The First 2020-2021 CLOSE UP Workshop ended successfully on Thursday December 17th 2020!
Our 22 selected filmmakers from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Turkey & UAE, worked intensely with the Close Up team & mentors John Appel, Bruni Burres, Nino Kirtadze & Gitte Hansen, on the development of their written proposals, visual materials and trailers. They were all asking fascinating questions on story, characters, cinematic vision, & storytelling. The filmmakers worked hard to break through their artistic challenges.
Besides the group and one on one sessions with the mentors, they attended a lecture on Storytelling by John Appel who shared excerpts from different documentary films.
In addition, we had a fascinating discussion with Aboozar Amini from Afghanistan who participated in our program a few years ago with his Award-Winning film “Kabul, City in the Wind”. The filmmakers were inspired by the conversation with Aboozar, who like them, started to develop his film as just an idea back in 2016, completed the film and received prestigious international awards. Aboozar shared his artistic challenges making this film, from a written idea to a successful film internationally.
The next day the filmmakers attended a lecture by Hans Robert Eisenhauer, Close Up’s Special Expert. Hans Robert spoke about the written proposal & trailers and shared examples on production packages including trailers created by various emerging filmmakers from the region and around the world.
On the last two days of the workshop the filmmakers presented their project and visual material to the whole group and received constructive feedback from the mentors & team. The workshop was concluded with concrete assignments each filmmaker received to be completed in the next coming weeks.
We have an amazing group of talented filmmakers, who are all excited about the opportunity to be part of the Close Up program & family. They all share that besides the exceptional professional opportunity they are excited about the interaction with colleagues from the region. It enriches their experience as they discover how much they have in common and what a beautiful rich region they come from. It was very moving to listen to their beautiful feedback about our fantastic week together!
Our filmmakers have spent 7 intense and highly productive and challenging days full of learning and creative work!
The week started with 2 days of Editing Consultancy with four talented and prominent editors: Phil Jandaly, Nadia Ben Rachid, Giles Gardner and Joelle Alexis. 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. In parallel to these meetings, the filmmakers had the great opportunity to have one-on-one meetings on Financial Strategy with Close Up Special Expert Hans Robert Eisenhauer. He gave concrete feedback on the project’s development and discussed with them the potential of the projects for the international market. In addition, he spoke about the strong selling points in term of finance as well as who could support their projects. These meetings were followed by a lecture given by Hans Robert Eisenhauer, discussing in-depth Financial Strategies in Documentary Filmmaking.
After working intensively all week, the filmmakers ended the Second Workshop with two days of presentations in front of the entire group. They shared their visual materials and received feedback from the mentors, team and filmmakers on how to improve their projects.
In preparations for our Final Workshop & Pitching Forum scheduled for June 2020, the filmmakers are given specific assignments in regards to the edited materials & the development of the written proposal which the filmmakers will deliver in the next coming weeks.
In addition, next week, our filmmakers will be having a masterclass by Nino Kirtadze and a lecture on distribution by Gitte Hansen!
Additional inspiring activities are expected during April & May, stay tuned!
The Close Up 2020-2021 Program ended after four intense days of Pitching Forum sessions between June 14th -18th!
Our 24 filmmakers from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, pitched their projects to an acclaimed group of decision makers from around the world including Robin Smith from Blue Ice Docs, Lisa Kleiner Chanoff from Catapult Film Fund, Karen Sloe Goodman from Silver Sun Foundation, Sean Weiner from Jacob Burns Film Center & Institute, Alex Szalat from Doc Up Fund, Sophie Chegaray from France TV, Hajnal Molnar-Szakacs and Kristin Feeley Sundance Film Institute, Lucila Moctezuma and Jaad Asante from Chicken & Egg Pictures, Reda Benjelloun from 2M, Sergi Dolade from MEDIMED, Margje de Koning from Movies That Matter, Gudrun Hanke-El-Gomri SWR, Lindsay Poulton and Ekaterina Ochagavia from The Guardian, Adriek van Nieuwenhuyzen and Isabel Arrate from IDFA and Charlotte Reekers from FIPADOC.
The Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC) is thrilled to award residencies to both filmmaker Jude Chehab for her project Q and Jihan Kikhia for her project Searching for Kikhia. Each filmmaker will receive travel, stipend, and accommodations to spend 3 weeks living on campus working on the edits of their films.
“While both projects are personal documentaries, Jude and Jihan approach their stories with distinctly different and refreshingly unique creative visions. The JBFC is elated to support both these incredible filmmakers from the MENA region. We congratulate all the filmmakers participating in Close Up’s Pitch Forum and recognize the immense importance of every story told in this beautiful program that we are proud to partner with.” Sean Weiner & the JBFC team.
We are excited about the valuable collaboration we are having with the Jacob Burns Film Center and are thankful for the support & wonderful opportunity Sean Weiner and his team are providing to our filmmakers!
Alex Szalat, the Director of Doc’s Up Fund is very impressed by the presentations of our filmmakers and offers a 1,500EUR Grant for one project.
“I was impressed by the high quality of the pitches and all the proposals. It is never easy to decide to give a grant to one of the projects when so many deserve it. I finally decided to give the grant to No Other Land by a collective of 4 filmmakers from Palestine & Israel: Basel El-Adaraa, Yuval Abraham, Hamdan Balal & Rachei Szor, because of the relevance of the topic, the humanity and friendship developed by the characters in such a tough and sinister political context, the strength of the archival material collected as a testimony for the present and the future. All these elements giving another perception of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, alternating between emotion and reflection. I see in No Other Land a great potential and the possibility to give birth to an amazing film” Alex Szalat, Doc’s Up Fund.
We’d like to deeply thank Alex Szalat & Docs Up Fund for a very much deserved award, Alex is a longtime friend of Close Up; he served as a member of our International Selection Committee for the past two years year and knows the selected projects since they were still ideas submitted to Close Up.
In addition, we continue our beautiful collaboration with Sergi Dolade the Director of MEDIMED: The Euro-Mediterranean Documentary Market in Spain. This year Sergi offers the opportunity to attend the 2021 MEDIMED Market to the project No Other Land.
“No Other Land” tackles the very core of a never-ending conflict of interests” says Sergi Dolade about the selected project.
The filmmakers will be invited to pitch their project at MEDIMED in October 2021. The award contains not only the selection of the project to be pitched, but the opportunity to have private meetings with international commissioning editors and distributors having expressed an interest in the project. The accreditations are free for 2 members of the team and they will also enable them to attend the daily Industry Talks, and other events. This is a fantastic opportunity for the filmmakers to continue to network with international decision makers, producers and distributors. We would like to deeply thank Sergi for providing this precious grant to our filmmakers.
As you all know, it was once again a special year, full of challenges especially due to the impact of Covid-19 on the ability of our filmmakers to move forward with their documentary projects. We are incredibly proud of our filmmakers who made such a fantastic work during all these difficult months. We would like to congratulate & thank all our filmmakers who presented their projects this year, you are all an inspiration to all of us, we deeply appreciate your resilience, strength and courage to continue sharing with us such powerful, creative and urgent documentaries. We are assuring you that all of us at the Close Up family will do everything we can to continue to provide any possible support for you in order to assist you complete your films!
We’d like to use the opportunity and thank so many of our Close Up family and supporters, without them, all of this wouldn’t have happened. As an international non-profit cultural organization, we rely on our committed supporters who share our values and believe in our vision with great passion and enthusiasm, we would like to thank our incredibly committed donors!
First of all, we would like to deeply thank our significant long-time supporter, a family foundation based in NY, who has supported us for more than 8 years and prefers to be anonymous. We truly appreciate their commitment and uncompromising support, it means so much to all of us, we wouldn’t be able to do it without you!
We would like to deeply thank Lisa Chanoff, Karen Sloe Goodman & Rusty Goodman at Silver Sun Foundation, Neil Tabatznik and Robin Smith at Blue-Ice Docs, Barbara & Eric Dobkin, the Nordic Culture Fund, Pamela Jones & Craig Russel – Goldman Sachs for their valuable support! In addition, we would like to thank the donation we received this year from the Kimelman Foundation – John Kimelman & Nancy Rose, Larry Boltansky, Richard and Jennifer Berman, Paula and Jay Goldbergs, Beth Swirnow & Joe Cutchin.
We’d like to thank our Founding Partners Sigal Yehuda, Ahmet Boyacıoğlu, Bruni Burres, John Appel and Vincent Melilli, who have been working together for more than a decade with enthusiasm to continue supporting independent filmmakers. Bruni Burres and John Appel are also our mentors in Close Up together with Nino Kirtadze and Gitte Hansen, & special expert Hans Robert Eisenhauer, we are all working together for many years, it is a family & community we created together, we appreciate your generosity, collegiality, valuable experience and commitment and of course beautiful friendship!
We’d like to deeply thank our Founder and Executive Director, Sigal Yehuda for her creative and strong leadership!
We’d like to deeply thank our producer Alia Ben Hida, a young talented filmmaker from Morocco who is managing Close Up in an extraordinary way, with such commitment, enthusiasm and love!
We’d like to thank Julia Mann, who joined Close Up this year and has been doing an amazing job as Development and Research Coordinator.
We’d like to thank our international partners, Sundance Documentary Film Program, the Jacob Burns Film Center in NY, The Silver Sun Foundation in NY, Blue-Ice Docs, Doc’s up Fund, MEDIMED: The Euro-Mediterranean Documentary Market in Spain, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Movies that Matter in the Netherlands, and Middle East Now Film Festival in Florence, Italy! Your support is essential to the advancement of our filmmakers and creates great opportunities for them in networking with highly acclaimed professionals while completing their films.
We would like to thank our community of Advisory Members for your continued support, your involvement is vital to the success of Close-Up.