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Family life replaces wildlife as Mip Doc kicks off at Cannes

The seventh edition of Mip Doc promises to be a lively and well-attended event buoyed by a healthier TV industry and a concerted effort on the part of mart organizers to be user-friendly.

Some 320 companies from 49 countries have registered and represent an 8% increase over last year. Of 990 programs to be screened, some 381 programs are in the current affairs and history and civilization areas, with 141 programs in the music and culture genres. Surprisingly, only 91 wildlife programs will be screened.

Peter Wormsley, head of factual programming at Alliance Atlantis, opines, “The trend is away from wildlife. Outlets have fewer slots for nonreality-type programming; understandable because family relationships are involved. We want to know how the cuddly lion feels about its mummy.”

This year’s mart will screen some 97 docs that reflect a personal point of view.

Says Katrine Kelgaard of Filmkontakt Nord: “Nordic countries are interested in subjects that deal with personal matters. Programs that delve into one’s past and roots are especially popular.”

Established brands such as A&E Networks are looking to present a fresh face with shows such as “Family Plots.” Reality series is based on a family of Los Angeles undertakers.

Says Michael Katz, head of A&E international programming: “Real artistry comes from choosing the family with the right mix to create the drama.”

At the other end of the spectrum are big-ticket items like “The Master and the Dictator,” a profile of Mussolini and Toscanini produced by Italy’s Rai, and a portrait of Sophia Loren to be released in time for her 70th birthday this fall.

But, cautions Guy Knafo, co-head of sales & acquisitions at 10 Francs, “Big stations need to rethink the way they tell stories because feature-type docs with re-enactments are out of the question for all but the biggest companies.”

Independent filmmakers feel the creative squeeze, too. Wormsley says buyers want “a regular rendezvous with a certain type of programming.”

German doc producer Joerg Langer laments, “Public broadcasters need to remember that they have a broader mandate than ratings.”