documentary series in development

Inside the Fortress
a ten times 25 minute series of documentary films about what life is really like for
Europe's undocumented economic migrants

Length: ten times 25 minutes
Directors: fourteen filmmakers from ten European countries
Consultant: Ritchie Cogan
Producer: Mark Aardenburg
Creatieve Series Producer: Rajesh Thind

The Concept

Who really are the faceless “illegal” immigrants that every European knows from newspaper reports, politician's speeches and the fleeting images of desperation and despair seen on television news bulletins?  Are they the criminal invaders that Europe’s newly resurgent far-right parties bring us dire warnings of? Or are they the innocent victims of poverty and deprivation in the developing world, struggling to survive and forced to migrate? This landmark  series of  ten  x  25  minute observational



documentaries takes us beyond the ideological battleground to get closer to the real lives of a range of undocumented migrants to Europe. Made by a group of fourteen filmmakers in ten different European countries, brought together by and developed through the MEDIA funded EsoDoc (European Social Documentary) 2006 workshops, these films will reveal lives and stories that are more complex, contradictory and unpredictable than perhaps any of us can imagine.

The Films

Each film will focus on a story about one main character who has come to Europe from a developing country without documents.  Shot observationally,  each film  will follow  an  unfolding
narrative that intimately takes us into the inner world of the undocumented migrant to Europe, giving a face to the faceless. 


Stylistically, each filmmaker will be given the maximum possible space to make their film in their way though this will happen within an editorial structure designed to achieve enough continuity of style and approach to give the series as a whole a coherent identity with a strong thematic range and identity. What is important is that there is both enough  common  ground   and  enough  room   for
enough common ground and enough room for some surprises.  This will be achieved through close attention to the development of each film, the key additional crew members such as the editor and cameraperson, the production and post-production process, all carefully managed by the Executive and Line Producers, and by our Project Consultant.

the Filmmakers

One of the distinguishing strengths of the project is the range of experiences and perspectives that the fourteen filmmakers bring to the films.  Some of them bring their personal experience of being an immigrant to their films – for example, a Chinese woman who has lived in New York and now lives in Paris, a British Indian from London, a Filipino in Cyprus.  Others bring previous experience of having worked with immigrants in Europe – for example, a German filmmaker who has worked with Nigerian prostitutes in Italy, an Italian filmmaker who has worked with Malians both in Paris and Mali.  Above all, the group as a whole combines a close understanding of their local context with a firm grasp of the nature of the project following on from extended and in-depth development over a six-month period at the ESoDoc 2006 workshops. 

The following people will execute the project in their respective countries, in the last column the proposed nationality of the main characters of the films are mentioned.

Country Filmmaker Nationality of characters
Austria Frits Ofner
Cyprus Christopher Malapitan
to be decided
France Ma Shumin
Nadia Pisetta
Germany Lisa Glahn
Italy Sonia Sapienza
Lisa Glahn
Malta Roderick Agius
Netherlands Mark Aardenburg
Poland Maciej Grabysa
Daniel Banaczek
Spain Rajesh Thind
to be decided
UK Rosa Rogers
Hugh Hartford
George Butler
Attached is a list with short bio ’s of the filmmakers

The Films

The Executive Producer will, besides making the film in the Netherlands, oversee the project and, in cooperation with the different participants, take care of  getting the films broadcast  in the countries

of origin. The Creative Content Producer will be concerned with the creative content of the films. Ritchie Cogan will act as a consultant.


People Involved

Ritchie Cogan – Germany
Spent over 25 years working for the BBC, both in radio and television. In Radio he was a current affairs and investigative programme producer and editor, while in TV he became an executive producer. While with the BBC Documentary Department he initiated a whole range of 'social action' programmes and series, on subjects as diverse as crime prevention, drug misuse and child abuse. In 1989 he helped found the One World group of broadcasters (and became Director), where he initiated and organised international co-productions from documentaries to event television and drama. Became Director of the One World Broadcasting Trust in 2000, and a tutor/consultant for the European Social Documentary project (EsoDoc) in 2004.
Executive Producer
Mark Aardenburg
the Netherlands
Mark is an independent documentary producer with fourteen years experience producing documentaries about developing countries and social subjects. With his company MovieTron he made, besides institutional films, eight international documentaries, which are still being broadcast worldwide. As an independent producer, he has had vast experience working in all aspects of production, including story development, research, writing, directing, editing, audio, fund-raising and distribution. He also gives lectures in documentary making at the SAE in Amsterdam.
Creative Content Producer
Rajesh Thind – UK
Rajesh Thind is a writer, documentary filmmaker and broadcaster with 10 years professional experience who has produced and directed films for the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV and written for The Independent newspaper, Diplo magazine and London International Film Festival. His work includes the film "Travels with My Beard" (TX: February 2006) which was 'Pick of the Day' in the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, Observer, Guardian, Independent, Sun, News of the World and Mirror national newspapers. He has previously worked as a radio producer, university tutor and as the Managing Editor of the London division of a leading international photographic publisher.


People Involved
Filmmakers (in alphabetical order)

Roderick Agius
– Malta
Graduated in Social Studies from Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome, Italy. With over 14 years experience in print and broadcast journalism, Roderick Agius is one of the leading journalists in Malta. He is the producer and the script writer of various television documentaries featuring the aftermath of the conflict in Bosnia, the Kosovo war, the Russian Orthodox Church, the living conditions at the Russian orphanages, the Beslan tragedy, the tsunami disaster in Sri Lanka and survivors from Auschwitz concentration camps. Roderick Agius also produced and presented various discussion programmes dealing with social and international issues on both radio and television. Roderick received several awards for his work.

Daniel Banaczek – Poland
Daniel Banaczek, by education a philosopher, works as a documentary film director, artistic animator, art manager. For the past eight years has been conducting artistic and social projects for Biogrupa Artistic and Educational Association in Krakow. Conducted theatrical performances, and site-specific multi-media projects. For the past two years has been working as a director on documentary films on the topic of modern immigration as well as social exclusions (“Perron26”). The films that he realized are about young prisoners from Silesia (“The first day”) about post-industrial cities in Europe. He cooperates with the documentary and film studio in Warsaw, Polish Public Television (TVP1) and starts cooperation with the Wajda School in Warsaw.

George Butler – United Kingdom
SKILLS: I am a multi-skilled digital video operator. I produce, film and edit video projects.
MUTINY ARTS: I produce participatory videos working with different social groups exploring social issues including racism, globalisation, the environment and social exclusion. I do this through Mutiny Arts, a more than profit company I set up in May 1999.
MUTINY HIRE: I also run small facilities company Mutiny Hire where I rent out video equipment to other filmmakers. I also work as a freelance editor and camera operator.
OVERALL OBJECTIVES: To produce videos that expose, heal and explore different social issues internationally.

Lisa Glahn - Germany
I am a professional filmmaker, radio journalist, actress and artist, who produced radio features and documentary films for public TV- station like ARD, WDR, ZDF, 3sat and digital channels. I worked for NGOs and other institution with social interests. Some of my film have been shown in European festival and won awards. The main interest in all my professional film, radio or artist activity is the engagement in social injustice and the trust, that my work can give a mouthpiece for the persons concerned. In this sense I either use mass media or art, but also in a direct way pedagogic art work with marginal people, for example in prison or psychological hospital.

Maciej Grabysa – Poland
Independent director of documentaries, TV news, talk shows for Polish public TV (TVP1,TVP2) and commercials stations (TVN); also-journalist, screenwriter and researcher; studied film and TV direction at Prague Film Academy (FAMU), Andrzej Wajda's film direction course in Theatre School in Krakow , graduated History of Arts at Jagiellonian University in Krakow; in his documentaries and projects he tries to describe situation in Poland and middle-eastern Europe after 1989 year.

Hugh Hartford – United Kingdom
Hugh works for Banyak Films producing and directing documentaries for broadcasters and NGOs. Credits include MTV, National Geographic, Al Jazeera International, BBC. Outside broadcast Hugh has produced documentaries distributed by Artificial Eye.


Friedrich Ofner
– Austria
At present I work as a researcher for Austrian documentary film production company Mischief Films. Before I worked as a freelance journalist on development topics. I directed two short docs that were commissioned by an Austrian NGO. Furthermore I made two small docs in Colombia about human rights issues.

Ma Shumin – France
MA Shumin is a China born, New York City raised and Paris based documentary filmmaker. She studied TV-Film production at Syracuse University, Asian-American Film/Video at the University of California at Berkeley and Asian Cinema at City University of Hong Kong. Shumin has worked as an assistant editor at independent documentary companies in NYC and San Francisco. She was a co-producer and reporter of two weekly 30-minute news program at Radio TV Hong Kong. Currently she is working on a series of short form documentaries for Internet companies. Shumin is passionate about making quality films about people, culture and our society.

Christopher Malapitan – Cyprus
Christopher Malapitan is a freelance media artist living and working in Cyprus providing creative offline and online commercial solutions. A Graphic Designer having gained experience in producing video-promos, training/educational videos, TV commercials, documentaries as well as short films at an audiovisual studio. Last year he produced a short video diary portraying an anonymous young lady from Africa living in Nicosia and is currently producing a documentary that will investigate the labour exploitation of female foreign domestic workers in Cyprus.

Nadia Pisetta – France
Graduated in political science at university of Bologna whit a thesis about “migrations, international cooperation and development”, she has made a Master in “Social practices of development” at the Sorbonne University of Paris. Since 2003, she works with “BLOK”, a French association involved in audiovisual and intercultural projects. She worked in Morocco and West Africa for French NGOs “Migration & Développement” and “G.R.D.R.” on the capitalization of their local development projects (audio/photo report, guide and video documentary) and realised a participatory video project with Palestinian children in Hebron.

Rosa Rogers – United Kingdom
Producer/Director with an eight year track record in developing and making innovative, original and challenging programmes for a range of terrestrial and digital channels, many of which have been nominated for/won awards and been shown at film festivals around the world. I’m interested in making engaging and thought provoking films across a range of subjects, from observational social documentary to arts programmes. My primary interest is in bringing marginalized experiences and social injustice to the screen and a wider audience in an informative, accessible and compelling way.

Sonia Sapienza – Italy
Beginning as academic researcher in comparative literature, she has then been working in multimedia publishing and environmental media activism. From 2000 she has been working with the UN and the EU and collaborating with NGOs for long and medium term field missions in the humanitarian field as Public information Office, Civic Education, Electoral and Communication Expert, while carrying on her own work as social photo reporter. In 2006 she has started her career as documentarist with ESODOC training, and has two ongoing projects: one on Mexican female mafia in the squatting suburbs and the other on the environmental battle to save the Gabonese rainforest.

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