“Take a camera, shoot something, show it to somebody” - Jean Luc Godard
Few spots around the world give young filmmakers a shot at making a doc, from idea to screening, in just 5 weeks, under some of the finest tutoring in the world today: New York Film School, a few workshops in France and in Romania, at Aristoteles Workshop. Since 2006, generations of artists have come here to find their voice. Adina Pintilie, Golden Bear winner this year at Berlinale, is such an artist. Come August 1st, a new batch of filmmakers gets to have their say. What kind of creators will they be? Clues may hide in the stories their tutors have told so far.
Stories of a lesser known Romania
The Aristoteles Workshop recipe is identical 13 years since our first call: take young, talented artists, divide them into teams of three and immerse them in the middle of beautiful nowhere in Romania, with film gear and production vehicles. Add tutors from the world’s finest film schools and stir for five weeks. Each team produces a film. For 13 years now, one in three has been landing on the festival circuit, winning audiences and awards.
This edition’s beautiful nowhere is Baru, in the county of Hunedoara. The production base for all operations will be the campus of Babes Bolyai University, with whom Aristoteles Workshop has closed an unprecedented partnership. The workshop will take place there, August 1st through 31st.
Dan Nuțu, AW producer: „This year the only continent we had no applicants from was The Antarctic. The workshop went well and beyond the confines of Central and Eastern Europe. It’s a landmark on the map of docs filmmaking.“
The successful applicants, 15 young filmmakers and artists from eight countries in two continents, will be divided into five crews: director, director of photography and editor. Each one will produce a short doc, telling a story about Romania as they see it, in under 30 minutes. As they can shoot on a 2 hour radius from basecamp, we can expect films on the lost treasure of the Dacians and coal mine dramas alike.
“The Pope” of documentaries, in the Carpathians
The workshop will kick off with a masterclass by Thierry Garrel, head of the docs department with TV channel arte for over 17 years, also known as “the docs Pope.” “It’s like learning to make movies from Scorsese,” says Dan Nuțu.
Participants will then pick their topics and start pre-prepping. They will be accompanied by four producers/ professors of documentaries from The Netherlands, France and Denmark. They all participated in international documentary film festivals: IDFAmsterdam, Visions du Reel, Cannes Film Festival or European Film Academy Awards and masterclasses sprinkled around the globe. They access heated subject like women rights, geopolitical crises or the aftermath of war with verve and grace. For instance…
How masters tell true stories
A coup forces Madagascar’s democratically elected president out of the country. The coup’s leader is received at The Elysée Palace by France’s Nicolas Sarkozy. What does the fight for freedom look like in a former French colony? Lotte Mik-Meyer knows how to tell world spinning stories, from conflict spots like Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Egypt or Madagascar, as is the case with “Return of a President.” For the past 15 years she has been teaching docs in Denmark, Vietnam, The Middle East and The United States of America. This year, she adds Romania to the list.
A “lone wolf” detonates a bomb in Oslo and opens fire on a nearby island. 77 people lose their lives for being in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Post factum, there’s search for meaning, questioning and the memories of the surviving families. How do we tell a story about how fragile life is and how a coincidence can mark destinies? John Appel has completed, since 1987, over 45 films. A jury member at some of the finest docs festivals (IDFA, Karlovy Vary, Visions du Reel), he teaches at Netherlands Film Academy and Amsterdam Film school, and has masterclasses in China and Mexico alike. “Wrong time, wrong place” (2012) is one of the most awarded of his productions. He’s been part of Aristoteles Workshop for the last five years.
New York Times called it ‘a cinematic tone poem as much as a biography.’ “A skin too few – The last days of Nick Drake” is one of the music documentaries signed by Jeroen Berkvens. “Jimmy Rosenberg - The Father, the son and & the talent“, another, won the Grand Prix in Krakow, the Grand Prix at Montréal’s Festival du Films sur d’Art, a Big Sky Award in Montana and The Golden Calf in the Netherlands. Jeroen teaches documentary direction at The Netherlands Film Academy, coordinates documentary film production at HUMAN, a public broadcasting company in The Netherlands, and is a world commuter on a long string of masterclasses and courses. Which also includes Aristoteles Workshop.
How do the traces of war show in the lives of young veterans’ families? “Of Men and War” tells the story of young dads, returned from battles in faraway lands but still fighting the psychological aftermath. Laurent Bécue-Renard’s film opened at the Festival de Cannes (Official selection 2014), was nominated for Best European Documentary at the European Film Academy Awards 2014 and won awards on the scenes of International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam IDFA, San Francisco Film Festival and many others. Laurent, who lived and worked as a journalist in Sarajevo during the siege, tells of world conflicts through the contorted lives in search of lost normalcy. He is a first timer at Aristoteles Workshop.
Following one week of masterclass and four of production, the best movie of this edition will be selected and awarded by an international jury.
Until a new class will emerge with freshly cut edits, the already completed Aristoteles Workshop films can be seen on cinepub.ro, a FVOD platform for cinema lovers and creators.
As of 2018, AW is partnering with the Babes Bolyai University in Cluj Napoca, The Facultaty of Theatre and Television and with cinepub.ro, the online platform where Romanian films stream for free legally worldwide.
This year’s edition is financed by The National Cinema Centre CNC, The Romanian Filmmakers Association UCIN and DACIN SARA, with the support of NouMax and The Mayoralty of Baru, Hunedoara county.
We chill and enjoy a good story with our partners Aqua Carpatica and Domeniile Sâmburești.
Word of good movies in the pipeline spreads through our media partners cinemagia.ro and liternet.ro.
About Aristoteles Workshop
ARISTOTELES WORKSHOP (AW) is a training and development centre dedicated to fostering a new generation of creative documentary filmmakers around the world, established by producers Dan Nuțu și Cristina Hoffman in 2006, with substantial material and spiritual support from the French/German cultural TV channel Arte.
Well known documentary experts offer full tutoring and mentoring to talented, passionate and proactive filmmakers and artists committed to undergo an intense 5-week learning experience in a newly formed team.
AW has produced over 40 documentaries widely appreciated by audiences and festival juries alike, and winners of important awards in Cannes Film Festival - Quinzaine des Realisateurs, DoK Leipzig, IDFA Amsterdam, or Locarno International Film Festival.
Over the years, the program was financed by Arte, TVR, The National Cinema Centre CNC, The MEDIA Programme, AFCN (The National Cultural Fund Administration), UCIN (Romanian Filmmakers Union), DACIN SARA, The Cultural Romanian Institute, as well as private sponsors such as Farmexim, Istyle, Cabinetul Țuca/Zbârcea&Asociații, NouMax, Mandragora, along the mayoralties of Sibiu, Arad and Baia Mare.
About The Documentary Filmmaking Masters Program at the Babes Bolyai University in Cluj Napoca
The Faculty of Theatre and Television at the Babes Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca is a multidisciplinary, multicultural institution with a wide spectrum: Theatre, Cinema and Media, the latter with majors in film direction, cinematography, multimedia, sound-editing, audiovisual communications and filmology. All programs are taught in Romanian, Hungarian and English.
The Documentary Filmmaking Masters is the first academic initiative in non fiction film production in Romania, propelled by Aristoteles Workshop alumnus Dan Curean and his colleagues. It is taught in English and primarily targets graduates in Cinematography, Photography, Media, Filmology, Film Direction or graduates of other disciplines seeking a specialization in documentaries. It immerses its students into all documentary production stages and all are expected to produce a long feature documentary for their dissertation thesis and to participate and interact with industry professionals in docs festivals in Romania: Astra Film Sibiu, Docuart Bucharest or Pelicam Tulcea. Visiting professors include Peter Gothshalk – commissioning editor at Arte France/Germany, dr. Arnau Gifreu – University of Girona, prof. dr. Robert Wierzbicki – University of Mittweida, Germany, dr. Rebeka Jorgensen – Fulbright Scholar, professor and filmmaker.
Cinepub is the only FVOD online platform dedicated to Romanian cinema, legally streaming independent and national and international patrimony films since 2015. Open data meets culture in a live, free archive of Romanian cinema and one of the largest worldwide. Thursday night is premiere night on Cinepub.ro.