The 2019 edition of the IDFA-NCE Masterclass on Film Editing on November 23 featured Romanian-born, German film editor Anne Fabini, best known for her outstanding work on impressive documentary films like RETURN TO HOMS (Talal Derki, 2013), MORE THAN HONEY (Markus Imhoof, 2012), and the Academy Award nominated OF FATHERS AND SONS (Talal Derki, 2017).


Fabini spoke with moderator Pelle Asselbergs, NCE about her work on these intense films, pointing out she considers herself, as an editor, to be the ‘guardian of the emotion’ of the film, and that one’s editing conveys a lot about one’s personality. On the issue of using fictional tools in documentary stories, Anne stated that for her, it is about staying true to what is in the rushes.


Due to the severity of the subject matter of many of her documentary features — as shown in various clips from her work — she mentioned being happy to be able to work both on scripted and documentary productions, enabling her to switch gears from time to time. At the same time, she passionately stated that she considers filmmakers to be giving ‘testimony of humankind’. The urgency of the stories was also reflected in her commenting that as an editor, she would sometimes be angry at footage, while being in awe of it as a filmmaker, and feeling that the anger actually helps her get a grip on the subject.


In a longer clip from OF FATHERS AND SONS, Fabini’s clever and precise intercutting clearly helped telling a tragic and horrifying story, that was not actually captured on camera, but was nevertheless conveyed in an extremely suspenseful way, where shot duration and timing play a crucial role. “You have to make up for what is not there”, she commented.


As a member of the team of experts behind Rough Cut Service, Fabini explained her involvement in consulting for filmmakers across the world, pointing out the importance of having constructive feedback from a third party as part of the creative process — as well as the the importance of helping filmmakers in countries without a thorough infrastructure for film production in finding their stories, through workshops and coaching.


The two-hour session inspired a fully packed house, filled with IDFA industry professionals, students, and NCE members.


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Photography: Annelotte Medema – © Annelotte Medema / NCE