SEVEN SHORT DOCUMENTARIES by talented new directors on the theme of 'Suprise' commissioned by Scottish Documentary Institute in 2010. These films surprise and sometimes uplift us with subjects ranging from a mystery sender who posts objects to fashion designer Paul Smith, to a towering transvestite struggling for acceptance in middle England, to an exploration of 21st Century suburbia in Surprise, Arizona and the portrait of a brutalist architect who will outlive all of his buildings.Read more
Bridging the Gap: 'Shift' projects are...
...drum roll please!Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.
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.
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more