What is Greenhouse?

Since 2005 Greenhouse has increased the number of quality documentary films produced in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, and Tunisia and created strong personal relationships among documentary filmmakers from those countries. Greenhouse is a true EU-Mediterranean joint venture, the most prominent venture of its kind in the documentary film world.
Initiated by The New Fund for Cinema and Television (Israel), the Ankara Cinema Association (Turkey), VOF Appel & Honigmann (The Netherlands), and Zebra Productions (Spain), Greenhouse has won three separate grants from the EU. For the third, the current grant, ESAV Marrakech - the Marrakech School of Visual Arts (Morocco) has joined as a fifth partner.
Greenhouse came into being in response to the partners' conviction that the region contained a large number of young documentary film talents. These filmmakers were unable to turn their cinematic visions of the social and political issues in the societies they live in into finished films, because they lacked both essential know-how and exposure to the global documentary film market.

Greenhouse is an advanced contemporary development program for documentary films aimed at Mediterranean Cinema School Graduates & Emerging Filmmakers from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria & Tunisia

Greenhouse is a yearly program hosting 10-12 projects each round.

Greenhouse offers its participants the opportunity to work intensively throughout a one-year programme in which they will develop a complete international production package and a professional trailer which will be presented in a pitching forum in front of international commissioning editors, film funds directors, producers and distributors from the documentary international market.

Every year up to 24 filmmakers will be selected and participate in three seminars, each five days long. The filmmakers will be assigned a personal mentor and experts in the field of documentaries, with whom they will work together in improving the quality of their projects – from the content and economic and artistic aspects, to a complete production package, including a trailer which will be presented at the final seminar in the framework of a pitching forum.
Greenhouse aims to encourage the exploration of innovative non-fiction storytelling methods that can bring about a change, not only through the social message they deliver, but also by means of their cinematic language. 

Greenhouse's credo is to provide the best scheme, individually tailored for each of the filmmakers.

What has Greenhouse accomplished?

Greenhouse has experienced six years of unprecedented success in enhancing the quality and increasing the number of documentary films in the region as well as creating strong personal relationships among documentary filmmakers from those countries. Of 85 film concepts subjected to the full Greenhouse process in the past seven years, 19 films have been completed, most of which competed and premiered at prestigious film festivals.

Equally if not more important, Greenhouse has trained more than 100 young emerging filmmakers from the Southern Mediterranean region. Their work has involved current, urgent, powerful social issues ranging from the Death Tunnels of Gaza to a highly innovative doc about the 2011 Revolution in Egypt, from a search for freedom in North Sudan to women's rights in Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. All these documentaries have been made by filmmakers with extraordinary talent, artistic commitment, and great access to stories from their own countries.

This work could not take place without the professional platform which Greenhouse offers the filmmakers - a committed group of advisors and experts, experienced mentors, and “pitching forum” members, who engage in hands-on interactions with the young filmmakers. That message comes through clearly in a mini-documentary about the program that you can watch here

Greenhouse's Program Consists of Two Methodological Approaches:
A structured program providing the filmmakers with all professional needs for developing their basic concept into a compelling documentary project: creating a full film package for marketing; establishing networking possibilities; making a trailer which will be edited during the seminars; and participating in a pitching forum event in the presence of leading forces from the international documentary market.

A custom-made personal program specially designed for each and every project, emphasizing the importance of dialogue with oneself and with one's peers to encourage the exploration of innovative non-fiction storytelling techniques, and promoting the exhibition of documentaries to international audiences.

Greenhouse is designed to enable the exchange of skills and know-how between the personal mentors and the filmmakers, and to stimulate the individual creative process of filmmakers in order to attain perfect team work.

The cultural exchanges between the filmmakers from different countries and cultures, also contributes to the learning process as that of the mentors. We believe in providing a platform for interactions, exchanges of ideas and group feedback.

One on one tailored tutorials:
The meticulous selection process of the participating projects enables us to adapt to the projects' various needs, thus designing a custom made programme tailored especially for each project. The one on one tutorial, as well as the frontal lectures are adapted to the needs of each participant and project. The mentors have the task of exposing the unique voice of each of the filmmakers, as well as their weaker points, so that they are able to work together with them to realize the projects to their maximum potential.

Our leading mentors also act as critics of the individual works in progress as well as personal coaches, so that the filmmakers learn to better understand and improve their abilities. The participating filmmakers also receive guidance and professional assistance from international experts and special lecturers as well as from Greenhouse's team.

 Greenhouse Seminar Themes

A one year support system for the filmmakers and their projects, including 3 yearly seminars and support through e-mails provided by the personal mentors.
The benefit of attending 3 seminars a year is that it enables Greenhouse's team to adapt each seminar to the needs of each project and the follow up e-mail support makes sure, that each project has a full production package, including a trailer, by the end of the programme.

The programme includes: frontal lectures, film case studies, master classes, personal one on one tutorial, networking, group feedback sessions, meetings with special advisors, trailer editing and a pitching forum.

  Seminar Structure:

  • Greenhouse's first seminar is focused on the filmmakers' declaration of intentions and the projects' synopses. From the very first meeting between the filmmakers and their personal mentors up to the last conclusive gathering, which is followed by the first presentation of the projects, these two elements are re-examined in-depth and elaborated on, while concentrating on the project’s dramatic narrative and the main characters.
  • Greenhouse's second seminar is dedicated to two essential aspects of the projects' development – the continuation of the written proposal and preliminary work on the trailers. The filmmakers work closely with their mentors on their treatments; they fine-tune their statements and synopses and go over rushes to find footage for their trailers in preparations for the final seminar & pitching forum.
  • Greenhouse's final seminar deal with fine-tuning the participants' trailers and the issue of "How to pitch a project".
    The participants fine-tune their trailers with professional editors and work with their personal mentors on their final production packages. The filmmakers simulate their presentation in front of the Greenhouse team, mentors and the pitching workshop moderators. Further preparations for the pitching event include one-on-one meetings with pitching experts, who prepare the filmmakers for the pitching forum. 

  • Greenhouse Pitching Forum: Potential financers from the international documentary market are invited to take part at the yearly GH pitching forum event.  At the event, the Greenhouse filmmakers pitch their projects and trailer to the panel members. The participants have a one-on-one meetings with each of the panel members do discuss further possible collaborations.

Greenhouse Resources

To date, Greenhouse has received significant international financial support. The European Union has awarded it approximately €3 million. Additional support has been received from Canal France International, the Cyprus Ministry of Culture, and International Documentary Film, an organization located in Limasol Cyprus. 

How does the Greenhouse process work?

Think of Leonard Bernstein, Sir George Solti, and several other prestigious conductors putting on a series of master classes as well as offering private tutorials for promising future maestros. Transfer that image to documentary film making and you have Greenhouse.

Each year Mediterranean world cinema school graduates and emerging filmmakers submit their documentary film concepts to Greenhouse, which selects 12-15 for development through participation in a structured program of seminars as well as a tailored personal program. The structured program is designed to provide the young filmmakers with the knowledge and experience they lack for developing their basic concept into a compelling documentary film as well as understanding the importance of dialogue with themselves and with their peers as a means of exploring innovative non-fiction storytelling techniques. Intrinsic to the success of the Greenhouse process are several, equally important elements: imaginative partners; a committed group of advisors including the famed Sundance Institute; skilled and talented professional staff; and experienced mentors, experts, and "pitching forum" members, who engage in hands-on interactions with the young filmmakers.

How does Greenhouse relate to the current world situation?

While none of us can be certain what the currents of history will bring next, of one thing we can all be sure: any measure, however small, that increases understanding of the story told by the other is a good thing. In that regard the role of documentary cinema cannot be emphasized enough.
At the heart of Greenhouse is the belief that, in the complicated Mediterranean region, dialogue—especially dialogue between Arab and Israeli filmmakers—is essential in bringing peaceful change and hope. The Greenhouse partners are proud at the extent over the past five years that we have managed to create a multi-cultural dialogue between filmmakers from different countries as well as the exposure we have gained for their work throughout the world.
A small Greenhouse story illustrates the potential of such dialogue. In 2008 one of the filmmakers selected was a young woman from Gaza, Awatif Al-Jediely. When she was unable to leave Gaza to participate, she asked her brother, the film's producer, who lived in the West Bank, to participate in her stead. He did so, communicating with her constantly by phone. Long story short, Awatif's film, "Waiting for Heaven," was ranked the pick of that year's crop by the Greenhouse experts. Subsequently, Greenhouse staff helped her obtain production funding from a Dutch foundation. Now living in London where she is editing the film, she has told Greenhouse staff that without the opportunity offered through the program, there would have been no possibility of realizing her dream.