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IDFA: Young Directors at Forefront of HBO Europe’s Documentary Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

HBO Europe’s upcoming original documentary slate spans films on activism, politics, music, and society in Europe, with projects from Mila Turajlić and Tereza Nvotova and four screenings at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, which began Wednesday. The slate is also notable for projects from first- and second-time directors such as Nvotova, Turajlic, Jan Gebert, and Lukas Kokes.

HBO has been moving more deeply into original drama in Europe and also has a history of original factual projects. Last year’s slate included the European Film Award-nominated “Communion,” Anna Zamecka’s Polish coming-of-age film. The European arm of the U.S. premium cabler this week announced the launch of HBO GO in four central European countries and has traditionally had a strong presence in Central and Eastern Europe, from which several of the 2017-2018 films hail.

“Central and Eastern Europe has a big documentary tradition and many gifted filmmakers, and our current slate and recent successes reflect the enviable talent that the region has to offer,” said Hanka Kastelicova, HBO Europe’s documentaries VP.

At IDFA, competition titles include “Nothing Like Before” (pictured), a look at the lives of teenagers living on the Czech-German border and from Czech director Kokes. In the IDFA music program there is “Ethioiques – Revolt of the Soul” from Maciel Bochniak, which charts the rise and heyday of Ethio-jazz music.

The selection includes “The Other Side of Everything,” directed by Turajlic (“Cinema Komunisto”), which looks at Serbia’s political history through the eyes of Turajlic’s activist mother. It was in competition at Toronto, where Variety said it “mixes the personal and the political to engrossing effect.”

Other political projects include “The Lust for Power,” in which emerging director Nvotova tells the story of former Slovakian Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. “When the War Comes” from Gebert looks at the life of a seemingly happy teenager who runs a paramilitary group recruiting Slovak teens and aiming to create a totalitarian community.

From Romania there is “The Other Side of the Medal.” Directed by Denisa Morariu, it tells the story of Olympic gymnast Andreea Raducan and her fight to clear her name and win back her gold medal after being found guilty of doping.

“I’m especially proud to be working with so many young directors, supporting them to make their first or second features and to tell stories that reflect our younger audience’s lives, hopes and fears for the future,” Kastelicova said.

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