REPORT: dok.incubator 2023
- We delve into the projects partaking in this year’s edition, comprising a compelling selection of documentaries, each offering a unique perspective on critical global issues
The 2023 edition of dok.incubator (see the news) continues to uphold its tradition of nurturing and refining documentary projects with a global impact. Each year, dok.incubator selects eight documentary projects. The 2023 edition showcased an array of titles from Europe, Iran and Bhutan, whose teams went through three sessions in April (rough cut), June and July (fine cut), and then October (picture lock). The initiative showcased all eight projects in front of more than 120 industry professionals on 28 November.
Racing Hearts - Milla Bergh (Sweden)
Racing Hearts profiles Ewy Rosqvist and Ursula Wirth, the first female duo to win the Argentina Gran Premio for Mercedes-Benz, in 1962. The film, also reflecting on Milla Bergh's own experience of never driving, explores the pair’s groundbreaking success in the male-dominated world of racing. It features unique historical footage by Ursula, providing insights into their journey and the era's societal norms. Racing Hearts also examines gender roles, ambition and time, incorporating Bergh's personal reflections. Produced by Martin Bergh, of Escathon, and funded by the Swedish Film Institute and Konstnärsnämnden, the film’s team is seeking additional funding, broadcasters and co-producers for ongoing production.
Abortion Dream Team - Karolina Domagalska (Poland)
This documentary details the Abortion Dream Team's activism in Poland following the strict abortion ban of October 2020. It focuses on Natalia, Karolina, Justyna and Kinga, who operate a hotline guiding women to abortion services at home or clinics abroad. The film captures their personal and collective experiences within the national women's rights movement, as they face challenges like burnout, political prosecution and threats to their personal safety. It delves into their motivations, the evolution of their activism and its societal impact. Produced by Anna Stylińska, of Paprika Studios, and co-produced with My Way Studio, the completed film is seeking a festival premiere and collaborators for an international impact campaign.
Fakir – Roman Ďuriš (Slovakia/Czech Republic/Poland)
In this debut feature, 23-year-old Dalibor, freshly released from a two-year stretch in prison, discovers his younger brother, 12-year-old Kevin, still enduring their abusive, alcoholic father. Determined to save Kevin, Dalibor seeks custody of him while navigating their family's dysfunction. He finds refuge and renewal in a travelling circus, training as a fakir, which helps him confront and heal from past trauma. His quest to protect Kevin and break free from a cycle of pain symbolises his struggle for a new identity. Produced by Simona Bago Móciková, of Bright Sight Pictures, the film, supported by Slovak broadcaster RTVS, is near completion. The team is after a sales agent for a spring 2024 festival premiere, with all rights available.
Nice Ladies - Mariia Ponomarova (Netherlands/Ukraine)
This film, a documentary set amidst Ukraine's escalating conflict, spotlights the Nice Ladies, a cheerleading squad of women aged over 50. They face the challenges of war, which test their resilience and unity. Key member Sveta relocates to the Netherlands, while captain Valia and coach Nadia stay in besieged Kharkiv. Physically apart, they battle war traumas, including Sveta's survivor's guilt, yet strive to stay connected, supporting each other through their passion for cheerleading. The film questions whether their bond can withstand the trauma of war. Dedicated to “women who resist”, the film by director Ponomarova and producer Rogier Kramer, of Labyrint Film, with international rights handled by CAT&Docs, is seeking festivals, broadcasters and distributors.
Just Hear Me Out - Malgorzata Imielska (Poland)
After seven years in mental hospitals due to schizophrenia, Gosia returns home, seeking an ordinary life, like any young woman. She grapples with inner voices that threaten her and her loved ones, posing challenges for her and her worried parents. The film also explores the rehabilitation of convicts and the various bureaucratic hurdles, highlighting the near-impossibility of the task. Despite these setbacks, the determined Gosia perseveres, even at the expense of her personal life. Produced by Adrianna Rędzia, of Kalejdoskop Film Studio, with Polish National TV serving as a co-producer, the film delves into the complexities of mental health and societal challenges. The movie will be ready by January 2024, and all world rights, excluding Poland, are available. The producers are looking for impact partners, sales agents and festivals.
Mina and the Radio Bandits – Kari Anne Moe (Norway)
Mina champions the power of words and second chances through "The Bandit Radio", a prison-based show. Despite societal indifference, she sees the radio as a lifeline for inmates like Dennis, Josh and volatile ex-convict Rune, in whom she recognises a part of herself. Facing rehabilitation challenges and bureaucracy, Mina's resolve remains firm, although it puts strains on her personal life. Moe is readying two versions of the documentary: a feature-length format for cinemas and a TV format. Gudmundur Gunnarsson, of Fuglene, is producing, and he is looking for broadcasters and distribution partners.
If Freedom Were a Song – Leila Amini (Iran/France/Switzerland)
The picture follows the director’s sister Nasreen’s journey from being a music-loving youth in Tehran to a housewife trapped in an arranged marriage. Nasreen, once silenced by her husband Mohamad, rekindles her passion for singing – a bold act in a country where women's voices are often suppressed. Over seven years, Amini films Nasreen's struggle with depression and identity, leading to her eventual emancipation. This change not only transforms Nasreen, but also inspires their family and potentially even their country. The producer, Afsaneh Salari of Docmaniacs (with co-producer Mira Film also on board), is still planning to raise additional funds while also pursuing sales agents and festivals.
Agent of Happiness [+see also:
film profile] - Arun Bhattarai, Dorottya Zurbo (Bhutan/Hungary)
The directorial duo examines Bhutan's unique Gross National Happiness through the eyes of Amber, a 40-year-old agent responsible for gauging people's happiness. Despite his role, Amber, who still lives with his mother and belongs to the disenfranchised Nepali minority, hasn't measured his own happiness. A hopeless romantic, he faces challenges in finding love due to his lack of citizenship. The documentary explores Amber's journey and his interactions with various Bhutanese people, questioning the effectiveness of actually quantifying happiness. Agent of Happiness will have a cinematic and a TV version, and is being produced by Match Frame Productions and co-produced by Sound Pictures.
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