June 28, 2017

AFS Documentary Filmmaker Workshop

By Sabrina Malekzadah

The University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) has partnered with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to foster cultural understanding through filmmaking. This year the program, known as the American Film Showcase, has invited 12 documentary filmmakers from Nigeria, Morocco, Lithuania, South Africa, Egypt, Indonesia, Panama, Greece, Chile, Armenia, Georgia, and China to workshop their films at SCA. The filmmakers shared details of their careers and works in progress with each other. Here’s a snapshot who they are and the projects they are working on: 

Ishaya Bako, Nigeria

Ishaya has studied filmmaking at the London Film School and has since gone on to direct over a dozen short films and two award winning documentary shorts. His films have been screened at film festivals in Seattle, Durban, New York, London, Lagos and Clermont- Ferrand. He has just finished principle photography on his next feature, a romantic comedy.

Mahassine El Hachadi, Morocco

Mahassine received her Bachelor’s Degree from the École Supérieure d’AudioVisuel (E.S.A.V) of Marrakech. Her work has won a handful of awards and her films have screened at prestigious festivals such as Clermont-Ferrand and Barcelona’s Human Rights Film Festival to name a few. She has most recently been awarded a scholarship to attend the London Film School as a sponsored researcher.

Akvile Gelaziute, Lithuania

Akvile received her BA in TV Directing in 2009 from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre (LMTA). Her approach to documentary filmmaking is that instead of moralizing, she shows normal people through a sympathetic eye. Currently, Akvile is working on her new feature documentary, Europe Unseen.

Rea Moeti, South Africa

Rea studied both in Cape Town and in the UK. Working in two countries allowed her to gain experience in both indie and commercial film and television. She is now one of the youngest head writers in the South African television industry, with her first drama series based on a South African women’s prison.

Mina Nabil, Egypt

Mina is a director, cinematographer, and producer from Alexandria, Egypt. He is also one of the co-founders of Fig Leaf Studio in Alexandria. Recently, a project he did with Fig Leaf Studios was nominated for the Robert Bosch Stiftung Film Prize at the 2016 Berlinale.

Chairun Nissa, Indonesia

Chairun graduated from the Jakarta Institute of Arts in 2009 with a major in Film Directing. She makes both fiction and documentary films and her work has been featured at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). Currently, with her team at Sedap Films - a production house in Jakarta, she is developing work that combines comedy and education.  

Enrique Pérez, Panama

Enrique received his Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Advertising. In 2006, he received a scholarship to attend film school in Cuba, where he developed skills for film directing and screenwriting in addition to working as a video editor for a number of production companies. In 2015 he completed his third feature length film, Kenke, which was released in local cinemas across Panama.

Christina Pitouli, Greece

Christina studied journalism at the Panteion University of Athens and holds a Master’s in the Theory and Practice of Creative Documentary Making from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). She has directed a number of documentary shorts, all focusing primarily on gender and social issues. In 2015 she worked with the Colombian director, Jorge Caballero, on the Interactive Web Documentary, Impaciente, part of the award-winning transmedia documentary project, Paciente.

Alfredo Pourailly De La Plaza, Chile

Alferdo is a documentary photographer and filmmaker. The IDFA Bertha Fund, Hot Docs CrossCurrent Doc Fund and the Chilean Documentary Scriptwriting Fund supported The Land of Fire, his first feature documentary. His work with his company, Los Olivos Cinema, focuses on the remote and isolated areas of Chilean Patagonia.

Arthur Sukiasyan, Armenia

Arthur graduated from the Golden Apricot International Film Festival’s Master School of Cinema. His debut feature length documentary, Our Atlantis, was screened in a number of international film festivals, including the Pomegranate Film Festival in Toronto, where it won both the Audience Choice and Best Documentary Film Awards. Currently, Arthur works as a producer at Bars Media, a documentary film studio.

Shorena Tevzadze, Georgia

In 2005, Shorena received her Master’s in Documentary Filmmaking from Georgian Shota Rustaveli State University of Theatre and Films. Didube: The Last Stop was her first feature length documentary. The Swiss-Georgian co-production premiered in competition in the “Regard Neuf” section of the 2017 Visions du Reel Film Festival. Currently, she is working on her second feature length documentary, Forward to the Ancestry.

Wang Di “David”, China

Wang Di is a linguist-turned-journalist with extensive reporting experience about China’s southwestern ethnic minorities. His interest in storytelling has taken him from reading the Greek historian Herodotus to understanding the significance of contemporary Tibetan epic singers and craftsmen. Now he is working hard to innovate his storytelling technique with visual elements that include photos and documentaries.