Adventure, nature-themed docus popular at market

Adventure and nature-themed documentaries captured buyers’ interest at the two-day Mipdoc, which wrapped Sunday in Cannes.

The top three most-watched docs at the market were “300 Days on an Island,” a one-hour film about a man who spent 10 months alone on a South Pacific island, produced by Paris-based Un Regard sur le Monde; travel-themed “360 degrees — Geo,” a doc series produced by Franco-German net Arte and Germany’s Medienkontor; and one-hour docu “Dolphin Boy,” about a youngster who recovered from trauma with the help of dolphins, produced by Israel’s Menkin Prods. and Micha Prods.

Luis Silberwasser, Discovery Networks Intl.’s exec VP and chief content officer gave one of the event’s two keynote speeches and said Discovery is investing in larger-scale documentaries and looking for news-related specials for primetime.

Discovery is developing “The Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero,” a series exec produced by Steven Spielberg chronicling the reconstruction on the land in Manhattan where the Twin Towers fell on 9/11.

The other keynote speaker, Patricia Boutinard-Rouelle, pubcaster France Televisions’ director of docs for 16 years who is now an indie producer, said she was developing a four-part series about the Algierian war of independence. It will air on France 2 in 2012 to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the war.

“It’s a very competitive market and French TV channels look for bigger and bigger documentaries that can gather at least 2 to 3 million viewers on primetime,” said Boutinard-Rouelle.

The Mipdoc Co-Production Challenge was won by Dubai-based producer Soniya Kirpalani’s “17 Not Required Indians,” a doc about Indian migrant workers sentenced to death for murder in the United Arab Emirates. The jury was chaired by Channel 4’s head of docs, Hamish Mykura.

While the number of participants have not yet been unveiled, organizers said there were 27,097 screenings, 2,012 more than in 2010.

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