A void is an opportunity

Documentary filmmaking and investigative journalism are two worlds that mix and collide today more often than ever. The lines that divide them are blurred, as news networks and programs are including documentary divisions within their curricula, as much of the funding and commission editors come from television, and as film festivals tend to program the same topics that fill the 24 hour news cycle.

It is a type of bond that is very difficult to divorce. To some, it responds to the failure of the media to deeply investigate topics, and their unwillingness to put aside the commercial agenda and expose the stories as they truly are.

But documentary filmmaking is much more that pilling on facts to condemn a situation or an individual as good or bad. It takes empathy and willingness to understand the other in order to truly tell a story, one that goes beyond simple condemnation, entertainment or information. 

There is no room for the simplistic moral proclamation in documentary filmmaking, that belongs in newspapers and in reportages. Yes, documentary films can be a medium to denounce the unjust, the mistreated, the unheard but they can also be much more. It is an art form with countless narrative devices, always reinventing itself. The information void of traditional journalism should be an opportunity for documentaries to feature in-depth stories, but not a substitute.

Mariana Cadenas
Journalist - Aspiring Documentary Filmmaker


What is our DNA?

DNA is not only an acid that carries our genetic information; it also is the name of the Alumni Association of (former) students of DocNomads. The association intends to keep alive the legacy of the program, to preserve its DNA and to support contacts among alumni, students and the academic staff. 

DocNomads, the ‘Mobile Film School’ is an academic program, but we manage to keep the focus on the practice film-making. The main goal is not a diploma, but directing films and creating networks. Documentary making is more than a profession. It is also an attitude towards the world!

Filmmaking (especially documentary) is based on confidence and trust. The students work with their former classmates; they form themselves an international network.

This is what we observed on February 7th, during our first « DNA-event » in Budapest. Ex-students presented their common projects and experiences: an explosion of (creative) energy!

DNA is more than a social club. The Association will bring (ex) students, coaches and teachers together. It is a platform, a think-tank for exchanging ideas, for setting-up projects, preserving the ideas AND the films made during the DN-program.

The launching of this newsletter is the next step aiming to cement our network connection. We count on everyone's contributions to make it relevant and useful among DNA members and fellow Nomads.

And who knows: someday, the DNA may create itself a future educational mission (summer schools, etc.).

Our DNA, our future!

Rob Rombout
President of DNA




DN edition 2 (2013-15)
From: Chisinau, Moldova
Currently in: Brussels, Belgium

“My final graduation film Love is not an Orange got accepted to ESoDoc Training Initiative 2016, as I am working to further develop it as my first feature length documentary. It’s a mother-daughter story separated by emigration that try to decrease the distance between each other by exchanging boxes. It’s a story I’m very close to. At the same time, I’m working in Brussels in the production of a short film for an educational institution.”


DN edition 1 (2012-14)
From: Chittagong, Bangladesh
Currently in: Lisbon, Portugal

“I’m currently shooting a film that I started in 2014, right after DocNomads. It’s a creative documentary film about three migrant women working in south Portugal (Alentejo) in a farm as fruit pickers. With the Leonardo Da Vinci grant I was able to complete the research and pre production work and I have completed about 60% of the shooting. Our professor Tiago Hespanha is producing, and Margarida Cardoso, Victor Candeias and José Filipe Costa are the project advisers. It’s a Doc- Nomads family project.”


DN edition 1 (2012-2014)
From: Bratislava, Slovakia
Currently in: Budapest, Hungary

“After DocNomads my life started to get very busy. First I travelled to Iceland and Norway to shoot a short documentary series about integration with the support of EEA grants. With former classmates we established a  young film production company called Match Frame. Recently we got a support for a 52 minutes film by the Hungarian TV to realize an old dream of mine to make a film about a nonconformist Hungarian director, called Judit Ember. In the meantime with a colleague of mine we are developing my first long feature documentary with a producer.”



by Mariana Cadenas / Photos ArtHouse Traffic

In the history of every uprising, there is bloodshed. The noble search for freedom and change, almost certainly turns to violence and chaos. The events during the Winter of 2013-2014 in the Ukraine were no different. All Things Ablaze is a documentary set right in the epicenter of a battle in which the good and the bad blurred. While covering the events as photojournalists, Oleksandr Techynskyi, Aleksey Solodunov and Dmitry Stoykov decided to make their first feature length documentary that won the Best Eastern European Documentary at DOK Leipzig in 2014 and continues to tour many countries.

Techynskyi screened the film in Brussels under the program of Ukraine On Film Way to Freedom hosted by Bozar, and shared exclusively with us his experience as a novice director and of shooting in a conflict zone in the middle of his hometown.

Do you find your film to be a critical stand towards the events of Maidan?

“People have different opinions, different positions. A lot of them find this film to be an unpleasant critique to the events of Maidan. We have lost some friends after making it. You see, in the Ukraine people prefer to see things in black and white. The Revolutionaries were the white shiny knights, and the Cops were just an army of beasts, the dark bad side. But for me this is not true, because inside the battle as you see in the film, everything was mixed, everyone behaved like beasts.

Read more


Here are some suggested accounts that keep everyone abreast of festival premieres, reviews, funding
opportunities, and other news relevant for doc-fans alike.

@EDNEDN - European Documentary Network

@DocAllianceFilm - Online Documentaries and Masterclasses

@IDAorg- The International Documentary Association

@docsinprogress - Non-profit org for independent documentary filmmakers

@documentarysite - PBS Blogger


Do the mayor film festivals and awards relay on “trendy news topics”? One vicious cycle not easy to break, some choose to ride it. Visit these two links to know what some of the top documentary filmmakers think.

Werner Herzog + Joshua Oppenheimer
@TimesTalks - Sundance Film Festival 2016 (start
at 32:58 if you want to skip the Festival Previews)

Michael Moore + Alex Gibney + Liz Garbus + Amy Berg + Chai Vserhelyi + Kirby Dick 
@TheHollywoodReporter´s Documentary Oscar Roundtable 2016

All DocNomads students, alumni, course teachers and guest lecturers
are invited to contribute to the DNA Newsletter.

Send your proposals for articles, info tips and other suggestions to
DNA Newsletter 01 – Spring 2016. Chief Editor: Mariana Cadenas (DN3).

Issue contributors: Mariana Cadenas, Rob Rombout, Otilia Babara, Sohel Rahman, Asia Dér. Text proofreading: Lara Hickox (DN2). Graphic Layout: Mathilde Collobert. Publishing: Timóteo Rodrigues. Distribution: Pedro Caetano. Project Coordinator: Victor Candeias.

Copyright @2016 DocNomads Association. All rights reserved.

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