Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries 2013

September 4 – 8, 2013. Riga, Latvia

  1. The National Film Centre of Latvia in collaboration with European Documentary Network, Baltic Films and the Latvian Producers Association organized the 17th Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries. The aim of the Forum is to create a platform where documentary producers pitch their latest projects to a number of commissioning editors from the Baltic, Russian and European television channels, international film distributors and institutions. Besides the pitching sessions, Baltic Sea Forum presented an intriguing documentary programme (called More Than A Dream) and an interesting series of conferences, both opened to the public.

    For the first time Cineuropa had the chance to take part to the Baltic Sea forum. Thanks to an impeccable organization and to the BSF team’s efficiency and support, our correspondent could take great advantage of the BSF experience, observing instructing workshops and watching some of the best documentaries in circulation.

  2. The Baltic Sea Forum took place for the first time in 1997 in Denmark, initially it was a Danish initiative for the Baltic countries, Poland and the western part of Russia. It continued to be a Danish initiative until 2001 and then, as the Baltic countries were on their way to enter the European Union, the Danish government decided to let Latvian organisations continue this adventure. At the beginning of this “second phase”, the Baltic Sea Forum was a travelling event through the Baltic countries, but since a few years it always takes place in Riga.

    Cineuropa met with Ilze Dailite Holmberga, Managing Director of the Latvian Film Center, the only organisation responsible for the development of the Latvian film industry and co-organiser of the Baltic Sea Forum. In this interview, Ilze Dailite Holmberga, besides sharing her thought about the 2013 edition of the Forum, gives an overview of the Latvian Film industry - which has been facing dramatic cuts since the beginning of the economic crisis - and outlines new challenges and strategies. The year 2014 may be the turning point for Latvian film and cultural industry as Riga will be the 2014 European Capital of Culture and the hosting city of the next edition of the European Film Awards.
  3. The FORUM
  4. This year 24 projects were selected from 15 different countries. To know more about the selected projects, have a look to the Latvian Media Desk website:

  5. The 5 days forum was structured as follows: 
    - 2 days group workshops : the 24 participants were divided into 3 groups; in each group 2 tutors helped participants to improve both their oral presentations and the trailers.
    - 1 day one to one meetings: participants had the opportunity to get the last advices before the public pitching session.
    - 2 days projects pitching to commissioning editors.
  6. One to one meetings.jpg
    One to one meetings.jpg

  7. Although regionally focussed, Baltic Sea Forum sow the participation of internationally well-known audiovisual professionals, who attended as tutors, panelists or commissioning editors. The tutors team was composed by EDN (European Documentary Network) Head of Training Mikael Opstrup, Danish documentary consultant Tue Steen Müller, Estonian Director and Producer Riho Vastrik, German Commissioning Editor at MDR Claudia Schreiner, Scottish Producer and Distributor Peter Gerard, funder of Distrify, UK Director Noémie Mendelle and Danish Editor and Producer Miriam Nörgaard.

  8. To see the complete list of Commissioning Editors, have a look to the Latvian Media Desk website:
  9. Commissioning Editors.jpg
    Commissioning Editors.jpg
  10. Pitchins Session.jpg
    Pitchins Session.jpg

  11. As the Latvian Media Desk reports, Mikael Opstrup has been a dedicated documentary filmmaker since he made his first S-8mm documentary, in 1977, now hidden for the public in his cellar. Most of the 80′s Mikael worked with distribution and theatrical release of documentaries. In the 90' he worked as a production manager and organised the festival "Films from the South". Later worked as production adviser at The Danish Film Institute and at the same time started his career at the EDN workshops. Between 2002 and 2008 was a co-owner and producer at Final Cut Productions in Copenhagen, and has produced a number of international documentaries. Ha was an EDN Executive Committee Member from 2005 to 2009, the last year as Chairman. Now serves at Head of Studies at EDN.  
    Mikael Opstrup was a tutor and Selection Committee member at the 2013 Baltic Sea Forum. In this interview with Cineuropa, Opstrup talks about the selection process and shares his thoughts about strong and week points of documentary production and distribution in Europe.

  12. Interview with Mikeal Opstrup, Head of Studies at EDN
  13. Danish editor and producer Miriam Nörgaard had crucial role at the Baltic Sea Forum. When needed, participants could ask for her help to improve their trailers, adding or removing footage, or cutting the 3 minutes video in a different manner to highlight one or another aspect of the film.
  14. Interview with Miriam Nörgaard
  15. It was hard work for the participants of the forum. Following tutors’ advice, some of them had to re-edit their trailers while others had to cut or improve their project presentations. Some participants, especially those who pitched a project for the first time, learned the "ABC" of a good pitch while others managed to improve their presentation skills. At the end of the forum some directors and producers stated that thanks to the pitching workshops they managed to understand more clearly what their projects were about. This demonstrates how important such trainings are, not only to improve participants’ communicative skills but also to help them see and fix unclear aspects of their projects. Cineuropa met with some of the participants who kindly shared their thoughts on their experience at the BSF.

  16. Participants Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries, Riga 4-8 September 2013
  17. Film Programme MORE THAN A DREAM
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