MIPCOM ’16: Keshet Int’l dives into a diversity-rich slate

Israeli producer-distributor Keshet International (KI) will be heading to the 32nd annual MIPCOM market in Cannes next week with its largest and most diverse slate to date. The Tel Aviv-based firm ...
October 13, 2016

Israeli producer-distributor Keshet International (KI) will be heading to the 32nd annual MIPCOM market in Cannes next week with its largest and most diverse slate to date.

The Tel Aviv-based firm will be bringing 20-plus titles to the French Riviera, spanning across multi-platform genres, formats and finished series. The slate will tap into the rising viewer demand of true crime with Holloway: Women Behind Bars (pictured) and World’s Most Evil Killers – marking some of the first fruits of the previously announced first-look deal with UK indie Woodcut Media.

“We do feel there’s a lot of breadth to [the slate], but at the same time its been carefully curated so it’s not just volume – we feel it captured the Keshet DNA,” Sebastian Burkhardt, senior VP of digital and acquisitions, told realscreen ahead of the market, which begins Monday (Oct. 17) and runs to Oct. 20. “We like to push boundaries and hopefully our slate reflects that.”

Holloway, a 44-minute one-off documentary for Crime + Investigation in the UK, is slated to explore the story of most notorious female inmates of HM Prison Holloway, a closed category prison for adult women and young offenders, on the eve of its closure after 164 years in operation.

Commissioned for Sky, meanwhile, World’s Most Evil Killers will delve into the real life stories of the world’s most terrifying and prolific killers.

As audiences are gravitating to the true crime genre, Keshet is increasingly finding that those stories are resonating with both linear and OTT buyers around the world as they have global universal appeal and are typically gender neutral.

“That’s the vertical that fits our editorial because it fits the programming needs of a lot of our buyers,” Burkhardt said. “We are expanding generally across other genres as well.”

Burkhardt, Shahar

Keshet International’s Sebastian Burkhardt (left) and Keren Shahar (right)

Keshet’s focus on the multi-platform genre and the various formats it’s launching next week are testament to this. The company’s strategy heading to the Croisette was to place a premium on platform-agnostic content, looking outside of the traditional linear television universe to unearth exceptional digital projects.

Produced by OmerTV and Erez Dan Productions, youth-skewing culinary program #TheFeed serves as a cookbook that discovers the Internet’s most talked about dishes and is driven by social media.

While the 6 x 25-minute series airs on Keshet’s linear channel in Israel, KI’s Keren Shahar, COO and president of distribution, believes younger audiences are looking to consume the genre.

“Today, no one opens a food critic book. They go to social media to see what everyone is uploading and what they’re about to eat,” she said. “This very much tracks the audience and platforms that are out there.”

“Formats and shows already produced need to bring a certain built in audience to our buyers and that’s where #TheFeed is very smart in terms of leveraging what’s happening on Instagram,” added Burkhardt.

He continued: “That’s very important when we look at shows that we acquire and take to the international market, is what value can it deliver alongside a high quality product? This is something very core to our strategy, across non-fiction and scripted content.”

Another concept driven by the digital era is the 74-minute documentary Uploading the Holocaust, featuring clips uploaded to YouTube by Israeli teens on their sophomore school trip to learn about the Holocaust and concentration camps in Poland. The film is produced and directed by Udi Nir and Sagi Bornstein, and co-produced by Keshet International, Christian Bettz, BR, RBB and ORF.

Bolstering the Israeli firm’s slate are adventure-reality format, Welcome to the Wild (Abot Hameriri Productions); medical series Residents and law enforcement docuseries Blue, both for Koda Communications; ManBirth (IFA Media); and Boxed, which places two individuals in the midst of conflict in a box to help them reach an agreement.

Keshet also has a number of other deals currently in the pipeline on a similar capacity to the Woodcut Media deal, with a particular focus on the UK following the recent appointment of Anke Stoll as director of acquisitions. The producer-distributor is currently entertaining various conversations with partners in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the U.S. markets.

“We’re also striking various codevelopment and coproduction partnerships when it comes to unscripted formats,” Burkhardt said. “There are a few deals we currently have in the pipeline and they will be announced shortly.

“We’re very passionate about reinvigorating the unscripted format space where maybe not as much innovation has been seen over the past 24 months.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been edited from the original due to an error of information supplied to realscreen.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.