Switzerland-based First Hand Films has closed a flurry of deals across its slate of polically-engaged one-offs and docu series, including “Footprints of War,” “Sound of Torture” and “Shadows of Liberty.”
Japan’s NHK and Latin America’s Telesur bought Jean-Philippe Tremblay’s “Shadows of Liberty,” which looks at cases of censorship, cover-ups and corporate control within the news media. It features interviews with Julian Assange, Dan Rather, Amy Goodman and Danny Glover.
“Over the years, we have always selected our current affairs and political documentaries with a view to extending our reach in the international market to help draw attention to some of the key crises going on in the world,” said Esther van Messel, CEO of First Hand Films. “Stories need to be told in their raw form in order to build awareness on a global level, and as the following sales reflect, demand is still very strong for this genre.”
Al Jazeera Networks (world) and VPRO for VARA (The Netherlands) acquired “Sound of Torture” (also titled “Journey Story”), a one-hour documentary depicting the fate of the kidnapped Eritrean refugees in the Sinai. It was co-produced by Israel’s YES, Germany’s ZDF and Franco-German net ARTE, and it competed at IDFA in 2013.
Switzerland’s RSI picked up “Footprints of War,” another one-hour docu examining the impact of war – starting with WWI — on nature and the effects it still has on us today. The doc sheds light on radioactive contaminated landscapes, among other degradations.
HBO Europe snapped up Ann Shin’s award-winning “The Defector – Escape From North Korea,” a doc filmed undercover, chronicling the journey of North Korean refugees who are currently hiding in China. The doc played at numerous festivals around the world, notably Hot Docs, SXSW and IDFA, and won three Gemini awards (Canada’s equivalent to the Oscars).
Russia Today nabbed “Heroes For A Semester,” which turns on young European students at the NWU of Chicago who found evidence for the innocence of Marcus Wiggins, a man who had been innocently convicted for 46 years in prison.
Lastly, Austria’s ORF snatched up Kyoko Miyake’s “Surviving The Tsunami – My Atomic Aunt,” a personal account of the consequences of Fukushima catastrophe. The doc follows the director, who is now living in London, as she returns to Fukushima 10 years after the disaster and accompanies her aunt Kuniko, a businesswoman who lost everything.