With speakers like António Guterres, Jan Grarup, Lisa Witter and Christina Lamb, the Human Rights Film Forum 2020 offered us diverse perspectives on storytelling. The feedback of the community was simply amazing. We want to continue our efforts through smaller events throughout the year and the frist event was the European Documentary Day offering a deeper understanding of impact producing, audience development or media politics. We are extremly thankful for the support of the Berliner Senatskanzlei.
We opened with a discussion on “The Future of European Documentaries” with Rada Sesic (critic, programmer and filmmaker), Daniel Saltzwedel (Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg), Nils Bökamp (commissioning editor Netflix) and Jan Rofekamp (producer and world sales agent). All experts agreed that the future of European Documentaries is bright, because there are lots of interesting and strong stories and we see a huge interest in the audience. The second main takeaway is that a good subject for yourfilm is not enough, you need excellent storytelling to for your documentary to transport it. The third main point the experts made is that we have to go with time and that documentaries have to become more visible, also by using various distribution ways.
Rada Sesic is a critic, filmmaker, lecturer and festival programmer. She is specialized in South Asian and Eastern European cinema. Takes part in the selection of competition at IDFA, collaborates with IFFR and is a member of the Hubert Bals Fund and Doha Film Fund. Head of the documentary competition at Sarajevo FF and co-head of the Docu Rough Cut Boutique (started 2010). Artistic director of Eastern Neighbours Film Festival (the Hague, started in 2009). Head of Last Stop Trieste. Directed several awards winning shorts and documentaries in Yugoslavia and The Netherlands. Her films and video installations have been exhibited at more than 60 festivals and archived at MOMA. Lectures at Master of film at The Dutch Film Academy Amsterdam. Was on selection for EFA documentaries 2020 and is a member of NETPAC.
Nils Bökamp is one of the founder of the production company Boekamp & Kriegsheim and produced numerous award winning documentaries and documentary series. He has directed, written and produced documentaries and fiction features for over a decade, recent credits include docuseries: 'Day Zero', documentary feature 'Green Gap' and the development of 'ACT Up' – a drama series based on LGBT History. Nils joined Netflix in 2019 and is commissions Original Documentaries. Additionally, he is a founding Member of Media Frontline e. V., a non-profit organisation of award-winning media representatives.
Zeynep Güzel managed Turkey's first private documentary fund "Yeni Film Fund" between the years 2015-2019. She has a background in screenwriting and documentary production, produced the feature-length documentary “Beginnings” and was the writer-director-producer of her own debut experimental documentary “Come Rain or Shine”. Currently she is based in Berlin, works on her first narrative feature film and is a freelance documentary consultant for the Documentary Association of Europe.
Jan Rofekamp founded Films Transit in 1982 and has been involved with sales and production of quality documentaries ever since. Today moreIn the role as of a consultant and a pitch-result analyst (de-briefing), he currently participates at workshops at many important documentary events and festivals consulting hundreds of producers and filmmakers. Some Exec producer credits: The End of the Century: The Story of The Ramones, Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust, Dolphin Man, Something Better to Come, Sugar Coated, Fixed! A Football Comedy,. Bill Frisell - A Portrait.
Daniel Saltzwedel is Funding Executive for High End Series, Drama and Development and Production of Documentary Formats for the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg. His previous professional stations include activities as a consultant at Dox-Consulting, as a content developer at Ma.ja.de. film production and as producer and manager at zero one / zero fiction film Berlin.
The second discussion was on “The Role of European Documentaries for European Societies” with Margje de Koning (Movies That Matter), Nicole van Schaik (DOC SOCIETY), Dylan Williams (Producer & Director) and Paul Rieth (Audience Development Consultant).We started the discussion with the impact campaign of “The Borneo Case” as a best-case example and it really showed that change can be achieved if the right actors join forces. Another important take-away was the importance to include the communities and characters involved in the film in the public outreach strategy, also to avoid taking away the ownership over their stories. In this context another point that all experts could agree on was that we –as documentary filmmakers –need to think outside of the box if we want our films to travel beyond film festivals and broadcasters. We need to think about audience development and dare to try new venues. And we should be creative with our films in order to create impact and initiate social change.
Margje de Koning is the artistic director of the annual Dutch film festival Movies that Matters. She has a long background in documentary film making and film producing that mainly have human-centered perspective and that are focusing on socio-cultural and moral issues.
Nicole is Director of Development at Doc Society. She strategizes with filmmakers and impact producers on how they can use their films as a strategic tool for social or environmental change.
Dylan Williams is a producer and owner of BACKFLIP. He has many years of experience of in producing fiction and documentary and his films have been shown in over 70 countries worldwide and won awards all over the world including Silverdocs, Moscow Intl FF and Prix D'Italia. With his documentary “The Borneo Case” he gained widespread distribution but also achieved change through a successful impact campaign in Sweden and Norway.
Paul Rieth is a Berlin-based freelance Marketing & Crowdfunding consultant, audience strategist and a filmmaker and producer. Besides being a regular speaker and lecturer in panel discussions, he has also been giving his consultancies, workshops and presentations in various organizations, universities, and festivals in Germany and overseas.
Next to the two main discussions we had various expert talks behind closed doors, but nevertheless, we would like to share the most important input we got.
Dates & Topics
Zeynep highlighted the importance of strong European Networks not only to support each other, but also to achieve long lasting change. She introduced us to the concept of the Documentary Association of Europe (save the date for the Documentary Summit on 16-17 December) and explained how the DAE works. She highlighted that everyone is welcome – not just as a member but also to feed in ideas and to realize with the support of DAE their own projects.
Learn more here: dae-europe.org
Impact Production – How to Unleash the Power of Documentaries with Vivian Schroeder
Vivian introduced us to the concept of Impact production and how it can support your film in not only creating lasting change, but also in reaching your audience. The main take-aways for us from her presentation were: 1) define whom you want to reach with your film and what you want to achieve 2) think outside the box and find strong allies that help you reach your goal 3) never forget the education potential of your project that can lead you to new audiences (schools, universities, etc.)
Learn more here: impactguide.org
Paul explained the approach of Audience Development and Audience Design. He inspired us to think beyond the mere product of the film itself and encouraged us to think about different forms of storytelling that would accompany the production. He also highlighted the importance to define and then engage with our audience early on and the role that an impact campaign and/or a crowdfunding campaign could have within the whole process from development to distribution.
In this session we talked to two Berlin based media politicians –Notker & Christian. They invited everyone to proactively approach politicians with a cultural or media focus, as this helps them on one hand to gain a better understanding of the situation for documentary filmmakers and on the other hand allows them to highlight certain issues on a political level. They also stressed that the industry needs to find one loud voice with strong arguments so that they will be heard and gave as a positive example the Berlin Club Scene. Their common aim is to make surethat Berlin offers a broad support system for any kind of media workers and the exchange and collaboration on a European level. Don’t be afraid -get in contact with them!
Eva gave us an amazing insight in her learnings from the German wide documentary day LETsDOK, that was hold for the first time on September 19, 2020. For her, the most motivating and inspiring reaction on the newly established nation-wide day, was the reaction: More than 120 documentaries were screened, over 80 cinemas participated and around 50 initiatives & individuals used the opportunity to show documentaries at alternative places, like their own gardens, courtyards or stalls. Often the screenings were flanked by panel discussions or film talks. Through the national wide attention but especially through many small initiatives, the barrier to documentary film was opened for many and showed how diverse, exciting and inspiring this film genre can be. And it stated the importance of the common film experience and direct discussion that is- in our current situation - perhaps more important than ever.
More Information on LETsDOK: letsdok.de