Reality Check

By Elizabeth Wood

London’s DocHouse aims to give documentary the profile it deserves

DocHouse is an initiative designed to support and promote documentary in the UK. We urgently need a centre that makes past work accessible, encourages new talent and promotes the form for the future.

A place for discovery and discussion, part of an international network, independent of the vagaries of fashion, whim and ratings wars. A place that becomes the heart of a constituency promoting documentary in this digital age for everyone. Our aim is to raise funds by the end of 2003 for a space that will include a video library, vidéothèque and international archive database.

However, screenings are already underway with the successful series In the DocHouse (4pm every Sunday at London's The Other Cinema), featuring a mixture of classic and contemporary documentaries, followed by a Q&A session with the filmmakers. The first season included, amongst others, the UK premiere of Ben HopkinsFootprints, the world premiere of Belonging (featuring Li-Da Men], Werner Herzog’s Lessons of Darkness, the MayslesGrey Gardens, Alan Berliner's Nobody’s Business and a day devoted to Argentina [we plan to expand our screenings in 2003 and create at least four day long events which we are hoping will travel regionally).

In addition, with the Documentary Filmmakers Group (DFG), at The London Film School, DocHouse has co-produced ‘Start Up Docs’ for aspiring young documentary makers. These 11, one-day classes are taught by media professionals at the cutting edge of documentary production, figures who can demonstrate the grammar of the form and demystify the production process. They have proved a great success. As Angela Morrow recalls, ‘the classes were invaluable.

I learned so much in such a short time. They gave me the tools for pitching my idea and developing it.’

DocHouse, as finally envisaged, will complement the work of public archives and access the material in private archives, educational institutions, world-wide documentary centres and distribution outlets to create a comprehensive fast track network. It will arrange and promote public screenings, seminars and festivals on site and at cinemas, universities and schools while, in connection with the national media, it

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