26-08-2020

Baltic Sea Docs online edition begins this week

The 24th edition of Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries begins this week, taking place mostly in an online form from 29 August to 6 September. Baltic Sea Docs is the most important documentary training and pitching event in the Baltic countries, bringing together filmmakers from the wider Baltic Sea region, Eastern Europe and Caucasus region. 

24 film projects have been selected for participation at the forum this year, representing 16 countries including Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, and others. The participants will take part in a preparatory workshop, pitching sessions and individual meetings with international experts, as well as a seminar on docu-series and several talks. A public film programme, screened online in Latvia, will run parallel to the industry events.

“This is going to be a very different edition - we are experiencing it throughout the whole preparation stage of the event. We perceive it as a new challenge, in which we will build up other skills for the whole team involved in this process. The most difficult thing at this point is to change the mindset that almost all of the event will be online, and we will see most of the participants and guests only through the small screens, not physically in Riga. But we still intend to convey the event’s identity, even in a digital environment, thus we are creating a Baltic Sea Docs studio in Riga for moderators to work from. I do hope that this online edition will be as rewarding and as helpful to participants in going ahead with their projects as the offline one would be - as that is our main objective,” Zane Balčus, project manager of the Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries comments.     

Due to the event going online this year, Baltic Sea Docs programme has been stretched over a longer period of time and more workshop tutors will be working with projects in the form of individual consultations. The five day workshop aimed at enhancing the participants' presentations prior to the upcoming pitching sessions will be lead by nine tutors: the documentary film consultants Tue Steen Müller and Mikael Opstrup (Denmark), film director and producer Péter Kerekes (Slovakia), film director Emma Davie (Scotland), film director and producer Audrius Stonys (Lithuania), deputy director of sales and acquisition company First Hand Films Gitte Hansen (Switzerland), director and producer Nino Orjonikidze (Georgia), film editor Phil Jandaly (Sweden), and film director and screenwriter Diana El Jeiroudi (Syria/Germany).

The pitching sessions will take place on 3-4 September. Film project representatives from the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), where travelling is currently not restricted, will arrive in Riga to present their projects at the Baltic Sea Docs studio, while other teams and decision makers will be joining online. The pitching session moderators Tue Steen Müller and Mikael Opstrup (also leading workshop tutors) will work from the studio in Riga.

The projects will be presented to a panel of decision makers from TV channels, sales and distribution companies such as Cat & Docs (France), Syndicado (Canada), Taskovski (UK), BBC (UK), NHK (Japan), EER (Estonia), LTV (Latvia), YLE (Finland), Arte (France), Current Time TV (USA), Al Jazeera (Qatar), and others. Selected projects will be awarded with an editing consultancy (Baltic Sea Docs award), a 2,500 EUR cash prize (Current Time TV award), impact campaign consultancy (DAE award) and post-production services in value of 3000 EUR (BB Post House award). 

For the first time, Baltic Sea Docs will cooperate with the platform Pitch the Doc, offering the projects to create profiles on the site, ensuring follow up for the decision makers of the event and others.

The industry event programme will also feature a seminar on developing successful factual TV series on 2 September, led by Elina Pohjola from Citizen Jane Productions, Finland (co-organised by Creative Europe Media Offices of Latvia and Slovenia). The seminar is part of the new East Doc Series initiative, recently started by the Institute of Documentary Film (Czech Republic) in order to provide know-how and feedback to filmmakers in Central and Eastern Europe developing documentary series and help them reach international markets. The activities are planned in a tripartite form - first taking off at Baltic Sea Docs, followed by an event during East Doc Platform in Prague in spring and concluded at Sunny Side of the Doc (France) next summer. Five docu-series projects have been selected for the first East Doc Series event at Baltic Sea Docs.

Additionally, Baltic Sea Docs will host two masterclasses (available to forum participants and accredited guests) - by the Lithuanian director and producer Audrius Stonys (31 August) and Latvian producer Uldis Cekulis (1 September) (both moderated by Tue Steen Müller).

For the fourth year, Baltic Sea Docs will partner with Artdocfest, a festival and industry platform for independent filmmakers from the former Soviet Union. Artdocfest pitching session on 2 September will present 10 selected projects. 

Baltic Sea Docs is organised by the National Film Centre of Latvia with financial support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, the Creative Europe Media programme, and the Riga City Council.

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