POV’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.
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.