Gorilla Goes To: DOC-CON London

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DOC-CON London 2014 documentary festival
Last Wednesday saw the debut of London’s first DOC-CON event take place on the third floor of the Ritzy Picturehouse in Brixton. This informal meet up between documentary filmmakers both at an academic and professional level, was set up by Lightgeist Media’s own Louis Leeson and Patrick Hoelscher. Their goal is to unite the documentary community and help build connections between artists and their audience. But not only that, it is always a good excuse to have a drink in the heart of Brixton with some documentary film screenings to boot.

The evening was broken up into several sections. Documentary guru Greg Ward was the first filmmaker to take to the stage and talk briefly about his experience with documentary projects. He talked passionately about how filmmakers should connect with their topic subjects before speaking briefly about his experiences with crowd-funding a project. Ward also teased the audience with footage of his cringe-inducing documentary Far Right, Far Wrong: Inside the English Defence League that saw Ward follow around the leader of the EDL in order to gauge his experience with protesting in a country that despises him. You can find the harrowing teaser below and watch more at Greg Ward’s official website

After whetting our appetites for political documentaries, Greg also screened the video pledge for his upcoming documentary project The Killing of Tony Blair; which sees political writer and broadcaster George Galloway stick-it to the former Prime Minister in order to make him pay for the war crime he committed when in power. When the video pledge featuring Galloway went live along with their Kickstarter page Greg didn’t expect to find 4,459 backers contributing £164,000 to fund the project. This was well over the expect goal of £50,000 and in just under forty days the project became the most successful campaign of its type in the UK. Not half bad, eh? You can find all the promotional videos for The Killing of Tony Blair on Greg Ward’s website.

After a short question and answer session we moved swiftly onto Hues of Love by experimental filmmaker Nisrine Mansour. Hues of Love tackles the gut wrenching stigma that surrounds the homosexual population in the Middle East’s more socially liberal country of Lebanon. Mansour’s abstract and candid style exhibits her experimental side as voice-over narration accompanies the flowing visuals of city life. The soundtrack is haunting with sharp intervals only breaking up the unidentified subjects who tell stories of their experiences of knowing or being a gay individual themselves. You can watch the film in full below.

Last up was award winning filmmaker Zena Merton who won the ‘One World Media’ award for her mesmerising short documentary Bagong Silang (see below) that gave us a portrait of life in the Philippine slums of Manila. Shot on a small grant and with the aid of a local and close friend of Merton’s, the documentary showed a community who live and work in one of Manila’s most densely populated cemeteries. The film was extremely well crafted and really grabbed the audience with its compelling, picturesque visuals and chatty subjects. Merton was also present for a couple of questions in which she discussed how she read about the cemetery in a newspaper before being drawn to the cemetery itself in order to cover the story before she missed her chance. Once out there she became completely entwined into the slum world. What Merton uncovers isn’t a cynical look at poor living conditions, but life flourishing where the rest of the city bury their dead. This poignant irony is what kept me mesmerised when viewing.

In case you missed the event and want to discover more about DOC-CON, they’ve got a Facebook page, which you should check out for information on upcoming events as well as trailers, teasers, clips, and photos of everything documentary. The next event is booked for the 22nd January at the suave Hackney Attic at the Hackney Picturehouse. Entry is free so there really is no excuse to not check it out. Anyone not getting a big enough documentary fix from their favourite streaming platform should clamber out of their homes for the next event at the end of January. Go on, try something new.

Find out more about DOC-CON London here. Photographs by Ted Mendez.

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Whilst swinging from trees of the independent filmmaking world is only a part time pursuit - now it’s other jungles this Gorilla pursues. Oliver began writing film reviews for his universities newspaper before graduating in Film & TV Production.

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