The first day of MIPDOC (April 13) started on a rainy note, setting a muted tone for the two-day event in Cannes this year. Although Reed Midem reports that the number of program viewings by potential buyers reached an all-time high of 9,037 (last year’s count was 9,020), the buzz around the Martinez Hotel was less positive.
Several distributors who attended as both buyers and sellers – and, therefore, had access to the screening facilities – said it seemed fewer buyers were in attendance. In past years, the screening booths were occupied in heavy rotation, but space was always available this year, they noted. Their suspicions were reinforced by the distinct lack of activity at the second most popular spot at the Martinez during MIPDOC – the bar.
Current Affairs was the most viewed genre, reflecting the continuing impact of 9/11 and more recent events in Israel and Palestine. The most frequently watched program was In the Line of Fire, a one-hour one-off from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. about journalists who regularly risk their lives to capture the news. It was screened 30 times. The runner-up was Fighting Aviation Terror: The Secrets of Airline Security from Marathon in France, which was screened 28 times.
Philippa Kowarsky of Tel Aviv-based distrib Cinephil brought programs on a wide range of topics – from Trembling Before G-D, about orthodox Jews who are gay or lesbian, to Patcha Mama, an inside look at a commune in Costa Rica – but received the most feedback on Between Israel and Palestine, a one-hour program about Palestine’s first national football team. ‘Everyone’s seen it,’ she said.
Aside from the opportunity to screen, MIPDOC offered two panel discussions, the first entitled ‘The Factual Boom: Getting the Right Gear for the Genre’. Alex Holmes, creative director of docs for the BBC, peaked audience interest with his explanation of how to film covertly with the help of cameras disguised as everyday items such as cellphones and briefcases. He was challenged after the panel, however, on the ethics of using this equipment. Uwe Kersken, managing director of Germany’s Gruppe 5 Filmproduktion, tempered the techie angle of the panel with his advice to let the story lead, rather than the technology. The second panel, ‘Talking with Brian Lapping’ took place on Sunday.