IFW: THE BIG QUESTION
The following post was written on my way to IFP Film Week, which ends today.
Are audiences ready to spend 85 minutes immersed in the lives of conservative Muslim women in Syria? That’s the big question this week.
Many delays at LAX today. But there’s no comparing our airport to the one in Damascus. Here, people are shuffling on board the airplane with Starbucks in one hand, Burger King in the other, arguing the finer points of how to get an upgrade. In Damascus, people are stuffing every last inch of their luggage with dates, nuts, and Syrian chocolate, hugging relatives in tearful goodbyes. Just thinking of that Ghraoui chocolate right nowmakes my mouth water.
We’re trying to arrive at Independent Film Week with realistic expectations. What we’d really like is to find finishing funds, secure a sales agent, and make headway with domestic and foreign acquisitions. That’s a very tall order, but dammit we’re going to try.
Deep in our hearts, we believe both American and foreign audiences will want to see a documentary about religious leader Houda al Habash’s Qur’an school for women and girls in Syria. Houda’s inspiring, complex, and most of all, she’s surprising. No one else has ever had this kind of access to the women’s side of a mosque in Syria. We just need to get people to see it, and hopefully, that’s what IFW is all about.
We have a meeting with Al Jazeera tomorrow morning, and then more meetings this week with HBO, BBC and several strands on PBS. We were hoping more broadcasters would have come from Europe so we could follow up with at the Hot Docs Pitch Forum in Toronto. But we sent those folks an excerpt online, and will follow up.
In addition, we’re going to participate in more workshops as part of IFP’s doc lab – mostly about marketing. Looking forward to that, we will need that advice.
For tonight, I just hope I can get into the apartment I borrowed from a friend of a friend. Documentary filmmaking truly brings new meaning to depending on the kindness of strangers…