News in Brief

TIFF's Doc Salon targets People, Poetry, Power, and the Personal; Channel 4 to hold pitch session; General Motors signs on to sponsor Discovery programs
September 5, 2002

The Toronto International Film Festival (September 5 to 14) has announced the content for Doc Salon, a new initiative intended to stimulate discussion around the docs at this year’s fest. Four one-hour moderated sessions will be held from September 8 to 12, each exploring a different theme. The September 8 session, called ‘Personal’, will explore the nature of relationships between filmmakers and their subjects. On the following day, ‘People’ will address worldwide delivery methods. The September 10 ‘Power’ session will discuss films with a particular political slant. Finally, the September 12 meeting ‘Poetry’ will explore issues of storytelling and structure. For more information about Doc Salon, see

Channel 4 in the U.K. is holding a pitch competition at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival (October 21 to 27). Twelve short-listed directors will be invited to pitch their ideas in front of a panel of commissioners and an audience of festival delegates. The winner will be awarded £30,000 (US$47,000) to make a one-hour film for C4. For further information, go to

The Discovery Channel of Bethesda, U.S. has signed a sponsorship and branding deal with U.S. automaker General Motors. The contract includes five Discovery Channel Quest programs airing from the fourth quarter of 2002 to the third quarter of 2003. The partnership starts with the December 8 premiere of James Cameron’s Expedition: Bismarck. It also covers Quest-brand print advertisements, ‘special tagged vignettes,’ in-store merchandise and Discovery Channel lectures and screenings.

U.K.-based Extreme International has moved into the travel and adventure niche. New series When Nature Calls, Tough at The Top and Adventure Challenge are being produced in conjunction with London-based Creative Touch Films, under the strand name ‘Out There’.

Toronto, Canada-based IMAX reported on September 4 that its film Space Station has made US$27 million in 19 weeks with screenings at 83 theaters around the world. Station is coproduced by Lockheed Martin Corporation (a primary contractor for space equipment) and NASA. It also announced on September 4 that it has signed an agreement with BFC Media to build a new theater in Moscow, Russia. It is expected to open in January. IMAX also disclosed that company founder William C. Shaw died on August 31 at 73. Shaw joined Graeme Ferguson, Roman Kroitor and Robert Kerr in 1968 to develop the IMAX projection system.

The 2002 World Congress of History Producers, to be held in Berlin (October 20 to 23), has announced its keynote speaker. Professor Wladyslaw Bartoszewski is a Holocaust survivor who fought in the Polish resistance and went on to become Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of Poland. In his address, Bartoszewski will address his expectations of historical television documentaries. He will speak on Monday October 21, following the Congress’ opening ceremonies.

MacGillivray Freeman Films drew international attention to the world’s threatened coral reef ecosystems by screening its forthcoming IMAX film, Coral Reef Adventure, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, August 26 to September 4. Adventure is a work-in-progress coproduced with the South African Underwater Ecological Society; Reef Check, a global reef monitoring organization; and clothing maker Quicksilver.

TVAfrica of Johannesburg, South Africa, has signed a deal with the British News Service and BBC World, allowing the free-to-air, pan-African network to broadcast 24 hours a day. It is available in 28 countries.

Pakistan and China have penned a memorandum of understanding covering film productions, reports the Pakistan News Service. The MOU, signed September 4, covers coproduction of films, visits of film delegations, the trade of production know-how and promotions.

The Middle East will soon have a new pop idol, with the launch of Fremantle Media and 19TV‘s reality entertainment format Idols on Beirut, Lebanon-based satellite channel Future TV. SuperStar, as it will be called in English, is a territory-wide talent search featuring Arabic pop music; auditions are expected to take place in Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The 21-eposide series will wrap with a live show from Beirut. SuperStar Extra, a behind-the-scenes show, will air on an affiliated channel.

The Fox network is looking for a rich family willing to move from a big U.S. city to the country for a reality-TV version of the 1960s sitcom Green Acres, Associated Press reports. The reality show will be a take-off on the 1965 to 1971 comedy that featured a wealthy couple challenged by the hicks of Hooterville. In related news, AP reports that CBS is planning a reality show based on the premise behind The Beverley Hillbillies – a sitcom about country folk who land in the exclusive California neighborhood after striking oil on their property.

The U.K. government has set a borrowing limit of £350 million (US$548 million) on the BBC’s commercial subsidiaries, the BBC Ventures Group (encompassing BBC Resources, BBC Technology, BBC Broadcast and Kingswood Warren Ventures) and BBC Worldwide. The deal allows the companies to borrow the money from sources other than the government.

The 2003 Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC), to be held February 17 to 20, has announced its location: tropical, coastal destination Byron Bay. The conference will include the following keynote speakers: filmmakers Wim Wenders (Buena Vista Social Club), Molly Dineen (Home from the Hill), Mark Lewis (The Natural History of the Chicken), Bob Connolly (First Contact), author Brian Winston (Lies, Damn Lies and Documentaries) and photographer Donata Wenders (Buena Vista Social Club). AIDC 2003 is based around the theme ‘Outside the Frame’ and will focus on the expanding vision of the documentary. The conference features the Australian DocuMart pitch session, and this year will conclude with doc screenings at the BASC Film Festival February 20 to 22.

Glasgow, U.K.-based Cineworks 2003, a short-film production scheme that commissions five original Scottish films and documentaries, is seeking applications. The deadline is October 28. Further information can be found at

Until October 1, the 22nd Annual Women in the Director’s Chair International Film and Video Festival (to be held in Chicago from March 14 to 23) is accepting entries. WIDC is the largest women’s film, video and new media festival and accepts entries by transgendered filmmakers as well. The festival accepts entries of all running times, genres, and subject matter. For more detailed information, check out

The Eye of the Beholder Film Festival, to be held October 21 to 26 in Asheville, U.S., is accepting submissions until September 15. Festival organizers say they are looking for ‘provocative, rebellious and revolutionary works,’ both technically and politically. For details, log onto

The 13th Stockholm International Film Festival (November 14 to 24) is accepting submissions from ‘cutting-edge, young filmmakers’ until September 13. Submissions are accepted in any format, and there is no entry fee. For further details, go to

The Greenwich Film Festival (October 23 to 26) is accepting features, shorts and documentary entries until October 2. For more information on the fest, email festival organizers at

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.