The Amsterdam-based Binger Filmlab 1) Named after Dutch film pioneer Maurits Binger, 1868-1923 has been organising post-academic training and education for feature film makers since 1996. Recently it launched two initiatives aimed at documentary filmmakers: Docu Coach (individual coaching on demand) and Doc Lab, an 18-month workshop aimed at developing documentary projects from start to finish.

Selection criteria included having a producer onboard and preferably some funding in place, an idea with a strong narrative drive and an innovative style as well as cultural and/or social relevance. In the end, nine out of thirty projects were selected and the first meetings and workshops, aimed at developing the project, took place last June. DOX was there:

“I was hitting a wall, until I realized I was in the wrong place.”

Christy Galrand, Pietra Brettkelly and Jasmina Fekovic are three of the nine participants. Christy (1968, Canada) has made comedies, drama and documentaries. She summarizes her wish to participate as “trying to find a tribe”.

Canadian filmmakers form a small community but everyone is struggling. Christy: “On my travels, I noticed that there is a tightly knit community of people beyond competition. I saw films from Denmark, Norway, and Holland, and wondered: How have these been funded? I was hitting a wall, until I realized I was in the wrong place.” Now she’s back in training to raise the bar. Her project is called Racing Bastards and is on birdsong competitors in Guyana.

Pietra Brettkelly

Jasmina (1976, the Netherlands) is a film academy-trained documentary filmmaker and postgraduate in the visual arts. Documentary is her perspective, which she uses for all her activities in the arts. Jasmina: “I wanted to go back to documentary filmmaking for my current project, which I really want to approach as an artist. I have done some workshops here. Fiction film directors I know who have followed training here at the Binger have learned from those and have grown, even though they were already quite accomplished. So it seemed the right place.” Jasmina’ project is on art collectors and collectormania.

Pietra (1965, New Zealand) has been making documentaries for 16 years, during which she worked with just about every genre and format, and was at a point in her life where her options were to either leave the documentary world altogether or get inspired: “I took a 1000 km walk in Spain and decided to opt for the latter and get some education. I actually applied with another project but got so inspired that I am developing two now, though only one within the framework of Binger. Also, I was inspired by the group of people involved, loving how their Dutch filmmaker and Doc Lab participant Balster van Duijn will keep a blog on his experiences.  His project focuses on his efforts to restore his relationship with his estranged father, who once asked him: “How long do you plan to stay angry with me?” approach to documentary is quite different to mine.” Pietra’s film is on a smart and ambitious but young Maori who wants to go to Yale but needs his father as a chaperone.

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1.  Named after Dutch film pioneer Maurits Binger, 1868-1923