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Nadja Tennstedt • Direttrice sezione industry, DOK Leipzig

“Non è un festival pretenzioso e ha un'atmosfera accogliente e invitante. Voglio costruire su questo"


- Abbiamo parlato con la responsabile industry di DOK Leipzig del suo primo anno nel suo nuovo ruolo

Nadja Tennstedt • Direttrice sezione industry, DOK Leipzig
(© Anna Rozkosny)

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Nadja Tennsted’s first year as head of industry at DOK Leipzig is in full swing, after she took over from long-time head Brigid O’Shea. Before joining the team in Leipzig, Tennstedt coordinated DocSalon, the documentary film platform at the Berlinale’s European Film Market (EFM), leading networking and community building activities within the documentary industry. Cineuropa sat down with her to catch up, during the 64th edition of DOK Leipzig, which for the first time is on offer both online and onsite.

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Cineuropa: This is your first year as head of industry, how is that?
Nadja Tennstedt:
I was very excited to dive right in and help organise the industry offerings. It has also been challenging, of course, in a year like this, where we have set up a hybrid edition of the festival. We all have learned how to do onsite events, that’s what we’re good at. And last year of course we all had to find a way to organise an online event. I did that in Berlin, and my colleagues here had the same experiences. And this time we had to turn everything over again to go hybrid! It is not easy to combine these worlds, but I think we managed well. You’re pretty much setting up two separate industry programmes, with the staff for one. Luckily we have an amazing team who did their best to convey the charm of an onsite event into the digital space. And I believe markets will continue to have a hybrid component. As for the entire Industry programme, I am really proud of our slate of programming. Most of our onsite events such as the pitching formats DOK Preview Germany and DOK Preview Training and the talk on the amazing Generation Africa initiative are also streamed and available to much bigger audiences.

We also did the second season of the DOK Industry podcast series with topics around the uneven distribution of resources in the doc landscape and continued lack of access for professionals and creatives from equity seeking groups. The podcast features curators and moderators of the Programmers of Colour Collective and What’s Up with Docs podcast. The festival will continue to resonate, as people can check back in and find more content.

How did it work? What lessons can you take from it?
The short answer is that the hybrid format worked. We’ve had 35 projects in the DOK Co-Pro Market from 38 countries. The teams of more than half of the projects were in Leipzig and half were elsewhere. The same goes for the decision makers. It is always a puzzle to organize the 900 one-on-one meetings, but now we had to account for all the possible variations, and facilitate the infrastructure for the meetings to take place in different “spaces”. Sometimes half a team was here, and the other half abroad, for example. And then there’s also the different time zones. It was a big sudoku puzzle. But these are really targeted and purposeful meetings so the barrier isn’t that big. Both parties know what they want and can get down to business, so for those types of meetings, online works out. Of course everyone definitely prefers a personal encounter, because you get to meet people in a different way. But I think for targeted meetings, the online component is not so bad. Especially when it allows us to bring people in that are not able to travel or are attending other festivals at the same time. In that way, we can also include projects that come from afar. It is limiting in one sense, but it also opens up immensely.

How will you build on this for editions to come?
I wanted to use this edition to really take stock and to see how we will shape the coming edition. I've been here as a guest before and had a clear idea of why I liked it so much; it is not a very pretentious festival, and it has a cozy and inviting atmosphere. I want to build on that. And there are already some ideas taking shape. Since last year, we’ve used the online component to support projects already before they come to the market. We discovered you can do preparation workshops ahead of time and also work on community building among the participants of our various programmes. That way, the actual week here could become more effective and we could make it a bit more sustainable, and support projects beyond the festival.

Could this set-up also attract creatives from more marginalised communities?
That is something we are constantly thinking about. DOK Industry has been thinking and working on diversifying the industry and facilitating entrance to the market for equity-seeking professionals for many years. But how to put it into practice is something else. Just a small example: many people think the internet is a tool that makes it easier to access the international market,  but it is not the complete answer either. For the simple reason that not everyone and every corner of the globe has access to a stable connection. 

This is also the case within Germany itself, not just abroad. An important approach was and continues to be to form alliances with organisations by and for creatives and professionals from equity-seeking groups. We want to reach underrepresented communities and equity-seeking creatives, and that starts with making ourselves known, at eye level and collaboratively. I also think it is a long-term process that has many entry points. We have to continuously work on it and on many different aspects and not let up. It is also about diversifying our own team, for example.

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