In partnership with Reed MIDEM, realscreen co-presented the fifth edition of the MIPDOC Co-production Challenge, which allows five international producers to present their projects to a jury of broadcasters. On Saturday the competitors at the challenge taught us the legend of an ancient tapestry, took us to see metal-heads in Islamic countries, revealed a rocky father-daughter relationship, introduced us to a child prodigy and his parents and gave us a peek into the inner sanctums of three amateur football teams.
This year, a doc looking at the drama inside three different football teams’ locker rooms (and appropriately titled The Locker Room) won over the Co-pro Challenge judges. The jury (made up of Caroline Behar, head of acquisitions and international coproductions at France 5; Takahiro Hamano, producer/director satellite broadcasting department at NHK; Tabitha Jackson, editor, More 4 at Channel 4 Television; Michele Schofield, director, content, program acquisitions and productions for AETN All Asia Networks and president of the jury Maryanne Culpepper, EVP editorial and new business development for National Geographic Television) said the doc, produced and directed by Nisan Katz and Eyal Zusman of Topia Communications from Israel was innovative, was nicely timed to coincide with the 2010 World Cup and was cross-cultural, all earning it top marks.
Presenter Katz stressed the project was not a doc about football. Rather, the creative doc goes to three different locker rooms in Katmandu, Nazareth and Zanzibar and chronicles the stresses, joys, fears and ultimately the social realities of the people on these football teams. The element that really caught the jury’s attention – and looks like it could add humor to the film – were the monks who break the rules of the monastery to play football. As Zusman pointed out, ‘The monks aren’t allowed to play because they could kill the bugs on the grass,’ but they play anyway, for the love of the game.
The Locker Room‘s competitors were a one-off drama-doc on the mysteries behind the Bayeux Tapestry by Silver Productions; a film about the culture of heavy metal in Islamic countries by Moxie Firecracker Films and Bonne Pioche International; a personal doc made by two sisters who are trying to come to terms with the way the world sees their father (anti-apartheid leader Dr. Alan Boesak) versus the way he impacted their lives by Sojourn Film & Media and another parent-child relationship doc, this one following a musical child prodigy and his parents by Baltic Film Production in Estonia.
While the jury deliberated, past Co-Production Challenge presenters Daniel Cross (producer/director at EyeSteelFilm), Soniya Kirpalani (director/producer for Sprocket Science) and Charlotte Uzu (international development manager for Les film d’ici), spoke about their experiences bringing a project to the session and what happened with their film once they left the market. Uzu said it was hard to pitch Waltz with Bashir in the beginning because it had a big budget due to all of its animation, and commissioning editors weren’t sure where to place it in their schedule. However, as we all know, it did pretty well for itself in the end. Last year’s participants, Cross and Kirpalani, said they’ve taken advice from the jurors to heart and it has helped their projects. Kirpalani, who was the winner of last year’s challenge, said that last year France 5′s Behar asked her who would give the other point of view in her Threads of Tradition, a doc on the fashion industry in various third world countries, so that sent her back into the field to interview politicians and other voices of the establishment in order to counter balance the rebellious tone of her doc.
Cross, who won a special runner-up prize last year for Taqwacore (a doc on an American-Muslim punk rock scene) had a piece of advice for producers at MIPDOC: ‘Be a punk, do-it-yourself, and don’t take no for an answer and you’ll get your film made.’