Choosing a winner for the MIPDOC Co-production Challenge is no cakewalk – just ask this year’s jury members. After watching five pitches, Jennifer Batty (Viasat Broadcasting), Natalie Humphreys (Parthenon Entertainment), Ann Julienne (France 5), Ralf Rückauer (ZDF Enterprises), Janet H. Vissering (Nat Geo Channels International) and jury president David Lyle (Fox Reality Channel) admitted they were ‘extremely torn’ between two. Up for grabs was a prize including €2,000 (US$2,700) from the NFB, free registration to the 2008 Realscreen Summit, and a one-year subscription to CableU.
In the end, Dublin-based Quidam Productions hit the high note with their music doc, El Gusto. Director Safinez Bousbia and producer Heidi Egger pitched the feature-length doc about musicians in Algeria who created a sound called Chaabi in the ’40s and ’50s in the Casbah. While Jews and Muslims once peacefully co-existed there, when the War of Independence started, friendships ended. The religiously diverse group was forced to split, but the remaining musicians have reunited.
Partnered with the Irish Film Board, ENTV (Algeria), ONDA (Algerian Copyright Agency), Centre Cultural Francais d’Alger and the French Embassy of Algeria, Quidam will wrap the US$1.7-million film in September. The producers still need to secure $340,000, but have started talks with leading theatrical distribs since MIPDOC – music to any producer’s ears.
The close second at the Challenge was The Deconstruction of an Artist, a portrait of controversial artist Gustavs Klucis. For those out of the Latvian art world loop, Klucis created Lenin’s public image, and was killed by the KGB in 1938. Pitched by producer Uldis Cekulis from Riga, Latvia-based Vides Filmu Studija, Deconstruction will have 56- and 80-minute versions. Already supported by partners Vivement Lundi (France) and ERT (Greece), and broadcasters LTV (Latvia), LRT (Lithuania), ETV (Estonia), YLE (Finland), RAI SAT (Italy), Planète (France) and ERT (Greece), negotiations have also started with Viasat since Cekulis’ pitch. Deconstruction is set for delivery in December, and needs the remaining 28% of its €325000 ($440,000) budget.
Also pitched was Gender Me – Islam and Homosexuality, a road movie about a homosexual Iranian refuge who interviews an assortment of characters, from an openly gay imam to a Sufi drag queen. Nesodden, Norway-based prodco Integral Film has NRK (Norway) onboard, and producer Nefise ‘zkal Lorentzen says there’s other interest, but contracts have yet to be signed. Integral needs $100,000 of its $283,000 budget, and is making 28-, 42-, and possibly 90-minute versions of the film.
Looking for Rasta follows a different type of journey than that in Gender Me. This one takes place in Jamaica, where director Paul Perrier is hunting for a dreadlocked man he photographed there over a decade ago. While trying to find the stranger, Perrier will examine Jamaica’s history, music and the Rastafarian movement. The film, which is set to wrap in the fall with 60- and 90-minute versions, is produced by Toronto-based partners Blatant Exposure and Open Door. They are still looking to secure half of the $500,000 budget, and have Movie Central onboard if they’re able to secure a copro partner.
Speaking of Rastas, the title of the Bob Marley song Bad Card the sport featured in My Football Summer, another project pitched. Backed by Taipei’s Backstage Studio and Serenity International, Football follows a group of students that live and breathe the sport. Coproducer Jimmy Yang says that since MIPDOC, an existing theatrical version has sold to Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia, but there are plans to expand Football to a TV series for a February 2008 wrap, so the producers need to score $100,000 of the $250,000 budget.