AFTER A VERY COMPETITIVE SELECTION PROCESS, 16 POWERFUL DOCUMENTARY PROJECTS WERE SELECTED FOR THE 2019-2020 CLOSE-UP PROGRAM!
The projects were selected among 123 applications submitted to Close-Up from all across the Middle East and North Africa, including: Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey & United Arab Emirates.
We would like to thank all the filmmakers that apply, they all faced tremendous competition! Wishing all the filmmakers best of luck!
A GRANNY & A TERRORIST?
Hale Gùzin Kizilaslan and Engin Volkan / Turkey
After serving 30-years of prison sentence for attempting to “overthrow the constitutional order”, a 66-year-old revolutionary woman, Güneş is released. Is she still a threat to the “order”?
Jehan Selim Harney / Egypt
CROSSING is an untold story of Egypt seen through the lives of two trans people: Mariam, an imam, and Jivara, an activist. Both seek to belong and live as themselves despite the growing hostility of society and their own families. Egypt’s supreme religious authority is now blocking their medical transition, which the Muslim Brotherhood had legalized to grant trans people equal rights post-Arab Spring.
DANCING ABOVE THE RUBBLE
Mohammed Al-Majdalawi / Palestine-Sweden
The film is a coming of age story of young Palestinians from Jabalia refugee camp, who are now successfully settled in Europe. Built on unique visual material filmed throughout 20 years, the film explores the personal transition and change of its protagonists from youth to adulthood. It. Spiced with humor and brutal honesty and focused on a deeply intimate dialogue and emotional responses of this generation, the film reflects upon universal questions of personal growth and change.
Othmane Balafrej / Morocco
A mental and an emotional journey into the psychology of going through torture and solitary confinement in Bashar Al Assad’s detention centers, a journey shared by individuals who has gone through arbitrary arrests for no good reason, or for reasons that are considered daily freedoms elsewhere around the world. An experience that takes you in to the mentality of knowing that there is no way out, where people die under torture and mistreatment in a daily basis, where death is the only result to freedom.
FIVE WEDDINGS AND A BABY
Samira El Mouzghibati / Morocco
Five weddings and a baby tells the story of how the birth of a little girl confuses the feminine identity of the one who carried her, forcing her, as a new mother, to go back in her childhood memories. On both sides of the Mediterranean, from the Moroccan Rif to Brussels, she goes through the history of the women of her family.
Shahrokh Bikaran & Ilyas Yourish / Afghanistan
Deep in the mountains of central Afghanistan, Freshta attempts to gain admission to Kabul University. While her parents are fighting to seek justice for their older daughter who mysteriously committed suicide at the same university.
LETTERS FROM MS. IRAN
Farahnaz Sharifi & Leyla Rouhi / Iran
Letters from Ms. Irantells the story of two Iranian women who meet in 2018 virtually through an email exchange. One, Farahnaz, 42 years old, has lived her entire life in Iran, while the other, Leyla, 54, left Iran over forty years ago to live in the USA. Through their letters they each bring to life how they understand being Iranian, and in the process narrate an alternative history of Iran over the past fifty years.
MOM YOU TRESPASSED
Ilham Bakir and Dilek Aydin / Turkey
An eighty-year-old woman is sentenced to three years house arrest by Turkish courts for sending clothes to her son, a Kurdish guerilla, she has not seen for twenty-five years.
ON FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS
Zainab Al-Hariri and Maythem Ridha/ Iraq – UK
After more than 40 years of silence, filmmaker Zainab and her inner child embark on a parallel journey to discover and understand how her loving father, a respected doctor and a caring husband chose to sacrifice everything to assassinate Saddam Hussain. Her quest tracks his life journey following his footsteps until the last day of his short life.
Yzza Slaoui / Morocco
As part of a circular immigration program, Saloua, a moroccan widow with five children, goes four months a year to harvest strawberries in Andalusia to provide for her family. Rotten Strawberry provides an intimate view into the female experience of seasonal work, family separation, and labour exploitation.
Farnaz Jurabchian & Mohammadreza Jurabchian / Iran
Silent House tells the story of an Iranian family living in a 100- year- old mansion in Tehran. Filmmakers, a sibling have been filming their own family for many years. They follow each member deep into the center of their everyday life and past, pain and sorrow, joy and imagination revealing the family that is as complicated and volatile as their own country. The story of the family parallels the conflicts of Iran. The pictures and 8 mm films found in the storage of their old house, flashbacks to the darkest and also striking moments of their lives offering a personal glimpse into how the Islamic revolution affected a family.
Sarah Sellami / Morocco
From the myth of the patron saint of the acrobats, Sidi Ahmed ou Moussa, to the myth of my family, and my grandfather, M’bark, who joined at 12-years-old a circus in Germany later married a German woman then returned to Morocco and marry Mm’i, a young Moroccan woman who was my grandmother.
The Acrobat will go beyond the legend and forgotten to discover and reveal my family’s hidden and sometimes mysterious past.
THE CAMERA DOESN’T CRY
Elsadig Mohamed & Abuzar Osman / Sudan
When the Sudanese revolution kicked off in Dec 2018, 32-year-old Sudanese filmmaker Alsadig did not hesitate to leave his work in Uganda and return back to Sudan to be a part of it. Abuzar, 30, an activist/artist based in Khartoum was already actively involved in the wide demonstrations in Khartoum. The two friends to-be met in front of the Military HQ in Khartoum during the sit-in which began on the historic occasion of the 6th of April 2019, when hundreds of thousands of Sudanese people took the streets of the capital Khartoum, chanting for Freedom, Peace and Justice. The immense crowd marched to the doorstep of the Sudanese armed forces demanding change and united in rejection of the 30-year long dictatorship under which Alsadig and Abuzar grew up and matured.
THE IMMORTAL, IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF SALIM HALALI
Sara Nacer / Algeria
This film is a personal quest, triggered by the oriental Jewish artist Salim Halalis music, that touches upon questions of identity and belonging. Through his music the film takes us into the extraordinary journey into his life, brings me to the source of my origins and explores the most intimate impact art.
Zvi Landsman / Israel
An exclusive look inside “conversion therapy”, that promises to make homosexuals straight.
Lev and Ben attend conversion therapy, but as Lev searches for a bride, Ben starts having doubts. He begins an academic research, investigating if conversion is possible, or, as claimed by many, it is a deadly dangerous lie.
The first workshop of the 2019/20 CLOSE-UP Co-Production training program concluded six days of intensive work in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.
16 projects and their inspiring filmmakers from Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan, Syria and Turkey participated in the workshop.
They worked intensely with their mentors John Appel, Hans Robert Eisenhauer, Nino Kirtadze and Bruni Burres on the development of their written proposals, visual materials and trailers. Six Nordic Producers from Sweden, Finland and Denmark joined the workshop and participated as observers in order to examine possible Co-Productions with the selected Filmmakers.
On the first day of the workshop, the participants watched two feature length documentaries by the acclaimed French filmmaker Nicolas Philibert – “Every Little Thing” and ‘In the Land of the Deaf” followed by a fascinating Masterclass Philibert gave to both filmmakers and producers in which he spoke about his storytelling, cinematic approach and relationship with his characters.
Two Lectures on storytelling were given by Close-Up Partner & mentor John Appel, in his first lecture John defined the projects’ genre and presented examples from successful films with similar themes and styles. He spoke about the challenges and fruitful solutions found by the filmmakers of those films while Emphasizing the use of different and variable storytelling technics in documentaries. In his second lecture, John used his vast experience as a Filmmaker and showed excerpts from his films while discussing the concept of storytelling. He gave examples of finding the dramatic focal point of a film and how to structure the narrative and the layout of the story.
Two Lectures were given by Close-Up mentor Hans Robert Eisenhauer, in the first one he unfolded his personal outlook as a former commissioning editor and independent producer in the present on Co-Productions and the challenges directors and producers are facing during the filmmaking. He used examples from his own professional experience working with first time Filmmakers. In his second lecture, Hans Robert discussed the ways to write a comprehensive and strong written proposal and gave examples of projects’ he worked on and screened their trailers.
Throughout the workshop, the participants had both group and one-to-one tutorial sessions with their mentors. The Nordic Co-Producers observed these meetings and got to know both the filmmakers and their projects in depth. In addition, they had one-to-one meetings with each filmmaker to discuss what and how they could be involved with their projects as Producers.
On the fifth day, the participants attended a co-production case study by Moroccan director Hind Bensari and Danish producer Vibeke Vogel.
Hind & Vibeke shared the artistic and financial challenges they dealt with while working on the first feature length documentary directed by Hind Bensari. The film was developed at the Greenhouse program in 2014-2015 and won the Best Feature Documentary at 2018 Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival.
On the final day of the workshop, there was a pitching simulation session moderated by Executive Director Sigal Yehuda, the filmmakers presented their projects to the Close-Up team & mentors and received feedback on their projects’ content and footage, as well as concrete thoughts on how to further develop and improve their projects.
At the end of the session, the Close-Up team and mentors gave each filmmaker individual assignments. These assignments touch upon research, writing, filming and editing footage, which the filmmakers will need to complete in preparations for the second workshop, scheduled for March 2020.
The second workshop of the 2019/20 CLOSE-UP Co-Production training program materialized in an unexpected – but inspiring & productive way!
Due the Covid-19 crisis, the Close-Up Partners, Team & Mentors decided that in order to keep the safety of everyone, the Close-Up Second Workshop will be Virtual.
The Workshop took place last week over Skype. We scheduled Skype sessions between our 18 filmmakers and their mentors together with two prominent editing consultants, Joelle Alexis and Anne Fabini. They discussed with the filmmakers their project’s developments in regards to storytelling, dramaturgy, character’s development and cinematic vision based on edited materials & written proposals that our filmmakers have shared with our mentors & editors in advance. Each filmmaker had 2.5 hour’s session, it was intense, inspiring and constructive!
It ended last Friday 13th of March, successfully without any risk taken and particularly in most productive way!
In preparations for our Final Workshop & Pitching Forum scheduled for June 2020, the mentor gave each filmmaker specific assignments in regards to the editing materials & the development of the written proposal which the filmmakers will deliver in the next coming weeks.
In addition, next week, our MENA filmmakers will be having one-on-one Skype meetings with our Nordic Producers in order to discuss further Co-Production possibilities.
We were all saddened we couldn’t meet all in Izmir, but as the Corona crisis continues to grow all over the world, we are happy we maintained the safety of everyone at Close-Up.
We’re looking forward for our final workshop & pitching forum!