Last month, ITVS’s Vice President of Programming Claire Aguilar attended DocMontevideo in Montevideo, Uruguay and filed this report.
Montevideo, Uruguay, — a European-style city between Argentina and Brazil — is a unique and surprising place for a television documentary conference. Since Uruguay has been in the news recently — they took a triumphant fourth place at this year’s World Cup and elected a new president in the spring, the former leftist-guerilla Jose Mujica — I was delighted to get a chance to come to a documentary event and also discover this fascinating and beautiful country. In just its second year, DocMontevideo has established itself as a meeting ground for documentary filmmakers and broadcasters on the South American continent. It comprises a series of workshops, informational seminars, broadcaster meetings, and a pitching forum for 15 projects in development and production. This year, the meeting convened 300 television producers and documentary filmmakers and 30 broadcasters from South and North America.
Last February at DocsBarcelona, I met Luis González, the director of DocMontevideo, who had established a documentary television meeting for Latin American producers. He wanted to create a pitching forum for the second year and invite Latin American and North American broadcasters. In Europe and in North America, there are many opportunities for pitching documentaries, such as IDFA’s Forum in Amsterdam, the Toronto Documentary Forum, DocsBarcelona, the Nordisk Panorama, Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, etc. However, in Latin America, there are few opportunities for pitching documentaries for financing and broadcast. This year, DocMontevideo created a pitching forum and selected 15 projects to present their work to broadcasters and financiers.
The DocMontevideo team selected a strong slate of documentaries to the pitching forum by producers and directors from Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia, and Chile. The teams had workshopped their pitches the week before with the help of DocsBarcelona festival director, Joan González. The subjects of the documentaries covered a huge range, from the charming story of Bella Vista, the countryside Uruguayan-church-turned-travestite-brothel-turned-soccer-club; to Avant – a portrait of Julio Bocca, one of the most important ballet dancers in Latin America; to A La Deriva (Adrift), a 28-Up-style chronicle of homeless teens on the streets of Buenos Aires; to Timoteo’s Fabulous Ragged Circus – a story of a gay circus in Chile and its legendary creator, the comedian Timoteo.
Patricia Boero, executive director of Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB), moderated the discussion for the pitching forum. The producers directed their pitches to commissioning editors and broadcasters, including Jean Garner from Al Jazeera English (Witness), Virgina Martinez from TNU (Television Nacional Uruguay), and Juan Fernando López (Señal Colombia). Later in the week, I presented an overview of ITVS and showed some examples of our co-productions with Latin American producers.
Of course, the first film that came to mind was Stranded: The Andes Plane Crash Survivors by Uruguayan director Gonzalo Arijon, but other films included ABC Colombia by Enrica Colusso, Our Disappeared by Juan Mandelbaum, and the upcoming 74 Square Meters by Chilean producer/director team Paola Castillo and Tiziana Panizza. I also conducted a short and lively Q&A with Uruguayan director Aldo Garay, who presented his work-in-progress: El Casamiento (The Wedding) – a story of Julia Brian, Uruguayan transsexual, who at the age of 60 became the second Uruguayan man to be recognized (physically and legally) as a woman. It was a wonderful experience to meet with producers and broadcasters from Latin America and to get to know the wealth of talent and strong projects there.
I hope that we can collaborate again and participate in DocMontevideo’s 2011 edition, which promises to be one of the most distinctive and important documentary forums worldwide.
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