Olivier Masson

Olivier Masson, co-founder of documentary mart Sunny Side, drowned early Feb. 25 when he slipped and fell into the sea while boarding his yacht in the old port of Marseilles. He was weighed down by a heavy backpack and could not pull himself out of the water.He was 46.

“On a personal level it is a terrible shock,” said Yves Jeanneau, who has been appointed managing director in Masson’s place.

Jeanneau, Sunny Side co-founder who headed the documentary department at Pathe Television, told Variety: “Olivier and I were very good friends, and we worked together for 15 years. Sunny Side was our dream together. There is no other solution but for me to take on full responsibility for it.” Jeanneau will supervise the mart’s organization from Paris.

Masson and Jeanneau created Sunny Side 12 years ago. In 1997, the festival and the market split into separate events, with Masson continuing as managing director of the market and Jeanneau handling international development. This year Sunny Side, at the Palais du Pharo, and the renamed Fiction du Reel festival, at La Criee theater, both begin June 27.

Last year the mart attracted 1,278 participants, with 262 companies exhibiting

Masson is survived by his wife and a 14-year-old son from a previous marriage.

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