only took to filmmaking in her thirties and never formally trained as a filmmaker, which has led to some crew members commenting: "You work really differently." Penny says: "Ignorance can be bliss!"Read more
Pitching workshops can be a bit brutal. They ask you to distill your film into a sentence or paragraph and sometimes simplify your film a bit too much. Focus is good, but you do need some unknowns to keep the mystery of the filmmaking process alive, and the urge to find out more.
Our commissioned Bridging the Gap filmmakers were relieved when they realised that the directing workshop with Mike Palmieri and Donal Mosher (October Country) was not about finding the great one liner, but going deeper into the heart of their films, uncovering what makes a character great, what made the filmmakers interested in them, and how to get most from them. It was an intense two days in which Mike and Donal gave themselves whole-heartedly to the films and filmmakers. Often it's not about discussing camera technique, or 'knowledge', but what you bring to the table as a person with life experience beyond your identity as a filmmaker.Read more
Last Friday, Scottish Documentary Institute and CMI (Centre of Moving Image) held their first joint masterclass with the special guest Gaelle Vidalie, representing the legendary Cannes Director’s Fortnight. The idea of that session was to engage Scottish filmmakers with a festival whose philosophy is based on discovery and creative energy. As an introduction Gaelle screened the documentary film John Cassavates by Hubert Knapp and Andre Labarthe. It was a beautiful recording of John Cassavetes, shot in Hollywood 1965, while he was editing Faces, and 1968 in Paris, when the film was finished. Fifty minutes listening to the inspiring credo of Cassavetes affirming that you can make independent, free films in America if you dare to follow your convictions and forget about the limits of your credit card. His words and creative energy was wonderful, life enhancing, a must-see – not just for every film student but every filmmaker in the room to be reminded why we make films. It was fascinating that the truth of many of his statements was still meaningful to 2010. Perfect choice of film to describe what the Director’s Fortnight search is about. (You can watch a 10-min excerpt here.)Read more
The good news is: it was not a dream. She comes under the name of Sigrid Dyekjaer, and is the most funny, bright, energetic, sexy woman going round. Do I sound envious? Oh yes, but it is nice envy, because it makes me all the more attentive to what she has to say. And yesterday at a special SDI masterclass she talked for nearly three hours to an audience who could hardly allow themselves to breathe with fear that she may disappear in a puff of smoke. But no, she was solid, real and fed her crowd tenderly with lovely morsels of wisdom.Read more