MERRY CHRISTMAS, YIWU

a Mladen Kovacevic & HOROPTER PRODUCTION (SB), project (90’/52’) - 2019

SYNOPSIS & SUBJECT

 

There is a city in China called Yiwu, that has more than 600 Christmas factories, in which Christmas as we know it is produced for the entire world. This film is a portrait of Yiwu and its workers.

Yiwu is a wealthy modern city with cosmopolitan lifestyle rarely seen in China. It is inhabited by factory bosses driving Maseratis and Rolls Royces, and migrant workers from all over China, who do not miss their hometowns, but who miss their factories when they go home for holidays.

These factories are surrogate households where best friends hang out, where couples meet, families form and children grow up. They are all trapped in the parallel universe of the eternal Christmastime, where Christmas is celebrated by no-one.

The workers from Yiwu have unusually large salaries, several times higher than in most of China, or for that matter most of Eastern Europe. They can easily afford biggest newest iPhones. They live in dormitories for free, air-conditioning and three meals included.

Yiwu is the ultimate globalization success story. A true Christmas fairy-tale for grownups. If you happen to believe in fairy-tales.

Merry Christmas, Yiwu is a melancholic observational documentary with a geopolitical twist, and the alluring visual aesthetic that enhances the irony of modern China – the unexpected place where even Christmas is made.

 

 

 

 

 

GAME OF TRUTH

a Fabienne Lips-Dumas & Domino Production (BE), project (90’/52’) – December 2018

         Anti-insurrectional and dirty war, « The Troubles » foreshadow nowaday’s struggle against islamic terrorism in Europe - The « Northern Irish Metaphor » is here revealed for the warning.

 

Fifty years after the rise of the « Troubles », resumed after a 30 years conflict with the Good Friday Agreement between the Catholics and Protestants of Northern Ireland, families of the victims are still fighting for the truth about what happened to their loved ones. Today, confronted with terrorism, Western states turn to this conflict as a reference. Against the violence of the paramilitary factions and the IRA, the response of the British government was based on intelligence, propaganda and an army of secret agents. Twenty years after the peace agreement, whistleblowers and victims of intelligence alert us on the consequences on the society of a spreading the Northern Ireland metaphor all over Europe, and the setting up of task forces involving all services of intelligence, police and army in intricated and shady ways.

Filmed in Northern Ireland, Game of Truth joins five families of victims, dives into the world of information, doubles agents and their contacts, infiltration of terrorist groups, secret operations and impunity, denunciating crimes committed by terrorist groups while supported by the British State.

In today’s world where information is the weapon of preference against terrorist cells, the experiences of these families helps us understand the drivers and limitations and to question the rules of this dangerous game which upsets our laws and the human rights principles on which they have been erected.

SUBJECT

In this country, everyone knows that there will be no peace without reconciliation and no reconciliation without truth and without justice. Yet hundreds of victims' families are still struggling to reveal the truth about the disappearance of theirs and collide with the silence and obstructions of the state. Confronted with aborted investigations, criminal omissions, lies, secrets, silence, Kafkaesque delays, these families abandoned by the british judiciary are condemned to a mourning which, according to them, only truth will allow.

Today, they make the investigation that the police does not. They search the archives, accumulate newspaper clippings, return to the crime scene, find witnesses, exhume bodies to check the records of forensic pathologists and ballistic reports, go back to the murder weapon. In this careful work of ants to denounce attacks, assassinations and serial killers, families face the ruthless world of police and army double agents and protected informers, to confront intelligence service and state security.

Catholics, Protestants, soldiers, policemen, all have been victims of a network of espionage subject to skidding. A detective from Scotland Yard, sent to investigate on collusion in Northern Ireland, stated that the conflict had been aggravated and prolonged by a nucleus of agents of the state. The British government has twice apologized publicly. Seeing the determination of families, apologies will not suffice. Not if they are substitutes for the truth.

TREATMENT

The visual style will be borrowed to the film noir and to crime stories, with Belfast as the theatre of the investigation, still dated from the seventies, with its red bricks houses, its double decker busses, walls painted to remind the events, and the separation wall still standing. Vintage objects will be brought in the scene as well, attached to night sequences, bringing abstract scenes to nourish the fearfull and mystery atmosphere. The surveillance atmosphere will be rendered through reverse shots in windows, car mirrors, and low or high angled shots, or hidden ones. Movements of camera will be dynamic, creating an urgency to the story, allowing also an editing in a jump cut style.

Archives will be involved in illustrating the testimonies of the families, or in flash backs for more emotional moments. Documents will be used in an entertaining way, used in reconstruction of investigations, placed on a mural panel. They will be brought also in a contemporary manner during the meeting with characters, on their laptop, on their cellphone.

Animation will be used with the aim of proving reconstructions of events in a defiant way towards police’s conclusions.

The soundtrack will be marked by the times of the Brit pop and rock hype, abstracting from the dark world of espionage and research.

PRODUCTION TEAM

Director / Fabienne Lips-Thomas is an experienced director of Theatrical and TV Documentaries, based in USA, who cooperated with numerous television channels as ARTE, France Televison, Radio Canada,  Canal +, as recently with the acclaimed « Winds of chemical war»), which she has directed with the support of Domino Production.

Production house / Domino Production is a production company created by Sergio Ghizzardi  focusing on documentaries. Our objective is to produce documentary films, reports and television programs that wake up of the viewers to the social realities – political, economic and/or cultural – of our contemporary times.  For us, it is essential to reach a broad audience in a positive manner by putting into perspective the work of those in charge of building our society.  Domino Production has during all these years coproduced or collaborated with various television in the world such as RTBF, VRT, ARTE, TV5, RTE, ERT, Star TV, YLE, SVT, ORF, RTP, Phoenix TV, LCP, EST TV, PBS Taiwan. 

ELECTRIC MALADY

a Marie Liden & Aconite Production (SC), Agent Double (BE) project (90’/52’) – December 2018

 

SYNOPSIS & SUBJECT

 

This is a story dedicated to those suffering from an illness steeped in controversy: electrosensitivity. In Sweden, living in confinement and under a radiation-shielding blanket for the past six years in an isolated forest cabin, William sees his health badly deteriorating. DELETE this >and looses his will to live. In Canada, Tyler, twelve, although enjoying Netflix and gaming on the internet, lives in a wifi and cellphone free environment. The government grants him a home education to keep Tyler away from the wifi in the school that made him so sick.  DELETE the following as it is about William not Tyler> and his family helps him flush out metals from his organism, which are proved to amplify his electrosensitivity. Electrosensitivity is becoming one of the serious health concerns of the 21st century, with a potential impact within the judiciary and on social security if recognized as a disability as recent cases have been.

Few, if any films, have taken an independent view upon this issue, nor provided an experience which is effective, understandable and personally engaging. Director Marie Lidén grew up with a mother suffering from this then unknown illness – for a time, as a child, she started to believe her mother had turned into a vampire... Today, in a technologically advanced world, doctors still fail to diagnose and treat electrosensitivity. Using her own story as a thread, Marie explores William and Tyler’s isolated worlds and their families’ unrelenting commitment to help them.

 In 2006, William was a typical, energetic, socialized and dating happy 31 year old, until a hearing loop system was installed at his workplace at the library : he and three co-workers became severely affected by electrosensitivity. Eight years later, he is forced to isolate himself in a cottage set in a pine forest, an hour drive from his family home. When he was 7, Tyler had to be removed from school after wifi was installed in the premises. He is still able, through removing himself from wifi, to have an relatively ordinary life, although he misses hanging out with his friends at school.

There has always been mixed scientific opinion about the effects of electromagnetic fields upon humans and the natural world. While 3/4G and WiFi signals grow massively every year with increasing EMF-Electro magnetic fields amplify, and as evidence of their potential ill-effects keep building, the debate becomes ever more necessary. The WHO-World Health Organization, in 2004, estimated 3% of the world population to be EHS. Surveys conducted one year after, a decisive EMF proliferation year, came up with 10% … How about 2017 ? While granting a status of EHS-Electro hyper sensitivity to individuals as symptomatic, the WHO remains reluctant to link EHS to EMF, as seeing no scientific proof, or to even consider EHS as an actual medical diagnosis or a single medical problem.

 

TREATMENT

Unique to this subject matter and defying filmmaking are the physical limitations to filming electrosensitivity sufferers. Classic cinematic conventions will be applied with hand-cranked 16mm footage and sound recording with non-transmitting microphones which allow to create a distinctive ‘look’ while not causing William harm. The intimate style of the project is the result of cinematographer Michael Sherrington’s textured imagery along with composer John Lemke’s electronic soundscapes which together draw us deeply into the story.

Specialists interviews and contextualisation are minimal but key, most of the story revealed through live scenes, observing our characters’ conditions, circumstances and challenges. While the inherent drama surrounding our subjects’ situation can be scientific, the focus remains on the emotional and the personal. The intention will be not only to plumb the depths of this illness but also the mystery of human nature in relation to pain and isolation. To paint a nuanced portrait of a complex and compelling situation while exploring more wide-ranging questions about our society and this invisible illness. 

The 52 min. version will (this word doesn’t make sense : priviledge – should the word be prioritise ?) information over cinematic rhythm, on a current affair angle. However, the quality filmaking will enhance the more classic narrative of this TV hour.

The projects involves a CROSSMEDIA project« Invisible Fields » an interactive online experience of the presence of electromagnetic fields in our daily lives. It features a personalised electrosensitivity and radiation test, as well as generative artwork and a webdocs series. The Test offers the user a unique opportunity to not only measure but to see, hear and interact with their very own electro-magnetic fields; generated by their location, wifi networks and devices. The project will be browser based, accessible upon: computers, tablets, or smart phones.

 

PRODUCTION TEAM

Director / Marie Liden is A Swedish born animator and filmmaker based in Glasgow. After graduating from Edinburgh College of Art in 2011 with a degree in animation, Marie is now focused on documentaries, animations and sound design. In the past 3 years, she has built a strong portfolio, working on over 10 independent and broadcast commissions – ranging from a BAFTA nominated animation, a Channel 4 First Cut documentary, to editing ‘Barefoot in Business’, a documentary commissioned by Al-Jazeera English.

Production house / Aconite Productions, Producer Aimara Reques is an award-winning Producer with over 20 years experience in the film industry in the UK. She is a winner of two BAFTA Scotland Awards, a Fox Searchlight Award; an Amnesty International Media Award and has produced work for Channel 4; BBC; Scottish Television and Border Television. She is also developing three other international co- productions to include “AQUARELA” by renowned Russian director Victor Kossakovsky.  

Producer Bart Simpson, the canadian multi-award winning producer, best known for his work on The Corporation (2003) and Big Boys Gone Bananas!* (2011) has joined the project. 

 

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THE PEACEMAKERS. The 30-years war 1618-1648

a Hannes Schuler & Berlin Producers (DE), Synergia (CZ), Agent Double (BE) project (90’/2X48-52’) – October 2018

SYNOPSIS & SUBJECT

Europe is in the midst of crises: the Euro-crisis, the Ukraine crisis, the refugee crisis, Brexit… Only twice in history have such challenges been overcome by diplomatic activity: At the Vienna Congress in 1815 and with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which forged the legislation for an international peace settlement in Europe. A revision of this peace settlement can deliver a valuable lesson for today’s crisis management.

Münster and Osnabrück were the first Pan European peace negotiations; Swedes, Frenchmen, Habsburgs, Prussians, Poles and Bohemians were seated at the same table trying to align their national interests, and resurrect a Europe devastated by the Thirty Years’ War.

The dramatic documentary is told from the POV of a fictitious horseback messenger, and depicts the negotiations of the powerful main players on and behind the scenes at Münster and Osnabrück. These deliberations form the dramatic framework for the film. We follow the messenger through the eventful days in Westphalia and are immersed into his backstory, which depicts important events of the Thirty Years’ War and a world of violent and ruthless power games to secure the dominion over Europe.

TREATMENT

The challenge of this dramatic documentary is creating a modern narrative of suspense when depicting this historic event. The scripted scenes are commented upon and contextualised by historical experts. To appeal to a younger audience, we will work with young experts who add their own questions to the narrative: these are no woolly academics.

For the re-enactments we will enter into the world of CGI, allowing for endless visual possibilities. The production style will be unique as we place real actors into a CGI world, the synthesis of both elements creating the edgy visual effect also employed in graphic novels. The strong emotions of real life characters being placed into a digital world of endless dramatic possibility gives us new access to the historical documentary format.

 

 

PRODUCTION TEAM

 

DIRECTOR- Hannes Schuler is director and scriptwriter for documentaries. He has many years experience and directed elaborate re-enactments, such as for the ZDF series Metropolis – Die Macht der Städte, or the German/French/Australian co-production Darwin’s Lost Paradise and the documentary drama Keeping it in the Family Royal (ZDF/arte). His documentary, Living in the Ghetto won the Bavarian Film Award. He has extensive experience with computer animation and compositing, this skilll was put to use in the two-part documentary drama Conquest of the Globe. For ARD he recently completed the film Herbs, Crucifixes and Quacksalvers (“Kräuter, Kruzifixe und Quacksalber”), the documentary accompaniment to the premier of the feature Medicus.

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Holger Preusse has overseen many current affairs features, documentations and documentaries as producer. Including Für mich gab’s nur noch Fassbinder – Die glücklichen Opfer des Rainer Werner F. (ZDF/ARTE, 88min, 2000) by Rosa von Praunheim and Kinshasa Symphony (WDR/RBB, 94min, 2010) by Claus Wischmann and Martin Baer. For the latter he was nominated for the German Film Award LOLA. He always returns to historical and contemporary themes, such as Keeping it in the Family Royal – the House of Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha (ZDF/ARTE, 75min, 2013), or as creative producer for the German/Israel/Canada co-production Hannah Arendt ((WDR/ARTE, 90min, 2015).

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY - Reiner Bauer has been working as cameraman in Hamburg since 1994. He has collaborated on many international documentaries for ARD, ZDF, ARTE and SPIEGEL TV. His camera work captivates with its strong and intense image play. Perfect framing, speed and aplomb, as well as extensive experience with the possibilities offered by the modern HD camera distinguish his work. He is one of the most sought after cameramen on the German documentary market. He also has longstanding experience with re-enactments scripted scenes and documentary dramas.

 

WATCH TEASER : https://vimeo.com/218263670