Always Look on the Sunnyside of the Doc

Posted on July 12, 2010

Last month, the Sunnyside of the Doc International Documentary Market took place in La Rochelle, France. Cynthia Kane, ITVS International programming manager, was on hand to hear from producers and filmmakers from around the world about their latest projects. She reports back on the intimate climate of the event: 

I honestly thought this might be a “light” year at Sunnyside given the economic crisis, the fact that Silverdocs was happening simultaneously in Silver Springs, and the EBU Pitching was taking place at France Télévisions in Paris instead of La Rochelle.

Yet, while U.S. participation was somewhat down, Sunnyside was alive and well — thriving in fact with almost 1,800 people in attendance from 48 countries.  And, as manager of ITVS’s International Initiative, it was the right place for me to be. What I have always loved about Sunnyside is the opportunity it provides me to sit down with filmmakers and producers for relaxed one-on-one meetings and in depth talks about their projects.  This year was no different; I arrived on “the Terrace”every morning by 8:30 AM — coming in the back way, as the Espace Encan was not officially open till 9 AM (important to find a good table and get an early start).

Then, at 11 AM and 3 PM daily, were the thematic pitching sessions, “the BIPS.”   Each session comprised six pitches moderated by Peter Wintonick, Canadian producer of ITVS International’s Be Like Others; the Swiss Esther Van Messel, veteran sales agent from First Hand Films in Zurich and an Executive Producer of ITVS International’s Pickles, Inc. and Bridge Over the Wadi; Stephen Seidenberg, veteran U.S./U.K. producer who spends much of his year working out of China and Singapore; and yours truly. This year’s sessions were full and robust. We awarded a Best Pitch for each session — among them Patriotism, 90 presented by Chinese filmmaker Du Haibin (Umbrella, 1428), CNEX-China; and Simon Ho of Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival. Stephen Segaller of WNET-Thirteen in New York, John Lindsay of KETC in St. Louis, and I participated on a panel for EDN and FilmKontakt Nord where I was able to formally announce the deadline for International Call 2011 (which, by the way, is December 10, 2010). 

Panels and case studies included: “How to Produce in Africa”; “The New Distribution Conundrum”; “Indian Documentary – New Paradigms, New Markets”; and “How to Play the Game,” which reflected the changing state of documentary and non-fiction work globally. In attendance, too were ITVS-funded producers and filmmakers, including Charlotte Uzu of Films d’Ici (Waltz with Bashir); Mila Aung-Thwin (Last Train Home); Philippa Korwarsky (Flipping Out); Margret Jonasdottir (Last Days of the Arctic); Phil Grabsky (The Boy Mir); Min-chul Kim and Janne Niskala (Planet of Snail); Debu Bhattacharyya (Journals of a Wiley School); Margarete Jangard (Bananas!). There were evening cocktails and meetings on a boat, in a tower, places around and about the old town section of La Rochelle. The best part was discussing documentary and all the various and sundry world issues that go with them late into the night.  

My favorite of all was the grilled sardine shack on the banks of the Old Port — cheap and cheerful, outdoor seating, and the best food in town!


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