Two Sisters by Lee Nechustan
The CIRCLE Women Doc Accelerator training initiative presents four docs-in-progress during Cannes Docs, each from a program alumnus. Founder and program director Biljana Tutorov tells BDE about each, in a round-about way.
CIRCLE Women Doc Accelerator is a training program for women documentary filmmakers who are developing a project with international potential. It is a new training initiative – 2020 sees the third edition – and is the first of its kind in the region, explains founder Biljana Tutorov.
The three-module program is designed both for talented directors and producers who are in the process of developing their first feature-length documentary, as well as for more established authors, who are given the opportunity to further improve their skills and develop their projects. During the training event, eight participants work intensively with renowned film experts who in the past have included the likes of Hanna Polak (Something Better to Come) and Tamara Kotevska (Honeyland).
“We wanted to take a step back, to invite filmmakers and allow them to work with inspiring film professionals who are very active and successful, and not the usual names that we meet all over the place,” says Tutorov. “When you are in the documentary industry it can be the same people basically, so we wanted something that was between a workshop and a mini art residency, somewhere we could reconsider our motivations and the stories we are working on and our approach, and openly discuss the problems that we have.”
Tutorov explains the USPs of the four CIRCLE projects at Marché 2020. “The Cannes showcase is dedicated to our alumni participants from different editions,” she underlines. “And we decided to select projects at different stages, and especially ones that have not previously been exposed to the industry, so it is an opportunity for newcomers and new projects. Some are still in late development, some are ready for [presentation to] festivals.”
“Two Sisters is a very intimate family project by a debutant Israeli director (Lee Nechustan),” says Tutorov, further explaining how the protagonists are aunts of the director. In the film, while one sister (in Berlin) wants to marry a Nigerian refugee 30 years her junior, the other, an Israeli Holocaust survivor, questions her 60-year arranged marriage. Together and individually, the two sisters embark a journey of self-discovery and eventually challenge the social norms of family structure. The project is at late development stage, with a mooted release date of December 2021. At Cannes, producer Anath Kandell (One Light Productions, Israel) is looking to raise funding, broadcast and sales interest on the €231,000 project.
Also in late development with a similar delivery trajectory is Woolman by Federica Martino that tells the story of British ex-pat Nigel, one of the few raw wool experts in the world, who has created a new “sheep to shop” business model that benefits the farmers around the Italian town of Biella, formerly a textile capital. It is Martino’s second feature and over 40% of the €165,000 budget is already raised. Producers are Mario Nuzzo, Zelia Zbogar (Noura Cinema, Italy) and Luisa Porrino (Fargo Entertainment, Italy).
Close to completion is feature debutant Georgian Shorena Tevzadze’s In the Sweltering Sun. “Her subject is the new patriarchal obsession in Georgia to teach young boys how to become a man in a completely anachronistic and surreal fortress environment,” says Tutorov. “They are kind of realising their medieval fantasy of how the man should be, but it’s also [seen] from the point of view of women, as of course there are female characters, the mothers and the wives, and Shorena is questioning the place of men and women in Georgia. It is very cinematic, like all Georgian docs.” The expected release date of the €125,000 budget film is December 2020.
Also at rough cut stage is Beauty of the Beast, by Anna Nemes, produced by Ágnes Horváth-Szabó (ELF Pictures, Hungary), who participated at CIRCLE IN 2018. “She is one of the very interesting younger generation of upcoming Hungarian producers that is now working on several projects, many of which are coming out soon,” comments Tutorov of the €115,000 doc feature debut, adding how the film is “a very auteur and independent view on female body builders. The director is questioning the strength and the fragility of the female body and psyche. It is also very cinematic, and nearly completed.”