Doc Association of Europe Launches To Support Next Generation of Filmmakers (EXCLUSIVE)

A new documentary association for Europe is looking to serve as a political lobby group and support network for the next generation of filmmakers and non-fiction communities across the continent.

Based out of Berlin, the Documentary Association of Europe (DAE) hopes to complement the work of the L.A.-based International Documentary Association (IDA), which recently filed a lawsuit against the U.S. State Department over the government’s social media vetting policies for visa applicants.

The organization is led by Brigid O’Shea, who serves as head of industry for German documentary festival DOK Leipzig, and an official launch is set for the European Film Market’s Doc Salon in Berlin on Feb. 22.

“We want to really reignite the political element, and hold funders – and particularly European public funders – accountable for how they spend their money, and how they work with documentary as a genre, because the production structure is completely different to fiction,” O’Shea tells Variety.

The DAE – an independent non-profit organization – is positioned to take up the mantle from the beleaguered European Documentary Network (EDN), which is on the brink of dissolution following alleged financial mismanagement and a loss of funding from the Danish Film Institute.

The EDN was slated to put a make-or-break vote to members on Jan. 31 to determine its future, but Variety understands internal politics could prevent the online vote from taking place, placing the EDN in further limbo. The organization had not responded to request for comment by press time.

One of the DAE’s initial mandates is to conduct an industry-wide survey and collect data on the realities facing the European documentary landscape, where funding for films often comes from a patchwork of public broadcasters, save for a handful of high-profile doc makers, who are often commissioned by streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon.

“We want to find out what the needs are, and make sure we don’t include only a Western-centric POV or focus solely on the Franco-German or Nordic interests, where the landscape is pretty good,” says O’Shea, who is calling on filmmakers and producers to reach out and join the association following its February launch. 

Highlighting the so-called “golden age of documentaries”, she adds: “There is more interest in documentary than ever before, but ticket sales in cinemas are abysmal and if we’re not careful with online platforms, big chunks of diversity can be erased quickly.” 

The DAE counts the U.K.’s documentary-focused Whickers Foundation as a sister organization, and will also work closely with Simon Kilmurry’s IDA.

“We can lobby on behalf of North American interests in Brussels, and they can lobby for European interests in L.A. This could then create bridges for collaboration between European and North American professionals,” she said. 

The fledgling outfit will begin fundraising at the EFM, and is in the process of striking partnerships with select festivals, such as the Berlinale, IDFA Forum out of the Netherlands and the Marché du Cannes.

DAE board members so far include Charlie Phillips, head of documentaries at U.K. newspaper The Guardian, and Hungarian producer Julianna Ugrin. Elections for further board members will take place after the EFM.

More Film

  • Father

    'Father': Film Review

    “Father” begins with a mother. Dragging her two sullen, uncomprehending kids along with her, Biljana (Nada Šargin) strides onto the grounds of the factory from which her husband was let go more than a year before and harangues the foreman about the severance package they still have not received. The children are hungry, she wails, [...]

  • Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm

    'Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street': Film Review

    In 1985, New Line rushed out a sequel to its breakout horror hit of the prior year. But while commercially successful enough, “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” was initially disliked by mainstream horror fans, then later won cult status, for the same reason: It struck many as “the gayest horror film of [...]

  • Leaving Neverland HBO

    HBO Seeks Dismissal of Michael Jackson Estate's Suit Over 'Leaving Neverland'

    HBO urged an appeals court on Friday to throw out litigation brought by the Michael Jackson estate over the 2019 documentary “Leaving Neverland.” HBO and the Jackson estate have been locked in a legal war ever since the premium cable network agreed to run the documentary, which chronicles child sexual abuse allegations against Jackson. The [...]

  • Denzel Washington

    Film News Roundup: Denzel Washington-Rami Malek Thriller Set for Early 2021 Release

    In today’s film news roundup, a Denzel Washington-Rami Malek thriller gets a release date, “Escape Room 2” gets moved, Paramount sets a double feature, “So Cold the River” wraps and the Sonoma Film Festival unveils its lineup. RELEASE DATES Warner Bros. has set the Denzel Washington-Rami Malek police thriller “The Little Things” for a Jan. 29, [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Writers Guild Says It Helped Negotiate 100 Deals for Agent-Less Members

    The Writers Guild of America has asserted that it has assisted in negotiating more than 100 deals in recent months for members without agents. The missive from the WGA West board of directors comes nearly a year after the guild leaders ordered their 15,000 members to fire their agents if the agents had not agreed [...]

  • the jesus rolls

    Émilie Simon Contributes Flamenco/Gypsy Vibe to John Turturro's ‘The Jesus Rolls’

    For French musician Émilie Simon, the flamenco-meets-gypsy vibe writer-director John Turturro was seeking for the soundtrack to his movie “The Jesus Rolls” turned out to be in her musical and genetical DNA. “This music originally comes from where I grew up in the south of France,” says the 41-year-old electronic musician, who has released five [...]

  • My Hero Academia Heroes Rising

    'My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising' ADR Director on Adapting the Anime for a U.S. Audience

    “My Hero Academia” has officially Detroit Smashed into North American theaters. Sony Pictures Television’s Funimation released “Heroes Rising” in the U.S. on Wednesday, grossing $2.5 million on its opening day. Theaters are showing the film, a standalone entry in the popular superhero anime based on the manga, with options for either subtitles or with an [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content