The 21st edition of Sunny Side of the Doc, held from June 22-25 in La Rochelle, France, attracted 1758 participants from around the world, and within that number, 270 attendants were international commissioning editors and buyers.
Both numbers are slightly smaller than those of last year’s 20th anniversary edition, which boasted a 6.4% increase in attendance from 2008. In 2009, 1812 delegates attended the international documentary conference, with 281 being commissioning editors and buyers.
This year, there was an increase in the number of countries from around the world represented – 48, compared to 45 last year. ‘I’m very happy because in the present economic crisis, it’s proof that the market is stable and Sunny Side is still valuable to the professionals [within the industry],’ said Yves Jeanneau, Sunny Side’s general commissioner and co-founder, during the event’s closing press conference.
The sentiment was echoed by Mentorn Media chief executive John Willis, who served as honorary president of the conference this year. During the presser, he also heralded the value of Sunny Side, especially as ‘factual programs and documentaries are always fragile’ in times of economic uncertainty.
Public screenings at this year’s event, under the Grand Ecran Documentaires umbrella, brought in 1785 viewers.
The winners of this year’s Best International Projects Showcase (BIPS) were also announced during the press conference. This year, 350 projects were submitted from around the world for the opportunity to pitch in front of an array of international commissioning editors, in assorted categories. From that number, 36 made the final cut and presented during the event.
In the history category, Odessa, a project from Sub-Cult-Ura Productions in Romania examining the massacre of 22,000 people in the village of Dalnik during World War II, grabbed the €2,000 prize. The science/environmental prize went to The Olive Route from Solferino Images in France, which focuses on the ‘astonishing story of the Mediterranean olive culture.’ For the social/political issues category, Patriotism, 90 from CNEX in China, claimed the prize for its look at the new nationalism found in the generation born after 1990 in China. La Brigade from Cinétévé in France, received a special mention for its depiction of the work of the Naples drug squad and its fight against the drug trafficking trade in the city. In the arts/culture category, a look at the lives of women in post-Soviet Latvia, Girls Don’t Cry from Ego Media in Latvia, snagged the honor.
This year also saw the introduction of two new BIPS categories to recognize both emerging platforms and up-and-coming talent. The BIPS award for best cross-media project went to The Brussels Business, a 360-degree examination of the European Union from Up Creatives in the UK. The prize in the ‘under 30s’ category, recognizing the work of young filmmakers, went to UK director Angela Yeoh for her project, Kungfusion: Fighting Girls at Shaolin School. For the film, Yeoh enrolled in a kung fu school in Mt. Song, China, to study kung fu with several young Chinese girls and see first-hand how the female students exist and excel within a largely male environment.
The best French project, as awarded by La Société Civile des Auteurs Multimédia (SCAM), was Pencil Strokes from L’envol Productions in France, a transmedia documentary looking at the roles of editorial cartoonists within various international societal frameworks.
Special ‘coups de Couer’ mentions were made for two projects screening at Sunny Side this year: For Neda, directed by Anthony Thomas and produced by Mentorn Media, and LinkTV’s ViewChange, an open source platform for videos concerning global issues.