Docs in India: the Asian Documentary Forum

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Andrew CatauroPOV’s Associate Producer Andrew Catauro writes in with a report from Docedge ’10, the Asian Documentary Forum.



Just a couple of weeks ago, the Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute hosted the 7th edition of Docedge, an international documentary workshop in Kolkata, India. I was invited to sit on a panel with 12 international broadcasters and commissioning editors while a group of documentary filmmakers from across Asia pitched their in-the-works projects. With support from IDFA’s Jan Vrijman Fund, Docedge gives filmmakers access to unique tutoring sessions for several days before the pitching forum, helping to improve the delivery of their final pitches. This year’s tutors included Nick Ware of AsterMedia, filmmakers Audrius Stonys of Lithuania and Phil Cox of the U.K., Rudy Buttignol, executive director of British Columbia’s Knowledge Network, and Claas Danielsen, director of Dok Leipzig — the world’s longest-running festival for documentary and animation.

Docedge: Pitching Theater

The main theater at Docedge ’10, Asian Documentary Forum.


Not having been to India before, I wasn’t sure what to expect from my trip to Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta) in the West Bengal region. But from the moment I read the name of Satyajit Ray on the institute hosting our conference, I knew I was in for a treat. Satyajit Ray was a legend of Bengali cinema, and since my first viewing of his debut Pather Panchali, he’s held a spot near the top of my favorite filmmakers list. (While Ray is more famous for his narrative films, I should note that his work can be very instructive for aspiring documentary filmmakers — aside from writing, directing, editing, and scoring many of his films, he did graphic design and acted as his own publicist. What filmmaker today isn’t also juggling these tasks themselves?)

Being around filmmakers and students with an appreciation for Bengali cinema was a delightful experience. The director of the Institute itself is widely-acclaimed filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta, who graciously welcomed us on the first night of the workshop with the gift of an Asystasia plant. The hospitality of the Docedge staff continued from there, and a big debt of gratitude goes out especially to Nilotpal Majumdar and his team for making this year’s Asian Documentary Forum a success.

I’m certain that many of the filmmakers will continue developing their projects and come to POV’s open call in June 2010 as competitive candidates. It was clear that the Docedge participants were ready to go the extra “POV” mile — that their stories and perspectives from halfway around the world could profoundly influence how American audiences think about their own lives.

For more information on the Docedge workshop, be sure to visit www.docedge.org.

Andrew Catauro
Andrew Catauro
Andrew Catauro is a former Series Producer at POV. While at POV, he served on editorial panels and presented at festivals and conferences including the Sundance Film Festival, Doc/It in Trento, Italy, and the Asian Documentary Forum in Kolkata, India; as well as juries for the Brooklyn Film Festival, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, and East Silver Market in Jihlava, Czech Republic. His studies in Italian Cinema earned him the Immersion Award from the Milan International Film Festival. Andrew previously worked for the New York AIDS Film Festival and assisted Alexandra Kerry on documentary films in development. He holds a dual bachelor's degree from the Newhouse School of Public Communications and the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University. Andrew's favorite documentaries are: Dark Days - Marc Singer The Gleaners & I - Agnès Varda Silverlake Life: The View from Here - Peter Friedman & Tom Joslin Manufacturing Consent - Mark Achbar & Peter Wintonick Tongues Untied - Marlon Riggs American Dream - Barbara Kopple Family Portrait Sittings - Alfred Guzzetti In Search of Our Fathers - Marco Williams The Education of Shelby Knox - Marion Lipschutz & Rose Rosenblatt Nobody's Business - Alan Berliner
  • http://www.filamentpictures.co.in miriam

    FOREIGNID: 22944
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    was nice meeting you at docedge andrew.
    might i add as a participant at Docedge it was a good opportunity to meet and understand what international broadcasters are looking for.
    also docedge has made the `process’ of turning an idea into an interpretation, more dynamic because of the interactions, tutoring and rigour of the pitching process.
    cheers
    miriam