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French take ‘Berlin’

Project unveiled at documentary forum in Buenos Aires

Having partnered on “Waltz With Bashir,” France’s Les Films d’Ici and broadcaster Arte France are reteaming on “Berlin, 1884 — The Division of Africa.”

“Berlin” turns on the 1884 Berlin Conference on Africa where Germany’s first chancellor, Otto von Bismark, and other Western diplomats carved up Africa into colonial spheres of influence.

The conference drew Africa’s national borders, many of which remain today; not one African was invited to the summit.

“Berlin” will be directed by Joel Calmattes. The docu-feature and one-hour TV special will combine interviews with specialists and dramatic reconstruction, Les Films d’Ici producer Charlotte Uzu said.

To roll April, “Berlin” is co-produced by France’s Chloe Prods., Belgium’s Les Films de la Passerelle and Germany’s Look Films.

“Berlin” was one of the standouts at DocBsAs/Latin Side of the Doc, a three-day documentary forum in Buenos Aires that wrapped on Friday. Event is emerging as Latin America’s answer to Canada’s Hot Docs, Amsterdam’s IDFA fest, Cannes’ Mip Doc or France’s Sunny Side of the Doc, which was co-organized by DocBsAs this year.

Sunny Side’s input helped triple attendance to over 250 participants, including a dozen commissioning editors drawn from Arte France, Belgium’s RTBF, Tele Quebec, Spain’s Chello Multicanal and, from the U.S., Showtime, Independent Television Service and the Public Broadcasting Service.

On Friday night, fest handed out its awards.

“Cedron,” about the return of Argentine tango protest singer Juan “Tata” Cedron to his homeland after 30 years in political exile, won the Argentine French Embassy’s Mercosur Prize and a Lena Esquenazi/Sound Rec post-production sound award.

The Arte France prize for creativity went to “Geometry and Mystery” from Chile’s Ignacio Aguero, which also nabbed the Kodak prize for a 35mm transfer.

“Out of Place,” from Bolivia’s Diego Mondaca, about La Paz’s San Pedro prison, took awards from the Incaa Film Institute and Argentine pubcaster Canal 7.

Ecuadorian helmer Mateo Herrera Cornejo’s “Resonancia,” about the craft of guitar-making, won Argentine culture channel Canal(a)’s award.

Event saw gathering signs of interest in documentary production and programming from Latin American broadcasters, both national and international.

Liberty Global’s Argentine pay TV distributor and programmer Pramer and Liberty’s Spanish and Portuguese docu channel Odisea announced they were teaming to launch an Odisea channel in Latin America dedicated to local docs.

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