Webdocumentaries: personal and urgent
Today, IDFAcademy is hosting a workshop for emerging filmmakers interested in making a short web documentary. Filmmaker and producer Jos de Putter will, together with director Reber Dosky and Annabelle Stieren, discuss proposals entered by the attendees. For this set, we picked four films which were pitched last year.
Last year, there was an open call at IDFAcademy, inviting documentary filmmakers to submit ideas for a ‘webdocumentary’. The first results were made in collaboration with Dutch newssite De Correspondent, production company DeepFocus Webdocs and Dioraphte.
Since the start of Dutch newssite De Correspondent in October 2013, the site publishes ‘webdocumentaries’ in a series called On the Ground, commissioned by documentary filmmaker and creative producer Jos de Putter.
Jos de Putter: "Four years later, over seventy short documentaries have been produced, and many have been awarded at festivals worldwide."
To name just a few: Shipwreck Lampedusa (Morgan Knibbe, 2013) won the Silver Leopard in Locarno, was an Oscar qualifier and the basis of the award-winning documentary Those Who Feel the Fire Burning. Calling Ukraine (Jean Counet, 2015) won best short documentary in Hong Kong and Sarmat.
The Sniper of Kobani (Reber Dosky, 2015) won awards in a.o. Sapporo, Mexico and Sagueney and was the basis of the award-winning documentary Radio Kobani (2016), and 9 Days from my Window in Aleppo (Issa Touma, Floor van der Meulen & Thomas Vroege, 2015) won, amongst many others, the European Film Award 2016.
"We like to characterize these short films ‘webdocumentaries’, as they share a profile designed for the online viewer", Jos de Putter explains. "Filmmakers and producers strive for a specific approach in narrative and style which we call 'personal and urgent'. This implies a first person singular narration (either by the filmmaker or the protagonist) and a reflection on a topic that can easily be understood as relevant by the audience (this is where the ‘urgent’ comes in). This approach in storytelling leads to short films that come across as a kind of video-letter, or video-diary. The audience is guided by the filmmaker to witness an important event out of daily life. This can be anything and it can be very personal, as long as the viewer understands the reason behind ‘this story at this point in time’.
And so, over the past four years, we traveled to a hospital amidst street riots to give birth, looked out of the kitchen window where the war in Aleppo started, gave cycling lessons in Sanaa, Yemen which caused a national scandal, we observed a young boy from Syria working in a Turkish cement factory, we witnessed a Skype conversation between a grandmother and her grandchild in war-torn Donetsk, Ukraine and we accompanied Fredy, just ousted from the US, in his search for his wife, along the Mexican border. And there are many more visual stories about daily life under pressure, told by the people themselves."
The open call during the IDFAcademy 2016, resulted in over sixty ideas, from which four are shown here online, among which From Kurdistan, with Love by Annabella Stieren & Sarhang Hars, premiering at IDFA this year.