Alumni Event of 2024

The Alumni Event, which already became a prominent feature amidst the thematic activities organized in Budapest at the moment of gathering the currently enrolled classes in the transition between curricular semesters, this year counted with the attendance of alumni representing the whole 12 classes of DocNomads programme up to date.

Contributors to the event’s program were Jethro Westraad (DN8), Jola Wieczorek (DN1), Atanur Nabiyeva (DN9), Ross McClean (DN5), Nuruzzaman Khan (DN4), Martha Appelt (DN4), Thiago Carvalhaes (DN4), who presented the current state of development or production of the most recent feature-length documentaries they have been involved, thus sharing their professional experiences with the event’s audience congregating students, teachers, alumni, co-workers and friends.






First Session 12:30-14:30



Project title: In Pursuit of Ghosts

Status: Development

Synopsis: In Pursuit of Ghosts is the untold story of whaling in Durban, South Africa; of the mythical Norwegian gunners who toiled the icy south seas and the anonymous Zulu workers who remained on land flensing the carcasses. By tracing the imagined journey of one of these whales, the film poetically charts the effects of a dark industry whose legacy lives on with strange and unexpected consequences.



Project title: Days Yet Unknown

Status: Development

Synopsis: Days Yet Unknown unfolds as a cinematic mosaic, tracing the journey of my family's immigration from Poland to Austria in 1989, marked by our passage through the Traiskirchen refugee camp. The film essay weaves together intimate conversations, letters, staged scenes, archival footage, and the resonance of my personal narrative. It not only chronicles our passage from East to West, but also explores the nature of remembering, inviting viewers to contemplate on the multifaceted effects of migration and the inherent challenges of forging a new home.



Project title: Echoes of Avey

Status: Development

Synopsis: Filmmaker Atanur Nabiyeva, who has lived outside the home country for a long time, returns to her childhood home - Avey Mountain after many years. With the once majestic mountain gradually vanishing due to industrial activities for around two decades, she confronts the haunting disappearance of a lovely part of her past. Saddened that her childhood memories will be destroyed along with the mountain, the director decides to make a film here and document her childhood memories and also the mountain’s disappearance. In the nearly deserted landscape, surrounded by factories and quarries, the director yearns to discover the familiar traces of her childhood through her camera.


ROSS MCCLEAN (DN5, Northern Ireland)

Project title: The Shankill Doctor

Status: Development

Synopsis: Family doctors in the UK are recommended to ‘retire quietly’ at the end of their careers. Following this advice has become a regret for Dr. Mark McClean. He left behind 35 years’ worth of relationships with the people of the Shankill, a working-class British Loyalist enclave in Nationalist West Belfast. Attempting to face this regret, Dr. McClean returns to the Shankill for a final round of in-home check-ups. His journey is intertwined with archival footage recorded by Dr. McClean himself, as the unique gaze of a family doctor reveals the intricacies of life in this troubled yet resilient community.


Second Session 15:00-16:30



Project title: Kamruk Kamakya – The Journey to the Mythical Land

Status: Development

Synopsis: Lokman, a Dhaka dweller displaced by climate change, seeks a mythical solution in Kamruk Kamakya.

In pursuit of magical wisdom, he battles urban struggles, questioning the cost of missing his sons' upbringing. Alongside reality, Lokman's mind weaves a tale, his letters to his children blending myth with truth. Through dreamlike scenes, he encounters trials, resisting seduction by two women until meeting the wise magician. Disillusioned in Kamruk Kamakya city, he recalls her advice, finding solace under a banana tree. Awakening homesick in his village, Lokman's quest for a better life takes an unexpected, mystical turn, blending reality and myth in his poignant journey.



Project title: We Are Stardust

Status: Development

Synopsis: We Are Stardust is a film that delves into the profound interconnectedness between humans and the universe, exploring the concept of “otherness”. An essay-film that begins by acknowledging the interconnectedness of everything - the idea that we are all made of stardust – in order to unravel the scientific, cultural, historical, and social context surrounding our understanding of the universe and the concept of the "other," the "alien." It starts with the notion of alien = extra-terrestrial, transitions to the concept of alien = different species, and culminates in the deconstruction of the concept alien = outsider-migrant.



Project title: Alive

Status: Development

Synopsis: Alive is a portrait of Rute Bianca, a Portuguese trans woman and writer who is a pioneer: one of the first to appear on TV, to undergo gender-affirming surgery, and to... age. Against all odds, Rute recently turned 60 years old. Her glory days are in the past, and now she is back in her hometown to take care of her ill mother. Between routine and memories, the film dives inside this moment when a woman, who always lived in the present, tries to understand her aging process.



17:00-19:30 - Screening of Agent of Happiness (94’) by Arun Bhattarai (DN1, Bhutan) and Dorottya Zurbó (DN1, Hungary) followed by a Q&A.

The film had its World premiere at the Sundance Film Festival (2024) World Cinema documentary competition.

Agent of Happiness offers a unique take on the notoriously exoticized Bhutan and its unusual happiness policy. We follow Amber as he investigates various expressions of contentment across different households and lifestyles while navigating his own struggle as a Nepali minority. The holistic philosophy at the heart of the survey he conducts challenges the conventional metrics of fulfillment and success, often provoking some deeper soul-searching. The filmmakers elegantly capture many tender moments between Amber and his interlocutors, as well as some very revealing conversations filled with unflinching honesty and quiet wisdom.

Through its carefully crafted narrative, the film resonates as a heartfelt exploration of happiness in the face of adversity. As Amber grapples with societal disparities and personal roadblocks, while searching for love, this story becomes a beautifully realized reminder to count our blessings.”

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