Most documentary filmmakers in Europe looking for support take it for granted that they will have significant access to workshops, courses, programs and other mentorship opportunities to assist them in their goal of making and finishing a film project.  However, this is far from the case for makers in other regions of the world. EurasiaDOC is an initiative financed by the European Union and produced and run by Ardèche Images, an association based in Lussas, France that runs its own creative documentary film festival. Based on the successful experiences of its ongoing AfricaDOC program, which began in 2003, the small Ardèche team now brings its three-week scriptwriting and editing residencies to places such as Yerevan, Armenia  (in partnership with the Golden Apricot Film Festival), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Siberia. EurasiaDOC’s expanded three-year initiative will enable the Lussas team to continue to offer regional scriptwriting workshops and access to the international film trade where select projects will be presented to European-based producers, distributors, broadcasters and financiers.

international-documentary-film-festival-flahertiana-2015This past autumn, I was a member of the international jury at the XI International Documentary Film Festival Flahertiana in Perm, Russia.  There, I met Nicolas Bem, the artistic director of the Siberian Studio of Independent Cinema, and Rebecca Houzel from Ardèche.  They were there to introduce a new workshop that will take place in Perm in February as an extension of a five-year Ural-Siberian regional initiative. Bem and Houzel have been working together in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia (Bem’s hometown), and at the behest of Moscow-based filmmaker, Marina Razbezhkina, who was a tutor in Krasnoyarsk, are now expanding their program in the region in partnership with the Flahertiana Festival.

The residencies – offered at no cost to selected applicants – host between eight to ten directors. Based on past experience, more than 30 creative documentary films will find European co-producers.  Developing these projects successfully takes strong partnerships; one of the program’s bigger goals is to forge many more alliances between European producers and Eurasian filmmakers. Perm, known as the easternmost city of Europe, is a natural spot for staging workshops, and the call for applications will bring candidates from all over the Ural region.
In 2007 Bem met Christophe Postic, the artistic director of the Festival du Film Documentaire de Lussas, who had come to Krasnoyarsk with writer, translator and filmmaker, Hélène Chatelain, who has a great interest in the area and wanted to work with some young documentary directors in the region by offering a workshop. Bem wanted to participate, but his ideas were associated only with fiction.  Nevertheless, excited and encouraged by Bem’s commitment, the team agreed to work with him and he ended up making his film. Six months later, Postic asked him to organise some more workshops in Krasnoyarsk, and thus the SiberiaDOC project was created.

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