Eight Documentary Projects Presented at dok.incubator Preview

    The Pawnshop by Łukasz Kowalski The Pawnshop by Łukasz Kowalski

    PRAGUE: Eight projects developed in the dok.incubator workshop in 2020 were introduced in a live online broadcast on 9 February 2020 in a carefully curated presentation. They were selected for their unique cinematic potential from over one hundred submitted rough cuts. The films were intensively developed throughout 2020 with tutors and experts during and in between three sessions and are all ready for release in the near future.

    The year 2020 marked the ninth edition of dok.incubator. Six films from three previous years premiered at Sundance, two of them awarded. Three were launched at Berlinale, one nominated for an Emmy. Last year four dok.incubator films were selected by their respective countries to represent them at the 2021 Academy Awards. As the CEO of dok.incubator Andrea Prenghyová commented, every documentary production presented at this Preview has been hit by coronavirus consequences. The Preview itself took place virtually with moderator Karolina Lidin seated in Copenhagen, technical support in Prague and participants all over Europe, Middle East and Asia. „The year 2020 has been a year when we as the rest of the world reinvented ourselves in new virtual surroundings,“ remarked Lidin.

    The first presented documentary, Life of Ivanna, is also the first feature of director Renato Borrayo Serrano. The film follows a Nomadic reindeer herder Ivanna living in Siberia wilderness some 6000 km from Moscow. „She is forced to abandon her traditional way of life in the tundra and emigrate to the city in search for a better new life for her and her five children. She also tries to liberate herself from her violent and drinking husband,“ says Serrano, who has been following the strong-willed and charismatic protagonist for four years. „It is both a film about finding freedom against all odds and a melancholic requiem for the lost way of life in the tundra.“ The trailer shows vast Siberian landscapes with reindeer herds and children frolicking in the snow, contrasting with urban wasteland of city projects from Soviet era. According to the producer Vlad Ketkovich the film is almost ready to launch, looking for a sales agent. The estimated date of release is April 2021.

    In We Are Inside director Farah Kassem tries to reconnect with her ailing father Mustapha, 52 years older than her. Kassem returns to her hometown Tripoli, Lebanon's second largest city, after being separated from Mustapha for fourteen years. She realises the only way to reconcile with him is through his beloved poetry. She even tries to become the first female member of Mustapha's all-male poetry club. Interspersed with this deeply personal story is the recent history of Lebanon, plagued with sectarian violence, Tax Intifada protests, Beirut port explosion and other setbacks. The material shows intimate conversations between father and daughter as well as mass manifestations in the streets, capturing the recent upheavals in Lebanon's society. „We are currently in the middle of editing aiming for one last round of shooting because we want to follow the effects of the current situation in Lebanon on our protagonist,“ comments producer Cynthia Choucair. We plan to release the film in early 2023.“

    Untitled Turkey Project is the working title for a documentary about a Turkish lawyer and human rights defender Eren Keskin. A freedom fighter for many marginalised communities including LGBT for thirty years, she is now facing lifetime imprisonment. However, she doesn't let go of her goal not only to defend individual rights but to fight for the democratisation of Turkey as a whole. Director Maria Binder has known Keskin for more than twenty years and gained unprecedented access to her. „Who is this person, what is driving her, why doesn't she leave the country as many others did?“ Binder poses these questions in her film. „Above all I want to look at how you can resist autocratic nationalistic systems without betraying yourself in the process,“ adds the director. The film has concluded filming and will launch as soon as possible this year.

    How to Kill a Cloud is a film about ambition, climate and ethics,“ says its director Tuija Halttunen. Her protagonist, extremely ambitious elite scientist Hannele Korhonen from Finland, has been awarded a 1.5 million USD research grant by the United Arab Emirates to participate in their ambitious project to stimulate rainfall over the notoriously arid region. However, Korhonen soon realises her work forces her to face ethical dilemmas. „We paid a lot of attention to the visual storytelling. The sound design concentrates on inner conflicts and inner life of the main character,“ Halttunen said of the shots of stunning desert beauty and atmospheric cloud formations accompanied by a middle-eastern soundtrack. „I'd like the audience to experience this film Brotherhood by Francesco Montagneremotionally. To feel the complexity of the choices and vision in our life,“ adds the director. After more than three years of filming the project is now in the final stages of production and should be finalised in a month, according to producer Niina Virtanen.

    Diagnonsense is an intimate self-portrait of first-time director Ane-Martha Tamnes Hansgård. „Through the camera I tried to find out why I was diagnosed with over ten different psychiatric disorders before I was 30 years old,“ she says about the background of her film, in which she combines her own archive footage, her dance performances and abstract visuals. Alarming yet poetic, the film consists of several layers both narratively and in terms of film material. „I hope this film will stimulate a debate about the paradigm that is practiced in the psychiatric health system,“ says Hansgård. „But it's equally important that the film speaks to others who have or have had similar experiences. Who also feel that they lost a part of themselves to that system.“ The film is in the editing process and expected to open in January 2022.

    The Labudović Reels takes its name from Stevan Labudović, the cameraman of former Yugoslav president Tito. Labudović’ archive was long forgotten after the breakup of Yugoslavia. After having stumbled upon the reels director Mila Turajlić thought she would make a behind the curtain look at the political use of filmed propaganda. Instead, she discovered a different story. „Stevan's images are testimonies of exciting and dramatic times in the 1950s and 1960s when one fifth of the world's population won their freedom from colonialism,“ says the director. „Stevan and his camera became a weapon in a propaganda war over who gets to tell the story of the decolonising world.“ Archive footage from Algeria, Mali, Egypt and many other countries shows wars, public manifestations, conferences of national leaders and other scenes from the world reaching for its freedom. „We are still in the editing process, looking for completion funding and broadcast partner,“ adds producer Carine Chichkowsky.

    The Pawnshop takes place in a derelict Silesian town, where an extraordinary couple run the biggest pawnshop in Central Europe. It is much more than a place full of used things and often bizarre items: it also serves as a community centre, a refuge for the poor and hopeless, a sanctuary where human dignity can be found again. However, Jola and Wiesiek, who have been running the place for more than twenty years, are in the middle of a business and relationship crisis... The footage shows surreal scenes where a number of picaresque characters exist amidst tens of thousands of items neatly arranged in a huge warehouse. „It is a story about love, community and people who try to survive while helping those weaker than themselves. It gives hope and shows that bad fate can be changed,“ comments director Lukasz Kowalski. „The characters could comfortably fit in a Kusturica film as well as in the films of Ken Loach,“ adds producer Anna Mazerant. „However, the story itself is very dramatic and resembles the fate of the Titanic.“ Editing being in the final stage, The Pawnshop should be released in a few months.

    Brotherhood tells a story of three young brothers born in a religious family of shepherds in the mountains in Bosnia. It is an intimate exploration of youth, masculinity and the search for identity in a society ruled by men,“ says director Francesco Montagner about his documentary he spent five years on making. He managed to gain a unique access to a community of radical Muslims. One of its religious leaders serves a two-year sentence in prison for crimes related to terrorism. In the meantime, his three sons must decide what kind of men they want to become. The boys are shown taking care of sheep, enjoying their free time in the countryside or in a club, playing soldiers, discussing their future or reflecting in the light of a campfire. „It is an universal story about masculinity, about finding identity, about dealing with the presence of a strong father,“ says Montagner who grew up in a similar environment. „The audience could be reflecting on how hard it is for all of us to determine our own destiny by letting go of parents and brothers in order to be who we truly want to be,“ says the director. „Postproduction of Brotherhood should be finished by April,“ says producer Dagmar Sedláčková.

    Find more information here: https://dokincubator.net/preview-2020/