Astra Film Festival’s industry program – DocumentaryTank@AFF – has grown for its fourth edition into a non-fiction regional event, which includes AstraFilmLab, a successful documentary development lab. Based on the foundation of previous years as we note the successful completion of projects that were presented in our industry program, including three films presented in world premiere in the Astra Film Festival competition: Profu’/ Teach (Alex Brendea), Best Documentary in the Romanian competition at Astra Film Festival and Best Central and East European Documentary Film 2019 in Jihlava IFF Between the Seas competition; The Man Who Would Be Free (Mihai Mincan and George Chiper-Lillemark); and The Soviet Garden (Dragos Turea).
A productive first edition of AstraFilmLab
Set up as a three-day intensive project development lab, AstraFilmLab gave participants from the ten selected projects the opportunity to receive constructive feedback and advice before the successful presentation of their projects in a public pitch to a packed assembly of industry professionals.
Besides constructive feedback and initial discussions on possible future collaborations, three projects also received awards.
Our Men (directed by Mirona Radu) – a project about women who persevere despite everyday struggles – received the AstraFilmLab Development Award, offered by HBO Europe. The industry jury decided to award this project, as it deals “with a taboo topic of domestic violence, the director picked exciting characters, and the visual and written presentation of the project shows a lot of potential.”
Legaturi/ Heavy Roots (directed by Jacopo Marzi), a project about a small minority that relocated from Transylvania to Germany who struggles to maintain and sustain their traditions and identities, received the AstraFilmLab Post-Production Award, offered by CineLab Romania. The jury considered that for “an outsider to try to understand this world is a courageous decision” and the project demonstrated “a clear coherent narrative and cinematic approach”
Telciu (directed by Vlad Petri), received the AstraFilmLab Most Promising Project Award, offered by Pitch the Doc, for “a promising attempt to approach with a touch of humour, a universal topic of passing away, in relation to life and traditions, on the background of small Transylvanian village, we are eager to see the project go beyond beaten paths and schemes.”
Extracts from some stimulating discussions
Peter Dale, also a member of the Astra Film Festival Jury, expanded and shared with the industry and festival audience about his complex and complicated experience of being a commissioning editor. The discussion in full is available on AFF’s Facebook page.
In a panel on the opportunities offered by the MEDIA program for single and slate project funding, producer Irina Malcea noted: ‘As the competition is fierce, it is important for the MEDIA applications that the project is well developed and the producer has a clear structure for the paths and strategies that they intend to follow. What I find most useful in doing a MEDIA application is that as complex as they are, they give me a structure to follow’.
The challenges of Making your first documentary were summed up by Ksenia Okhapina, whose film Immortal won Best Documentary in the International Competition, who noted that despite difficulties or challenges in working with subjects, sometimes in adverse circumstances, and with limited funding, it is imperative for young filmmakers to keep their passion for telling a story and their visual aesthetic.
In the panel From Script to Screen, on project development Hanka Kastelicova noted on the usefulness of attending development workshops as “you have to pitch to many different people, and you see to what they react, and when you need more. Because if you learn in the early stage of development you can address these issues, if you go pitching late and you have issues, then you have to go back and find very creative ways putting some very important information in the film”.
Successful stories of previous DocumentaryTank@AFF
We are very happy to note that besides the projects that participated in previous editions and were completed, some of the projects presented in 2018 are advancing nicely in their development and we look forward to seeing them completed.
The Illiberal Society and its Enemies (dir. Ruxandra Gubernat), which received in 2018 the Romanian Docs in Progress Development Award offered by HBO is being developed as a 6 episode series with HBO, and coproduced with Sorin Manu (Evolution Art&Film, Germany) and with Monica Lazurean-Gorgan (Manifest Film, Romania) as executive coproducer, all of whom had met during the 2018 DocumentaryTank@AFF edition.
Home (dir. Radu Ciorniciuc), which received in 2018 the Romanian Docs in Progress Post-Production Award offered by CineLab Romania, is in final post-production stage and will be completed soon.
Too Close (dir. Botond Pusok), which is being coproduced by Irina Malcea (Luna Film), was also presented in the 2018 Romanian Docs in Progress projects is also progressing nicely.
We look forward to seeing these and all the other projects presented in the industry program at Astra Film Festival at international film festivals, and in distribution soon!
The city of Sibiu and Astra Film Festival present a perfect place to meet and network with fellow filmmakers. From the compact size of the city to the numerous opportunities to network during shared lunches, dinners, happy hours and parties where the guests had the space to create fruitful discussions, we noticed with pleasure that our guests were not only participants in an industry program but a community of like-minded, friendly, passionate, engaged people. To them, and to all who have made this program a possibility, go our profound thanks.
See you in 2020 in Sibiu!