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REPORT: East Doc Platform 2023


- Cineuropa profiles the winning projects of this year's East Doc Platform

REPORT: East Doc Platform 2023
The winners of the 2023 East Doc Platform (© Adam Mráček)

The East Doc Platform, the largest industry platform for Central and Eastern European documentaries, organised by the Institute of Documentary Film, handed out the awards of its latest edition, which took place in Prague from 24-30 March. Cineuropa profiles the winning projects.

East Doc Platform Award
I Made a Mistake Coming Here - Kseniya Halubovich (France/USA)

This documentary, directed by Kseniya Halubovich, tells the story of Aziz's family, who are among thousands of refugees trapped in a cynical geopolitical conflict by the Lukashenko regime. In 2021, the regime invited thousands of people from the Middle East to Belarus, promising a path to the European Union. The family faces an uncertain future, with the loss of their identity and the separation from their country and values. The film documents the challenges faced by the family and the volunteers who assist them in making a legal path to safety. Produced by Louis Beaudemont of Les Steppes Productions and Current Time TV, I Made a Mistake Coming Here is in the late development stage, with producers seeking support from broadcasters, festivals, and producers in countries surrounding Belarus.

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Current Time TV Director's Award, HBO Max Award
The Soldier's Journey - Helena Maksyom (Romania/Ukraine)

This is a documentary film project by Ukrainian filmmaker Helena Maksyom (Everything Will Not Be Fine [+see also:
film review
interview: Helena Maksyom
film profile
) and Romanian producer Adrian Pirvu. The film follows Helena's personal journey from documentary filmmaker to soldier during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She began as a volunteer helping civilians escape war zones and eventually joined the military, leading a unit of 36 young men. The documentary captures Helena's experiences and the difficulties faced by soldiers and civilians during the war, with the aim of shedding light on the realities of conflict and the devastating impact it has on people's lives, as well as to honour the sacrifices made by those who have fought for their country. The project seeks partners to support Helena's filmmaking career and provide her with a safe space to grieve for her friends and edit the footage she has captured. The Soldier's Journey is a poignant story that reflects the experiences of individuals who are forced to take up arms to protect their loved ones during times of conflict, not only in Ukraine, but in any war-torn region.

East Doc Platform Special Mention, Cut Thru the Noise Award
May It Be a Girl - Katerina Suvorova (Kazakhstan/Austria)

Directed by Katerina Suvorova, co-produced by Aruan Anartaev and Ralph Wieser for Austria’s Mischief Films, this is a documentary that questions the tradition of name-giving in Kazakh society through the stories of several women who are named after their parents' wishes for them to be born as a son. The film follows the emotional journey of the main protagonist named Ulbolsyn — which literally means “may it be a boy” — who decides to change her name, as well as four or five secondary protagonists, with different ages and backgrounds, who also struggle with the tradition of name-giving and the role of women in Kazakh society. The director discovers her own personal trauma of being an unwanted child for her father, who always wanted a son instead of his two daughters, and this experience reflects on her life and connects her with the film's theme. The film is in the late development stage and is supported by the Swiss embassy in Kazakhstan and several UN organisations, as they anticipate a big impact campaign.

Czech TV Co-production Award, Docs Ireland Award
Cuba&Alaska - Yegor Troyanovsk (Ukraine/France)

Cuba&Alaska is a documentary film directed by Yegor Troyanovsk about two young paramedics, Cuba and Alaska, who live and work in the war-torn Kharkiv region of Ukraine. Despite the sadness of war, they share good humour and a belief in victory while saving lives on the front lines. The film follows their journey over a long period of time, under difficult circumstances, as they cope with the grim reality of war without giving up on their aspirations and hopes for a life without conflict. Cuba is a well-known fashion designer in Ukraine and continues to work even on the front lines, while Alaska is a quiet and creative person who plans to participate in rebuilding Ukraine after the war. However, Alaska was recently wounded by Russian kamikaze drones, and the film captures her transformation through her drawings, which will be used as animation in the documentary. Cuba&Alaska is a highly immersive and intimate portrayal of life at war, as well as a story of women's friendship, emotional burdens, and dreams for a peaceful future. The film, produced by Olga Beskhmelnytsina (2Brave Productions) in co-production with Christian Popp (Tag Film), has already received development support from various organisations and won the Unifrance Award at CPH:DOX, and is now seeking pre-sales and festival screenings.

Ex Oriente Fine Cut Award, DOK Leipzig Accelerator Award for DOK Preview Training
European Union Wolf - Jadran Boban (Croatia)

Directed by Jadran Boban (That Other Village) and produced by Dana Budisavljević (Hulahop), the story is set in Croatia, near the popular tourist destinations on the Adriatic Sea, where the local population believes that the state and the EU are conspiring to displace them by systematically populating wolves in the area. The film follows Anna, a state official and scientist who investigates the attacks and encounters a world full of prejudice, suspicion, conspiracy theories, and myths. While one of the state inspectors is frustrated with the villagers' beliefs, Anna recognises the harsh reality of their poverty, social isolation, powerlessness, and inability to control their lives. She eventually accepts the shepherds and even buys a ruined house in one of the depopulated villages with the intention to renovate it and live there for the rest of her life. The film is currently in production and expected to be completed by September. The producers are seeking partners in the post-production phase and are interested in talking to potential broadcasters, interested festivals, and sales agents.

Golden Funnel Award, DOK Leipzig Accelerator Award for DOK Co-Pro Market
War on Women - Flabba (Estonia)

The project concludes a year-long investigation across Europe to uncover the links and structures of dangerous organisations that are waging a hybrid war against the constitutional rights of citizens in liberal democracies. The jury commends the project for its comprehensive and analytical approach to exposing organisations that are both unknown to the public and intentionally concealed. The ultimate goal of this dangerous network is to dismantle the secular state and establish an ultra-conservative dictatorship. War on Women is produced by Volia Chajkouskaya for Allfilm.

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