REPORT: East Doc Platform 2018
by Vladan Petkovic
Last week in Prague, the East Doc Platform, Eastern and Central Europe's biggest industry event, gave out its prizes; Cineuropa profiles the awarded projects
East Doc Platform Award
The Last Relic is billed as a "portrait of modern Russia in a tentative period" and is set in Yekaterinburg, the country's fourth-largest city, where 100 years ago, the imperial Romanov family was executed. Today, Yekaterinburg is the pivotal location for the power struggle between faith, commerce and politics, and through the actions of the protagonist, 21-year-old student Igor Frolov, the official coordinator of the Left Block, we will see how the city breathes and thinks – from demonstrations and religious processions to courts and opposition meetings under FSB supervision.
One of Estonia's most prolific documentary filmmakers, Marianna Kaat, is directing and producing through Baltic Film Production, and Polish journalist and producer Dorota Roszkowska (The Mill and the Cross, Poste Restante) is also on board with Arkana Studio. The film is currently in production.
The Last Relic by Marianna Kaat
HBO Europe Award and Czech TV Co-production Award
The winner of two awards, Angels of Sinjar. Yazidis - 21st Century Genocide is set in the titular city in Iraqi Kurdistan after ISIS attempted to wipe out the Yazidi people. The film follows protagonist Hanifa and her two sisters as they try to free their three sisters who remain in ISIS captivity, focusing on their strength and courage to arise from victimhood, clawing their way back to life, and demanding justice and a lasting peace for the Yazidi population.
Poland's Hanna Polak (Something Better to Come, and an Oscar nomination for the short documentary Children of Leningradsky in 2005) is directing and producing through her own company, Hanna Polak Films, with Germany's Simone Baumann on board with Saxonia Entertainment. The project is in development and will result in two versions – one of 52 minutes and one of 90 minutes.
Angels of Sinjar. Yazidis - 21st Century Genocide by Hanna Polak
Current Time TV Award
Current Time TV decided to give out two awards, to the Russian project Holy Culture! and the Belarusian one The Place of Love.
Holy Culture! deals with the phenomenon of Houses of Culture, the USSR's famous cultural hubs that survived the collapse of the country. Now, the ruling party, United Russia, has earmarked millions of rubles for their revival in rural areas. Reconstruction works are well under way, but the authorities do not care about their creative content, which has not changed in years, and in addition, the investment is a great opportunity for money laundering. Despite all of this, employees of the Houses of Culture still demonstrate great enthusiasm for their work, although it is often misguided and results in content like hobby clubs for self-defence or twerking.
This tragicomic observational documentary is in development, directed by Ksenia Gapchencko (The Little Prince) and produced by Maria Chuprinskaya through Ethnofund.
Meanwhile, The Place of Love is a Belarusian project set in a social centre for mentally impaired people and follows four protagonists, two men and two women, among whom various romantic connections develop, while the film also explores their particular interests and capabilities. All of the characters’ illnesses are relatively minor, and they would be able to find a place in society if only it did not deny them the right to be a part of it.
This is the first feature-length documentary by director Liuba Zemtsova, who studied at the Wajda School under Marcel Lozinski, and Maria Yahorava and Nikolay Lavreniuk are producing through Minsk-based Illusion Film Company. The film is in post-production.
Golden Funnel Award
Amoosed! is a personal documentary by Czech filmmaker Hana Nováková, who uses her diary as a basis for this film about a strange connection she has with mooses. On her travels through Europe and Canada, she meets protagonists who all have something in common: they have taken part in various human attempts to deal with the moose, or to control it. While the moose remained the same, untameable creature after these encounters, the people were completely altered.
Kateřina Traburová is producing through Prague-based GURU Film, and Ondřej Šejnoha is on board as a co-producer with FAMU. The project is in development.
Amoosed! by Hana Nováková
IDFA Forum Award
The Journey to the End of the Night by director Ksenia Elyan (who worked as the DoP on My Friend Boris Nemtsov) follows a nomadic family that lives beyond the Arctic Circle in Russia. Each of the four children has his own reindeer and his own tundra for pasture. The local authorities decided to restore the “nomad schools” eradicated in the 1930s, and 23-year-old teacher Nelly found herself in the midst of the Zharkov family. As we follow the interaction between the teacher and the family’s youngest son, seven-year-old Zakhar, we gradually begin to see how the tables turn as the boy questions the way of thinking that the adults around him believe to be right.
Max Tuula and Maria Gavrilova are producing through Tallinn-based Marx Film, with Elyan and Alexander Rastorguev on board as co-producers. The film is in post-production.
Speed Meetings at DocsBarcelona
Slovakian filmmaker Peter Kerekes' project Wishing on a Star, made as a co-production between Italy's Videomante, Austria's Mischief Films, the Czech Republic's Artcam Films and Kerekes' own company, Peter Kerekes Film, won the main award at Trieste's When East Meets West in 2017. Read our story from that event here.
DOK Leipzig Co-Pro Meetings Award
Lessons of Love by Polish directors Malgorzata Goliszewska (the short documentary Type of Birds) and Katarzyna Mateja (Silence on the Way to Reindeer People) is an observational documentary with imaginative, fictional elements, about the elderly but ever-glamorous and cheerful lady Jola, who is trying to decide whether she should leave her abusive, alcoholic husband, whom she has been married to for 30 years. As she runs away from their home in Italy to her hometown of Szczecin, she meets an attractive gentleman who shows her love and respect, but she still believes that “a vow is a vow”.
The film is being produced by Anna Stylinska, whose recent credits include Pawel Lozinski's festival hit You Have No Idea How Much I Love You, through the Warsaw Film Center. It is currently in production.
Lessons of Love by Malgorzata Goliszewska and Katarzyna Mateja
DOK Preview Presentation Award
Hacking Friendship by Ukrainian filmmaker Oleksiy Radynski (Landslide, People Who Came to Power) is a film that draws parallels between the story of Viktor Glushkov’s projects in the USSR and current trends in technology, geopolitics and ecology. Glushkov was a visionary mathematician who came up with the project now called “the Soviet internet” in the early 1960s: a computer network that was supposed to manage information flows and run the Soviet economy. This project was halted by the officials, and he was asked to create a very different kind of network: a pipeline for fossil fuels. It was named Friendship and operates to this day, transporting oil from Siberia to Europe through Ukraine.
The producer of the film, Lyuba Koznorok, also worked on Radynski's earlier films, and served as line producer on Sharunas Bartas' Frost and production manager on Sergei Loznitsa's Donbas. The project is in development, and versions of 52 and 80 minutes are planned.