Among the six best pitches, Sunny Side awarded the following two projects that have ties to IDF's Ex Oriente Film workshop:
DONKEYMENTARY: THROUGH THE EYES OF A DONKEY [YouTube Trailer]
Director: Arman Yeritsyan
Producer: Vardan Hovhannisyan, Bars Media
Run Time: 52 min
Current Stage of Development: Script
Estimated Date of Release: June 2010
This is a donkeymentary. A documentary about an island with 24,000 people, 6,000 donkeys and 2 cars. Lamu, Kenya is a place with donkey traffic jams, where the largest aid organization is a donkey sanctuary and donkeys are key to earning a living, and where a young boy’s fondest dream is to have a donkey of his own. Donkeys are essential on Lamu, especially for the poor majority—ownership of a donkey can determine a family’s survival. In recognition of the donkey’s importance, Lamu’s largest aid organization is a donkey sanctuary—a donkey hospital and a "rest home" for old donkeys who can no longer work. And one of the island’s cars is used as a “donkey ambulance”, taking sick or injured donkeys from around the island to the hospital; injured humans must make do with wheelbarrows!
On Lamu, the biggest event of the year is the donkey race—jockeys compete for glory, honor…and cash prizes. Shefama, a 14-year-old boy, is the 2008 donkey racing champion, but he had to borrow a donkey to ride in the race because he does not have one of his own. Instead he has a 3rd grade education and a big family to support. He needs to repeat his victory in 2009 because the prize money will be enough to buy his own donkey. Through the boy’s story we will meet the other characters: Bush—a successful capitalist and the sponsor of the donkey race, and Abdullah—the doctor at the donkey hospital who opposes the race for the donkeys’ sake. All our heroes are from different social levels, but they are connected by the donkeys and the race. And of course the film will show the donkeys themselves as they go about their lives in the “donkey capital of Africa”.
This film is the first in a 6 part series of 52 min. humorous documentaries about unique and fascinating island life around the world, such as Tokelau, where pigs swim and outsiders are pushing the unwilling locals towards independence, and Anuta whose 300 residents periodically “de-civilize” themselves for the benefit of foreign film crews.
Vardan Hovhannisyan attended the 2007 Ex Oriente Film workshop with the project The Last Two Tightrope Dancers in Armenia: A Funeral for Dying Gods.
RUN FOR LIFE
Director: Mladen Matičević
Producer: Mladen Matičević, Starhill d.o.o.
Run Time: 90 min
Current Stage of Development: Script
Estimated Date of Release: January 2010
In December of 2007, after having successfully participated in Podgorica marathon(Montenegro), three Ethiopian athletes Gebrezihaber Gebreselase(30), Tamirat Legesse (27) and Estiphanos Eshetu (20), decided not to return to Ethiopia, but to run across the border with Serbia, and ask for political refuge status there. After having spent two months in a refugee camp, they were invited by Serbian coach Zoran Molovich to move to his property in Pambukovica village, 100 km from Belgrade, and start living and training there. Ever since they won their first race in Serbia in March of 2008, they are constantly proving to be better then Serbian long distance runners.
In summer of 2008 some high ranking Serbian sport officials promised the Ethiopians that they will receive Serbian citizenship and passport and become members of the Serbian national team. Due to the negligence of sport officials, and due to the fact that the political structure in the country has slightly changed, this promise was not fulfilled and Ethiopians are now where they were when they came to Serbia. They have not succeeded in solving their legal status, they have not earned any money, and their trainer who was so far financially supporting them claims that he can not support them anymore.
Unless Serbian state decides to help them, on August 1, when their temporary visas expire, they will be sent back to Ethiopia, potential facing jail or front line with Somalia. According to Serbian immigration law, their only chance to get citizenship is to prove that they are of „special importance to the State of Serbia“ in the field of sport. Their last chance to do that was Belgrade marathon race that was held on 18th of April 2009. During the winter of 2008, the director of the film, Mladen Maticevic decided to not only film what happens with the Ethiopians, but also try to help them on the personal level. This decision affected the film in a way that Maticevic became a character in the film.
Mladen Matičević is currently developing Run for Life within the 2009 Ex Oriente Film workshop.