At the close of last year’s Sunny Side of the Doc in Marseilles, France, attendees were openly questioning whether the smaller market could survive today’s demanding festival schedule. Given this, Sunny Side 2001 (June 28 to 30) pulled off an amazing come back – a testament to the efforts of general manager Yves Jeanneau. Approximately 1,200 people attended the market, representing 35 countries from around the world. Of these participants, about 200 were buyers and commissioning editors – twice as many as in 2000. In total, approximately 600 companies attended, about 250 of which hailed from outside of France.
The terrace at the Palais du Pharo, which overlooks the city’s picturesque seaport, was arguably the most important place to be during the three-day event. From early in the morning to late in the day, its tables were crammed with people initiating introductions and striking deals. Mid-way through the market’s second day, Jan Rofekamp of Montreal, Canada’s Films Transit, who attended the event for the first time, said he’ll be back.
While Sunny Side has always been regarded as a relaxed alternative to the neighboring MIP markets, this year’s edition seemed to establish itself as a place to actually do business. Among the companies that closed deals were Nos Sales in The Netherlands (which sold The Dream of the Bear and The Making of the Revolution to Canadian pubcaster CBC), S4C International in Wales, the BBC, London-based Mercury Media International, and Canada’s National Film Board.
Inside, workshops focused on facilitating coproductions. Commissioning editors from BBC4, La Cinquieme, A&E, ZDF, Discovery International and various specialty channels including Odysee and Artsworld, presented channel profiles and fielded questions from the floor. Although most sessions served to inform, BBC4 announced it expected to triple its programming budget early next year (pending government approval). Also, Tamar Hacker, director of documentary specials for A&E, confirmed the network is looking to get involved in international coproductions for its two-hour Sunday night doc slot.
The 13th edition of Sunny Side of the Doc closed with a tribute to the market’s co-founder Olivier Masson, who died suddenly earlier this year.