East Doc Interactive 2019 programme revealed

8. 2. 2019

Author: Zdeněk Blaha

The upcoming East Doc Platform 2019 will offer not only the traditional documentary projects, but also those telling stories in a very innovative way. The East Doc Interactive workshop helps to bring to life many non-fiction interactive webdocs, immersive VR/AR projects, but also serious docu-games. Tailor-made tutoring with international experts, but also networking possibilities and pitching of interactive projects became over the years a solid part of the East Doc Platform. Take a look at the selected projects, experts & tutors and the open programme.


The Interview (dir. Thom Vander Beken, prod. Tomas Leyers / Minds Meet, BE)
The Interview is an interactive VR documentary set in a transit zone on the Serbian-Hungarian border. You are put in the shoes of an immigration officer. On your first day on the job you get to interview asylum seekers... This project would like to bring a different perspective on the migration and let the user to face its decision as immigration officer, to present us with the inevitable consequences of our deeds and brought empathy with the asylum seekers. The Interview would like to let the user face the reality, which is never just black or white. The clear inspiration here is also the popular indie game Papers, Please by Lukas Pope.

Hotel Astoria (dir. Alina Cyranek, prod. Alina Cyranek, Falk Schuster, DE)
Hotel Astoria is VR recreation of a certain era and place. Astoria was famous, luxurious hotel in Leipzig, which, during the GDR time hosted many former celebrities, but also politicians, diplomats and other elites. And the Stasi, the secret police, was there to witness it all... The main theme of the narrative is the illusion and reality of the GDR society and the relativity of the truth. The whole project consists of not only VR element, but will tell the story also through animated documentary.

Chocolate Milk (dir. Sonja Bozic, Jonathan Weiner, prod. Sonja Bozic, Vladimir Vidic / Dart Film, US, RS)
What is unusual about a person who lives alone, works, has a girlfriend, plays the piano, travels internationally, creates a VR project and co-edits a documentary about himself? He is a person with autism, called Jonathan. Chocolate Milk is a linear documentary and VR piece, which would like to help people with autism to find the place in the society and overcome the daily obstacles. The VR part will bring the users to experience the situations people with autism live every day and help understand the world the way they do. Jonathan is diagnosed with autism, but he could live a normal live. He has a job, lives independently, has a girlfriend and drives a car. The majority of people are not aware of the miraculous potential of the people with autism and Chocolate Milk would like to change it.

Pearl of Absurd (dir. Oleksandra Chuprina, prod. Elmira Asadova / Contemporary Ukrainian Cinema "CUC", UA)
Pearl of Absurd is a personal, poetic journey into the past of one specific family and a previous era of the Soviet Union. It is also a trip into the heart of Odessa, once a thriving city, full of modern architecture, which now faces a dark fate, as the old buildings are being tear down and replaced with skyscrapers and shopping malls by oligarchs. Pearl of Absurd is a debut documentary and interactive cross-media platform, which is designed as a hub for various interactions and activities with the main goal to save the city.

Malaria 1983 (dir. Petr Salaba, prod. Radim Procházka / Produkce Radim Procházka, CZ)
Shortly after the end of the Pol Pot’s regime, a field hospital run by Czechoslovak staff was established in the city of Takeo in order to provide Cambodia with the missing medical treatment. The mission was to help fight the new threat – the outbreak of malaria. The tropical parasitologist RNDr. Michal Giboda became a key person, running the field hospital and facing many difficult decision. The story of Giboda and the forgotten history of his field hospital is the main theme of Malaria 1983, a moral choice driven RPG adventure videogame based on the true life story of a Czechoslovak parasitologist in the post-genocide ravaged Cambodia.


Sunday, Mar 10, 2019
10 am – 11:30 am / Cervantes Institute, Cinema Hall
Lecture: Impact Is Not Impact

-- This is your digital documentary, right? / -- Yep. // -- Interesting! Amazing! How many views did you get? / -- 100,000. // -- Wow, not bad! Now, how much money did you make? / -- Zero. // -- [Coughing] Oh… ok! Well, then… what’s the deal?
In this talk, storyteller Frédéric Dubois invites you to take a carousel ride through the trendy media bullshit bingo landscape. Main attractions may include, but are not limited to: busting “fake impact”, shrugging off the “number obsession”, and setting our own “impact agenda”.

Monday, Mar 11, 2019
10:00 am – 11:30 am / Cervantes Institute, Gallery
Lecture: gold extra – Exploring Documentary Storytelling in New Media

Artists Reinhold Bidner and Karl Zechenter will introduce the work of the Austrian artistic group gold extra, which produces artworks in and in between Fine Arts, Performance, Music and Hybrid Media. With innovative approach gold extra explores the new possibilities of the medium of digital games and virtual reality. In the lecture Reinhold and Karl will introduce gold extra approaches to documentary games and non-fiction storytelling on the examples of games, such as From Darkness, which brings the player in the heart of Nairobi, or The Fallen, exploring the events of war in Eastern Ukraine. The attention will be also given to the medium of Virtual Reality in the case of the current gold extra’s research project, the Documentary VR. www.goldextra.com

Tuesday, Mar 12, 2019
10:00 am – 11:15 am / Cervantes Institute, Cinema Hall
Lecture: ManicVR : An Immersive Journey Into the World of Bipolar Disorder

Canadian filmmaker Kalina Bertin has drawn on her siblings experiences with bipolar disorder to develop a documentary film as well as a virtual reality experience which provides insight into the complex world of mental illness. As a storyteller, how does one transition from working with a linear narrative to an interactive narrative? How does embodiment and interactivity impact a user’s take away of a story? What are the ethics of representing mental illness? Kalina will be discussing the creative process of crafting ManicVR as well as addressing VR as an emerging tool to treat mental illness.


Kalina Bertin
Occupation: Director
Country: Canada
After completing her degree in film production in Montreal, Kalina Bertin quickly realized that if she didn’t set out to understand the mental illness in her family it would destroy her. This process gave birth to her award-winning documentary film Manic (2017), which explores the legacy of bipolar disorder in her family.  Manic was nominated for two Canadian Screen Awards and won an Iris Award for best editing in 2018. Highlighting the power of her voice as an artist, Kalina is a recipient of the Don Haig Pay it Forward Award at Hot Docs. She has been an invited speaker at the MIT Open Doc Lab and the Busan Intl. Film Festival. Her virtual reality experience ManicVR premiered at Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2018 and is now being shown in festivals around the world.

Reinhold Bidner
Occupation: Visual Artist
Country: Austria
Company: gold extra
Reinhold studied at University for applied sciences & technologies Salzburg, at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee and completed his degree within the scope of a Socrates scholarship in Berlin. Until 2006 he was Key-Researcher at Ars Electronica Futurelab Linz for time based Media. Since 2007 he is a freelancer in animation & media art, either as an Individual or as a member of the Austrian art collective gold extra. Currently Reinhold lives in Vienna and Salzburg and teaches at Art University Linz in the fields of animation & motion graphics. He received various prices (e.g. Federal Chancellery of Austria´s Outstanding Artist Award with gold extra / MediaArtAward Salzburg), grants and residencies for his artistic work, and exhibits nationally and internationally since 2001.

Frédéric Dubois
Occupation: Producer
Country: Germany
Company: Reportero
Frédéric is an author, producer and coach. He has worked on award-winning interactive features such as GDP, The Hole Story, Fort McMoney, and Atterwasch – with the National Film Board of Canada, Arte France and Süddeutsche Zeitung. He is currently post-producing Field Trip - an open source doc about the Tempelhof Field in Berlin. As a PhD candidate, Film University Babelsberg, he researches the impact of web-based stories. He is an organiser of storytelling hackathons, meet-ups, workshops as well as VR conferences. Frédéric is an experienced coach for interactive, participatory and user-centric story development.

Harmke Heezen
Occupation: Director, Writer, Creative Producer
Country: Germany
Company: High Road Stories
Harmke is a director, writer and creative producer, based in Berlin. She holds a Master’s Degree in Film Studies from Utrecht University. She directed and produced for the Arts & Culture department of the Dutch national public broadcaster AVRO, before moving to Berlin in 2011. As an independent filmmaker Harmke has made web series and shorts, and co-created innovative interactive documentaries, commissioned by, among others, the BBC, Arte Creative and the Goethe-Institut. Harmke’s company High Road Stories with Mike Robbins creates VR and interactive documentary projects.

Jaroslav Meloun
Occupation: developer
Country: Czech Republic
Freelance game developer with 7+ years experience of programming desktop, console and mobile games. Deployed games to PC, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, iOS and Android, Nintendo Wii and Switch. Notable work includes cyberpunk RPG Dex (2016) and puzzle platformer Mimpi (2014). Crafted more than 30 jam games. Passionate about innovative concepts and themes, game jams and independent games. Organizer of Game Jam Prague (since 2011) - local site of Global Game Jam, world's largest gamemaking event taking place around the world. Mentoring student game projects, lectures about game jams.

Mike Robbins
Occupation: Creative Technologist
Country: Germany
Company: High Road Stories, Helios Design Labs
Mike is producer at his company High Road Stories in Berlin, focusing on creating work in VR and other immersive platforms. As creative technologist and partner at his company Helios Design Labs in Toronto he worked on award-winning interactive documentaries such as Quipu Project, Digital Me, After the Storm, Highrise, and Offshore.

Karl Zechenter
Occupation: Visual Artist
Country: Austria
Company: gold extra
Karl lives and works in Salzburg as artist, in media arts, Fine Arts, music, theatre/performance, game art and artistic research. He founded the collaborative art group gold extra with other artists in 1998. He studied Literature and Political Sciences and has worked as cultural programme director at the cultural center ARGEkultur from 1999 to 2005, initiated the media festival Basics and curated the Festival OFFMozart for Mozart 2006, among others. He has been consulting for artists' institutions and organisations in the local, state and federal government in matters of cultural policies and strategies. Karl is currently working as lecturer at the university of the Arts, Mozarteum Salzburg, Graphics Department, head of the umbrella organisation of Salzburg' cultural institutions, works on consulting boards for the state government for cultural tuition and media and media arts. He's been awarded the Ferdinand Eberherr Award 1998, Junges Theater Bremen Award 2005, Outstanding Artist Award 2012, Media Art Award of the State of Salzburg 2012, nominated for Most Amazing Game (Amaze Award) 2017.

Alessandro Gropplero
Occupation: Funding Representative
Country: Italy
Company: When East Meets West; Friuli Venezia Giulia Film Commission
Graduated in Communication Studies at the Trieste University, he started to work in 2000 with the Italian production company Pidgin; later he moved on to collaborate at the London based company Number 9 Films and in 2005 he returned to Italy and started working for the Udine Far East Film Festival. In 2007 he was appointed head of international relations of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Audiovisual Fund and in this capacity he has planned the international policy of the fund and managed a variety of events, such as When East Meets West, Ties That Bind Asia Europe Producers Workshop (both supported by Creative Europe) and RE-ACT – Regional Audiovisual Cooperation and Training. He is an EAVE graduate, board member of EURODOC and member of the European Film Academy.

Michaela Pnačeková
Occupation: Producer
Country: Germany
Company: Kloos & Co. OST UG
Michaela is a producer and interactive creator at Kloos & Co. OST. In 2017, she developed and produced the interactive app Pre-Crime Calculator for the launch of the documentary Pre-Crime. Her interactive works were selected at Doc Tank, id workshop at Visions du Reél, !Flab Prototype Booster, IDFA Forum, Sheffield Alternate Realities Market and Venice Production Bridge. Her first feature length documentary project Border Cutby Igor Chojna received Special Mention at the Bosch Stiftung East European Co- Production Prize 2014 and premiered at Warsaw Film Festiva. Winner of the EWA Award for the best female driven project in development at DOK Leipzig 2017. German production coordinator of the Oscar® nominated documentary Last Men in Aleppo by Feras Fayyad and Steen Johanessen.

Mika Johnson
Occupation: Multimedia artist / director
Country: USA
Mika Johnson is a multimedia artist who directs VR and AR projects, music videos, commercials, and fiction and documentary films. His most recent project “VRwandlung” is a virtual reality adaptation of Act I of Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis.” Long term projects include "The Amerikans” - a web series featuring 15 short documentaries - and his recently completed debut feature: “Confessions of a Box Man,” the first part in a trilogy. Along with exhibiting his work internationally, Johnson has also presented, lectured, and taught workshops in Istanbul, Tokyo, Madrid, Hamburg, Kiev, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Weimar, Prague, Minsk, Riga, and in North America. Based in Prague, Johnson teaches workshops and classes at FAMU International and Prague Film School.

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