The Forum for International Co-Financing of Documentaries made the move to new digs in November, changing from the Paradiso to the Compagnie Theatre. The location switch also came with the Forum’s addition of seedling projects – any project with 0% to 25% of the budget – and Rough Cut projects that are almost complete. The theme of 2007′s pitches was cultural issues across the world.
Casino Nation director Terry Jones gave an emotional pitch for a film about a Native American tribe split by the casino built on their reservation. The community is divided between the traditionalists who are against profiting from gambling, and others who think the casino’s revenue will benefit the reservation. POV American Documentary’s Simon Kilmurry talked about the dramatic tension of the film, and its appeal beyond the US. Gaspard Lamunière from TSR in Switzerland said, ‘It’s one of my favorites. I’ll fight to get into [it].’ With a budget of €352,000 (US$517,000) all that’s required is €147,000 ($216,000) for the 60- and 90-minute film, produced by Ignition Pictures of New York.
Paris-based Zeta Productions pitched Chinese Safari, a film about China’s increasing presence in Africa, and particularly Zambia. Over $500 million has gone into Zambia from more than 150 Chinese companies. With 52- and 90-minute versions of the resulting film planned, Zeta was looking for €280,000 ($411,000) from a budget of €586,000 ($860,000). The commissioning editors were fairly excited about this project. Nick Fraser of the BBC’s ‘Storyville’ strand said he was very interested, and responded to other CEs who asked for more story layers by saying ‘Fuck layers, I’ll settle for nuance.’ Lamunière from TSR said that in 2008 there will be many films on China, but since this is China outside of China, he was interested.
Following the cultural theme, Mishpoke! (Yiddish for ‘family’) is a series of case studies following Jewish families around the world. Diaries, letters and re-enactments help reveal that cultures worldwide have a Jewish influence. Produced by Switzerland’s First Hand Films, the budget is €959,000 ($1.4 million), of which €719,000 ($1.05 million) remains to be found. Sinai Abt from Israel’s Noga Communications liked the filmmaker’s approach and was very interested. Sundance’s Sam Paul enjoyed the light treatment of the clip, but didn’t think a historical series would work on TV.
On to Russia, where former organized criminals have become legitimate businessmen in the 90-minute film Thief in Law. Tel Aviv-based Sasha Klein Productions has a production budget of €314,000, ($461,000) with €235,000 ($345,000) left to finance. Iikka Vehkalahti from Finland’s YLE thought the access to Russian mafia bosses was great and expressed an interest. Katja Wildermuth from Germany’s MDR expressed the same sentiments, though she confessed to being confused by the structure. Over at Sweden’s SVT, CE Ingemar Persson said his outlet has a perfect slot for this film.