Members in Focus: Zlata Filipović and Anna Rodgers

At WFT Ireland, we are constantly inspired and impressed by the calibre of work being done by our members across the screen industry. So much so, that we love to celebrate their achievements with our Member in Focus segment. We are elated to feature Zlata Filipović and Anna Rodgers, two award-winning filmmakers whose documentary Two Mothers was produced through the competitive Netflix Documentary Fund and screened at Catalyst International Film Festival this past weekend. 


Would you both like to tell us how you got into film?

Zlata: I had come to documentary film as a researcher on the background of having studied human genetics and social anthropology. I had worked on a non-fiction book which was a collection of young people’s writings during the wars across the 20th century but found the work on books too solitary for that stage of my life. So I was looking for a way to stay in the world of non-fiction and storytelling – but work more collaboratively. Documentaries seemed like a good next step and my background in genetics secured me my first research job on a documentary about population genetics of Irish people with Crossing The Line Productions. 


Anna: I studied Film and Broadcasting in DIT Aungier Street where I met wonderful classmates and learnt a lot from a couple of great lecturers. One of them, David Rane, gave me my first break by getting me an RTE commission to make a series travelling the USA when I was still in third year. My early career was given a real jump start by filmmakers such as Alan Gilsenan, Dearbhla Walsh and John Murray who took me under their wing and gave me some fantastic work opportunities. I researched and produced for Alan for a number of years on some very interesting documentaries, from a year inside a psychiatric hospital and a hospice up to producing his feature documentary The Yellow Bittern about the life of Liam Clancy. I directed a number of short documentaries during that time too and then travelled to Laos, South East Asia to direct my first feature on a coming-of-age film with two boys leaving their village to become Buddhist monks. Documentary gives you such a varied life. You get a window into so many areas of the human experience which always keeps it interesting.  


How did you two first start working together creatively?

Zlata: Anna and I had met through working together in Crossing The Line Productions. She was producing a series called ‘Growing Up Gay’ and they needed some assistance so I jumped in. We started making short films together and eventually decided to ‘formalise’ our relationship by setting up our company Invisible Thread.

Anna: We made a short film called Hold on Tight together about gay and lesbian couples kissing and holding hands in public, and that experience taught us we had a similar outlook and way of working with people on sensitive projects. We went on to make a documentary for RTE which is still my favourite called Somebody to Love about disability and sexuality. We travelled around the country learning so much about disability and meeting really great people. It was a wonderful year.


Can you tell us about Two Mothers? 

Anna: Two Mothers tells the story of an Irish mother, Cathy, who had twins through surrogacy with a Ukrainian woman, Ivanna. When the war broke out, Cathy decided to travel to the war zone to get Ivanna and her family to safety, bringing them back to live with her in her rural Irish cottage. The film documents that journey and their life together under one roof as an unusual blended family. Lots of people have children through surrogacy but it’s pretty unusual to end up living together. The bond between them is very special and really says something about the human connection people can find against the odds that transcends all cultural and language barriers. 


What are some of the obstacles you crossed in the making of Two Mothers? 

Anna: The scheme was to make a 12 minute documentary in any style. We knew that an observational film made the most sense for our story, and we’d already filmed the first couple of days after Ivanna had arrived in 2022 in that style. It was a real challenge trying to make what is essentially a longitudinal film following their journey over a year and communicating that in such a short running time. Our editor Hugh Rodgers worked really hard on the structure with me, and there were many long nights. Of course, there are lots of gorgeous scenes that didn’t make the cut but all of the films in the scheme are the same running time. It was great seeing how other people chose to tell their stories too in such different ways. 


What was the process of getting on to Netflix Talent Documentary Fund like?

Zlata: I had come across the scheme and the fact there was going to be an information day so decided to attend. The theme of ‘connection’ proposed for 2023 Netflix Talent Documentary Fund immediately made me think of a story Anna and I had started working on but had run out of funding to continue – which was the theme of ‘connection’ personified through the story of Cathy and Ivanna. The process was very simple – started with a very simple application and continued to grow as we were progressing through the different rounds of selection. Eventually, we were invited to Netflix HQ in London to pitch to a room full of Netflix execs and incredible award winning filmmakers which was somewhat nerve-wracking. The process was very clear and a wonderful way for us to tell the story as the schemes for short documentaries are very hard to come by in Ireland today. 


What is it like working with WDM Entertainment and the Netflix Team?

Zlata: It was wonderful to meet all the team members and we felt very supported by WDM Entertainment team who were in contact with us throughout. We went through a bootcamp to learn the way Netflix works which was really fantastic and hope to have a chance to work with them all again in the near future. 

Anna: The process of working with Netflix was quite structured. We had to deliver rough cuts at specific times for notes and feedback from a team of people. We worked closely with our mentor Orlando von Einsiedel who was a great support, as well as Libby Hopper from WDM who was a great champion of the film from the start. There’s a different sort of pressure on you as a filmmaker when you are making a film for such a big streamer. Usually when you make a short you’ve no idea where it’s going to end up. We knew it had to be good. 


What has the response been now the film is out?

Anna: We had a gorgeous screening in London in the Ham Yard theatre in Soho and then another special night with Netflix, Screen Ireland and WFT in the Stella in Rathmines which is such a beautiful theatre. Since then the film has been viewed by over 7000 people online. We got really great feedback from our audiences. People are very moved by the story.  Even though the film is available online, it’s geoblocked to Ireland and the UK so we are hoping to do a festival run with it next. Thankfully it’s screening in Limerick at the Catalyst Film Festival and next will be at Fastnet in Cork. A lot of people want to know more about the story so we are developing a longer film. 


What’s next on the slate for the pair of you?

Anna: We are just finishing up on a 13 part animation documentary natural history series called Where the Wild Geese Go which tracks the migration of Brent Geese from Ireland to the Arctic and back. We got to film as far up as Resolute Bay at the top of the world. An incredible experience. It’s for kids and will be on RTE Junior this Autumn, produced by EZ Films. 

Zlata: We are working on a feature documentary ‘The Last Balkan Cowboy’ with director Dragana Jurisic as well as a feature drama film with Shaun Dunne who worked with us recently on the feature documentary ‘How To Tell A Secret’. And there are always many ideas brewing and cooking!


Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Zlata and Anna!

Two Mothers is now available to watch here!



Originally from Bosnia, Zlata Filipović is an EMMY and IFTA award winning producer of numerous feature and television documentaries as well as short films that have screened across the world gathering awards and acclaim. Her more notable work includes the EMMY and IFTA award winning ‘The Farthest’ directed by Emer Reynolds and ‘Here Was Cuba’ that was nominated for a Grierson Award. Her Screen Ireland funded short  ‘Welcome To A  Bright White Limbo’ won Special Jury Mention at Tribeca Film Festival 2020 where it had its international premiere as well as screening at HotDocs, Sheffield, Clermont Ferrand and winning Best Short Film IFTA 2021. She most recently produced IFTA nominated feature documentary ‘How To Tell A Secret’ which had a nationwide cinema release in Ireland, screened at top LGBT film festivals around the world such as BFI Flare and Frameline and was recently acquired by Netflix. She was also the most recent recipient of Netflix Documentary Talent Fund 2023 for the film ‘Two Mothers’ (2024).



Anna Rodgers has been directing and producing award winning films for more than twenty years. Over the years, this work has garnered her multiple IFTA nominations, three Radharc awards, and numerous Best Documentary awards. In 2014, she won Best Director for Somebody to Love a documentary about disability and sexuality. Other notable programmes include A Note For Nature, Lady Gregory – Ireland’s First Social Influencer (with Miriam Margolyes and Lynn Ruane), Crumlin and Keeping Ireland Alive. 

Anna has been nominated twice for the Iris Prize where her film Hold on Tight was highly commended. Previous documentary features include Today is Better than Two Tomorrows, When Women Won and her most recent film How to Tell a Secret, a drama documentary hybrid about HIV which has travelled to over 35 festivals and events worldwide. It won Best Documentary at the London Irish Film Festival and Poland LGBT Film Festival, and was released on Netflix.  Anna is currently directing a cross platform series Where the Wild Geese Go (EZ Films / RTE/ Screen Ireland/ BAI)  which is filming in Ireland, Iceland, Greenland and the Arctic. Her most recent film Two Mothers was the recipient of the Netflix Documentary Talent Award.