A brand new documentary funding award for filmmakers in Southwest Asia and North Africa has been created by The Whickers in partnership with Close Up Initiative.
We are proud to announce that The Whickers are extending a highly successful bursary scheme to areas of the world where development funding for independent filmmakers is very limited. As from today one such project selected for the esteemed Close Up Initiative will receive additional funding for development. The first scheme has been running at Docedge Kolkata in India for three years. It has led to award winning films such as Children of The Mist, which won a director’s award for newcomer Diem Ha Le at IDFA last year. Having proved the concept in India, we are please to be able to extend the scheme twice in the same year. In February 2022, we formed a bursary partnership with Durban FilmMart, and now, thanks to Close Up Initiative we are able to offer early support for filmmakers across the Southwest Asia and North Africa.
This new fund worth £3,000, named ‘The Whickers’ Close Up Emerging Director’s Bursary’, will be available to participants taking part in Close Up’s annual year-long training and development program for documentary filmmakers coming from diverse ethnic, religious, cultural, and political backgrounds, including Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.
News of the Bursary comes the year after the participants of the Close Up Program 2019/2020, Ilyas Yourish and Shahrokh Bikaran (Kamay) were awarded the prestigious 2021 Whickers’ Film & TV Funding Award of £80,000, to direct their first feature length documentary.
On his experience as a first-time Director from Afghanistan, Shahrokh Bikaran said: “What really made me a filmmaker is the living experience of being part of the Hazaras in Afghanistan. We come from a persecuted background, so what made us filmmakers was not any university or big opportunities, but the struggle to tell our own stories.”
Jane Ray, Artistic Director of The Whickers said: “We are so excited to be deepening our relationship with Close Up and offering a chance to filmmakers from across the region to win some early support to develop their projects. I have been following the work Sigal and her colleagues started with Greenhouse in 2006 with increasing admiration and respect. To that winning formula of passion, commitment, and expertise we now have an opportunity to add a modest injection of cash. We are looking forward to helping the amazing work Close Up does to nurture the next generation of documentary filmmakers.”
Sigal Yehuda, Founder & Executive Director of the Close Up Initiative added: “All of us here at Close Up are delighted to be partnering with such a strong organization like The Whickers, one that is deeply dedicated to supporting and nurturing original and innovative documentary cinema. Our shared commitment to encouraging emerging filmmakers to create outstanding films is highly valued, as there continues to be a great need and urgency for support for our community of filmmakers. We are grateful to Jane Ray and everyone else at The Whickers for making this wonderful grant possible.”
After a very competitive selection process, 16 documentary projects were selected for the 2021/2022 Close Up program. The projects represent a diverse group of filmmakers coming from different countries, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds. This year’s cohort – of 24 directors and producers – hails from Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Qatar, Syria, Sudan, Turkey, Yemen. See the full selection HERE.
The award will kick off this year at the Close Up Pitching Forum in Turkey, which runs from 11th – 12th June 2022.
About the Close Up Initiative
Close Up Initiative is an independent international NGO based in Brussels, Belgium. It provides an annual year-long training and development program for documentary filmmakers from Southwest Asia and North Africa. Close Up supports filmmakers who come from diverse ethnic, religious, cultural, and political backgrounds, including Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen. Positioned at the intersection of arts, media, social change, and peace-building, Close Up is the only initiative of its kind in the region, creating a transformational experience for emerging filmmakers. Films that are born of the Close Up program go on to screen at festivals around the world including Sundance, Berlinale, IDFA, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Hot Docs, MoMA Doc Fortnight, to name a few. Many have also received prestigious international awards and nominations, including nominations for Best Documentary at the Academy Awards, an International Emmy Award, and more. For more information on the Close Up Initiative, visit HERE.