After previous cooperation, the film selection will be consulted with IDF and the Jihlava IDFF whose joint project - East Silver, the East European documentary market - was represented at the 2004 and 2005 edition of Hot Docs in a selection of the most important films included in the East Silver Caravan travelling film series. Hot Docs selected Eastern Europe after the past editions offered documentary film programmes from France (2006), Israel (2005), the Netherlands (2004), the United Kingdom (2003) and Germany (2002). The upcoming Spotlight Programme will become the very first comprehensive showcase of documentary cinema from Eastern Europe in North America.
SUBMISSION OF EAST EUROPEAN FILMS
Directors and producers can submit their films for the East European section from September 2006. The early deadline for entries is December 15; the second and final entry deadline is set for January 15, 2006. Apart from selecting films from entries, the Hot Docs organizers travel the East European documentary festival circuit to find other outstanding films. Hot Docs' executive director Chris McDonald and programming director Sean Farnel attended the last edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and the presentation of upcoming East European documentary films - DOCU TALENTS FROM THE EAST - organized by IDF and the Jihlava IDFF as part of the industry events.
INTERVIEW with Sean Farnel - Programming Director of Hot Docs
The Hot Docs Spotlight 2007 will offer a selection of East European documentary films. What made you to choose this region?
SF: First, there are very good documentaries being produced in the region, yet there has not yet been a fulsome representation of this abroad, as least not in North American festivals. Our hope is that Hot Docs’ Spotlight on Central and Eastern Europe will raise the profile of this region among our industry and public audience. Curatorially, the region presents the very interesting challenge of representing several countries with shared political histories, yet which are also forging their own identities in a transforming Europe. Hopefully the programme draws on this shared history while reflecting the region’s contemporary reality. (Photo: Lucie Králová and Sean Farnel)
After focusing on single countries such as Germany, United Kingdom or France in past few years, The Spotlight in 2007 will cover the area which from the perspective of the documentary film strongly differs from country to country. There is a similar history but very diverse tendencies in the film style or topics. How can the spotlight cover all this range?
SF: It’s true that the Spotlight programmes at Hot Docs have tended to cover one country exclusively, but we have done regional Spotlight programmes in the past, as with the Nordic programme in 2001. Like the Nordic countries, we feel there are some shared sensibilities among documentarians in Central and Eastern Europe. Also, there are several festivals, organizations and markets which are organizing themselves on a regional basis. Among festivals, obviously Karlovy-Vary has established itself as a strong hub for launching regional works, as the CEE Films events there indicate. While among documentary festivals certainly Jihlava IDFF and its market event, East Silver, has been developed not just as a Czech event, but as supporting regional filmmakers. Likewise, DISCOP seems to be an emerging market for this region. So, in many ways we are taking our cue to present a Spotlight on Central and Eastern Europe from those organizations who seem to be developing regional mandates.
What is the awareness of the East European documentary films in Northern America like? Is the Spotlight the first big chance for the local audience to meet the East European documentary films?
SF: I think there’s a general awareness and appreciation of a tradition of filmmaking in the region that shows a concern with both form and content. An artistic tradition. Beyond that, the impetus behind the Spotlight programme is that its time to bring our audience up to date on the filmmaking styles and subjects currently being covered in Central and Eastern Europe. So, yes, we hope to be introducing our audience to a new generation of documentary filmmakers and films. That, and its important to keep in mind that Toronto is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, and many of the films are sure to have an audience based on the various communities (for instance, there is a large Polish community) living in this city.
The East European films are still hardly accessible on the international markets. Would the Spotlight help the selected documentaries to get more attention from the accredited industry professionals?
SF: Indeed, we hope the Spotlight stimulates interest among North American broadcasters, distributors and curators to acquire and screen more works from Central and Eastern Europe. It’s a long process, and this is just the beginning, but if Hot Docs can serve as a gateway in this regard, than the Spotlight will have served its purpose.