Astra film Festival 2023 jury
central and eastern european competition

Edward Lawrenson

Edward Lawrenson is a Scottish filmmaker and writer based in London. His films have played at a number of festivals, including Sundance, BFI London, Cinéma du Réel, True/False and Open City. He has also made radio documentaries for BBC Radio 4. Lawrenson’s 2014 documentary Abandoned Goods (codirected with Pia Borg) won the Golden Leopard for Best International Short at the Locarno Film Festival. Uppland, the 2018 film he made with Killian Doherty, premiered at Cinema du Réel. It is distributed in the United States by Grasshopper Film and on VoD through True Story. His most recent film, A Safer Place (2021), premiered at the Second International Conference on the Rohingya Crisis hosted by University College London and is available on VoD through True Story. He teaches documentary practice at University College London.

Marco Bertozzi

Marco Bertozzi is part of that group of authors who, in recent years, have contributed to the rebirth of Italian documentary filmmaking, combining authorial activity with a strong historical-theoretical interest and cultural promotion. Full Professor of Documentary and Experimental Cinema at the IUAV University of Venice, he deals with documentary cultures, theories and practices of experimentation, the relationship between cinema and other arts, and the history of Italian cinema. Among his books: "History of the Italian documentary. Images and cultures of other cinema" (2008), "Recycled cinema" (2012), "Fellini's Italy. Images, landscapes, forms of life" (2021). He has curated exhibitions on Italian cinema in Italy and abroad and was part, with Studio Azzurro, of the team that designed the Fellini Museum in Rimini. His films include Appunti romani (2004), Il senso degli altri (2007) and Predappio in luce (2008). In 2022 he was awarded the Minister of Culture Prize for art criticism.

Surabhi Sharma

Surabhi Sharma has been an independent filmmaker making feature-length documentaries and short films since 2000. Her documentaries, fiction, and video installations engage with cities in transition using the lens of labor, music, and migration. Her works have been screened at international film festivals like Dubai IFF, Yamagata IDFF, MAMI Mumbai FF, among others. She has also created video installations that have been exhibited at the Serpentine Gallery, London; nGbK, Berlin, Shenzhen and Hong Kong Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture and the 11th Shanghai Biennale. Her films have been recognized and awarded at several important film festivals. Surabhi Sharma is faculty and Program Head of the Film and New Media program at the New York University in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

new voices in documentary competition

Baljit Sangra

Baljit Sangra is a Vancouver-based filmmaker who uses documentaries to explore social and cross-cultural issues. Her films shine a light on underrepresented and marginalized voices and stories. An award-winning filmmaker, Sangra’s films have routinely premiered at festivals worldwide. Her highest profile film is the NFB-produced feature documentary Because We Are Girls, exploring the impact of sexual abuse on a Punjabi family living in British Columbia. After a world premiere at Hot Docs FF, Because We Are Girls clocked in over 18 million minutes viewed on Amazon. Other documentaries include the award-winning Many Rivers Home, Have You Forgotten Me, Warrior Boyz, and Hockey United. Baljit runs her own production company Viva Mantra Films Inc, which line-produced several international projects for leading Bollywood production companies and the BBC. She is a Directors Guild of Canada member. She also is on the national board of the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC) and Hot Docs.

Liviu Lucaci

Liviu Lucaci is Prof. univ. dr. habil. and Rector of the National Film School I.L. Caragiale in Bucharest, theatre and film actor, theatre director, writer, playwright and translator. He graduated from the National Film School in 1994 in the class of Professor Ion Cojar. In 2005 he defended his doctoral thesis titled "Actor as a Player". An actor of the "I.L. Caragiale" National Theatre in Bucharest, Liviu Lucaci has impressed with dozens of memorable roles on stage. He has collaborated as an actor and director with the most important cultural institutions in Romania, including the Comedy Theatre, the Odeon Theatre and the Jewish State Theatre. He has published several books, such as "The Birth of the Actor", and has written plays that brought him nominations and awards at the UNITER Gala, such as "Nostalgic Travellers", "O, New World!" and "Brothers of the Cross".

Richard Alwyn

Richard Alwyn began making documentary films in 1988 after several years of teaching English at the Sorbonne University in Paris. He quickly became one of the most distinctive and distinguished documentary makers of his generation. Specialising in intimate portraits of ordinary people often caught at extraordinary moments in their lives, his films have been made and shown throughout the world. In 2006, he won one of Europe’s most highly coveted documentary awards, the Prix Italia, for The Beslan Siege. In 2002 he made his first fiction film for the BBC, the BAFTA-nominated Stopping Distance. He subsequently co-wrote the story of the Rwanda genocide feature film, Shooting Dogs. Recent documentary work includes two trilogies for BBC Four, Catholics and Cathedrals, and a film about the loss of the ability to use language, Speechless. Since 2020 he has been Associate Professor of Documentary Film at University College London.

romania competition

Ana Aleksovska 

Ana Aleksovska is a film director from Macedonia. She graduated film directing at ESRA Bretagne and FAMU International’s APP, and also holds a MA in General and Comparative Literature from Sorbonne Nouvelle. Her short documentary Consuming Contemporary (2019) premiered internationally at Hot Docs IDFF (2020) and won FeKK’s Grand Prix and Küstendorf’s Bronze Egg. At the moment she works on the animated documentary Hide and Seek. Her other projects include directing the documentary TV series Home and environmental documentaries for the platform Doma. She is Future Ecologies with Ben Rivers Workshop (2020), Ji.hlava Academy (2021) and CEEA Workshop (2022) alumna. She has also published short fiction stories in Macedonian literature magazines. 

Ana Vlad 

Since 2022, Ana Vlad has been the coordinator of the Documentary Film Master program at the National Film School in Bucharest. She is a university lecturer and film director. Together with Adrian Voicu she directed the documentaries Metrobranding, Victoria and the series Romanians Abroad. Her films have been shown at festivals such as CPH:DOX, DOK Leipzig, Visions du Réel, Jihlava Film Festival, Astra Film Festival, among others, and broadcasted on HBO, the Romanian National Television, Netflix etc. She studied film directing at the National Film School in Bucharest and participated in many postgraduate programs including Archidoc, at the Parisian university La Fémis. Together with Adrian Voicu she is the co-owner of the production company Pătratul Roșu.

Marc Isaacs

Since 2001, Marc Isaacs has made more than 20 creative documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4. His films have won Grierson, Royal Television Society and BAFTA awards as well as numerous international film festival prizes. In 2006, Marc had a retrospective at the prestigious Lussas Documentary Film Festival in France and his work has been included in numerous documentary books and academic studies. In 2008, Marc received an honorary doctorate from the University of East London for his documentary work. Marc is a guest tutor at the London Film School, the National Film and Television School and Royal Holloway University. His 2020 film The Filmmaker's House was screened in cinemas and at film festivals worldwide. In his honor, Astra Film Festival will screen This Blessed Plot, his most recent feature documentary due for release in late 2023.

docschool competition

Alexandra Colta

With an extensive experience in curation and production, Alexandra Colta joined the Scottish Documentary Institute team in 2019 to work on the distribution strategy for the films produced through the Bridging the Gap programme. Previously, she was Festival Producer for Document Human Rights Film Festival in Glasgow and Distribution Assistant for Alien Film in Romania. In 2019, Alexandra obtained her PhD from the University of Glasgow, for her collaborative practice-oriented research on the politics of programming in human rights film festivals. She is passionate about the creative potential of the documentary form, and is eager to support filmmakers at different stages of their career, and to grow audiences around documentaries.

Apostolos Karakasis 

Apostolos Karakasis studied film in the UK at West Surrey College of Art & Design and has been active in the Greek documentary scene over the last 25 years as a director and editor. His work for Greek public television ERT includes over 20 films on cultural and historical topics. His independent cinematic work is focused on common people's stories, shot in an observational style in feature films such as National Garden (2009) and Next Stop: Utopia (2015), both of which receiving awards at international festivals and later being distributed in cinemas. He is Head of the School of Film of the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki.

Ognjen Glavonić

Ognjen Glavonić is a filmmaker from Pančevo, Serbia. His films have been shown at festivals in Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, Rotterdam and numerous others, winning several awards. Ognjen is also the director and co-founder of the Pančevo Film Festival. He debuted in 2014 with Živan Makes a Punk, a medium-length documentary, and two years later he released his first documentary feature, Depth Two, which was selected at the 2016 edition of Astra Film Festival. In 2018 he debuted in fiction with The Load.