Social Docs Dominate Lau Haizetara

'Whales,' 'Cause of Death,' 'Dead Slow Ahead' standouts at docu co-pro forum

“Too Much Noise for the Whales,” “Cause of Death: Unknown” and “Dead Slow Ahead” were standout docs at the San Sebastian Festival’s 10th Documentary Co-Production Forum.

Unveiled Thursday at a pitching session atended by a large contingent of TV broadcasters and international sales company execs, most projects emphasized a predominance of social-issue productions, coming at their subjects from very different angles.

Arturo Cisneros’ “I Know Where the Money is, Mom,” a Spain-Mexico-France co-production, with Germany network Arte Geige attached, adds humour and irony to its investigation of the reasons and social effects of the current economic crisis on the lower classes.

In “Talidomida: el farmaco maldito,” Alfonso Domingo portrays the fight of Spain’s thalidomide victims against German pharmaceutical company Grunnethal.

Also, Norway’s “Cause of Death: Unknown” raises questions why the pharmaceutical industry is making concerted efforts to manufacture illnesses for which their drugs are the only solution. Helmer Anniken Hoel started to investigate after her sister Renate’s sudden death in 2005.

Per buzz, “Cause of Death,” which has already tapped finances for 72% of its Euro514,000 ($667,500) budget, is one of the documentaries with the biggest potential to lure international investors because of its border-crossing nature.

Experts at the event saw potential international market lure for ecological docu “Too Much Noise for the Whales,” set up at Madrid-based Silenzio Films, with France TV already on board.

However, it is getting more and more complicated to have international success, said Salma Abdalla, managing director at Vienna-based Autlook Films.

In Spain, despite the production sector’s dire straits, some documakers are still finding local investment. Mallorca-based prodco Quindrop’s project “Sand Spies. Target Spain,” the untold story of a group of Spanish Republican exiles at the service of U.S. military intelligence in Spain — whose “great documentation work” was praised by Spanish pubcaster TVE’s exec producer Andres Luque — has completed 52% of its budget.

But the project looked very limited to the Spanish market, per Sophie Chegaray at France 5.

Also backed up by Balearic Islands’ broadcaster IB3, Catalonia’s TV3 Jordi Ambros showed interest in buying “Sand Spies” as a completed doc.

TV3 will probably also enter auteur docu “Dead Slow Ahead,” the praised portrait of a trip on the merchant ship Fair Lady on the open Ocean, produced by Barcelona’s Nanouk Films.

Despite the troubled situation of the international TV market, there is good news at the horizon for documakers with the arrival of new players such as Netflix, CNN and HBO, who “are putting big money into documentaries, although they want more commercial products,” Abdalla said.

The 10th Lau Haizetara Documentary Co-Production Forum was backed by Basque producers org IBAIA.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Mackenzie Davis Terminator Dark Fate

    ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Paramount Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “Terminator: Dark Fate.” Ads placed for the sci-fi action film had an estimated media value of $6.81 million through Sunday for 796 national ad airings [...]

  • Judy & Punch review

    Damon Herriman Stands Out as 'The Nightingale' and 'Lambs of God' Lead AACTA Nominations

    Dark thriller, “The Nightingale” and miniseries “Lambs of God” lead the pack at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards. In nominations announced on Wednesday, they picked up 15 and 18 nods, respectively. Jennifer Kent’s “The Nightingale” was one of six films nominated in the best film category. With others including Mirrah Foulkes’ [...]

  • Daisy Ridley is Rey in STAR

    'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' Scores Best First-Day Atom Ticket Sales for a 'Star Wars' Film

    Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker” has racked up the best first day of advance ticket sales for a “Star Wars” movie ticketed by Atom. Sales launched during the half time of ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” Atom’s overall first-day record was set in April by Disney-Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame.” But “Star Wars: The Rise of [...]

  • Cardi B

    Cardi B Joins Vin Diesel in 'Fast & Furious 9'

    Cardi B has joined the cast of Universal’s “Fast & Furious 9” in an undisclosed role. It’s the rapper’s first movie part since her role as the stripper Diamond in STX’s drama “Hustlers.” Vin Diesel disclosed the casting Tuesday in a post on his Instagram account with a video that showed him and Cardi B [...]

  • James Wan

    Film News Roundup: James Wan's Horror Thriller 'Malignant' Gets August Release

    In today’s film news roundup, James Wan’s “Malignant” gets a late-summer release, a Rita Hayworth documentary is shooting and Women in Animation have announced diversity awards winners. RELEASE DATE Warner Bros. has set an Aug. 14 release date for James Wan’s horror thriller “Malignant.” Wan will direct the movie, based on a story by Wan [...]

  • Michael Shannon Benedict Cumberbatch Tuppence Middleton

    How Martin Scorsese Saved 'Current War' From Harvey Weinstein

    Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon finally gets to release his version of his long-in-the-making “The Current War.” The film, about the competition between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, was originally set to be distributed by the Weinstein Company after Harvey Weinstein recut it, much to Gomez-Rejon’s chagrin. To make matters worse, Weinstein premiered the movie at the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content