International Report From the Field with Cynthia Kane

Posted on January 30, 2009

Greetings from DocsBarcelona!

Earlier this week, I arrived in vibrant, charismatic Barcelona, Spain and attended the opening screening of 1973 Revolution per Minute, by Chilean director Fernando Valenzuela, and a welcome dinner afterward. By the way, the food is fantastic as is the wine! 

Joan Gonzalez, director of the festival, gave a warm welcome and introduced Line Sansmark, the new European Documentary Network (EDN) director. Line follows in the footsteps of documentary powerhouses Tue Steen Muller and Leena Pasanen. Just two months into the job, she seems confident and energetic in her new position. Despite the late night, we all woke up early yesterday morning for the first round of pitches at the Teatreneu, which literally means “Theatre of Snow” or “Snow Theatre” in Catalan. 

No one really knows why or how the theatre was named “snow”–– rarely seen here––but it is a real working theatre. In fact, we had to finish our one-on-one meetings before 7:00 PM so the current production’s actors could come in and take over! For me, the space is very alive––feeling shades of my former incarnation as an actress. It’s also a fantastic space to pitch. You have the audience in the palm of your hand! 

Many old friends and recognizable faces are here: Valerie Delpierre, Barcelona resident and producer of ITVS International’s END OF WAITING TIME; Charlotte Uzu of Film d’Ici, one of our co-pro partners on WALTZ WITH BASHIR; Israeli filmmakers Ruthie Shatz of Fig Films, who also directed the Sundance award-winning documentary Garden; Duki Dror whose film SideWalk is in the festival; Ayelet Cohen, who told me she’s definitely applying again for International Call; Finnish producer John Hakalax and Finnish filmmaker John Webster with Recipes for Disaster; Polish filmmakers Mariusz Pilis and Marcin Mamon, who made the extraordinary Smell of Paradise and are both fearless and never fail to astonish me. Plus, they make me a bit anxious with what they’re up to next! 

I must not forget the lovely Fleur Knopperts, a producer who had the distinction of pitching first this morning along with Dutch filmmaker Allard Detiger. Their project, The New Saint, looks at religion, nationalism and the story of a young soldier who died in Chechnya and his to canonization in contemporary Russia––one of the 4000-some new saints since the demise of the Soviet Union. And to add to this a line-up young and talented emerging filmmakers––perhaps new to the scene––but no doubt rising stars in the documentary world. Back at the hotel, I’m taking a short break and catching up on calls, emails and helping ITVS’s Claire Aguilar and Joy Scott prepare for the upcoming International Call (with a deadline next Friday, February 6!). 

Soon, I’ll be fed and wined once more and awake bright and early for another round of pitching. Ah, I love it! There is also a master class to attend with Avi Mograbi, plenty of docs to catch up on and a stunning city to see on foot. Experiencing the Gaudi buildings, the Sagrada Familia up close and in person is something else. I’m just hoping after last weekend’s windstorm Park Güell will reopen. So much to do in this city of arts and beauty––I must walk along the sea before the long flight home. And finally it’s quite tempting to catch a late screening of Vicki, Christina, Barcelona… it, too, is playing here… that could be a wonderful, guilty pleasure… 

-Cynthia, Programming Manager, ITVS International


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