“Using cinema with all its greatness to research the human soul”
Industry Report: Documentary
Kobi Mizrahi • Producer, KM Productions
The Israeli producer discusses working in documentary filmmaking, which he describes as a great world of creative opportunities
Israeli producer Kobi Mizrahi of KM Productions, coming from the guest country of the 2021 Emerging Producers programme, discusses working in documentary filmmaking, which he describes as a great world of creative opportunities.
Why do you produce documentaries? Do you understand documentary film as an instrument of social and political change?
Kobi Mizrahi: As a producer, I'm doing both fiction and documentary films – and I love them all. In any format or genre, what I'm actually looking for is an interesting point of view, one that uses the cinematic language to tell a story, to research an emotion or a state of life.
Over the course of my work, I have had the chance to be involved in many social and political projects, dealing with the burning issues of my region. It is a great way to open a discussion and to initiate a dialogue between different societies and people with diverse perspectives.
Documentary filmmaking, whether it is dealing with current affairs or not, holds a great world of creative opportunities, using the reality as clay to sculpt thoughts. I believe that the only thing that really connects us as people are bare emotions, little everyday moments that are as universal as they are specific. Using cinema with all its greatness to research the human soul.
How do you deal with the current pandemic situation as a producer? What are your main concerns (or opportunities)?
The past year has definitely been different, but although a production of a feature I'm working on was postponed, I was lucky enough to be able to shoot a few shorts.
On the positive side, from my Tel Aviv apartment I enjoyed approachable screenings of a vast selection of great films from the best international festivals, I couldn't otherwise attend. I do miss the personal connections formed between the screening, I miss the parties and cocktails, and it's well known that the best deals are signed over a beer.
The world adapted itself to the new situation, but it's clear that there's no replacement for the big screen, the close collective experience will always be much more emotional and have a greater impact on the viewer. I'm sure that at the moment the theaters will re-open, the audience will rush in and we will experience a renaissance of cinema.
What do you think is the future of the distribution of documentary films?
In many ways, and as an opposite of the fact that the world has been closed for traveling, the pandemic has made the world smaller, online platforms became extremely popular and made quality cinema as approachable as the big summer hits.
I believe that the distribution field will be divided into two manifestations – web platforms, in the search for larger audiences, will give independent filmmakers, with small stories, opportunities to show their work to people around the globe. At the other end, the fact that content became part of our ordinary daily routine has emphasized the growing need for extraordinary experiences resulting in in more cinematic documentaries finding their way to the big screen on independent theaters.
In light of the changing times, it is time to cut the fetters that broadcast television has forced upon the Israeli documentary industry. There is no reason to condition public funding in having a local broadcaster.
What projects do you have underway (including in the area of fiction film and other projects)?
I'm currently working on several exciting new projects, in different stages of production. In April 2021, we intend to shoot Yona Rozenkier's second feature film Decompression a Swiss-French-Israeli co-production (presented in Cannes Atelier), and Israeli-Canadian VR documentary The Blind Man Who Saw directed by Adam Weingrod.
In the financing stage, I have Yona Rozenkier's third feature film Wild Animals (developed during EAVE producers' workshop and Torino Script Lab), and a debut feature directed by the acclaimed Israeli actor Roy Assaf titled Bordel Total.
In addition, two documentary features Silence Reigns Above Me directed by Hila Waldman (partly financed), and Necropolis, second creative documentary by Keren Alexander.
In development, I have both fiction and documentary films by emerging new talents.
Short films are my big love and I always keep a few on my plate, my latest short White Eye directed by Tomer Shushan is currently on the Oscars shortlist, cross your fingers for us!
EMERGING PRODUCERS is a leading promotional and educational project, which brings together talented European documentary film producers. The programme is organised and curated by the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival.
Deadline for applications to the EMERGING PRODUCERS 2022 edition is 31 March 2021.
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