Once again, it’s time to reveal our picks of new projects coming to Cannes for MIPCOM, chosen from scores of submissions supplied to us from around the world. Look for clips from this year’s MIPCOM Picks, coming to our screening room in the days ahead.
BEST IN SHOW
LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM
Partners: A Moxie Firecracker production for ‘American Experience’; distributed by PBS International
Length: 1 x 114 minutes or 1 x 98 minutes
Premiered: Sundance, 2014; airing on PBS in spring, 2015 Rights available: Worldwide
In April of 1975, as Saigon was about to fall to the North Vietnamese, the window of time for both American diplomats and military operatives, and South Vietnamese looking to evacuate was rapidly closing. And for those Americans aiming to leave, there was an additional matter of grave concern – whether to obey the U.S. government mandate to evacuate only American citizens, or to risk being charged with treason for helping facilitate the escape of the South Vietnamese. Rory Kennedy (Ethel, Ghosts of Abu Ghraib) revisits those crucial days with stunning archive and riveting testimony from those who were there, casting a long- overdue spotlight on the many examples of selfless heroism that marked those final fraught days of the conflict.
I AM EVEL KNIEVEL
Partners: Network Entertainment in association with Thunderbird Films for Spike TV; distributed by FremantleMedia International
Length: 1 x 90 minutes
Premiered: September 2014 (Spike TV)
Rights available: World excluding U.S. territories and possessions, and Canada (but including non-exclusive, Spanish-speaking Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands): All free and pay TV, all streaming, all NT & closed circuit. World excluding Canada: All physical and digital video subject to U.S. Internet streaming rights exclusion
Featuring original, exclusive interviews with family members, friends and famous fans, as well as adrenaline- soaked archive, this special documents the life of the man who put “extreme” into sport – Robert Craig Knievel, better known as “Evel.” In time for the 40th anniversary of his infamous Snake River Canyon jump, in which he narrowly cheated death while attempting to jump the canyon on a rocket- powered motorcycle, the film charts his journey from small town rebel in Butte, Montana, to becoming the most notorious daredevil in the world.
THE HUMAN TISSUE SQUAD
Partners: True Stories Productions for BBC3; distributed by Electric Sky
Length: 2 x 57 minutes
Premiered: September 2014 (BBC3)
Rights available: All rights available excluding UK, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Australia
Death is a part of life. This two-part observational documentary follows the young team at the NHS Blood and Transplant Tissue Bank in Liverpool, the largest retrieval and storage facility for human tissue in the UK. While many may consider the work undertaken by the team to be grisly, the program reveals the vital importance of the work itself, while demystifying both the process and the people behind it.
Partners: Jarrett Creative for TVGN; distributed internationally by Banijay International
Length: 9 x 30 minutes
Premiered: July 2014 (TVGN)
Rights available: Worldwide excluding the U.S., U.S. territories, and the Caribbean
Mike Sorrentino, better known as “The Situation,” was part of the ensemble cast behind one of reality television’s biggest hits, MTV’s Jersey Shore. When that series’ six-season run came to an end in 2012, several cast members scored their own series. Now it’s Mike’s turn, via this family-focused vehicle. Here, you’ll meet the Sorrentino clan, including brothers Marc and Frank (aka “The Man”), sister and “official ringleader” of the family Melissa, and mother Linda (aka “Peaches”), and watch as they help Mike with his own challenges, while also straddling the balance between fame and family.
Partners: BBC with The Open University; distributed by DCD Rights Length: 2 x 60 minutes
Aired: August 2014 (BBC4)
Rights available: Worldwide excluding the UK and Eire
We are surrounded by stuff, and its ubiquitous nature tends to render it inconsequential in our eyes. But professor Mark Miodownik believes it’s nothing of the sort, and in this two-part special, he illuminates the stories behind the stuff in an effort to elevate the everyday. From razor blades (invented by King Camp Gillette in 1901) to foam rubber (discovered by accident in the 1930s), to stockings and plywood, Miodownik acts as our guide, spiriting us through the material world and its wonders.
Partners: Tremendous! Entertainment for Ovation; distributed by Shine International
Length: 10 x 30 minutes
Premiered: July 2014 (Ovation)
Rights available: Worldwide
While we are tempted to look at child prodigies as the lucky recipients of incredible talents, the truth is that being a prodigy is hard work. It’s one thing to have a natural gift, but it’s quite another to take the time to hone it into something truly remarkable. This series follows several gifted kids as they navigate the typical peaks and valleys of childhood while also devoting time, spirit and energy to their artistic paths. You’ll meet such marvels as 12-year-old cellist Charlie, eight-year-old ballroom dancer Lev, and Mabou, who – at the age of eight – has mastered a whopping eight languages and several instruments.
KATHERINE MILLS: MIND GAMES
Partners: Crook Productions and Objective Productions for Watch; distributed by BBC Worldwide
Length: 4 x 50 minutes
Premiering: October 2014
Rights available: Worldwide rights available
Call her a mentalist; call her a psychological illusionist. Either way, she’s making a big name for herself in the UK’s burgeoning magic telly genre, and this new series, commissioned for UKTV’s Watch channel, should go some way to extending her reach internationally. In addition to her love of magic, Mills also studied psychology and sociology, and in this series she uses group experiments to reveal how we are subconsciously influenced by the world around us, and how that influence impacts our decisions and interactions. Fun and thought-provoking.
SECRETS OF THE CASTLE WITH RUTH, PETER AND TOM
Partners: Lion Television for BBC2; distributed by All3Media International Length: 5 x 60 minutes
Airing: Winter 2015
Rights available: Television rights excluding the UK; home entertainment, ancillary and interactive rights worldwide
From the team behind the successful “Farm” franchise (Victorian Farm, Wartime Farm, Edwardian Farm and Tudor Monastery Farm) comes another slice of “living history.” Here, historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold head to France to experience medieval living in an authentic castle that’s been years in the making. As with the other series in the franchise, Castle is an exquisite-looking, captivating glimpse of a simpler past.
PHOTOGRAPHING AFRICA WITH HARRY HOOK
Partners: Testimony Films for BBC4; distributed by DCD Rights Length: 1 x 60 minutes
Aired: March 2014 (BBC4)
Rights available: Worldwide excluding the UK and Eire
This special follows photographer and film director Harry Hook as he travels across Africa and documents various tribal groups. Hook, who grew up in Sudan and Kenya, has been examining Africa through the camera lens for 40 years. In this program he aims to chart not only the changes of the continent he loves, with its people increasingly embracing city life over remote communities, but also the evolutions of some of his subjects, including five Samburu women he first photographed in Kenya some 30 years ago.
15,000 KIDS AND COUNTING
Partners: True Vision Productions for Channel 4; distributed internationally, excluding the UK, by DRG
Length: 3 x 60 minutes
Aired: April 2014 (Channel 4)
Rights available: All rights outside of the UK
According to current statistics, on average, one child is taken into care every 20 minutes in Britain. Child protection levels are at a record high, with more than 15,000 children waiting to be adopted in 2013 – double the number from five years earlier. It’s against that backdrop that True Vision and Channel 4 explore the adoption process in its entirety: from birth parents and adopters, to social workers and the children themselves.
Partners: Muse Entertainment for Shaw Media; distributed by Muse Distribution International
Length: 1 x 90 minutes
Aired: July 2014 (History Canada)
Rights available: Worldwide excluding Canada, Spanish-speaking U.S., Europe, Brazil and Finland
Shot over a period of six years with a steady supply of GoPro and Sony helmet- mounted cameras and more than a little intestinal fortitude, Sky Jumpers follows the exploits of world-renowned skydiving troupe The PD Factory Team. From speed flying to BASE-jumping, the Florida-based team holds myriad world records and titles. But even with its air-gliding expertise, the group isn’t shielded from the unpredictable, and tragedy can strike at a moment’s notice. Here, you’ll see some incredible feats, and experience the highs and lows that can come with the territory when pursuing the ultimate thrill.
LOST WORLDS WITH MONTY HALLS AND LEO HOULDING
Partners: Electric Sky for Discovery; distributed by Electric Sky Distribution Length: 6 x 48 minutes
Airing: January 2015 (Discovery Networks Western Europe, Discovery Channel UK, Sky 3D)
Rights available: All rights available in Asia, Australasia, Nordics, Eastern Europe and Middle East
For this series, natural historian/adventurer Monty Halls and survivalist/ explorer Leo Houlding pair up for thrill-seeking yet informative voyages to some of the world’s greatest, and most dangerous, natural vistas. With Halls keeping an eye out for wildlife unique to the regions, and Houlding attempting to push his climbing expertise to its outermost limits by tackling some of the most challenging peaks on Earth, audiences will experience the natural world at its most dazzling and daunting.
Partners: Blast! Films for Channel 4; distributed by Zodiak Rights
Length: 4 x 60 minutes (series one); 8 x 60 minutes (series two)
Premiered: May 2014 (series one)
Rights available: Worldwide rights available excluding C4 primary rights and U.S. rights
Recently renewed for a second season due to air later this year, this Channel 4 series has struck a chord with audiences in the UK, averaging an 8% share across all viewing for the first series. The program follows the action at UK veterinary hospital Fitzpatrick Referrals, led by surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick and staffed by a team of 100 nurses, physiotherapists and hydrotherapists. But while the animals featured here – including a “bionic” dog, Rufus the hobbling rabbit and Tiger, the cat who has used up at least one of his nine lives – are certainly part of the attraction, the care and dedication of Fitzpatrick and his crew makes for captivating television.
LOCKED UP IN AMERICA: SOLITARY NATION
Partners: A ‘Frontline’ production with Mongoose Pictures in association with the BBC; distributed by PBS International
Length:1 x 53 minutes
Aired: April 2014 (PBS)
Rights available: Worldwide
The New York Times, in advance of this ‘Frontline’ documentary’s U.S. premiere, called Solitary Nation “about as hopeless an hour of television as you can imagine, which is exactly the reason to watch it.” For the first installment of a two-part report on the prison system in America, producer/director Dan Edge gained rare access to the solitary confinement unit at the maximum security Maine State Prison, where a new warden is trying to reduce the number of inmates in segregation.
As the NYT suggests, it’s not a doc for the faint of heart, but as a window into the world of solitary confinement – from the vantage points of both inmates and the officers overseeing the unit – it’s completely engrossing.
THE HUNT FOR HITLER’S MISSING MILLIONS
Partners: TVT Productions for Channel 5/Smithsonian Channel; distributed by TCB Media Rights
Length: 1 x 60 minutes
Aired: June 2014 (Channel 5, Smithsonian Channel)
Rights available: Worldwide excluding U.S. and UK
In the months following World War II, an incredible artifact was uncovered within the coat lining of a captured Nazi official: the last will and testament of Adolf Hitler, written just hours before the dictator committed suicide. This special, featuring an interview with the last surviving witness of the will’s discovery, reveals the secrets contained within, as well as the story behind the finding of the will by British intelligence officers, and the efforts to uncover the vast wealth Hitler kept hidden.
Partners: Dream Street Pictures in association with CBC Television; distributed by Beyond International
Length: 1 x 60 minutes
Aired: July 2014 (CBC ‘Doc Zone’)
All animal lovers would agree on the importance of conservation and education about the animal kingdom, but there’s one area that causes a divide amongst those who care for the world’s assorted creatures. And that’s the value of zoos. Some see the zoo as antiquated at best, and as animal prisons at worst, while others maintain that zoos are a vital component in the drive towards conserving species and educating future generations about animal issues. This doc travels the globe and rounds up assorted animal lovers and experts to discuss if and why zoos matter.
BEHIND THE ARTIST
Partners: Let’s Pix; distributed by Zed Length: 10 x 52 minutes
Aired: 2014 (Paris Première)
Rights available: Worldwide
While some of us prefer to know as little as possible about the toil and tumult needed to create our favorite art, preferring to bask in the experience instead of the back-story, many are keen to learn more about the inspiration and perspiration involved in the artistic process. Here, you’ll learn what made some of the masters tick – from Le Corbusier to Lichtenstein, from Picasso to Van Gogh – and how their work was impacted and influenced by the world around them.
WORLD’S RICHEST DOGS
Partners: Seven Network Operations; distributed by TCB Media Rights Length: 1 x 60 minutes
Airing: No TX date at present
Rights available: Worldwide excluding Australia
From the evidence displayed in this program, it is indeed a dog’s life, or it can be. Here, you’ll meet extremely pampered pups who enjoy life in the lap of luxury and the humans who are only too happy to keep their four-legged friends’ tails wagging, regardless of the price. You’ll meet Poopie-Doopie, who was married to a blue-haired poodle in a ceremony costing in the neighborhood of US$300,000. There’s also blinged-out Bentley, who enjoys the attention of a full-time nanny.
Here, members of our editorial staff select projects that stood out for them.
Partners: CM Film for NITV; distributed by ABC Commercial
Length: 1 x 54 minutes
Airing: November 2014
Rights available: All media, worldwide
If there’s a lifeblood ingredient of the US$30 billion-a-year perfume industry, it’s sandalwood oil. Sandalwood is also used symbolically – and heavily – in the Buddhist, Sufi and Hindu religions. However, the sandalwood tree itself is in grave danger of extinction, with 80% of the remaining plants restricted to one location: the Western Australia outback. The gorgeously shot Tribal Scent follows the journey of Nyungar activist and aboriginal Renaissance man Dr. Richard Walley as he labors with scientists and French fragrance manufacturers to preserve one of the few remaining indigenous Sandalwood reserves. Nick Krewen
LAST FALLEN SOLDIER
Partners: Artisans du film, Miyu Productions and ECPAD with Planète+; distributed by Zed
Length: 1 x 52 minutes
Aired: May 2014 (Planète+)
Rights available: Worldwide
On November 11, 1918, after an armistice deal was struck between the Allies and Germany, 40-year-old private Augustin Trébuchon of France was tasked with delivering the message to the Germans. As he made his way across the battlefield in the French region of Champagne-Ardenne, Trébuchon was shot to death just five minutes before the ceasefire was instated. By integrating animation and archival footage, this innovative doc tackles the armistice from the perspectives of the leaders involved in the negotiations, and the story of Trébuchon and his fellow soldiers in the 415th Infantry Regiment. Manori Ravindran
THE DECENT ONE
Partners: Produced and directed by Vanessa Lapa, with ORF (Austria), MDR/WDR/ARD (Germany) Yes.docu (Israel); sales agent: Cinephil; distributed by Kino Lorber in U.S.; various int’l distributors
Length: 1 x 96 minutes
Premiered: February 2014 (Berlinale)
Rights available: All rights outside of U.S., Canada, France, Austria, Poland, Italy, Germany, Australia/NZ; UK deal pending.
Vanessa Lapa’s unflinching portrait of Heinrich Himmler focuses on the notorious high-ranking Nazi’s personal archives, letters and diaries. Composed entirely of archive footage and voice-over, the doc juxtaposes Himmler the caring family man, who would regularly send doting letters to his wife, daughter and mistress, with Himmler the ruthless mass murderer, who – working closely with Hitler – was one of the key architects of the Holocaust. With May 2015 marking 70 years since the end of World War II, it will benefit from a natural TV anniversary tie-in. Adam Benzine
THE SECRET LIFE OF STUDENTS
Partners: Raw TV for Channel 4; distributed by ITV Studios Global Entertainment Length: 4 x 60 minutes
Premiered: July 2014 (Channel 4)
Rights available: Format rights: worldwide excluding UK and N.A.; finished: worldwide excl. UK
For this British series on the foibles of first-year undergrads at the University of Leicester, producer Raw TV developed a technology called Digital Rig (or D:Rig) that allows the cast to share text messages and social media activity with producers via customized smartphones. It’s essentially a data-driven docusoap that amplifies the on-screen action – in this case, drinking games, pub crawls and grappling with morning-after consequences – with bright graphics and text bubbles rendering the students’ online lives in visual form. Coming soon to C4, a follow-up: The Secret Life of Teens. Kevin Ritchie