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INDUSTRY Czech Republic

Ex Oriente showcases docs in development from Central and Eastern Europe

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- The international documentary training programme is rounding up the latest crop of promising documentary projects that revolve around current personal and social topics

Ex Oriente showcases docs in development from Central and Eastern Europe
Women in Kiosk by Daniel Stopa

Ex Oriente Film, the international training programme for documentary professionals from Central and Eastern European (CEE) territories, has chosen the 12 projects it will be lending development and funding support to in the course of its 2019 edition. The selected participants will receive tailored guidance on “developing the subject, narrative and visual style, making drafts of the financing and distribution strategy, and finding international partners” during three week-long residential workshops held over a nine-month period. Ex Oriente has been running for the last 16 years after initially being established at the first training initiative for East European creative documentary films in 2003. 

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The current line-up of projects encapsulates a broad range of subjects, ranging from intimate stories to wider social topics. A Man Sings After the WarAna Otašević's sophomore feature-length documentary, follows a group of artists from different countries as they grapple with their memories of war through art. Czech filmmaker Libuše Rudinská zooms in on the titular topic of celibacy in the feature-length documentary Celibacy, focusing on men and women of the cloth who have left the church. Rudinská investigates the motives that triggered change in the lives of priests, nuns and friars. Czech documentarian Jaroslav Kratochvíl is readying the project Comfortable Century, which looks at “the architecture of our memories and conscience”. The film is intended to be a portrait of the 20th century, as viewed through five interiors in the Czech city of Pilsen designed by architect Adolf Loos. Slovakian filmmaker Vera Lacková unearths another hidden story from the times of World War II, this time that of the Roma partisans in the former Czechoslovakia. The project How I Became a Partisan was already introduced at the Work in Progress session during Febiofest 2019 (see the report).

Other projects will home in on an array of topics and personal stories: the theme of heritage is explored as a young Roma girl embarks on a life-changing journey to discover her birth family in Lost&Found by Romanian filmmaker Lauretiu Garofeanu; a mother finds out that her son did not commit suicide, contradicting what she was told by the army, in The Mother’s Crusade by Alexander Mihalkovich; a manipulative cinematographer from Siberia is at the centre of Aleksander Elkan’s absurdist documentary comedy The Shubert Effect; and an emotional portrait of a family “for whom a kiosk becomes their second home” is painted in the Polish title Women in Kiosk by Daniel Stopa.

The first workshop session, “Find Your Way – Vision, Space and Storytelling”, will unfold from 20-25 June in Slovakia before moving to Jihlava during the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival. The final session will take place in Prague, in association with the One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, in March 2020, and will concentrate on presentation skills and pitching.

Here is the full list of selected projects: 

A Man Sings After the War – Ana Otašević (Bosnia and Herzegovina/Croatia/France/Serbia)
Comfortable Century – Jaroslav Kratochvíl (Czech Republic)
How I Became a Partisan – Vera Lacková (Czech Republic/Slovakia)
Celibacy – Libuše Rudinská (Slovakia/Czech Republic/Poland)
The Last Nomad – Petar Glomazić (Croatia/Montenegro/Serbia/Switzerland)
Elevations – Max Rudenko (Ukraine)
The Pioneer Oath – Vladimir Milovanovic (Croatia/Montenegro/Serbia)
Too Close – Botond Püsök (Hungary)
The Shubert Effect – Aleksander Elkan (Russia)
The Mother’s Crusade – Alexander Mihalkovich (Belarus)
Women in Kiosk – Daniel Stopa (Poland)
Lost&Found – Lauretiu Garofeanu (Romania)

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