Documentary Convention 2018

From 12-14 April 2018 around 110 doc professionals from 30 countries followed the call by the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture and DOX BOX and came to Leipzig for the first edition of the Documentary Convention to discuss the status quo of the international documentary sector in versified scenarios in four expert-led modules ranging from closed expert groups to case studies and panel discussions and debates. The intense three day program in Leipzig was complemented by Rough Cut Screening Session of three films by Algerian female filmmakers  and two public screenings, “House in the Fields” by Tala Hadid and oscar-nominated “Last Men in Aleppo” on the second day in the presence of director Feras Fayyad.

Here you can review all about the first edition of the Documentary Convention:

Modules 2018

The program of the DC ‘18 was structured around five thematic modules. The modules ran in parallel with room to overlap and intersect. Each module was led by an international expert group that worked throughout the three convention days and presented the outcome of their work in short presentations on the last day of the DC’18. More information about members of these expert groups as well as the final presentations can be reviewed here.

Module 1: Share & Save: The Heritage of Arab Documentary
What is there to save? What is there to share? Public archives, personal collections, student union libraries, the ruins of abandoned state films labs – there are fragments of Arab documentaries and visual history scattered all around the globe. With so little references available, and as memories fade, there is an urgent call to discuss Arab documentary heritage, and its cinematic and political influences that shape our history and narratives. This is especially important as more and more filmmakers and practitioners return to their heritage in order the understand their present. This module explores practice and laws on the theme of saving and sharing the documentary film heritage of the Arab world.

Module 3: Diversity in Documentary
Diversity often feels like a buzzword that is given much lip service but not always meaningfully implemented. How do we make space for encouraging and enriching diversity in the documentary film sector? This is a question that concerns community producers and doc-sector actors, filmmakers in exile and ethnic minorities making content about women and the LGBTQ+ community (amongst many other topics). Should the action concentrate on filling quotas and ensuring equality for funding, screening, training and recommendations? Or does the solution lie in a complete makeover of the industry?

Module 5: Mapping Arab Documentary Landscape
Mapping Arab Documentary Landscape offers an overview of the documentary film industry, culture and practice, and investigates the current structures within the Arab Region. This is part of a larger research project entitled “Data is Beautiful” conducted by DOX BOX e.V. that aims at promoting spatial thinking and historical inquiry, and at informing decisions and practice for operators, practitioners and decision makers with the documentary film industry at large, and specifically within the Arab World. During the three days of the convention, the expert group members approached a limited number of guests to ask for their input and expertise and presented the first edition of the Mapping Arab Documentary publication in an interactive presentation highlighting the findings achieved by this research.
Core Expert Group at DC’18: Diana El Jeiroudi, Emily Dische-Becker, Guevara Namer, Melanie Goodfellow, Nihal Zaghloul, Raul Nino Zambrano, Zeynep Disbudak and specila guest Soumeya Bouallegui.

Module 2: Ethics of Co-Production
Over the years, that awareness of different regional approaches to storytelling has increased, with a seemingly larger shift towards more specific local and global documentary films. Many of us have often discussed ethical issues with regard to the content of the films we co-produce or co-finance and today,it seems that we have come full circle since the beginning of co-financing and co-production. We can now talk about co-productions from a more holistic point of view, and find a way to sharpen our awareness of what this means for projects that are co-produced or co-financed across borders. Who owns the story and the narrative when a filmmaker, from one region with little or no money, depends on a wealthier region, which in principle has no insight into the culture depicted, and wishes to angle the storytelling to suit their audiences?

Module 4: Distribution in Challenging Times

With interest in the documentary film industry becoming more commercialised, and conflict between mainstream media, new media and state regimented control growing, the discussion around the right distribution methods, and effective support schemes, is complicated, rapidly evolving and much debated. This module looks at the wider landscape of distribution for independent documentary films, and explores failures and successes within the field, whilst arguing for more cohesive global action.

Module 4 Expert Group & Final Presentation