Founded more than 25 years ago by Manuel Catteau, independent French producer and distributor ZED has become over the years a major player in the documentary field. At TV market Unifrance Rendez-vous in Biarritz, ZED revealed to Variety the acquisition of three ambitious history documentary projects, which are available for presales.
“Ukraine 1933: Seeds of Hunger,” a documentary by Guillaume Ribot, produced by Les Films Du Poisson for France Télévisions, recalls the tragedy experienced by Ukrainians between 1931 and 1933: the Holodomor, the great famine organized by Stalin to punish those who refused the collectivization of the countryside and communist ideology, resulted in the deaths of more than 4 million of them.
“The tragedy was disclosed to the world by an intrepid Welsh journalist, Gareth Jones, one of the bravest whistleblowers in history,” ZED states. The completion is scheduled for fall 2022.
Scheduled for fall 2023, “WWII: Operation Barbarossa” focuses on the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Produced by Les Films d’Ici for ARTE, the two-part series directed by Thomas Sipp will provide “a fresh look at one of the most devastating encounters of military history” by exploring both sides of the conflict using official and personal archives, and through animated sequences.
With delivery planned for the winter 2023, “Iron Curtain: Life Under Soviet Occupation,” produced by Roche Productions for ARTE, is a three-part series directed by Tania Rakhmanova. “It explores how 85 million Europeans experienced the radical Sovietization of Eastern and Central Europe, between 1944 and the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961,” ZED says.
“As history resonates, we’ve noticed a growing interest in these topics. All made by high-end documentary producers, with new historiography, these three docs are of great timeliness,” Charlotte Tachet, head of distribution and acquisitions at ZED, tells Variety.
During the Biarritz market, ZED also took the opportunity to announce to Variety that for the upcoming MIPCOM, it includes among its new pre-sales projects four documentary series about environmental issues.
“Sist’earth: Cultivating Change,” directed by Pascale D’Erm and Christoph Schwaiger, produced by Little Big Story for ARTE, is scheduled for December 2023. It explores contemporary ecofeminism and takes us around the world, from Kenya to India, from the West Indies to Poland.
“Generation Earth,” directed by Thierry Berrod, produced by Mona Lisa Production and Wide Studios for Ushuaïa TV, is scheduled for fall 2023. It focuses on how the young generation tries to raise awareness about the consequences of climate change around the world.
“Our Forests,” from LATO SENSU Productions and Wide Studios for ARTE, is scheduled for early 2023. In the show, five indigenous leaders call for the protection of their forests.
“Wild Corridors,” produced by ZED for ARTE for the end of 2022, is devoted to the means to restore natural passages around the world for wild animals.
“Environmental issues are highly topical and subjects of major concern [for viewers]. With unique point of views, concrete actions, and charismatic personalities, our four projects will feature from the inside, how people around the world are fighting to protect our planet. We’re proud to promote such projects to the market,” says Tachet.
Last week, ZED also announced in Biarritz a special focus on true crime in its new lineup with four new acquisitions.
“The Jersey Way: Inside the Island’s Scandals” is a four-part investigation series about Jersey, “the last fiscal paradise located in the heart of Europe and held by powerful families who, for 50 years, have managed to cover up an incredible succession of criminal cases,” states the release. Directed by Dominique Baumard and Antoine Guerre and produced by TDO and Mil Sabords for Planète+, it has been available since late August.
“Inside the Order of the Solar Temple,” directed by Pierre Morath and Eric Lemasson, offers an unprecedented dive into the mass suicide cult of The Order of the Solar Temple, which shook the world in 1994. It is produced by YUZU Productions, Les Productions du Moment (France) and Point Prod. (Switzerland) for RTS and Planète+. It will be delivered by the end of 2022.
“The Serpent: Conversation with a Criminal” unveils the true story behind the real-life criminal Charles Sobhraj who inspired the Netflix show “The Serpent.” This film is built around the first of its kind conversation with Sobhraj himself, recorded directly from his jail in total secret for 17 years by the director Jean-Charles Deniau. Produced by ADAMIS Production for Planète+ it will be available at the end of 2022.
“Highway to Hell: The Story of a $100M Failure” is directed by Clément Godart, Alexandre Mehring and Raphaël Rouyer, telling the story of Martin Lepage, an ordinary man who embarked on an extraordinary international drug trafficking operation. Produced by Cat & Cie and Incognita Doc for Canal+, the series is slated for completion in spring 2023.