A vibrant workshop programme enabling filmmakers in diverse countries to tell the stories that matter to them.

A young filmmaker editing a short film.

What is Stories?

Stories is an intensive creative documentary workshop, developed with and delivered by Scottish Documentary Institute, during which filmmakers around the world are supported with the creative and practical tools to examine their sense of identity and nationality through film. The short documentary films produced offer surprising and nuanced insights into particular places through strong, character-led stories.

So far more than 90 short films have been made since 2010, and Stories films have been selected for prestigious international film festivals, including Sheffield DocFest, BFI London Film Festival, IDFA (International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam), and Locarno Film Festival.

Many participants have continued their film journies - a great example is Libya Stories participant Naziha Arebi who subsequently made her first feature, Freedom Fields in 2018 having met collaborators in the workshop.

What does it involve?

Through the arts, the British Council finds new ways of connecting with and understanding through the stories we tell each other. Stories is part of this, working with filmmakers in places where there are interesting and unique stories to be told but especially where outside eyes have a one dimensional view. Participants are supported to develop skills to tell their own personal stories through film, and helping shape those films so that the stories reach international eyes.

There have been 19 Stories workshops since 2010, ranging from Benghazi, Tripoli, Rabat, Dhaka, and Karachi, to Ramallah, Jordan, Vietnam, and Indonesia. A multi-location Syria Stories worked with displaced filmmakers in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. More recently we've returned to Morocco, to East Africa, and have started to target particular community groups, from women filmmakers in OPT to LGBTQIA+ filmmakers in Myanmar.

A Stories workshop is usually an intense 10 day programme. Originally face to face and residential, our Jakarta Stories, planned for Spring 2020, became Indonesia Distanced Stories, in response to COVID-19 lockdown, with the Scottish Documentary Institute team, and participants, working online and remotely. Now the workshops tend to be hybrid, enabling longer term support and development.

Stories workshops are always devised and delivered in partnership with peer organisations such as InDocs in Indonesia, and Bidayat in Lebanon.

Connecting Stories

13 headshot pictures and a connecting stories logo

In February 2021, SDI launched Connecting Stories, a next level mentoring programme for documentary filmmakers developing their first or second feature film, with 13 participants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Over nine months the group explored various aspects of the industry, including the development and the production of feature films, individual mentorship sessions, and masterclasses with international key players in the current documentary landscape.

Hanoi Stories - an example

Hanoi Stories took place in October 2019, and was delivered in partnership with TPD Centre for Development of Movie Talents. It was part of British Council Vietnam's film and music heritage programme, Heritage of Future Past programme - a Cultural Heritage for Inclusive Growth initiative. The Stories model was adapted so that the focus became a celebration of female and non-binary figures within traditional music practice in Vietnam.

You can see a film about the workshop here. And watch the Hanoi Stories films here.

Stories participants in Hanoi.

Want to find out more?

Visit the Stories website, where you can also see a selection of the Stories films.

  • Our partner

    Scottish Documentary Institute

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