Zuzana Kučerová, Czech producer at Frame Films keeps us updated with the documentary film “Vote for Kibera”, which was successfully pitched in the “Social and Human Interest” category at Sunny Side of the Doc 2017.
« Vote for Kibera » is directed by Martin Pav, produced by Frame Films and coproduced by Czech Television. The film is now completed and recently won the Audience Award at 2018 Ji.halva International Documentary Film Festival as well as a selection in the official international competition at FIPADOC 2019. We are glad to hear back from this powerful story, wihich depicts the diversity of different characters of Kibera, a giant slum in the center of Nairobi.
Central and Eastern European producers may have trouble establishing co-production relations due to different budget standards in different countries. Lately, however, I have noticed a certain shift and it seems to me that the Czech Republic has started to co-produce film projects more often. Taking part in Sunny Side of the Doc was a great experience and an honour because the quality of pitched projects was outstanding.
Tell us, what followed on from your pitch and what are your key takeways from Sunny Side of the Doc?
After the pitch, I flew to Kibera for scheduled filming. As we went along with post-production, we were in touch with our contacts from Sunny Side of the Doc, informing them about the film’s progress. Based on consultations with John Lindsay from Illinois Public Media (USA), we have prepared a TV version (52′). Taking part in Sunny Side of the Doc was a great experience and an honour because the quality of pitched projects was outstanding.
« Vote for Kibera » is a study of life in a giant slum in Nairobi, home to at least half a million people and intense poverty. The film follows people who have transformed their hard experiences into meaningful activities as well as people who represent the ordinary life in the slum.
What makes it a story fit to travel across borders?
We tried to make a film which would reflect the reality of the Kibera slum as accurately as possible. Apart from Czech professionals, the crew also involved local filmmakers who had grown up in the slum. Moreover, we cooperated with Czech humanitarian experts who have operated on the ground for several years. This gave us a unique opportunity to gain access to the slum while establishing a trusting relationship with the locals. I believe that we have succeeded to create a film with an authentic atmosphere. What also helped to make the film accessible, in my opinion, were test screenings – for film professionals as well as cinemagoers – which we held before finishing the editing. We had also screened the film for our protagonists whose opinions were very important to us.
In how many countries will the film be distributed?
So far, the film has been distributed in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia. We are still in touch with PBS and we have also been negotiating the film’s distribution in Africa which we are very keen on. We believe it is essential that the African audience sees the film too.
In your opinion, what are the main difficulties Central/Eastern European documentary makers and producers have to face to develop international coproductions ?
Central and Eastern European producers may have trouble establishing co-production relations due to different budget standards in different countries. Lately, however, I have noticed a certain shift and it seems to me that the Czech Republic has started to co-produce film projects more often, partly thanks to the first-rate support provided by the State Film Fund which champions minor co-productions and knows the ins and outs of the European market. Another potential difficulty results from the difference in mentality: the East still has a lot to learn from the West; it is obvious that Western cinema has had the chance to develop longer within the current framework. In the Czech Republic, on the other hand, as well as in other former Eastern Bloc countries, cinema was state-controlled up until the end of 1980s and the market as we know it today did not even exist.
How does Frame Films overcome this challenge ?
We have been pro-actively building a network of contacts across Europe, participating in workshops in order to discover all the various approaches to the creation process and production, and first and foremost, we co-produce films that we like.
Project submissions are now open for Sunny Side of the Doc 2019 pitching sessions. What’s your message to fellow producers who have not come in La Rochelle yet ?
I consider Sunny Side of the Doc to be one of the most important European markets in documentaries and VR. The mere acceptance of a project to Syunny Side’s marketplace event is an indicator of the project’s high quality. I have to say that the combination of brilliant organization, professionalism and La Rochelle’s friendly ambiance have made Sunny Side of the Doc definitely the most enjoyable event for me to date.
A gift idea for the 30th anniversary edition of Sunny Side of the Doc this June ?
My wish for Sunny Side of the Doc is that it maintains its lovely atmosphere, great team and all the film industry allies. I also wish that an increasing number of producers from Central and Eastern Europe are going to attend this special event in the future.