Execs flock to MipTV precurser events

CANNES — U.S. docu project “An Honest Liar” and Canadian format “Looking for Love” won Mipdoc and Mipformat’s international pitch nods, respectively.

Both confabs ran consecutively on Friday and Saturday as the precurser to the main Mip TV event.

“An Honest Liar,” produced by Left Turn Films, follows magician James Randi, aka The Amazing, on a crusade to expose lies perpetrated by pychics and faith healers, among others.

“Looking for Love,” from Antica Prods. is a dating show.

Warner Bros. Intl. Television, which sponsored the Mipformats pitching competition, will invest up to €25,000 to develop “Looking for Love” for TV.

Reflecting the growing importance of formats within the factual market, Mipformats has established itself as a key event, attracting a record 600 participants.

The main change to this year’s Mipformats was the inclusion of screenings.

“It was a well put together, informative and enjoyable conference with great speakers. That was demonstrated by the fact that most rooms were full of people,” said Andrew Zein, senior VP of creative format development and sales at Warners Bros. Intl. TV. “We had a very large number of entries (Mipformat pitches) coming from a record 30 countries — that shows how alive and thriving the formats market is today.”

Finnish HD one-hour doc “2012: The Beginning,” and “Comedy Combat” topped the number of library viewings at Mipdoc and Mipformats, respectively.

Repped by Switzerland’s First Hand Films, “2012: The Beginning” examines the Maya texts’ predictions; “Comedy Combat,” sold by Nordicworld, is a live talent show featuring the country’s best entertainers.

Mipdoc drew about 700 participants and library screenings dropped to 24,738 from last year’s 27,097.

But Mostafa Nagy, head of programs at Al Jazeera Documentary Channel, said he didn’t think the fewer screenings reflected a downward trend for docus. “There are just so many events happening back to back,” Nagy said of the confab.

Indeed, Simon Shaps, MercuryMedia’s chairman, who moderated panels about acquisitions and financing, said, “There seems to be no hangover from the depression of 2008, 2009, 2010 in the world of factual programming: it’s the opposite, the world of factual programming seems to be booming.”

Added Shaps, “There are more constraint on budgets than there has been in the past and I think producers are up for the challenges of finding ingenious ways to fund content.

Crowdfunding, foundations, grants, co-production and brand integration came up in many Mipdoc discussions.

“Social media and crowdfunding have become viable sources of financing, which is why we partnered with the IndieGoGo platform this year,” said Laurine Garaude, director of Reed Midem’s TV division. “There are also increasing co-production opportunities with more countries involved, for instance China and Russia.”

Mipformats’ Meet the Experts sessions with Russian and Chinese execs were some of the mart’s most popular venues.

One of the big players of Mipdoc was CCTV Doc Channel, the Chinese network’s new documentary web. CCTV Doc is co-producing “Life Force,” a six-part natural history/wildlife/sciences documentary series, with Japan’s NHK and New Zealand’s NHNZ.

As David Lyle, CEO of National Geographic Channels, pointed out in his key note, the line between docus and reality/unscripted entertainment is increasingly blurred as broadcasters “look for new ways of telling stories that can attract sustainable commercial audiences.”

“We’re sticking to content values that National Geographic always had and we’re also exploring non-scripted.”

Lyle said National Geographic Channel will still fill 25% of its slate with one-offs but “they have to be super special, have a strong point of view and need terrific access. ”

Reality shows were included in the main Mipdoc catalogue to reflect the development in the documentary and factual market, said Garaude.

While most broadcasters are now showing a limited interest in blue-chip docus, some networks, like Al Jazeera, have a big appetite for it.

“We’re still looking for hard-hitting documentaries with good information in them, that are entertaining,” said Nagy. “All of us documentary lovers must stick together so we can revive classical documentaries that are entertaining and informative.”

Reed Midem’s New Producers to Watch tribute feted Harry Tordjman at Gaul’s Myboxprod, Micho Marquis-Rose of Canada’s Zieuter.tv, Pauli Kopu of FInland’s KLOK, and Olmo Figueredo Gonzalez-Quevedo of Spain’s La Claqueta.

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