Keeping Fidadoc (and documentary) alive

After its creator’s tragic death, friends and colleagues kept the the documentary film fest alive

Events and Festivals, Morocco

Keeping Fidadoc (and documentary) alive

Euromed Audiovisual is happy to publish Mia Bittar's news. She has taken part to Greenhouse, a training project financed by Euromed Audiovisual for documentary films aimed at Mediterranean cinema school graduates and emerging filmmakers. She is currently developing Stiching Sudan, a documentary film about four Northern Sudanese characters from Khartoum, who set out on an eye-opening road trip to discover their newly separated country but also themselves, in an encounter with a reality they never knew.

Last April, tucked away in a small square in Agadir, Morocco, the 4th Fidadoc Film Festival brought together filmmakers, producers, commissioning editors, film students, and cinema go-ers from around the Arab world and Europe for five days.  

There was talk that the festival might not be held this year after its creator, founder and driving force Nezha Drissi passed away in December 2011 aged only 46, but her colleagues and friends came together to ensure that the event lived on. 

Keeping Fidadoc alive meant keeping documentary film alive in Morocco and the region, where funds are limited and cinemas close down only too often. 

Agadir’s only cinema and Fidadoc venue, the Cinema Rialto, was recently shut down, only reopening its doors for five days during the festival.

Festival participants, notably from Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, and Sudan, all share similar difficulties in producing documentaries. Fidadoc, supported by Euromed Audiovisual, provided the opportunity to discuss and collectively try to find solutions to these challenges. 

At this year’s Fidadoc, festival organisers, filmmakers, as well as European and Moroccan producers and commissioning editors including Reda Benjelloun (TV2M, Morocco), Aurélien Bodineaux (Néon Rouge, Belgium), Laurent Bocahut (Dominant 7), and Dominique Olier, (director of programming for Africadoc) highlighted the most pertinent issues facing documentary production in the region.

Filmmakers work in isolation, very often “guerrilla style” to try to tell their stories, they said. The region lacks funding mechanisms and experienced regional producers. Too often, the producer’s role is misunderstood to be merely acquiring funds, while they should work closely with the director on the film’s development and screenwriting.

Despite their potential in bringing films to wider audiences and markets outside the region, European producers and directors from the South Mediterranean still do not very often work together.

To tackle these issues, participants suggested creating specific workshops for producers which could be mentored by European producers, as well as filmmakers inviting directors and producers a few days before pitching sessions to work on their pitches.

Beyond all these ideas and advice, which included “Keep on shooting no matter what!”, the festival also provided the invaluable opportunity for filmmakers to network. New friendships were formed and filmmakers were able to widen their pool of contacts, perhaps for future collaborations. 

Among the films screened at the festival, the following stood out: Le thé ou l’électricite by Jérôme le Maire, Soy Libre by Andrea Roggon, Los Ulises by Agatha Maciaszek and Alberto Garcia Ortiz, and Life by Patrick Epape. 

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