After three years with one of the world’s leading international sales companies, Fortissimo Films, nine years with Paris-based Doc & Co, and fifteen years with Films Transit International in Montreal, Catherine Le Clef has finally decided to do it her way by founding her own documentary distribution company, the cleverly-titled CAT&Docs.
Le Clef’s expertise has no doubt been cultivated by her affiliation with some of the most reputable and sophisticated sales and distribution companies across two continents, whose rosters have garnered awards and generated international acclaim. But it seems the time was right to embark on a new stage of her career by narrowing the scope and filtering out the fiction. Le Clef says CAT&Docs differs from the companies in her past by focusing solely on the worldwide theatrical and video distribution of international feature-length documentaries. Along with executive of acquisitions and sales Maëlle Guenegues, Le Clef and her colleagues agree that the editorial choices of CAT&Docs must meet the demands of national and international markets: ‘Rigor, respect, curiosity, diversity and innovation.’
And it seems they are well on their way. During this past edition of IDFA, the CAT&Docs-distributed Last Train Home by Chinese-Canadian director Lixin Fan through EyeSteelFilm, picked up the Best Feature-Length Documentary Award. The film examines the fractured lives of Chinese migrant families during the Chinese New Year, as they leave the booming coastal cities in which they sought work and return home to their rural villages.
CAT&Docs aims to acquire 20 to 25 new documentaries each year, preferably shot in HD with a length of no less than 45 minutes. Even films intended for theatrical release should be packaged with a proposed TV-length cut. Both topical and timeless subject matters are priority, in the forms of original documentaries, investigative stories, collections, and portrait pieces. Fields of topics can be as varied as history, society, justice, the environment, the economy, politics, and art and culture. The common feature they must have, says Le Clef, is to be ‘always associated with a high standard of content and form.’ CAT&Docs seeks documentaries that ‘rigorously explore the subject matter,’ continues Le Clef, ‘that are audacious, open to the diversity of the world and that have their place on the international scene, questioning the world and proposing new ways of looking at it.’
With more than 30 years experience, CAT&Docs has built strong relationships with international broadcasters and theatrical and video distributors worldwide. Says Le Clef, ‘We have the ability to help producers secure broadcast financing and pre-sales for high profile projects in production. Each year CAT&Docs will help two to three projects to secure production financing and pre-sales.’ Naturally, appropriate projects are those that have already received some financing.
LeClef is adamant about CAT&Docs’ commitment to working with producers to create effective festival strategies by presenting appropriate films to the selection committees of Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and Toronto festivals. CAT&Docs will also be present at the markets of each festival.