At the Greenhouse Seminar in Izmir, Turkey with ITVS Vice President of Programming Claire Aguilar

Posted on December 17, 2009

Greenhouse is a professional initiative devoted to the development of documentaries across the Mediterranean region. It seeks to build a multi-cultural dialogue, promoting the creation of professional and personal ties between filmmakers and the international market, while training the next generation of Mediterranean documentary filmmakers. Read about ITVS Vice President of Programming Claire Aguilar’s experience at the Greenhouse seminar held in Izmir, Turkey .

I spent last weekend in Izmir, Turkey, where I had the pleasure of participating in a unique training program for documentary filmmakers, Greenhouse. Supported by the European Union, Greenhouse creates cultural exchange between countries in the Mediterranean region, including the Middle East.  Selecting more than a dozen filmmaker teams with their documentary projects, Greenhouse stages three seminars and training workshops over the course of the year. Emphasizing creative documentary with innovative cinematic approaches, Greenhouse gives filmmakers unique tutorial sessions with strong experts and mentors, and culminates in a pitching session with international commissioning editors from around the world. This last session was a showcase of these documentaries, and although they are still in development, we could see the potential of the great films that they would become. Izmir is known historically as Smyrna, and although I didn't know much about it before now except for its famed golden raisins, it is a large port city on the Aegean sea. Izmir was chosen as a location for its accessibility, since the filmmakers who participated in Greenhouse came from Turkey as well as Egypt, Palestine and Israel.

The projects had gone through two previous stages of development, working with top-notch editors Joelle Alexis, Maaik Krijgsman and Srdjan Fink -- and with documentary experts Lucinda Broadbent, who ran a pitching workshop, and Paul Pauwels, who coached teams and moderated the pitching session. Mentors Steve Seidenberg, John Appel, Nenad Puhovski and Hans Robert Eisenhauer worked with the teams on editorial and content. After the pitching forum, ITVS gave a $15,000 research and development prize to the strongest of the 13 projects. Selected by the participating commissioning editors, including Tabitha Jackson (Channel 4/UK), Margie de Koning (IKON/Netherlands), Leena Pasanen (YLE/Finland), Alex Szalat (Arte France) and Marieanne Bergmann (Film Fund Hamburg/Germany), the prize was awarded to the astonishing and courageous 5 BROKEN CAMERAS by Emad Bornat and Guy Davidi. 

Director/producer Emad Bornat stated: "My name is Emad Bornat. I am a cameraman. During the last five years I have had five different video cameras and each camera has lived certain events. Each camera tells a story. When I started filming it was a way of reacting to reality, but soon after, it became a way of survival." The footage from Emad's five cameras ranged from the personal lives of his family and his friends, to the landscapes of his village home near Ramallah in the West Bank, being bulldozed. Other footage features violent demonstrations where soldiers shoot gas bullets -- even capturing one of Emad's friends who is hit by a gas bullet as he rolls to ground and dies. It is remarkable and fearless in its intimate point of view of documentation of life in Palestinian village. 

Israeli producer Guy Davidi, states that the "real story of resistance comes alive through filmmaking" and it is seen clearly through his own collaboration on this Israeli-Palestinian film. Greenhouse showcased many other strong documentaries in the making. I am certain that many of them will progress well enough to come to ITVS for international funding in February 2010 and will be competitive candidates. They will surely tell stories that American audiences haven't heard, and hopefully give us insight and perspectives that we haven't seen. Next year, Greenhouse is looking for projects about racism and human rights for their development training program. For information and application, see: Special thanks to the Greenhouse team for organizing a dynamic and captivating event: Sigal Yehuda, Yair Lev and Sarah Assouline. 

- Claire Aguilar ITVS Vice President of Programming


From our blog

  1. ITVS Welcomes Brandii Rice as Head of Business and Legal Affairs

    August 10, 2023

    ITVS is pleased to welcome Brandii Rice as our new Head of Business and Legal Affairs. In her role Rice will oversee business and legal affairs across the ITVS brand portfolio. In addition, she will guide licensing and business strategies to support ITVS’ content development, production, distribution and audience development goals. She will join ITVS

  2. Carrie Lozano Will Lead ITVS as President & CEO, Succeeding Sally Jo Fifer

    June 7, 2023

    Carrie Lozano joins ITVS from the Sundance Institute, where she served as director of Documentary Film and Artist Programs, supporting boundary-breaking filmmakers across the globe. At ITVS, she will continue to protect independent artists’ voices, editorial control and copyright while elevating nonfiction storytelling as an essential strategy

  3. Lisa Tawil Joins the International Board of INPUT

    June 1, 2023

    Discover how Lisa Tawil's appointment to the International Board of INPUT strengthens worldwide collaboration in public media.