'Shahrazad,' 'Wrestling' and 'Machine' land key prizes

PARIS “The Dream of Shahrazad,” “Wrestling in Dakar” and “The Crazy Machine” topped the Docs in Progress nods at Sunny Side of the Doc, the international documentary showcase that wrapped Friday in La Rochelle.

The three docs were chosen from among 20 projects near completion by a jury of international sales execs, commissioning editors and distributors.

Francois Verster’s “Shahrazad” looks at the legacy of the famed “The Arabian Nights” tales amid the current political changes sweeping the Middle East, through the lives of three people.

The doc is produced by Gaul’s Mandra Films, South Africa’s Fireworx Media and co-produced by Egypt’s Middlewest Films.

“Shahrazad” received a €2,500 (3,200) cash prize as part of the Docs in Progress nod. The pic is currently in post-production, with a 52-minute and a feature-length version set to be delivered by February.

Edward Porembny’s “Wrestling in Dakar,” produced by Gaul’s Les Films du Tambour de Soie,” won the TV5 Monde award and was pre-bought by the French-speaking satellite net.

The doc, which turns on four Senegalese friends who become pro wrestlers to break out of poverty, is co-produced by Poland’s Amp Polska, Franco-German net Arte and Al Jazeera. Repped by Insomnia, “Wrestling” has already been acquired by Norway’s broadcaster NRK , Poland’s TVP, India’s ETV2 and Irland’s TG4. Alexandre Cornu is producing the 70-minute doc.

The Sunny Side’s choice award went to Emilio Maille’s “The Crazy Machine” (“La Maquina Loca”) which centers on Gabriel Figueroa, one of Mexico’s most famed cinematographers. Maille is producing the feature-length doc.

The 23rd edition of Sunny Side of the Doc drew 1,755 participants, about the same as last year, as well as 400 companies, 286 buyers and commissioning editors, including execs from PBS, BBC, Al-Jazeera Documentary Channel, China’s CCTV, Japan’s NHK, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, National Geographic Channels Intl. and Spain’s Multicanal and TV3.

Event boasted significantly more networking events than previous editions and was marked by a heavy presence of Asian and Latin American industryites, said Alexandra Stainov, head of Sunny Side’s international development.

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