Character-driven projects, often humor-laced, dominated Thursday at the 12th Lau Haizetara Documentary Co-Production Forum, part of the San Sebastian Festival.

Charismatic, camera-friendly and distinctive, the characters in this year’s Forum projects- promise look to set to carry most of its documentaries.

“Life of Marzouk,” by Ernesto Pagano, turns on a couple formed by Marzouk, a Tunisian immigrant musician in Italy, and his Italian bourgeois woman Elvira, parents of two children. Documentary details their cultural and social contrasts, dosed with moments of comedy.

With RAI Cinema on board, “Marzouk” is co-produced by Italy’s Ladoc with Switzerland’s Alva Film and France’s Dublin Films.

Set-up at Poland’s Sonica Studio, Andrei Kutsila’s “Strip & War” portrays the universal conflicts between a grandson, a stripper, and his grandfather, a retired lieutenant-colonel author of military, patriotic articles, living together in Minsk.

In Dublin Films’ “Degenerating Argentina,” an intimate, political documentary set in Argentina, the first country in the world to legally distinguish gender identity, writer-director Isabelle Solas follows Claudia, Violeta and Duen, who identify themselves as transvestites, preferring that term to transgender.

A story of immigration, soccer and hope co-directed by Liliana Torres and Sofi Escudé, “Amal” turns on Osama Abdul Mohsen, the coach of a first division soccer team in Syria, who one year ago – and famously – was tripped up by a Hungarian reporter on the Hungarian border. Alongside his son, he is now in Spain, hoping their family will join them.

Mohammed Belhaj at Al Jazeera, in the Qatari broadcaster’s first presence at the forum, praised “Amal’s” “interesting angle, with the fact that they treat a tragedy like this from a positive point of view.” Set up at Barcelona’s Boogaloo Fims, “Amal” has been acquired by Catalonia’s TV3.

In “El amanacer del gallo,” a story of overcoming acquired by Basque pubcaster ETB, Antonio Díaz Huerta tells the life of a surfer that lost his sight in a fateful accident but plans to ride one of the biggest waves in Europe.

“Stepping out of pure documentary about science, nature or history, TV channels currently are asking for general interest stories. Of them, what work are those that count on characters that drive the story,” said Elena Mera at Treeline Distribution.

“The projects presented this year at the forum are highly developed,” said Iñigo Trojaola at Telefonica’s Movistar Plus, Spanish leading paybox which buys some 80 international feature documentaries a year for its premium service.