Telling it like it is

Jill Green, new artis­tic direc­tor of Alde­burgh DocFest

EADT Suffolk - - Inside -

I meet Jill Green, over break­fast, at the East Coast Café in Alde­burgh – and the first thing I no­tice is her im­mac­u­late French man­i­cure. Must have cost a for­tune.

“They’re stuck on! £7.99 from Boots,” she laughs. I think how ap­pro­pri­ate that the new artis­tic direc­tor of Alde­burgh Documentary Film Fes­ti­val tells it ex­actly like it is. Al­ready a fes­ti­val trustee, Jill is CEO of Eleventh Hour Films, the pro­duc­tion com­pany re­spon­si­ble for ma­jor TV suc­cesses like Foyle’s War, Col­li­sion, and the re­cent Safe House. She is also on the board of Chich­ester Fes­ti­val.

‘Diana’s en­ergy and pro­fes­sion­al­ism have been an in­spi­ra­tion and like her, I’m pas­sion­ate about doc­u­men­taries’

Jill knew it would be a huge task to take over­from Diana Quick, whose seven-year stint as direc­tor of DocFest, brought world-class tal­ent to Alde­burgh.

“Diana’s en­ergy and pro­fes­sion­al­ism have been an in­spi­ra­tion and like her, I’m pas­sion­ate about doc­u­men­taries. I’ve been at­tend­ing this fes­ti­val, as an ex­cited punter, for the last 5 years.”

As part of her prepa­ra­tion, she vis­ited the Sh­effield Documentary Fes­ti­val re­cently. “I watched ev­ery­thing and I worked out my own strat­egy for Alde­burgh. Some fes­ti­vals are re­lent­lessly dark, but I wanted to in­clude fun, as well as thought-pro­vok­ing, sub­jects. I am most pleased at bring­ing Asif Ka­pa­dia, Os­car win­ning direc­tor of Amy, Senna and a new film on Maradona, to Alde­burgh to re­ceive the Out­stand­ing Con­tri­bu­tion to Documentary Award. He is truly re­mark­able and he will be in­ter­viewed on his work.”

The 23rd DocFest takes place over the week­end Novem­ber 3-5. Jill has as­sem­bled a won­der­ful di­ver­sity of sub­jects and con­tent. The Work­ers Cup is a mod­ern slav­ery story, as a group of for­eign work­ers are lured to Qatar, be­liev­ing they will be­come foot­ballers – and de­cide to form their own team. Daugh­ters of the Curved Moon – a UK Pre­miere - ex­poses the tra­di­tional role of women, against the breath­tak­ing back­drop of the Hi­malayas. There’s tragedy and in­sight in City of Ghosts – which chronicles the dan­gers for jour­nal­ists un­der ISIS (a panel dis­cus­sion in­cludes Nick Robin­son and Jeremy Bowen), The Gate­keep­ers fea­tures re­veal­ing in­ter­views with for­mer heads of the Is­raeli se­cret ser­vice – and war photographer Don McCullin talks can­didly about his ca­reer. But there is fun and laugh­ter, as Happy goes in search of hap­pi­ness, and en­ter­tain­ment with Alan Yen­tob’s colour­ful documentary, Mu­si­cals!, on the Jewish in­flu­ence in Amer­i­can mu­si­cals.

“Af­ter which, Alan Yen­tob is in con­ver­sa­tion with nov­el­ist and screen­writer An­thony Horowitz – my hus­band,” Jill re­veals. They have had a home in Or­ford for the last 18

years, where she tries to re­lax. “My hus­band says the phone is my lifeblood, but I ac­tu­ally hate the tele­phone and much pre­fer email or texts, espe­cially as I’m of­ten work­ing at the ‘fringes’ of the day – very, very early or unso­cia­bly late.” Their sons, Ni­cholas, 29, and Cas­sian, 27, have in­her­ited their par­ents’ com­mu­ni­ca­tion and cre­ative genes and formed a mar­ket­ing com­pany to­gether, ‘a start-up busi­ness for start-ups’ called The Clerken­well Broth­ers. Jill can’t hide her pride and plea­sure in their suc­cess. “Their of­fices are above my of­fices and I love see­ing how they op­er­ate and work to­gether.”

Jill sums up her hopes for the DocFest by say­ing that she wanted, above all, to find great sto­ries, some of which would suit younger au­di­ences, 20some­things, like her sons, and she’s thought care­fully about where to place each film.

“For in­stance, at 7 pm Satur­day Novem­ber 4, we have a crazy, stun­ning film called Brim­stone & Trea­cle, about a chaotic py­rotech­nic fes­ti­val in a Mex­i­can town, that make their own fire­works. It’s com­pet­i­tive and the ex­hibits are dan­ger­ous. The cin­e­matog­ra­pher risked his life film­ing there. It lasts just over an hour, so there’s still time to head for the Bon­fire Night party af­ter­wards.” The fes­ti­val opens with Steps, a punchy, up­lift­ing story of young AfricanAmer­i­can women, edg­ing into wom­an­hood, in the un­rest and racism of Bal­ti­more. Given a place in col­lege, they form a step dance team. Tot­ten­ham MP David Lammy will at­tend this screen­ing.

“To close the fes­ti­val, I wanted a film with a com­mu­nity feel­ing, so I chose Peck­ing Order, a heart­warm­ing and hi­lar­i­ous look at a Poul­try Club – ‘chicken fanciers’ – com­pe­ti­tion in New Zealand.” Al­ready, I’m laugh­ing. I shake Jill’s beau­ti­fully man­i­cured hand and wish her luck. But I think she’s al­ready nailed it.

The Alde­burgh Documentary Fes­ti­val runs Novem­ber 3-5 at Alde­burgh Cin­ema De­tails and book­ing www.alde­burghcin­ema.co.uk Email: info@alde­burghcin­ema.co.uk Tel: 01728 454 884 Box Of­fice: 10am-1pm Mon­day-Fri­day, or call at the cin­ema.

‘It’s com­pet­i­tive and the ex­hibits are dan­ger­ous’

A STILL FROM PECK­ING ORDER, a New Zealand film about a Poul­try Club com­pe­ti­tion

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