Next month, Marseilles will play host to the 12th annual Sunny Side of the Doc. But, the sudden death of Sunny Side co-founder and director general Olivier Masson has left partner Yves Jeanneau to helm the event on his own. With new markets clogging the calendar, Jeanneau recognizes his role is not an easy one: ‘Sunny Side has to come back to its initial purpose… I want people to say ‘I need to come.”
Citing British and German pubcasters as examples of broadcasters that support shrinking production investments, Jeanneau plans to return Sunny Side to a market where indies can develop international coproduction partners. ‘For years, broadcasters financed, on average, 35% of documentaries – big, serious documentaries,’ explains Jeanneau. ‘Now, they’re not. French producers are used to working like that, but that’s not the case for the British or German producers… Everyone is going to need good programs that are well financed. This will be the main aim in Marseilles this year.’
To achieve this, Jeanneau says Sunny Side will focus on real issues. Panels will be limited to 52 minutes – a standard doc length – and will feature a single broadcaster answering questions about its policy towards documentaries. A&E in the U.S., BBC4, Discovery International, La Cinquième, and both ARD and ZDF will participate. Additionally, there will be coproduction case studies and a breakfast discussing the ins and outs of coproduction deals between Canada and Europe.
Although juggling his roles at Pathe and Sunny Side is difficult, Jeanneau isn’t planning to sell. ‘I’m not going to sell Sunny Side, but I am going to open the share holding. I’ve had some discussions with partners who think it would be a good idea for them to participate in the financing of the market.’