Circle Women Doc Accelerator Unveils 2024 Cannes Docs Projects (EXCLUSIVE)

Circle Women Doc Accelerator, an international training program dedicated to women and non-binary filmmakers, has unveiled the four projects that will take part in its showcase as part of the Cannes Docs program of the upcoming Cannes Film Market.

For the fifth consecutive year, four alumnae of the program will present their works-in-progress during the market.

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“Dreamers” by Imam Hasanov, produced by Maria Ibrahimova for Cinex production (Azerbaijan), is set in rural Azerbaijan, where former football player Mamed coaches an all-girls football team. He leads young girls to defy societal norms and patriarchy, and pursue their dreams amidst the haunting shadows of history.

“Portrait of a Friendship” directed by Faezeh Nikozaad and produced by Julia Cöllen (Fünferfilm, Germany) is about three Iranian women, all filmmakers and close friends. Through their decade-long filmed correspondence they question life paths they took on the backdrop of an increasingly complex political reality.

“The Elf’s Tower” by Polina Kelm is a metaphoric tale set in a mental health institution in Kyiv as the full invasion of Ukraine is happening. A theater troupe made of patients rehearses a prophetic play that will never be ready for the premiere, as if an invisible force stands in the way. “It is produced by Polina Kelm and Magika Films (Ukraine) in co-production with Rok Biček for Cvinger Film (Slovenia).

“White Lies” directed by Alba Zari and produced by Manuela Buono for Slingshot Films (Italy), revolves around the director’s identity quest. Born in a cult in Bangkok but raised in Italy, Zari, a photographer and artist, traces the history of three generations of women through her artistic lens, hidden truths and the white lies that define their current identities.

Films presented in previous years include “Twice Colonized” by Lin Alluna, which won the top Docs-in-Progress 2022 award ahead of premiering in Sundance and screened as opening film in both CPH:DOX and Hot Docs; “Cent’anni” by Maja Prelog who also won the top Docs-in-Progress award in 2021; Anna Nemet’s “Beauty of the Beast” (Nordisk Panorama Award 2020); and “Ever Since I Knew Myself” by Maka Gogaladze, awarded at Cannes Docs 2023, which is celebrating its world premiere in the Burning Lights competition of Visions du Réel 2024.

“Our lasting partnership with Cannes Docs and Marché du Film allowed Circle Docs-in-Progress showcase to be an important yearly rendez-vous for our program, which aims not only to help develop but also to promote the work of its alumnae. I’m happy to see that films presented in previous years have achieved major success and traveled the world, boosting the careers of their authors and bringing women to the most important position of the documentary industry,” Circle program director Biljana Tutorov said.

“This year we will highlight another four talented filmmakers coming from Iran and Germany, Ukraine, Italy and Azerbaijan. As usual, personal, political and ethical issues are at the core of our Docs-in-Progress selection, inviting to emotional journeys through four different cinematic paths – from cinema verité and black and white drama to mixing archives and virtual reality, interrogating the nature of memory and image, and the complexity of present moment between life and destruction,” Tutorov added.

Circle is designed as an international training program and safe space for women and non-binary filmmakers working both in documentary and fiction. Their flagship program is Women Doc Accelerator, a year-round training initiative, open to projects and professionals in all stages. In 2023 they launched Fiction Orbit, a residential workshop dedicated to mid-career filmmakers who are developing scripted projects.

The initiative is co-funded by the European Union – Creative Europe MEDIA and organized by Wake Up Films (Serbia) in partnership with WEMW, Cannes Docs – Marché du Film, International Emerging Film Talent Association (IEFTA), Documentary Association of Europe (DAE), Film Centre of Montenegro, Agora Docs, Greek Film Centre, FestivalScope Pro, European Women’s Audiovisual Network (EWA), Cineuropa, Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, City of Novi Sad and IDM Südtirol Alto Adige.

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