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CIRCLE 2023 - Projects and participants

Updated: May 25, 2023

We are delighted to announce our official selection of participants and projects for 2023! The upcoming sixth edition of the Accelerator features ten carefully curated documentary projects, with authors from Europe and the rest of the world.

This year, it was particularly difficult to make the final selection among 130 applications from 52 different countries, so we are very thankful to Suzy Gillet (writer and producer, UK), Patricia

Drati (producer and director, Denmark), Laura Klöckner (producer and curator, Germany), Jelena Mišeljić (producer and film scholar, Montenegro), and Aleksandar Govedarica (sales agent, Canada), who helped us through this tough process. Our new cohort shows great promise, and we can’t wait for a new circle of connection, creative work, and inspiration to begin.

It is a great honour to have the support of the European Commission through the Creative Europe: MEDIA program for training initiatives, and we are delighted to make our longstanding collaborations with Thessaloniki IFF Agora and the International Emerging Film Talent Association (IEFTA) official. We have also entered into a new and promising partnership with the Greek Film Centre. With the continuing support from all of our wonderful partners, mentors, and experts, we are confident that this edition of the CIRCLE Women Doc Accelerator will be a success.

Themes of belonging, displacement, and nostalgia loom large in several of the projects, which imbibe deeply personal stories with a critical political context. In the autobiographical film Portrait of a Friendship by Faezeh Nikoozad, three friends and filmmakers from Iran offer differing perspectives on the meaning of home, migration, and exile. Berliner by Anna Khazaradze tells the stories of refugees through Nana, an interpreter for the Berlin law enforcement and an immigrant herself. In No Woman's Road, directed by Fanny Laure Bovet, three generations of Yenish women, a persecuted ethnic nomadic minority in Switzerland, embark on a journey through their troubled history. In Sites of Resistance by Lisa Smith, who after the death of her mother, embarks on a road trip with her father, visiting places rooted in the collective memory of British Romani traveler families.

Through the lens of archival and visually innovative approaches, Sisters by Tereza Bernátková shows us poetic black and white images of adolescent girls imprisoned in a mental health institution in 1960s Czechoslovakia. In Kafka in Belgrade, Maša Nešković uses dreamscapes and video diaries of iconic Yugoslavian film director and political figure Goran Marković to illustrate his everlasting fight against oppressive regimes, from his student years behind the Iron Curtain in Prague until now.

Set in the mountains of Arcadia, Rock, Paper, Scissors by Christina Phoebe chronicles the wounds of recent Greek history through the encounter between a group of friends restoring stone structures and Argyris Petronotis, an architect, historian, and one of the last surviving freedom fighters of the resistance to Nazi occupation. Contradictory perspectives on the background, reasons, and actions of Max Goldstein, the first Romanian terrorist figure, are at the center of Blazing Interwar, a hybrid documentary in three chapters produced by Anda Ionescu.

Questions of freedom, love, and restriction, albeit in two radically different ways, are at the heart of the last two projects. In Untying the Knot, Chona Mangalindan follows the fight to legalize divorce in the Philippines through the eyes of three courageous women who face social and legal obstacles to break free from their abusive marriages. Finally, in Love School filmed over the course of a decade, Julia Maryanska documents her own journey from maiden to mother, challenging cultural narratives about womanhood.

During three modules, the selected participants will work with renowned directors, writers, and producers on in-depth analysis of their films, covering multiple aspects of project development. This includes fine-tuning their scripts and narrative structures, creating captivating trailers, and preparing production strategies for international audiences and markets.

Returning as lead mentors for CIRCLE Women Doc Accelerator 2023 are Diana El Jeiroudi, a renowned Syrian writer, director, and producer based in Germany, and Brigid O'Shea, an industry strategist and co-founder of the Documentary Association of Europe (DAE). Other tutors and experts include Gianluca Matarrese (director, producer, and actor from Italy), Hubert Sauper (director, screenwriter, and producer from Austria), Salomé Jashi (director and producer from Georgia), Joanna Solecka (marketing and publicity strategist from Poland), and Charlene Branger (editor from Belgium).

Module 01 will take place at Evia Island (Greece) from June 19th to 24th and is organized in partnership with the Thessaloniki International Film Festival Agora, as part of the second Evia Film Project (June 20-24, 2023), and the Greek Film Centre. The Evia Film Project is TIFF's green initiative that started last year, aiming to provide support to the Northern Evia region following the devastating wildfires of 2021.

Part of the CIRCLE program during Module 01 will be open to the professional community and participants of the Evia Film Project festival. This includes five masterclasses and two film screenings, followed by Q&A sessions. The screenings will feature Taming the Garden by Salomé Jashi (Sundance FF 2020) and We Come as Friends by Hubert Sauper (awarded at Sundance and Berlinale 2014).

Module 02, which will take place in Serbia in September, will focus on production strategies with experts, aiming to prepare the projects for pitching to international financiers. This module will particularly emphasise strategic planning, marketing, and distribution strategies.

Finally, Module 03 will focus on networking and the presentation of the projects to potential partners and financiers during Trieste's When East Meets West event, which will take place in January 2024.

The full list of selected projects for the new CIRCLE Women Doc Accelerator is as



Director, producer: Anna Khazaradze (Georgia)

Additional producer: Nino Chichua

Production company: 1991 Productions (Georgia)

Blazing Interwar

Producer: Anda Ionescu (Romania)

Directors: Andra Tarara, David Schwartz

Production company: Tangaj Production (Romania)

Kafka in Belgrade

Director: Maša Nešković (Serbia)

Producers: Ena Bajraktarević, Maja Medić

Production company: Marienbad Film (Serbia)

Co Producer: Hrvoje Osvadić (15. umjetnost, Croatia)

Love School

Director, producer, writer: Julia Maryanska (Poland,USA)

Co-producer: Marc J Francis

Production company: Re/Culture Media

No Woman’s Road

Director: Fanny - Laure Bouvet (Switzerland)

Producer: Youmi Haefelin-Roch

Production company: Kumoshika (Switzerland)

Portrait of a Friendship

Director: Faezeh Nikoozad (Iran, Germany)

Producers: Julia Cöllen, Karsten Krause, Frank Scheuffele

Production Company: Fünferfilm (Germany)

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Director, producer, writer: Christina Phoebe (Greece)

Production company: Scribble Films (Greece)

Co-production company: Late Bloomers (Greece)


Director: Tereza Bernátková (Czech Republic)

Producers: Natalia Povlove, Dagmar Sedláckovà

Production company: MasterFilm (Czech Republic)

Co-production: FAMU

Sites of Resistance

Director, producer, writer: Lisa Smith (UK)

Production company: Patrin Films Ltd (UK)

Untying the Knot

Director, producer: Chona Mangalindan (Philippines)

Production company: MONSOON FILMS (The Philippines)

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