Brigid O’Shea (Head of DOK Leipzig Industry) articulated both her vision for new pan-European doc body DAE (Documentary Association of Europe) and why she believes it is necessary right now.
“It is a new industry organisation that is going to speak on behalf of the genre of documentary and the interests of documentary and non-fiction storytelling,” she underlined.
“The first thing that DAE is going to do in 2020 is bring people back to the table to talk about what it is that makes European documentary unique, who are the people who work in it and what makes it idiosyncratic and different form North American documentary.”
“How can we include smaller countries throughout east and central Europe with smaller language groups? As well as take care of the French and German interests, as well as championing and making sure that the Scandinavian interests are included? How can we be inclusive?” she continued.
O’Shea further stressed that the new organisation will be a “collective” and that nothing is yet “set in stone” as regards specific remits. “It is really important that people feel invited to participate in the conversation in Berlin… Everything is completely open at the moment.”
The organisation will serve to lobby for the interests of doc professionals.
“That said, I don’t think it is my job to proscribe what that [lobby] should be. It really should come from the members, which is why this meeting in Berlin is so crucial because we really want to hear from the members what their concerns are,” O’Shea stressed. “Because there are gaps in our industry. There are generational gaps, there are gender parity gaps, there are east/west gaps. Whose voice is heard more clearly and whose opinions are taken more seriously?”
“So it is important first of all to understand what the status quo is. I would suggest, as I have worked for 10 years organising the market at DOK Leipzig, that lobbying is definitely going to be on an EU level,” she maintained, adding, “As long as these VOD platforms and online and digital platforms are growing… then somebody must be speaking on behalf of non-English language production to make sure that distribution possibilities are there for non E-language programming.”
“It is such an exciting and historic moment for European documentary! Look at the films currently nominated for Oscars, we want to build on this momentum and usher in a new era.”
O’Shea further commented how she was “overwhelmed” by the level of support she has so far received from key players and institutions within the European doc industry.
“Everybody recognises that there is the need for this kind of community building tool, and that documentary has such a vital role to play in societal discourse, and so it is super important that we get together and make sure that we are using our power and influence for good together,” she said.
“I am also really happy that fundamental support came from the EFM through the DocSalon programme and through Matthias Wouter Knol and Nadja Tennstedt who have been instrumental in helping to set this framework in place. And of course we are in discussion with all the major documentary festivals… and the Marché du Film at Cannes has also committed to continuing the talk.”
“We are in the process of unifying everybody. The overwhelming response is that we need to find this mutual ground and create this open space where everybody can be heard.”
With an enormous question mark over the future of EDN (European Documentary Network), O’Shea added how, “DAE is completely independent of EDN. It is not reliant on the old EDN structure. While we are extremely grateful for all of the work EDN has done in previous years, and the stabilizing force that the organization offered the industry in its heyday, we’re not affiliated in any way with the current management and respect the work that members are doing right now to bring about transparency.”
Elections for DAE board members will take place after EFM. “People should use the coming weeks to think about how they would like their representative organisation to be and what it should look like… It will be a really democratic and transparent thing and everybody is welcome.”