Nonfiction productions boom around the world
“A content-driven rendezvous for the international documentary business, France’s Sunny Side of the Doc has become one of the world’s top co-production forums and conference venues.We attend Sunny Side of the Doc every year to (meet) with French and foreign producers, listen to pitches and present our editorial line for the next year,” says Olivier Stroh, director of the Canal Plus Group’s docu-themed discovery channels, who participates in numerous docu markets and fests around the world, notably Mipdoc, IDFA and BBC Showcase. “We have meeting every half-hour and it’s often there that discussions begin for French and international co-productions and pre-acquisitions.” Two years ago, Sunny Side of the Doc founder Yves Jeanneau, a former documentary producer and exec at French pubcaster France Televisions, boosted the event’s popularity and international appeal by reaching beyond Europe with Latin Side of the Doc and Asian Side of the Doc, taking place in Buenos Aires and various Asian territories, respectively. “Our tri-continental approach is paying off,” says Jeanneau. “This year, the (French) event will draw more than 50 Latin American participants and 70 Asian industryites — nearly 50% more than in 2010 — including high-profile buyers, TV channels execs, and producers with solid track records from China, Japan, Mexico and Colombia.” Per Jeanneau, both Asia and Latin America have booming documentary markets offering lucrative co-production opportunities for European filmmakers facing broadcasters’s budget cuts. This edition will feature various panels on current topics, ranging from oportunities in China to the financing of 3D content, with high-profile attendees including guest of honors Jacques Perrin, co-director and producer of French docu hit “Oceans”; as well as Veronique Cayla, Franco-German net Arte’s topper; Remy Pflimlin, France Televisions’ prexy; and Chen Ping, CEO of Hong Kong-basde paybox Sun TV. As of June 7, there were 1,434 participants, 308 buyers and commissioners and 400 companies confirmed to attend. The number of buyers and companies attending is already up compared with last year. And while it remains for the most part a co-production market, Sunny Side of the Doc continues to attract top sales companies. Anais Clanet, co-founder and topper of Wide House, a Paris-based indie docu sales company, says, “Attending is crucial to stay on top of documentary trends and know what projects we should position ourselves on.” Adds Clanet, “We get to listen to what TV commissioners have to say, hear about what they’re looking for and what they don’t want — If you don’t do that, you lose half of your sales potential.” Another bonus for Sunny Side of the Doc participants, per Clanet, is the growing presence of nonprofit foundations, which now play a vital role in the financing of documentaries. “When I started organizing Sunny Side of the Doc 23 years ago, the international market for documentaries didn’t exist, today it’s a (maturing) industry, and this year a record of 53 countries will be represented at our event,” says Janneau, pointing out that the docu genre is one that travels the most along with animation.
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