PICKS: Amsterdam uprising

Getting political
January 1, 2007

Getting political
The director’s statement from a pitching package can perfectly embody their excitement and encapsulate their film. Take this one from Ben Hopkins, the director of Naples ’43 – ’48 (w/t), a feature length doc produced by London-based Tigerlily Films: ‘[Naples'] history is complex to say the least. But the period ’43 to ’48 packs more in than most cities get in a century. Sleaze, sex, corruption, the Second World War, the Cold War, daring thefts, a communist uprising, thieves pretending to be uprising communists in order to steal Nazi motorbikes, the eruption of Vesuvius…’ There’s more, but you get the picture.

And so did the CEs in attendance. Michael Burns from Canada’s The Documentary Channel committed to Hopkins’ last film, the successful 37 Uses for a Dead Sheep, and said of Naples: ‘We will absolutely license it,’ even though he doesn’t usually do so with history docs.

Gaspard Lamunière from Switzerland’s TSR also loves the film, budgeted at €467,000 (US$612,000), but would prefer a one-hour version (which the producers said is possible). Ingemar Persson from Sweden’s svt asked about the narrative style, which Hopkins says will include many stories being told to camera by characters. Hopkins promises it will be a ‘lively, chaotic and colorful way’ of telling the tale. Sounds appropriate considering the topic.

Getting personal
Keeping things chronological in content, the next film pitched was 1948 – A Home Movie, a film based on dozens of home movies from private citizens that show their experiences during the year in which the State of Israel was founded, and the turbulent decades leading up to it. With 52- and 90-minute versions in the making, the film is produced by Tel Aviv-based Alma Films and Dutch copro partner Lumen Film.

With a budget of €458,000 (US$600,000), the producers were looking for €337,000 ($441,000) at the pitching table. When asked by Annet Betsalel of The Netherland’s Jewish Broadcasting Foundation to explain the production cost, producer Arik Bernstein replied that collecting and transferring 8mm or 16mm to video is a long, expensive process.

Among others, Paul Pauwels, a CE at Belgium’s VRT Canvas, said it’s a fantastic idea for which he’ll have to find a slot, and that personal stories are receiving hype in his country these days.

Getting attention
During the time Brian Steidle served as a military observer in Darfur, he witnessed mass murder firsthand. Steidle eventually resigned, and smuggled more than 1,000 of his photographs back to the States. To raise awareness of the genocide he’d seen, Steidle publicly revealed his images and experiences.

The Devil Came on Horseback is an 85-minute voyage through Steidle’s story, interwoven with news footage. Produced by NY’s Break Thru Films, the budget is €488,000 (US$639,000), and the team was looking for €366,000 ($479,000) of that at IDFA. HBO’s Nancy Abraham, the backing broadcaster, has worked with directors Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern previously and is ‘confident they’ll produce an exemplary film.’

Others from around the table felt the same way. Mette Hoffmann Meyer from TV2 Denmark also enjoys the directors’ work, and may come in as a copro partner. Hans Robert Eisenhauer from Germany’s ZDF/ARTE said he couldn’t do the same, but agreed the film is ‘absolutely important.’

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.