Home Politics Industry Days professionals guide documentarians | Al Jazeera News

Industry Days professionals guide documentarians | Al Jazeera News

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Rights-based stories dominate second edition of pitch event with panel discussions, production deals and cash rewards.

Human-centered stories from Southeast Europe, the Caucasus and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) featured prominently in the second edition of Industry days which ended in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, last week.

Following a call for applications launched by documentary channel Al Jazeera, 22 shortlisted filmmakers were invited to the Industry Days to present their work in progress to publishers, sales agents and documentary festival programmers.

Over three intensive days, editors, documentary festival organizers and sales agents led roundtable discussions, screened and evaluated work in progress, and advised filmmakers on how to develop and support co-production money for their projects. “Makers” from Cannes Docs, Sunnyside of the Doc, Arte, POV, Al Jazeera, Sheffield Doc Fest, Doha Film Institute, SBS Australia and many others attended the event.

Organized jointly by the Al Jazeera documentary channel and Al Jazeera Balkans, the Industry Days take place alongside the Al Jazeera Balkans Documentary Film Festival (AJB DOC), an annual event now in its sixth year.

The Industry Days aim to raise awareness and support projects based in the MENA region, the Balkans and the Caucasus, said Adel Ksiksi, head of industry.

“This is an opportunity for talented directors and producers to showcase their dreams within a supportive community and an important opportunity for their work to be seen and appreciated by the best in the industry,” Ksiksi said.

This year, Industry Days awarded production and co-production commitments totaling $108,000. Participating broadcasters from the Balkans, MENA and Western Europe achieved a record 25 rewards.

Over three days, industry professionals led panel discussions and advised filmmakers on how to bring their projects to life (Al Jazeera)

The issues of refugees and people uprooted by conflict figured prominently in the program.

One film, Jana, follows the arduous year-long journey of Leila and Sajjad, an ethnic Hazara couple forced to flee after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Leila learns the same day that she is pregnant with the couple’s first child.

A history of persecution and massacres that fueled fears of genocide against Hazara communities in Afghanistan forced the couple to flee to a mosque in neighboring Pakistan – the first of 11 temporary shelters set up a year before they are not granted asylum in Spain.

“The industry days brought a wealth of information to our project,” said Jana producer Maaria Sayed. “Even though our filming is almost finished, it was extremely helpful to have documentary professionals guide us and share with us their vision of our film. This gave us new ideas that we will take with us during final filming and editing.

In addition to themes of asylum, the current shortlisted films explore the issues of communities forced to consider the extinction of traditional ways of life, a son’s attempts to understand why his mother abandoned him to marry a fighter ISIL, and a girl’s quest, 30 years later, to shed light on her father’s murder during the Srebrenica genocide. And another film looked at the little-known story of a group of Orthodox rabbis from Jerusalem and New York who actively support Palestinian liberation.

The largest industry event of its kind in the region, Industry Days has, in just two years, established its value with the global documentary community and become a boon for the Al Jazeera Balkan Documentary Film Festival ( AJB DOC), declared its director Edhem Foco. .

“It raised our profile at least two or three times – overnight,” he said. “We were a respected festival, but among a sea of ​​other festivals. With Industry Days now in its second year and the type of decision-makers who participated, everyone now looks up to us. There is no place that has these kinds of decision-makers, these kinds of awards, no other place in this region – from Italy to Greece.

“So people are now looking at AJB DOC with different eyes, and even the local community understands that something is happening, and many of them want to make films. They now have the opportunity to present their projects, meet lots of people and get money to make their films. »

Al Jazeera documentary channel’s call for projects attracted 177 applications from 52 countries in the MENA region, the Caucasus and the Balkans.

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