Aussie makes docs with altruistic angle

15 February, 2015 by Don Groves

Elliot Kotek.

California-based Australian Elliot Kotek is combining his twin passions of creating technology to help humanity and making documentaries.


The co-founder of media and technology company Not Impossible, Kotek is producing a feature-length documentary Project Daniel and he’s just released online a 6-minute doc Don’s Voice.

In a separate venture he has just completed Queen Mimi, a feature doc profiling 89-year-old Marie “Mimi” Haist, who was homeless for 35 years. Living and working in a laundromat in Santa Monica she befriended actors Zach Galifianakis and Renée Zellweger and turned her life around.

Kotek has financed Not Impossible’s shorts by corporate sponsorships, highlighting technology devised by his firm.

Project Daniel is a spin-off of the short film Project Daniel – Not Impossible's 3D Printing Arms for Children of War-Torn Sudan, which followed the visit of Mick Ebeling, the firm's CEO and co-founder, to Sudan's Nuba Mountains in 2013,  where he set up a 3D-printing prosthetic lab and training facility.

Lab technicians created prosthetic limbs for 16-year-old double amputee Daniel Omar, a casualty of the civil war who was living among 70,000 refugees in a camp in Yida.

The short was featured in Intel’s 2014 “Look Inside” campaign and won three awards at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity including the Titanium award for branded content.

Sponsored by HP, Don’s Voice tells of Canadian farming couple Don and Lorraine Moir. More than 20 years ago Don was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Subsequently he lost many of his motor-neurological functions and was fitted with a ventilator.

He hasn't spoken since, communicating via a sheet of paper with the alphabet divided into quadrants. After Lorraine contacted Ebeling, the Not Impossible team created software that replicates Don’s paper letter board.

He was able to write a love letter to his wife and was able to audibly say "I Love You, Lorraine” for the first time in 15 years

Kotek tells IF, “The idea is that if we can get brands to undertake Not Impossible initiatives, and essentially underwrite them, then the resulting technologies and the resulting content needn't necessarily have to be monetized."

Israeli-born, US actor Yaniv Rokah wrote and directed Queen Mimi, produced by Kotek, which features Galifianakis, star of The Hangover franchise. 

The filmmakers say, “Mimi's charm and quick wit made her many friends over the years and the affectionate moniker of Queen of Montana Avenue.

“In Queen Mimi, we follow her journey from the street to the Hollywood stars who now help provide a better, safer life for her, providing a symbol of great hope and genuine altruism.”

Kotek intends to arrange screenings of Queen Mimi and Project Daniel at international film festivals. There are no distribution deals in Australia yet.