Ayse Toprak is a filmmaker based in Istanbul. She received a BFA in Film & television from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, and an MA from the New School. She has worked for Channel Thirteen/PBS in New York, and produced for Al Jazeera in London, Doha and Istanbul. Toprak is focused on how documentaries, their subjects and colorful characters can have a far-reaching impact on society; films that manage to trigger a national dialogue on neglected issues, eradicate prejudice or breach hitherto taboo subjects are her favorite medium, as well as personal and professional ambition. She is fascinated by people pushed to the peripheries of society who have personal, vivid, and compelling stories. Her conviction in filmmaking comes from her wish to tell the stories of such people to share their different and unique ways of looking at the world.
The Long Distance
Daniel Andreas Sager was born in Berlin in 1985, and grew up in Moscow. He studied social anthropology and philosophy at Leipzig University, and directing at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. Sager attended the film school UCINE, in Buenos Aires, for one year with a grant from the State of Baden-Württemberg. He also participated in the Script Masterclass, Docu-Village, at the Haifa Film Festival in Israel with a scholarship from the Filmakademie BW. His diploma film. The Long Distance, received the NOFEAR! Award in 2015. He is currently a master-class student pursuing his Ph.D. at the Filmuniversität Babelsberg Konrad Wolf, and participates in the Nipkow Program as a Nipkow grant-holder. He also works as a writer and editor for ze.tt (zeit online), and as a freelance writer, director, journalist and cinematographer, living in Berlin.
LEAVE/STAY: Sweet Home
Loránd Balázs Imre is a co-founder of SpeakEasy Project, and founder of SpeakEasy Project Berlin. He has worked on a number of documentary films since 2012, and is the director and producer of the Erasmus EuroMedia Awarded documentary series, LEAVE/STAY.
Bálint Tusor began his film career in 2003, and has since worked on numerous international productions as assistant editor. He completed his Masters in film and television at the National Film and Television School in 2012, and in the last five years has mainly worked as a documentary film editor. Verzio will screen his first documentary directorial debut, co-directed with Loránd Balazs Imre.
Last Men in Aleppo
Firas Fayyad is an award-winning Syrian filmmaker. He has directed, edited and produced several films, both documentary and fiction. He has participated in international film festivals and received recognition for his work about contemporary Syrian issues and the political transformation in the Arab world. His latest film, Last Men in Aleppo, won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the 2017 Sundance FilmFestival; the prize for Most Innovative Documentary at the second annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards; the IDA Courage Under Fire Award and received two nominations from Cinema Eye Honors.
The Good Life
Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Jens Schanze, was born in Bonn in 1971. In 1987, he spent a year living in the United States. In 1990, he embarked on a Forestry degree at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and, in 1992, began working in television as an assistant director. In 1994, Schanze spent a year in Bolivia working on a project for Conservation International before he began his studies at the University of Television and Film in Munich in 1995. Through Mascha Film, the production company which he co-founded with Judith Malek-Mahdavi in 2002, he has directed numerous prizewinning documentaries including Winterkinder (2005) and Plug & Pray (2010). In 2014, he became a professor of film and video design.
Anne Scheschonk, born in 1977, studied Media Sciences and Cultural Anthropology with a focus on Visual Anthropology. She worked as an editorial assistant and set manager for television productions before finishing the Professional Media Master Class (PMMC) for documentary film in Halle, Germany, in 2011. Today, she works as a freelance author and filmmaker. Her documentary works portray those perceived as “other“, who are often socially stigmatized: the intellectually disabled mother, the transgender kid… Scheschonk believes that sensitive portraits of such individuals raise questions about identity and point to the relevant issues of our times: inclusion, equal rights, and transphobia. She lives with her son in Halle, Germany.
Fiasco – Fragments based on the novel by Imre Kertész
Katja Pratschke’s artistic projects include Natural Born Digital (1998), Transposed Bodies (2001/03), Rien ne vas plus (2005), Fiasco (2010), Hidden Cities (2012), Potential Space (2014), Rope (2016) and Territories & Occupation (work in progress). Since 2006, she has organized photofilm projects together with Thomas Tode and Gusztáv Hámos, with whom she has collaborated since 1998. She is co-editor of the publication Viva Photofilm – Moving / Non-moving, and is co-founder of the Concrete Narrative Society association (Berlin). www.potentialspace.de
Gusztáv Hámos is an artist, curator, author and publisher. His artistic work includes film, video, photography and installations that have been exhibited at Documenta, Venice Biennale, and the Ludwig Múzeum Budapest. His films and videos have been shown, among others, at Tate Modern London, ZKM Karlsruhe, Triennale of Photography Hamburg, 63 Mostra Internazionale d’arte cinematografica di Venezia, and YBCA San Francisco. His work is included in the collections of the MOMA New York, Centre Pompidou Paris, NBK Berlin, ZKM Karlsruhe, Art Collection NRW, Ludwig Múzeum Budapest, C3 Budapest, and Saint Gervai SIV Genève.
Days of Youth
Yulia Lokshina was born in Moscow in 1986, and moved to Germany in her early teens. Along with culture and language studies, Lokshina has worked on various theatre and film projects, and curated a short film festival “CrankCookie”. In 2011 she shot her first documentary, At Home, on post-soviet immigrants in Israel. She began her studies of documentary directing at the University for Television and Film in Munich in 2011, and was awarded a media program scholarship by the Heinrich Boell Foundation.
Comparing Now and Then
Taste the Waste
Valentin Thurn was born in 1963 in Stuttgart, Germany. He is married and has three children. Thurn has directed and authored television documentaries for the national German channels ARD and ZDF, the French-German channel Arte, the international channels Deutsche Welle TV and Transtel, the regional channels SWR, WDR, NDR, BR, ORB and HR, and the Swiss Television, DRS. In 2003 he founded the film production company, THURN FILM, in Cologne, Germany. Thurn has written radio features and articles for magazines such as Die Woche, Die Zeit, Natur & Kosmos, and Merian. He has also published the books WüstenErde on desertification, Klassenfeind Natur on environment in Eastern Europe, and the Directory of Environmental NGOs in Central and Eastern Europe. He has taught at international congresses and workshops including: the Goethe Institute in Bombay, India; Foundation Miguel Alemán in Mexico City; Ecotourism congresses in Johannesburg, South Africa; Guayaquil, Ecuador; RTL Journalistenschule in Germany; Ecopresscenter in Macedonia; Third World Journalists Network in Germany; The Ethics in Economy Network of Germany; Fachhochschule Köln (University Cologne, Germany); and the 2008 International Congress of Investigative Journalists in Lillehammer, Norway. Thurn has served as a member of the founding board of the International Federation of Environmental Journalists (IFEJ), and Secretary General from 1993 until 2001. He is also a member of Reporters Without Borders, Netzwerk Recherche (investigative reporter’s network), and AGDOK (the German association of documentary filmmakers).