International Report From the Field with Cynthia Kane

Posted on February 18, 2009

ITVS International Programming Manager Cynthia Kane reports from Australia––“the land of Oz”––about her first day at the Australian International Documentary Conference (ADIC) and the Adelaide Film Festival.

It takes virtually two days to get here, in reality about 18 hours, but you cross the International Date Line, so you feel a bit surreal and wonky upon landing. Then you realize it’s summer and festival season in sunny, dry Adelaide and your spirits begin to soar. On top of that, there’s the unending enthusiasm and warmth of Australian doc-makers and producers. What’s not to love about AIDC? Opening night of the conference, ABC Australia, one of the two national public broadcasters, hosted a party at the Adelaide Zoo where our special guest stars were marsupials and sticky bugs, magnificent gum trees and plants only to be found “down under.” My favorite was the baby Bilby (note: they don’t give chocolate bunnies for Easter here. They give chocolate Bilbies––that gives you the idea of his cute-factor.) 

Conference director Joost den Hartog has once again brought in some of the world’s best commissioning editors – Simon Kilmurry from P.O.V.; Greg Sanderson of BBC Storyville; Tabitha Jackson of Channel 4/More 4 – UK; Barbara Tryuen – VPRO Netherlands; and Hans Robert Eisenhauer, ZDF-ARTE Germany to name just a few. Plus, there’s the team of commissioners both from ABC and SBS, Australia’s other public broadcaster and frequent co-producer with ITVS International. 

While the big public pitch isn’t happening this year, they’ve created several smaller pitching sessions and the MeetMarket is going full swing. ITVS is well-represented at the Adelaide Film Festival, which officially opens tonight with SOLO, SEA POINT DAYS, UNMISTAKEN CHILD and GOODBYE SOLO. Rachel Perkins also led a session about the making of THE FIRST AUSTRALIANS, which will air on National Geographic in the United States and first aired in Australia in December. 

She is currently working to make the film part of the official school curriculum to change the way Australians learn history. In addition, Pamela Yates and Paco de Onis are here with The Reckoning and will do a master class with Peter Wintonick who is moderating on Friday. Mark Atkin, Heather Croall, Frank Boyd and Sandi Dubowski are presenting Crossover Lab. And San Franciscan Wendy Levy is here representing Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC). Oz producer Susan MacKinnon is here with several projects and she is one of many who have submitted already this year to International Call 2009. 

Speaking of which, I brought an extra suitcase with proposals and works-in-progress as the International Programming team has dove in headfirst into Phase One of the Call. Note well: there’s no complaints here; it’s truly our favorite times of year reading and reviewing. We’ve got a record number of submissions and some truly fantastic projects, the international independents are making our job harder every year as the Call grows. Saturday, I go onto New Zealand for DocsNZ, and will check in again from Auckland.

-Cynthia, ITVS International Programming Manager

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