“I do believe in streaming and curated specialized platforms”
Industry Report: Documentary
Natalia Libet • Producer, DGTL RLGN
The Emerging Producer 2022 from Ukraine discusses documentary filmmaking, the impact of the pandemic on the sector and the future that awaits
Why do you produce documentaries? Do you understand documentary film as an instrument of social and political change?
Natalia Libet: As for the stories I produce, I do not distinguish between fiction and documentary. Whether the story is staged or depicted without any specific setting, it reflects the author and their team, it tells about their pain and most of the time works as a cure. The consideration of that cure as personal, political or social depends on viewers and their inclusion, and of course, their will to be included.
The pandemic had an impact on the entire sector. How did it influence your work as a producer? Have the projects that you work on changed?
It has changed the parameters of planning: indicators and timing of production including flexibility of teams and the number of crew members, how and where and for what purpose to travel. If we talk about the three main tasks of producing: preserving the director’s vision, keeping the teams on schedule and safe, and securing the budgets, then keeping the teams safe has gotten to #1 priority.
What do you think is the future of the distribution of documentary films?
I do believe in streaming and I do believe in curated specialized platforms like MUBI. So for the documentary films, I think the distribution would more and more happen at festivals (for the filmmakers to share premiere’s moments with colleagues and cinephiles), through the curated streaming platforms and special screenings organized like events outside the festivals.
What projects do you have underway?
I am totally in love with the films and projects I am working on. For example: Diary of a Bride of Christ, a documentary by very young Ukrainian director Marta Smerechynska, who at only 24 presents her reflection on the differences between the path chosen by her younger sister Nastia, a Greek-Catholic nun, and herself. Another of such projects is When We Were 15, a fiction debut by Anna Buryachkova telling the story of shame of being abused, of pursuing love in the sense of belonging to someone or something, and getting finally out of all of that.
Zoya Laktionova’s Ashes Settling in Layers on the Surface is researching how our family past might influence our behaviour now, whether it is passed through genes or other physical and psychological stresses in our body and mind, and whether we can change that or not to influence our future.
These are all strong female stories I am dealing with except for Dawn Choir by Mykola Zaseev, whose story is set far in the future, after all wars, and is an adventure (anti-utopia, road movie) of finding a life-purpose for a war-professional of 40+ in a very strange world with no rules, values and principles except for surviving.
- - Ashes Settling in Layers on the Surface 65’ documentary dir. Zoya Laktionova
- - Dawn Choir 120’ fiction dir. Mykola Zaseev
- - Consider Vera 120’ fiction dir. Marina Stepanska
- - Rivals limited series fiction dir. Marina Stepanska
- - When We Were 15 (Us, 15) 90’ fiction dir. Anna Buryachkova
- - Diary of a Bride of Christ 90’ documentary dir. Marta Smerechynska
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 2023 edition is 31 March 2022.
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