News in Brief

Toronto announces its doc lineup; Fox considers a dedicated reality channel; Discop launches a market for China
August 8, 2002

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has released the balance of this year’s doc lineup. This year, TIFF (September 5-14) will present a total of 32 documentary feature films and 13 shorts. Docs are programmed throughout various sections of the festival, including: Real to Reel, Special Presentations, Perspective Canada, Planet Africa, Canadian Retrospective and Midnight Madness. Here are the newly announced additions to the roster: Stevie, directed by Steve James; Le Peuple Migrateur (Winged Migration), directed by Jacques Perrin; Family, Sami Martin Saif and Phie Ambo-Nielsen; Spellbound, Jeff Blitz; Etre et Avoir, Nicolas Philibert; This Winter, Zhong Hua; Railroad of Hope, Ning Ying; Blind Spot – Hitler’s Secretary, Andre Heller and Othmar Schmiderer; Gabriel Orozco, Juan Carlos Martin; My Name was Sabina Spielrein, Elisabeth Marton; The Trials of Henry Kissinger, Eugene Jarecki; Horns and Halos, Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky; Cuban Rafters, Carles Bosch and Josep M. Domenech; Cul de Sac: A Suburban War History, Garrett Scott; Sweatbox, Trudie Styler and John-Paul Davidson; Lost in La Mancha, Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe, Neapolitan Heart, Paolo Santoni; Alexei and the Spring, Motohashi Seiichi; Elsewhere, Nikolaus Geyrhalter; MC5* A True Testimonial, David Thomas; Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Paul Justman.

Fox‘s News Corporation in North America is considering launching a dedicated reality-television channel. According to The Guardian, the satellite channel could be available in the U.K. and other parts of the world within a couple of years, before launching in the U.S. in 2005. Programs such as Temptation Island would be expanded to run effectively non-stop.

The Discop Organization has announced the creation of a new, two day event dedicated to the production and funding of TV formats in China. The market will take place at the Beijing Media Center from October 25 to 26, and will target 30 TV stations and 15 advertising executives interested in licensing new TV show ideas. Delegates will be limited to a total of 20 international distributors and creators of quiz shows, contests, reality programs and other formats.

TV historians are hot commodities lately. First David Starkey signed with Channel 4 for a cool £2 million (US$3.1 million), now Simon Schama (A History of Britain) has pulled off a £3 million ($4.6 million) multi-media deal with the BBC and HarperCollins, Rupert Murdoch‘s publishing house. Under the agreement, Schama will be the creative force behind two television series and three books (the series will be based on two of the books). The Beeb’s share amounts to £1 million ($1.5 million). Schama is a professor of art history at New York’s Columbia University.

A memo from executives at the History Channel directing producers to avoid older historians has provoked anger among U.S. documentary makers, reports The New York Times. Producers should not use ‘the old faithfuls,’ since the U.S. ‘is filled with younger historians dying to get a chance to strut their stuff,’ the newspaper quotes the memo as saying. Furthermore, on-camera experts should be ‘telegenic’ and ‘in their 40′s or younger,’ the directive states. ‘Maybe we should do `The History of Scooby Doo,” one unidentified doc-maker told the Times. Executive vice-president Abbe Raven defended the memo, telling the paper it ‘was meant to put this in context of trying to simply outline very basic, TV 101 concepts, and nowhere does it say anything about form over substance.’

The U.K.’s Channel 4 has apologized for calling Adelaide, Australia ‘the murder capital of the world’ in a ‘Cutting Edge’ documentary about the disappearance of a visiting backpacker. According to The Guardian, the broadcaster, in a letter to members of Australia’s Parliament, called the erroneous comment a ‘regrettable lapse.’ (An angry MP cited statistics that peg the city’s murder rate at 1.9 per 100,000, compared to London’s 2.36 and Washington, D.C.’s 50.82.) The program, which aired at the end of July in the U.K. and has now been corrected, probed the case of British backpacker Peter Falconio, 28, who disappeared in July 2001 while in Australia.

Project Greenlight, a Miramax, HBO, and LivePlanet copro, has received the green light for a second installment. The competition of amateur filmmakers trying to make their mark has been expanded: while the original contest selected only one winning writer/director, this time around it will have a writer and a director selected to partner in making the winning film, Miramax announced August 5. The contest is scheduled to begin September 19. For further information, including application guidelines, go to

ITN Archive has opened a second office in the U.S., now running outlets in both New York and Los Angeles. A dedicated representative will soon be established at the L.A. office, which operates out of Reuters’ L.A. bureau (Reuters holds 20% of the archive’s U.K.-based parent company, ITN, and ITN Archives represents the Reuters TV library). The venture will emphasize show business and celebrity material.

European digi-channel Einstein TV has cut a deal with U.K.-based distrib Iskra Television to sell some of its footage through Iskra Shorts, an online resource of inserts for light entertainment programming. Einstein’s material falls into four categories: space, technology, earth science and life science.

Canadian cablecaster and digicaster Corus Entertainment has rolled out its fall line up. For The Documentary Channel, highlights include Reporters Voice, a 50 x 60 series hosted by Christina Pochmursky that profiles Canada’s ‘top’ foreign correspondents, and Valerie, a 13 x 60 interview format copro with The W Network hosted by Canadian journalist Valerie Pringle. It has also acquired Ken Burns’ Jazz series.

IFP/New York has released the full slate of projects that will participate in this year’s No Borders International Coproduction Market. The event presents projects in development in the hope of linking producers with domestic and international buyers, investors and agents. It runs during the IFP Market, which takes place in New York from September 27 to October 4. Documentaries account for 36% of the projects being pitched and include: Alfredo’s Fire, by director Andy Abrahams Wilson; Artemisia 2002, directed by Ellen Weissbrod; Click Me :), from Wolfgang Hastert; Commune, by director Rena Mundo; The Danny Williams Story, from director Esther Robinson; Funk, It’s Alive, by Isabelle Abric; My Flesh and Blood, directed by Jonathan Karsh; Power Trip from Paul Devlin; Resisting Paradise, from Barbara Hammer; The Rio Grande Border by Lawrence Hott; Soviet Meditation, from Amy Grappell (director of photography: Albert Maysles); The Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela, by Thomas Allen Harris; and Yes, directed by Alison Maclean.

The International Documentary Association (IDA) in Los Angeles has announced its selection of 21 documentaries for the Sixth Annual DOCtober in September showcase (September 13 to 19). Titles include: Lost in La Mancha (directed by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe), Spellbound (Jeff Blitz) and He’s Having a Baby (Abby and Georg Hartmann). For more information on the event, please visit:

The government of Jordan closed the office of the Al-Jazeera satellite news channel Aug. 7 after airing a talk show that it said provoked ‘sedition.’ The closure, and the pulling of accreditation of Al-Jazeera’s correspondents, came one day after the broadcast of comments made by U.S.-based Palestinian professor Assad Abu-Khalil. According to The Associated Press, Abu-Khalil said Jordan had adopted a pro-Israeli stance even before it signed a peace treaty with the country in 1994 and that Jordan’s late King Hussein had cooperated with U.S. intelligence services.

Russia‘s broadcast regulator has promised to begin screening all television channels by the end of the year to fight subliminal messages. The Associated Press reports that special monitoring equipment will scour the airwaves for illegal extra frames. Unofficial data reportedly indicates that a fifth of shows in the country have extra frames ranging from political ads to missives urging viewers to avoid competing channels.

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.