Scottish Documentary Institute: Creative Docs to Discover & Inspire at TOAFF19

The team at Scottish Documentary Institute share the most creative and artistic documentaries which they are looking forward to discovering at TOAFF19.

It’s fair to say that documentary has exploded in recent years, with filmmakers around the globe encouraged by commissioners to try and explain issues that affect all our lives in a variety of exciting ways.

Each year we work with dozens of new filmmakers to help them bring distinctive stories to festival screens, and the stunning international films listed below, programmed as part of Take One Action Film Festival this year are a fantastic example of the bold storytelling we want to encourage in Scottish documentary. In fact, we were so taken with Dina Naser’s Tiny Souls that we’re collaborating on a special Masterclass with Dina herself. 

We hope you can find the time to watch these films. Spending time with any of them will give you a new perspective on the world that you won’t find anywhere else.


Wed 25th Sept | 17:45 | GFT, Glasgow

Thurs 26th Sept | 17:50 | Filmhouse, Edinburgh

Scarpelli’s poetic documentary style eloquently captures the creative flair of a young child’s imagination…a tender portrait of a coming-of-ageSight and Sound

After premiering at the Berlinale earlier this year, the filmmaker behind the 2015 SXSW hit Frame by Frame Mo Scarpelli, returns with her beautiful new feature Anbessa. Asalif is a young Ethiopian boy whose life has been upended by the socio-economic developments that are reshaping his home city, his country and his future. With dream-like poetry and stunning cinematography, Anbessa brings Asalif’s inner world of childhood adventures to life, in the shadow of rapid urbanisation.

Gods of Molenbeek

Sat 21 Sept | 17:30 | Filmhouse, Edinburgh

Elegantly crafted Gods of Molenbeek does everything rightModern Times

Official Selection: One World

Gods of Molenbeek explores deep religious and philosophical issues through the lens of two six-year-old friends, Aatos and Amine who live in the Molenbeek district of Brussels. A terrorist attack in Brussels brings to halt their care-free childhood adventures.  Unravelling thought-provoking issues through the innocence of childhood indicates that Gods of Molenbeek will give a fresh take on religion, friendship and community.

Midnight Traveler

Sat 21 Sept | 20:15 | Filmhouse, Edinburgh

Sun 22 Sept | 17:00 | GFT, Glasgow

Affecting, essential documentary. A remarkable achievementScreen Daily

Winner: World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award (Sundance) 

Official Selection: Hotdocs, Sheffield Doc Fest, Berlinale, Sundance

Shot entirely on three phones over several years, award-winning Midnight Traveller documents the flight of an Afghan film director and his family who are under threat from the Taliban. As such an intimate portrait of this family’s plight is shown a film like this is the closest some audiences will get to understanding the desperate and violent situations faced by asylum seekers.


Tues 24th Sept | 17:45 | GFT, Glasgow

Wed 25th Sept | 18:00 | Filmhouse, Edinburgh

extraordinary documentary…has as much in common with the pictures of Andrea Arnold and early Lynne Ramsay as it does with other non-fiction filmmakingScreen Daily

Official Selection: Edinburgh International Film Festival, Tribeca

Winner: Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award – Tribeca

Fresh from its UK Premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June, Scheme Birds is a tough yet tender film about Gemma, a strong-willed Scottish teenager from a Motherwell housing estate who thinks her future will involve getting “locked up or knocked up”, and the relationships with her grandfather, boyfriend and friends. As her life begins to change direction, the film makes us consider how much our future is “set” by the social and economic inequalities which shape our upbringing. It is also a fully-realised examination of the impact steelwork closures have on working-class communities.

Producer Ruth Reid will be attending both screenings and delivering a Producer Masterclass on Wednesday 25th September 15:00 – 17:00.

Tiny Souls

Sun 22nd Sept | 17:45 | Filmhouse, Edinburgh

Mon 23rd Sept | 19:30 | CCA, Glasgow

restores narrative agency to the most disenfranchised – refugee children – in a quietly powerful wayLittle White Lies

Official Selection: CPH: Dox, Sheffield Doc Fest

9-year-old Marwa is an inquisitive child, whose interests revolve around, playtime, school and her siblings. She and her family live in Jordan’s Za’atari camp, the world’s largest camp for Syrian refugees, and hope to return home soon.  As the weeks turn into years, Tiny Souls captures the resilience and hopefulness of children displaced by conflict, while raising crucial questions as to what lies in store for their whole generation.

Director Dina Naser will be attending both screenings and delivering a Director Masterclass with SDI on Monday 23rd September 17:00 – 19:00