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In one of the biggest deals on titles at this year’s Visions du Réel, Switzerland’s premier documentary festival, Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS), the public broadcasting organization for the French-speaking part of the country, has acquired eleven titles from Visions du Réel’s 2021 selection.

The deal is part of a longstanding partnership between the Swiss doc festival and RTS, which selects around a dozen VdR titles every year.

Some are co-productions under the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation’s pact with the audiovisual industry to increase subsidies for independent Swiss production, including “Radiograph of a Family” by Iranian director Firouzeh Khosrovani.

An IDFA best feature winner, it tells the story of Tayi, who, on her wedding day, marries the photo of Hossein. Joining him in Switzerland, the distance that separates them persists from one country to the other, deepening over the years, and invades the smallest corners of their home.

“The story is about the parents of the Iranian director, who lived in Geneva during her father’s studies,” said Steven Artels, head of the RTS documentary unit.

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“To illustrate their life in Geneva, the producer and director needed archives from RTS. We slowly discovered the strength of the cinematographic approach of Firouzeh and fell in love with the project which we supported with money from the pact,” he added.

Other titles acquired by RTS include Sundance Fest winner “Flee” by Jonas Poher Rasmussen, and “Nostromo” by Fisnik Maxville, which picked up the Audience Award and the National Competition Prize respectively at Visions du Réel.

RTS will broadcast the films on its French-language slot “Sur les Docs”.

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Flee Courtesy of NEON

“Most of the films that we sustain with the pact money go into this slot,”  Artels explained. “It is dedicated to auteurist docs. The range is very wide, ranging from poetic to journalistic, but they always reflect the very particular point of view of a director.”

RTS selects doc-features at festivals in and outside Switzerland including Locarno and Hot Docs, Artels added.

The eleven titles selected this year take in “Le Chant des vivants” (“Songs of the Living”) by Cécile Allégra, “Cuban Dancer” by Roberto Salinas, “The Filmmaker’s House” by Marc Isaacs and “Flee.

Also making the cut are “Les Guérisseurs” (“Healers”) by Marie-Eve Hildbrand, “The Mushroom Speaks” by Marion Neumann, “Nostromo” “Sheltered” by Saskia Gubbels, “Radiograph of a Family,” “The Bubble” by Valérie Blankenbyl and “Ostrov” (“Lost Island”) by Svetlana Rodina and Laurent Stoop.

The RTS deal adds another layer to Visions du Reel business which saw a steady flow of dealmaking as leading documentary sales agents – Lightdox, Deckert Distribution, Taskovski Films – swooped on 10 of its competition titles, generally in the run-up to the Festival. Deals have taken in half the doc features in its main International Competition.

In the latest deal to go down, Lightbox, which swooped on “Little Palestine (Diary of a Siege),” now selected for Cannes ACID section, has just acquired Stefan Pavlov’s Looking for Horses.”

At Cannes Doc, Visions du Réel will host a Doc Talk with Jean-Gabriel Périot about his work with archives, Directors’ Fortnight title “Returning to Reims” (Fragments) and new production “Facing Darkness,” which he pitched at the 2021 VdR-Industry edition.

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The Bubble Courtesy of Visions du Reel

Visions du Réel competition titles, among others, acquired by sales agents:

Square Eyes

“1970,” (Tomasz Wolski)

Lightdox

“Little Palestine (Diary of a Siege),” (Abdallah Al-Khatib)

“Looking for Horses,” (Stefan Pavlović)

Taskovski Films

“The Mushroom Speaks,” (Marion Neumann)

“Ostrov – Lost Island,”  (Svetlana Rodina, Laurent Stoop)

“Edna,” (Eryk Rocha)

Deckert Distribution

“The Bubble,” (Valerie Blankenbyl)

“Bellum – The Daemon of War,” David Herdies & Georg Götmark

“Les Enfants terribles,” by Ahmet Necdet Cupur

Andana Films

“Zinder,” (Aïcha Macky)