Director Mina Keshavarz’s feature-length documentary SOORA: Breaking the Silence impressed the judges of the 2018 MIPDoc International Pitch competition in Cannes, with its story following the efforts of four women battling to outlaw domestic violence in Iran.
The 52- and 90-minute film will chronicle the four Iranian feminists who, in 2016, launched an NGO called SOORA in an effort to end the acceptance of brutality against women. The doc captures these activists as they attempt to convince Iran’s parliament to pass a new law that turns domestic violence into a crime as well as the organization’s efforts to help victims of domestic violence overcome their shame and break their silence.
Production on the film has already begun and it is expected to be delivered by December 2018. The project has already received 40% of its budget through various grants and private equity. New Docs sales executive Luisa Schwamborn, who repped the film on behalf of the Iranian filmmaker, told the jury that the project was in search of broadcast partners for pre-sales and coproduction opportunities.
The project is coproduced by Cologne-based prodco TAG/TRAUM Filmproduktion and Tehran’s MinDoc Film Productions, in association with ZDF/ARTE.
SOORA: Breaking the Silence was the last pitch heard by this year’s panel of judges, comprised of Pamela Aguilar, senior director programming and development at PBS; Elisabeth Hagstedt, head of acquisitions and coproductions at Histoire; Paul Heaney, CEO at TCB Media Rights; and Dr. Kristina Hollstein, director of acquisitions and coproductions for documentaries at ZDF Enterprises.
All jurors responded favorably to the pitch, with Hagstedt wondering how the content of the 52-minute version would differ from its 90-minute counterpart. Schwamborn explained that the shorter film would focus on the current affairs aspect, or the situation in Iran and SOORA’s initiatives to change things within government; while the 90-minute doc would provide a more creative outlook and a deeper dive into the women’s stories, their backgrounds and how they work to promote change within the nation.
PBS’s Aguilar, meanwhile, inquired as to how Keshavarz’s film would end and whether the project sets out to resolve the issue at hand.
“The [film] will show the people and movement [taking place] in Iran, with the main idea being to show the change that’s happening in the country,” Schwamborn said. “There won’t be a specific point in the end where we have a certain result [in respect to] the law, but it will show that there’s a grassroots community of people working on this topic in an attempt to move things forward.”
As winners of this year’s edition of the MIPDoc International Pitch, Keshavarz and SOORA: Breaking the Silence receives editorial coverage in MIPTV’s Daily News, on the MIPDoc website and MIPBlog; entrance to MIPDoc 2019; and one free project registration in the MIPDoc Screening Library in 2019.
Other projects that made the shortlist for the competition included: Alzheimer’s: Tracking the Assassin (Axolotl Films, UK), a 90-minute documentary providing insight into three related diseases: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS; History Uncovered (ZED, France), a 4 x 52-minute archive-focused series revealing key moments of history from a new perspective; Man vs. Time (DBcom Media, Canada), exploring the daily inventions that have saved mankind hours and days in time; and Next: Blockchain (Ox3 TV Production, New York), an 8 x 45-minute investigative docuseries that embarks on a global journey to pull the curtain back on this new technology.