Influential People – the Newcomers

Davaa and Falorni, Bartley and O'Briain: chosen for their bold entry onto the doc scene, and the promise of a repeat performance
November 1, 2003

Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni

The Story of the Weeping Camel doesn’t have the kind of resumé one would expect for a film that has generated much hoopla: directed by two unknown film students in Germany; shot in a remote Asian country on a bare-bones budget; main character a camel.

Director Byambasuren Davaa had envisioned Weeping Camel as a short when she approached classmate Tobias Siebert to produce it. She planned to go to her native Mongolia to shoot the story; Siebert convinced her to make it longer, and fellow student Luigi Falorni came on board as codirector.

The film, beautifully shot in the old-school tradition of Robert Flaherty, caused a stir from its first screening, at the Munich Film Festival, where Los Angeles-based Menemsha Entertainment signed on to take care of world sales. ‘The film touches [people's] hearts,’ says Siebert. Following a week of sold-out screenings at the Toronto International Film Festival (Sept. 5 to 14), Menemsha talked to more than five potential distribs before settling on ThinkFilm to handle North American distribution. To top it off, Camel is Mongolia’s official selection for Oscar consideration as best foreign-language film, the first time the country has made a submission.

If Camel is any indication, audiences should be on the lookout for more great storytelling from these recent film grads.

Kim Bartley and Donnacha O’Briain

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is more conventional than Weeping Camel, but remarkable for what it depicts – an eyewitness account of a failed coup and the media’s power to manipulate reality. In a classic case of being in the right place at the right time, Irish doc-makers Kim Bartley and Donnacha O’Briain were four months into shooting their first feature-doc, about Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, when the coup broke out. Bartley and O’Briain were in the presidential palace and continued to film as Chavez was whisked away, leaving his cabinet and supporters in disarray until his return could somehow be orchestrated.

Film reviewers have marveled at the footage Bartley and O’Briain were able to capture, including members of the ‘interim cabinet’ – post coup-attempt – being guarded in the bowels of the palace, and a shot of an empty safe following the escape of coup leaders.

Prior to Revolution, Bartley had directed several travel programs while O’Briain had directed TV doc The Seminary, which aired on Irish pubcaster RTE. Following Revolution, their future projects are bound to be met with great anticipation.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.