28feb07 DOCUMART is the blood sport of documentary filmmaking. At this week’s Documart 15 in Adelaide, teams of filmmakers pitched their documentary proposals to about 20 people, most of them commissioning editors from international broadcasters. About 200 observers looked on.
The filmmakers were chosen from 70 applications and their aim was to impress: cash, or the promise of it, could enable them to turn an idea into a film. But here’s the catch: they had just 15 minutes to sell their project.
Many emotions were on display: nervousness, defensiveness, but also pure joy. The filmmakers don’t expect cheques to be written on the spot but a verbal agreement to sign on can make them grin from ear to ear, and bring a round of applause from the onlookers.
Documart is part of the annual Australian International Documentary Conference, which wrapped on Monday.
“Commissioners want topics that take viewers to a place they have never been, geographically and politically,” said Tom Zubrycki, who made Molly and Mobarak, and is now producing The Wall of Shame. “But they also want those contemporary issues that are happening remote to the viewer to have similarities with issues happening in the viewer’s backyard.”
The Wall of Shame is about refugee camps in Algeria, home to about 170,000 people relying on daily rations from aid organisations to survive. One of the oldest refugee camps in the world, it is a legacy of Morocco’s occupation of the Western Sahara, but is hardly mentioned in the media.