Due to the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the 2022 edition of the Baltic to Black Sea Documentary Network (B2B Doc) flagship event was moved from its annual home of Kyiv to Krakow, integrated into the 62nd Krakow Film Festival.
The 2022 B2B Doc Launch Pad Pitching event saw 13 documentary projects representing Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan pitched to a selection of international decision-makers. In working with B2B Doc tutors across the week, these projects – many of which were first-time pitches – introduced filmmakers to the international documentary film industry as all projects came from the countries most underrepresented in the film industry, emerging democracies, and dictatorships with social injustice, corruption, censorship, and gender inequality. In such countries, documentary filmmakers are often exposed to threats and incarceration.
For this 2022 Pitching Event, decision-makers came from across the spectrum of the industry, from sales agents to festival programmers, commissioning editors to producers. Amongst the 28 decision-makers, organizations like Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries, Institute of Documentary Film, Taskovski Films, Lightdox, Current Time TV, goEAST IFF, The WHY Foundation, and Watch Docs were in attendance. These decision-makers also handed out a selection of prizes to selected projects, including an invitation to the 2022 Sunny Side of the Doc market, sales and marketing consultations from the Documentary Association of Europe, a Pitch the Doc consultation, 3 nights of attendance to the DOK Leipzig Doc-Pro, and more.
Projects themes ranged, however a strong focus on displacement – in many cases, dual displacement could be found across several, whether in relation to Belarus, Ukraine, or Kurdistan. Place also took a centre stage across several projects, where human characters are eschewed for spacial portraits, whether they be of a forgotten country, the sea, or disputed regions.
Below are the films presented, including those present in Krakow presenting each.
The projects pitched at the 2021 B2B Doc Launch Pad Pitching were*:
A Picture to Remember (dir. Olga Chernykh) – Ukraine
A story of dual replacement, A Picture to Remember tells the story of a pathologist mother and daughter, originally from Donetsk, in search of a way to handle recurring losses.
Company of Steel (dir. Yulia Hontaruk; prod. Ivanna Khitsinska, Alexandra Bratyschenko, Uldis Cekulis) – Ukraine
After enduring the war since 2015, three young Ukrainian men with no prior military experience return home, struggling to find their place as civilians, until the Russian invasion of 2022 throws them right back into their trauma. The project was awarded the Edisen post-production prize and Sunny Side of the Doc invitation.
Displaced (dir. Olya Zhurba; prod. Darya Bassel) – Ukraine
In this sound-driven and immersive documentary, the very body of war-torn Ukraine acts as its central character. The project was awarded the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights Doc Award and FRF – Filmproducenternas Rättighetsförening support for Ukrainian filmmakers.
How to talk to Lydia? (dir. Rusudan Gaprindashvili; prod. Hans Gralke, Elene Asatiani, Anna Dziapshipa) – Georgia
Set in a food warehouse in Germany, its AI system named “Lydia” feeds to frustrations of its significant Moldovan migrant worker population.
I Made a Mistake When I Came Here (dir. Kseniya Golubovich) – Belarus
Kurdish refugees trapped in Belarus, encounter a political situation exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in a story where despite a clash of cultures, those in the same situation seek to aid each other. The project was awarded the B2B Doc Project Development support and the Pitch the Doc award.
Little Red Riding Hood (dir. Parvana Rahimova) – Azerbaijan
Winner of Current Time TV’s Director Development Award, Little Red Riding Hood sets itself in a rural village of the Greater Caucasus, where a strong-willed thirteen-year-old tomboy of the ethnic Lezgi minority rebels against the patriarchal traditions of her society – where her grandmother may be the worst such abuser.
Now We Live Here (dir. Tatsiana Svierpa; prod. Valeria Zherikh) – Belarus
Two well-known Belarusian feminists and activists are the protagonists of this intimate documentary portrait of love in exile. While trying to integrate into a new Ukrainian society following a threat of prosecution back home, until they are uprooted yet again.
Odyssey MD (dir. Pavel Braila; prod. Lilia Braila) – Moldova
A poetic logbook of Moldova, a country that, for many, don’t know exists except for the current Russian threat as the closest and most vulnerable neighbour to the current armed conflict. With comment or narration, Moldova becomes the central character of the film, in all its picturesque, funny, sorrowful, magical glory. Odyssey MD was awarded the DOK Leipzig observor prize.
Self portrait along the borderline (dir. Anna Dziapshipa) – Georgia
Through a combination of voice, archive, and recent footage, Self portrait along the borderline searches for a split identity across the border of Georgia and Abkhazia. The project was awarded the Documentary Association of Europe Encouragement Prize.
Silent Flood (prod. Karina Kostyna) – Ukraine
A Pacifist community along Western Ukraine’s river canyon, sees their peaceful existence gradually upended, first by climate change and then by war. Silent Flood was awarded with the Sunny Side of the Doc invitation and and FRF – Filmproducenternas Rättighetsförening support for Ukrainian filmmakers.
Sins of Shakespeare (dir/prod. Inna Sahakyan) – Armenia
Residents of an Armenian retirement home defy the daily strains of old age immersed in the timeless world of Romeo & Juliet.
Strange Sea (dir. Lala Aliyeva) – Azerbaijan
The fragmented narrative is a medley of dreams and fears around the Caspian Sea, where various character’s experiences are reliant on its oil-rich status.
* For the safety of filmmakers and participants, only projects without are embargo mentioned in this article