WHO WE ARE

Our Story

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Our cultural legacy is one of the most important possessions each of us carry; it is an essential part of our identity.

I, Sigal Yehuda, was raised as an Iranian Jew in Israel. My parents emigrated from Iran to Israel in the early 1950s. They loved Iran, they spoke Farsi and lived as Iranians in Israel, a foreign country in which they were never able to fully integrate. Although they had a different religion, they were like the Muslim Iranians, deeply connected to the Iranian culture. They lived peacefully with their Muslim neighbors and considered Iran as their homeland.

The Jews who came to Israel from Muslim countries in the 1950’s loved their homeland, but they were taught that this homeland was the enemy. For centuries they lived peacefully with their Muslim, and other neighbors of different religions, in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Yemen.

I cherish the legacy I inherited from my parents, culture is a strong tie that connects us no matter what our nationality, religion or ethnic background.

In that spirit, we established Close-Up, An International Co-Production Training Program for Documentary Filmmakers from the Middle East and North Africa that aims to support filmmakers from diverse ethnic, religious, cultural or political backgrounds from Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Founders

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We are individual partners who have been working together along this course for 12 years, we have supported more than 200 filmmakers from the Middle East & North Africa.

Close-Up is a Non-profit organization based in Brussels, Belgium, founded by 5 partners, Sigal Yehuda, Bruni Burres, Vincent Melilli, John Appel and Ahmet Boyacioglu. Our strength has always been in our belief of the urgency and the necessity for a dialog between individual artists coming from broken societies but aiming to create and build bridges despite censorship. Working with talented emerging filmmakers from our region is essential to maintaining our cultural awareness and protect our future existence. We’ve witnessed our ability to resist prejudice and ignorance by creating cinematic, powerful documentaries within our community of filmmakers. These filmmakers remind us all about our common values and the strength of an inclusive and open society.

Sigal Yehuda

Sigal Yehuda

Founder & Executive Director

BruniBurresHeadShot

Bruni Burres

Founding Partner & Mentor

Vincent Melilli

Vincent Melilli

Founding Partner

John Appel1

John Appel

Founding Partner & Mentor

Ahmet Boyacioglou

Ahmet Boyacioglu

Founding Partner 

As an independent, international organization we work in an open, pluralist environment which respects the diversity of our filmmaker’s nationality as well as the international nature of our organization’s management. As international partners we are determined to maintain the urgent support we have built for our filmmakers. The safe environment we have formed offers an important open discussion, one which is essential for the challenges our filmmakers are facing.

Funding Partners

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As an international non-profit cultural organization we rely on our dedicated and committed donors who share our values and supports our activity with great passion and enthusiasm , THANK YOU! 

White

Anonymous Supporter, New York, USA

BLUE-ICE DOCS

An independent film distribution company focused purely on non-fiction features.

Working under the umbrella of the Blue Ice Group, Blue-Ice Docs acquire, fund and develop a wide variety of non-fiction projects from around the world. Founded in 2014 in partnership between Robin Smith, president of KinoSmith and Neil Tabatznik of the Blue Ice Group, Blue Ice Docs intends to use the expertise and skills of both organizations to build a singular, world-leading documentary distribution entity that will take non-fiction product across all media platforms within Canada and beyond.

blueicedocs.com

Lisa-HS

LISA KLEINER CHANOFF

Lisa Kleiner Chanoff is co-founder of Catapult Film Fund, which provides development grants to documentary films. Lisa has also executive produced narrative features including Fruitvale Station (Co-EP), Burn Country, and Love & Taxes, and documentary features including Watchers of the Sky and Brimstone & Glory. With Catapult, Lisa has executive produced Art and Craft, Extremis, When God Sleeps, and Life Overtakes Me.

Lisa has a J.D. from University of California, Hastings College of the Law and practiced law in San Francisco and with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C. After leaving law practice, Lisa received a master’s degree in Museum Studies and worked with museums in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Lisa assists several non-profits in an advisory capacity, and serves on the boards of Working Films and SFFILM.

THE SILVER SUN FOUNDATION

The Silver Sun Foundation is a family philanthropy dedicated to providing support for professional creative artists, cultural organizations and social change makers. Established in 2017 as a 501(c)(3), the foundation offers assistance through grants, fellowships and community connections, and in July 2019 will launch the Silver Sun Residency located in Woodstock, N.Y.

www.facebook.com/silversunfoundation

THE NORDIC CULTURE FUND

The Nordic Culture Fund is a catalyst for arts and culture in the Nordic regionThe Nordic Culture Fund works to support innovative and dynamic artistic and cultural life in the Nordic Region that is diverse, accessible and of high quality. Through this mission, we wish to stimulate the development of art and culture at all levels in the Nordic region, as well as in a global context We believe that art and culture are without borders. In a time of upheaval, when nations close in upon themselves, art can act as a focal point that opens up and creates connections.

www.nordiskkulturfond.org

Mentors

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BruniBurresHeadShot

Bruni Burres

Hans Robert Eisenhauer

Hans Robert Eisenhauer

John Appel1

John Appel

NIno Kirtadze

Nino Kirtadze

Advisory Members

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CLOSE-UP – A CO-PRODUCTION TRAINING PROGRAM
FOR FILMMAKERS FROM THE MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA


Close-Up Advisory Members

John Appel, Director, The Netherlands ▪ Ahmet Boyacioglu, The Ankara Cinema Association, Turkey ▪ Vincent Melilli, Founder & Director of ESAV, Cinema School Marrakesh, Morocco  ▪ Bruni Burres, Senior Consultant – Sundance Institute, Documentary Film Program and Fund, USA ▪ Hans Robert Eisenhauer, Producer and former Head of Theme ZDF, ARTE, Germany ▪ Nino Kirtadze, Filmmaker, Georgia/France ▪ Neil Tabatznik, Co-Owner Blue-Ice Docs, Canada ▪ Robin Smith Co-Owner Blue-Ice Docs, Canada ▪ Oren Moverman, Filmmaker, USA ▪ Lisa Chanoff, Co-Founder, Catapult Film Fund, USA ▪ Karen Sloe Goodman, Founding Director Silver Sun Foundation, USA ▪ Pirjo Honkassalo, Filmmaker, Finland ▪ Nicolas Philibert, Filmmakers, France ▪ Cara Mertes, Director, JustFilms, The Ford Foundation ▪ Sergi Dolade, Director of MEDIMED, Spain ▪ Claudia Landsberger, Senior Executive partner, BaseWorx For Film, The  Netherlands ▪ Tabitha Jackson, Director Sundance Institute, Documentary Film Program and Fund, USA ▪ Kristin Feeley, Director of Labs and Artist Support Programs, Sundance Institute, Documentary Film Program and Fund, USA ▪ Edie Demas, Executive Director, Jacob Burns Film Center Art Media Lab, USA ▪ Sean Weiner, Creative Culture Director, Jacob Burns Film Center Art Media Lab, USA ▪ Lucila Moctezuma, Director of Programs Chicken & Egg Pictures, USA ▪ Judith Helfand, Filmmaker & Chicken & Egg Pictures Co-Founder, USA ▪ Simon Kilmurry, Executive Director , International Documentary Association, USA ▪ Claire Aguilar, Director of Programming & Policy , International Documentary Association, USA ▪  Amy Hobby Executive Director Tribeca Film Institute ▪ Margje De Koning, Artistic Director of Movies That Matter Film Festival in The Hague, The Netherlands ▪ Alex Szalat, Head of Docs Up Fund, Former head of Documentaries ARTE, France ▪ Lisa Chiari, Artistic Director, Middle East Now Film Festival, Italy ▪ Roberto Ruta, Artistic Director, Middle East Now Film Festival, Italy ▪ Jose Rodriguez,  Director, Documentary Programs, Tribeca Film Institute ▪ Gudrun Hanke-El Ghomri, SWR Channel, Germany ▪ Mette Hoffmann Meyer, Founder, The WHY Foundation, Denmark ▪ Ryan Harrington, National Geographic Documentary Films, USA  ▪ Gitte Hansen, First Hand Films, Switzerland ▪ Sandi DuBowski, Filmmaker, USA  ▪ Dominick Young, Consultant Al-Jazeera English  ▪ Joelle Alexis, Editor, Belgium/Israel▪ Srdjan Fink, Editor, The Netherlands ▪ Catherine Rascon, Editor, France ▪ Giles Gardner, Editor, France ▪ Phil Jandaly, Editor, Sweden

Support Us

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We established our program in response to the identified need to strengthen the visual storytelling capacity in our region and create a unique meeting-point for artists, who rarely have any opportunities to meet and forge personal and professional ties. What we have learned during 12 years of work in our region is the filmmakers’ great need for a professional program that will help them realize their documentaries on the pressing social issues in the communities they come from.

At a time of sweeping political changes in the Middle East, North Africa Europe and around the world, the importance of understanding and addressing these core issues is widely acknowledged.

We’ve witnessed our ability to resist prejudice and ignorance by creating powerful documentaries within our community of filmmakers, who are reminding us all about our common values and the strength of an inclusive society. One that challenges itself to cross boundaries and create a constructive and meaningful dialog with those that politicians would like us to believe are our enemies. As an international none-profit cultural organization we rely on our dedicated and committed donors who share our values and supports our activity with great passion and enthusiasm, we welcome you to join our community and help us create a pluralist, democratic inclusive society that respects differences and believe in the strength of cultural diversity. Join us in our inspiring journey to change our reality.

To make a tax-deductible donation to Close-Up
please contact our Executive Director Sigal Yehuda at sigal@closeupinitiative.org