Selection Committee

Close Up Selection

Committee Members

AHMET BOYACIOGLU

Ankara Cinema Association 


 Festival Programmer, Director and Producer. He graduated from Ankara University with a degree in medicine and worked 20 years as a general surgeon. He served as the programmer of the Ankara Film Festival from 1988 to 1995. Since 1995 he has been the artistic director of the Festival on Wheels, as well as chairing the Ankara Cinema Association. Between 2005 and 2007, he took on the role of Turkey’s national representative for Eurimages. Since 2006 he was one of the partners of Greenhouse, a Development Program for the Mediterranean Documentary Filmmakers. In 2009, he co-produced the feature film Tales from Kars, which premiered in Rotterdam. He wrote and directed his first feature Black and White in 2010, which won the Special Award of the Jury at the Mannheim-Heidelberg Film Festival, among other awards. He is the co-producer of Inside (2012), Nausea (2015) and Ember (2016), all directed by Zeki Demirkubuz. He is a member of the European Film Academy. He was in charge of the Turkish Film Stands at Berlin and Cannes Film Festivals from 2007 to 2017. Ahmet is one of the founding partners of Close Up Initiative.

ALEX SZALAT

Doc’s Up Fund 


Alex Szalat is the Head of Doc’s Up Fund, an association dedicated to feature length documentaries about Human Rights. From September 2011 until March 2019, he was the Deputy Head of the Documentary Department of Arte France (Society and Culture). From 2008 to 2011, he headed the Current Affairs, Social Issues and Geopolitical Department. From 2005 to 2008, he was a commissioning editor for the Geopolitical Europe and Society Department of Arte France. Alex Szalat began his career in 1977 as a director of short films, documentaries and TV series. His filmography is extensively covering a full range of aspects dealing with European life culture and society. In 1987, Alex Szalat founded KS VISIONS, an independent producers’ company which has produced over a hundred documentaries films and TV series for Canal +, Arte, FR3, FR2, TF1, Planete, IBA, RTBF, VRT, Dutch Channel 1, amongst others. Alex Szalat also acts as a selection committee member for Close Up. Doc’s Up Fund supports Close Up projects that shine light on human rights issues in the Middle East and North Africa.

ANNE FABINI

Editor 


Anne has been editing notable feature films and documentaries since 1999. Two of  the documentaries she edited, Writing With Fire (2022) by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Gosh and Of Fathers and Sons (2019) by Syrian director Talal Derki won an Academy Award® nomination. In 2022, the Colombian documentary Alis by Clare Weiskopf and Nicolás van Hemelryck won  a Chrystal Bear at Berlin International Film Festival while the Philippine documentary Aswang by Alyx Ayn Arumpac won Best Editing and Best Picture at the FAMAS awards 2020. Of the films she edited throughout the years, four documentaries and three feature films  premiered in the Main Competitions at the Sundance Film Festival with Return To Homs winning the 2014 World Documentary Grand Jury Award and Morris From America winning the 2016 Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award to writer director Chad Hartigan. Jennifer Fox’s The Tale premiered in the U.S. Dramatic Competition in 2019 and went on to earn Emmy and Golden Globe  nominations and a nomination for Best Editing at the Independent Spirit Awards. Anne often works as story consultant and editing tutor at  international documentary workshops and is a member of Rough Cut Service. She is a member of the European, German and American Film Academy.

AYSE TOPRAK

Independent Filmmaker 


Ayse is a filmmaker from Istanbul. She received a BFA in Film from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and an MA from the New School. Films that are intimate and political, manage to break prejudices or breach hitherto taboo subjects are her favorite medium, as well as personal and professional ambition. After working as inhouse producer/director for Al Jazeera in London, Doha and Istanbul, she directed her first documentary entitled Mr. Gay Syria. A co-production between France, Germany and Turkey, the film was supported by Sundance in production, attended over 100 film festivals including IDFA, Sheffield DocFest, MOMA Fortnight, Movies That Matter, and won 15 awards including the Human Rights Award from Sarajevo IFF and the Silver Hugo from Chicago IFF. Her second feature My Name is Happy launched at IDFA in 2022, won three awards as well as an impact grant, and has been traveling the festival circuit. Her third feature, Dear Friend, a co-production between Turkey,Germany and Norway, funded by Catapult in development, and German and Norwegian funds in production, was pitched at IDFA Forum 2022. 

 

BRUNI BURRES

Senior Consultant 


 For over 25 years, Bruni Burres has been a passionate leader with a proven track record developing and executing innovative projects at the intersection of arts, culture and human rights & social justice. She is a visionary strategic fundraiser, team manager, media educator, producer and social media advisor. She is a Senior Consultant for Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program, strategizing and deepening its inter-national work with individual artists and organizations. Since 2008, she was a mentor and partner with the Greenhouse Documentary program. Burres is also an advisor with Doc Society’s Good Pitch, which develops strategic and effective distribution campaigns for extraordinary films and cultural projects that involve philanthropists, corporations, NGOs and individuals. From 1991 to 2008, Bruni was the director of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, which she also co-founded. Bruni is the co-writer and associate producer of Beyond My Grandfather Allende, which won best documentary at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, and co-writer and producer of Whose Country? by Mohamed Siam, which had its USA premiere at the 2016 New York Film Festival. Bruni Burres is one of the founding partners and mentors at Close Up Initiative.

DOMINIQUE YOUNG

Executive Producer 


Dominique Young is an Executive Producer in international documentary and factual programming. For many years she was Senior Commissioning Producer for the Witness, the observational documentary strand on Al Jazeera English, executive producing programming from Africa and the Middle East with an emphasis on developing young, regional documentary makers. She was also International Executive Producer at Zinc Network, a production and communications company specialising in social change campaigns, overseeing all international filmed output for online platforms.

 

HANS ROBERT EISENHAUER

Ventana-Film GmbH 


 As commissioning editor for ZDF-ARTE, Deputy Programme Director and Head of Theme Evenings for ARTE, Hans Robert’s more than 60 theatrical lengths commissions for TV and Cinema include since 1992: Oscar nominated Buena Vista Social Club by Wim Wenders, Super8Story by Emir Kusturica, Oscar-winner Taxi To The Dark Side by Alex Gibney, the Sundance documentary award winners Why We Fight and The House I Live In by Eugene Jarecki, the acclaimed Up The Yangtze by Yung Chang, The Flat by Arnon Goldfinger and Mama Africa by Mika Kaurismäki. Hans Robert has also served as managing director of the Berlin Film Fund and he is member of the European Film Academy, which he helped to create in 1988. After his retirement from ZDF/ARTE Hans Robert is living in Berlin and running the film- and TV-production company Ventana-Film GmbH., focused on international documentary-films, including cultural and current affairs TV programs. Ventana’s German-Syrian coproduction, “Return to Homs” by the Syrian filmmaker Talal Derki had it’s world premiere at IDFA 2013 and received the Grand Jury Award for the best international documentary film at the Sundance Film-Festival 2014. Hans Robert continued working with Talal Derki on his second feature length documentary film “Of Fathers and Sons”, which won the Grand Jury Award at Sundance 2018 and was nominated for the Oscar for best documentary in 2019. Currently he is working on three international coproductions, including “Price Wars” by British filmmaker Rupert Russel, “The Platform” by Georgian filmmakers Nino Orjonikidze and Vano Arsenishvili and “The Church” by Israeli filmmaker Anat Tel. Eisenhauer is member of EDN, the European Film Academy and honorary member of the German Film Academy. 

ILYAS YOURISH

Director


 Ilyas was born and raised in Kabul. He started his career as a multimedia journalist and TV Show producer in 2011 while studying at the Journalism Faculty of Kabul University. In the meantime, from 2012 to 2019, he contributed to various research projects as a research coordinator, researcher, and data analyst. The research projects he contributed to mainly focused on topics such as extremism, radicalization & mobilization, women’s rights, and studying the dynamics of power, security, and local governance in conflict-affected districts. He traveled inside Afghanistan extensively in the past decade and had access to the most insecure places in the country. This helped him gain unique access and in-depth knowledge of his homeland.

Ilyas produced short films in 2016 & 2017 and worked as location manager for the award-winning documentary “Kabul City in the Wind.” He founded his production company, Kamay Film, in Afghanistan and later moved its office to Brussels, Belgium, in August 2021.

Through Kamay Film, Ilyas has been developing two feature documentaries. He is the main producer and co-director of Kamay in the post-production stage and the producer of Life in the Shadows in the early production stage. His projects have received support from prestigious film foundations, such as IDFA Bertha Fund, The Whickers Award, Sundance Documentary Fund, Close Up Initiative, Berlinale World Cinema Fund, Catapult Film Fund, Torino Film Lab, Docs Up Fund, and Flemish Audiovisual Fund, among others.

Ilyas is a permanent member of the pre-selection committee of the IDFA Bertha Fund, an international jury member of the Belgium-based MOOOV Film Festival 2023, and a producer consultant to several projects in different development stages, including “The Etilaat Roz,” directed by Abbas Rezaie, which won the IDFA Award for the best first feature in IDFA 2022 and premiered at Hot Docs.

JOHN APPEL

VOF Appel & Honigmann 


 Acclaimed filmmaker John Appel from VOF Appel & Honigmann, a production company in the Netherlands, has directed and produced many films over the years and was also a tutor at the Binger International Documentary Workshops, Aristoteles Workshop and at Master-classes at IDFA. Since 2006 he was a mentor and partner with the Greenhouse Documentary program. As a director he made award winning films like She believes in me (1999), The last victory (2003), The Player (2009), Wrong time, wrong place (2012) and as a producer he worked with acclaimed filmmaker Heddy Honigmann, a.o. Buddy (2018). John has been advisor at Dutch Filmfund and Media Fund, was commissioning editor for Human Broadcaster (a.o. the award-winning series Guilty (2017) and is professor Film Studies at UBB-University of Cluj (Romania). John is one of the founding partners and mentors at Close Up Initiative.

NENAD PUHOVSKI

Factum and ZagrebDox 


Nenad Puhovski is one of the pivotal persons in the development of modern Croatian documentary film. He is the author and producer of awarded films and director of the biggest regional documentary film festival. He worked as a dramaturgist of &TD Theater. As of 1980, he worked as a teacher on the Film and TV Directing Department of ADU. Today he works there as a Professor of Documentary Directing. He is the founder of the TV Program Department and graduate studies of documentary film. He taught and mentored projects of young professionals in Europe, Asia, South America, Near East, Africa and USA. In 2020, he became a professor emeritus at the University of Zagreb. In 1997 he founded Factum, the most important Croatian independent documentary production. He has been managing it ever since. He has produced more than 70 documentary films that were shown on more than seventy festivals. In addition to numerous international awards, they won three Grand Prix Awards and four Best Production Awards at the Days of Croatian Film. In 2005, he founded ZagrebDox, the biggest international documentary film festival in the region. He has been its director ever since. He received the City of Zagreb Award and the Order of Danica Hrvatska. He is also a winner of the Albert Kapović Award for outstanding contribution to the art of film in Croatia (awarded annualy by the Croatian Producers Association) and Gold Medal for best producer at Belgrade Documentary and Short Film Festival. For his work on documentary film, particularly for launching and managing ZagrebDox, he received in 2009 the European Documentary Network (EDN) Award and Medal of the City of Zagreb. He is a member of the European Film Academy.

NINO KIRTADZE

Academy Award Winning Director 


Academy Award winning director Nino Kirtadze is internationally renowned for her sensitive and compassionate approach to difficult issues and her intense visual sense. Her powerful feature-length documentaries deal with controversial subjects, always placing the accent on the human drama underlying her stories and creating deep insightful human portraits. Her camera turns the natural into the supernatural and back again, blending together the personal and the universal without black and white romanticism. Nino Kirtadze’s films have won international acclaim and numerous prestigious awards at festivals worldwide, including World Cinema Best Director Prize at Sundance for her ‘Durakovo-village of fools’(2008). This mind provoking and emotionally gripping film depicts the gathering of Russian Nationalists in a remote estate under the leadership of a charismatic and tough leader that tries to manipulate not only his somewhat naïve followers, but top politicians as well. In 2005 she won the European Film Academy Best documentary Prize for ‘Pipeline next door’ (which will be screened in the seninar). In other films she offers a glimpse on odd mourning habits in a Georgian village (‘Tell My Friend that I’m Dead’ – which will also be screened in the seminar) , a thorough portrait of the ex-Georgian President Edourd Chevardnadze (‘The Three Lives of Edourd Chevardnadze’) and a poetic elegy for Chechnia (‘Chechnian Lullaby’) based on her experience during the troubles of the 1990s in the Caucasus, when she worked as a war correspondent, covering the war in Chechnya and other armed conflicts in the region. Nino Kirtadze is also one of the mentors at the Close Up Initiative.

ROBIN SMITH

Blue Ice Docs 


Over the last 18 years, Robin has worked in management roles at a variety of film companies including the National Film Board of Canada, Alliance, Blackwatch Releasing, TIFF, Lions Gate Films, Seville Pictures and Capri Releasing. In 2007, he founded Canada’s premier boutique distribution company KinoSmith Inc. and has overseen the successful launch over 200 films within the Canadian marketplace. Notable successes under Smith’s guidance include such hits as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Russian Ark, Away From Her, Up The Yangtze, Cave Of Forgotten Dreams and Blackfish. Robin also acts as the Cinema Programmer for the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto operated by the Hot Docs International Documentary Festival – the only documentary dedicated cinema in the world. Currently, Robin is heralded as the one of the world’s leading documentary industry experts and intends to use his knowledge and expertise to steer Blue Ice Docs into an industry-leading documentary distribution company.

SIGAL YEHUDA

Close Up Initiative 


Sigal Yehuda is the Founder & Executive Director of Close Up. Between 2007-2018 Yehuda was the Director of Greenhouse, a development program for filmmakers from the Middle East & North Africa. She led the program into a prestigious and internationally recognized initiative for fostering the talents of the region’s most promising filmmakers. She has been instrumental in securing financial support for Greenhouse from the European Union between 2006-2013 in four different EU programs – EuroMed Audiovisual I, II III and Media Mundus Program as well as securing funds from Steven Spielberg’s the Righteous Persons Foundation, the Ford Foundation and family foundations in the USA and Canada. In addition Yehuda establishes significant professional partnerships with key international & regional organizations, these strategic alliances with The Sundance Institute, IDFA Berthe Foundation, Tribeca Film Institute, Blue Ice Docs, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Catapult Film Fund, Hot Docs, ARTE France, MDR Germany, IKON TV the Netherlands, Doc Society, The Jacob Burns Film Center in NY, MEDIMED Industry Market in Spain, is the avenue through which the filmmakers are able to achieve an international audience and financing for their projects. Sigal was involved in the development of highly acclaimed international award-winning documentaries such as Five Broken Cameras (2013 Oscar Nominee) Mr. Gay Syria (2017 MoMa, Sheffield) Midnight Traveler (Berlinale & Sundance Special Award 2019) Kabul City in the Wind (2018 IDFA Opening Film & Best First Feature Length Documentary, CPH Award) to name a few.  Sigal serves as a Selection committee member, pitching forum trainer & Jury member in various cinema foundations and Film festivals such as Sundance Documentary Fund, Tribeca Film Institute, Middle East Now Film Festival Florence Italy, Antalya Film Festival in Turkey, Movies That Matter Film Festival in the Netherlands, FIPADOC Film Festival Biarritz, France. In January 2021 Sigal joined The Why Foundation in Denmark as an editorial Board Member. Sigal is a member of the European Film Academy. 

VINCENT MELILLI

Marrakech School of Visual Arts (ESAVM)


 From 1981 to 1989, Vincent Melilli founded and managed the Escurial Cinema in Paris, and he directed the theater known as Max Linder on the Grands Boulevards in Paris from 1987 to 1998. He also developed the Cinema and Communications Department of the Maison de la Culture de Bourges (Central Region) from 1996 to 1998, headed the French Institute of Marrakech (institution under the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs) from 1998 to 2002, and held the positions of Audiovisual Attaché and Director of the French Institute in the United Kingdom in London from 2002 to 2004. These experiences naturally led Mr. Melilli to found the School of Visual Arts in Marrakech in order to help train a new generation of filmmakers in a region that previously had lacked the resources to provide them with proper arts education. From 2004 to 2006, Mr. Melilli developed and created the Visual Arts School of Marrakech, including the curriculum and architectural program, as well as supervised work and organized the first entrance examination. Since 2006, he has held the position of Managing Director of the School of Visual Arts in Marrakech. Responsibilities include orchestrating the enrolment and leadership development of students, hiring and managing faculty and staff, as well as many other administrative and financial responsibilities. Since 2011 he was one of the partners of Greenhouse, a Development Program for Mediterranean Documentary Filmmakers. Vincent is one of the founding partners at Close Up Initiative.