MIPCOM Picks 2016, part two: “Tickling Giants,” “Forever Pure”

This year’s crop of MIPCOM Picks, selected by realscreen‘s editorial team as our pick of “must see” projects heading to the market, dives deeply into some of the big issues of ...
October 16, 2016

This year’s crop of MIPCOM Picks, selected by realscreen‘s editorial team as our pick of “must see” projects heading to the market, dives deeply into some of the big issues of the day – from the refugee crisis to race relations in the U.S. But there’s also lighter factual entertainment in the mix, some scintillating science, and, as always, the true stories that seem stranger than fiction. Our Best in Show receives a complimentary pass to the 2017 Realscreen Summit. Read part one of this year’s MIPCOM Picks here.

Tickling Giants
Partners: Sarkasmos Productions; Technicolor; distributed by ro*co films international
Length: 1 x 111 minutes
Premiered: April 2016 (Tribeca Film Festival)
Rights available: All rights worldwide

Heart surgeon Bassem Youssef watched as the events of the Egyptian Arab Spring unfolded and then embarked upon his own personal revolution by leaving his job and becoming a full-time comedian. As the host of the satirical program Al Bernameg, he becomes known as “the Egyptian Jon Stewart” and, with the show’s staff, takes on forces of repression with humor, propelling the show to become the Middle East’s most-viewed television program, with 30 million viewers per episode. But not everyone who is watching is laughing, and Youssef and his team face intimidation from several corners. Directed by Sara Taksler, senior producer of The Daily Show in the U.S., this doc powerfully illuminates the idea that freedom of speech is no laughing matter.

Emergency Call
Partners: De Chinezen for VRT; distributed by Lineup Industries
Length/volume: 7 x 40 minutes
Premiered: March 2016 (VRT)
Rights available: All rights worldwide except for Belgium and the Netherlands

While having to make an emergency call is undoubtedly a stressful situation, the person on the other end of the call needs to keep a cool head in the face of what could be either a crisis, or a colorful crank call. This format follows the action at emergency call centers, as paramedics, police and fi re departments field frantic, or sometimes far-fetched, calls from those in need. The series performed well above the time slot average in Belgium, and has been commissioned for the Netherlands.

Messages Home: Lost Films of the British Army
Partners: Oxford Scientifi c Films for Channel 4; distributed by DRG
Length: 1 x 60 minutes
Aired: June 2016 (Channel 4)
Rights available: All rights worldwide

As the Second World War raged, Britain’s 14th Army was engaged in its Burma Campaign, a little-known operation that would lead to the troop’s designation through history as “the Forgotten Army.” But the hardships endured by the soldiers of the 14th would never be forgotten by those who survived the campaign, and their families. Besides battle, disease was a formidable foe, with 40% of the 14th suffering from malaria. Sensing low morale amongst the soldiers, the Ministry of Defence sent camera crews to Asia to capture messages for the loved ones of some 8,000 servicemen and women, which would then play in cinemas back home. This program brings some of those films to light, and follows the story to the present day, with surviving soldiers of the 14th interviewed.

Chasing Asylum
Partners: Directed by Eva Orner; produced by Nerdy Girl; distributed by Dogwoof
Length: 1 x 96 minutes
Premiered: April 2016 (Hot Docs)
Rights available: All rights worldwide excluding Australia, New Zealand

Billed as “the fi lm the Australian government doesn’t want you to see,” this hard-hitting documentary examines Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers over the past 15 years. Featuring interviews with those seeking refuge and whistleblowers from within the system itself, the fi lm also unearths never-before-seen footage detailing the deplorable conditions that some who attempt to enter “The Lucky Country” must contend with. Directed by Eva Orner, who took home an Academy Award for producing Alex Gibney’s Taxi to the Dark Side, the film has garnered rave reviews during its run on the festival circuit, with The Guardian hailing it as “vital and gut-wrenching.”

Beyond Earth
Partners: DLI Productions for Super Channel and Canal D (Canada); distributed by Off the Fence
Length/volume: 1 x 60 minutes, 1 x 90 minutes
Premiered: July 2016 (Super Channel)
Rights available: Worldwide excluding Canada

From the moon landing to the space shuttle program and the launching of the International Space Station, humanity’s fascination with the “final frontier” remains fervent. Now, as individuals such as Elon Musk and Richard Branson pump significant financial resources into various space exploration initiatives, we find ourselves moving from the era of the entrepreneur to the dawn of the “astropreneur.” This program highlights those who aim to both improve life on earth by marrying tech and environmental activism, as well as the ambitions of those who see humanity moving beyond our blue orb, and even beyond our solar system.

Forever Pure
Partners: Directed by Maya Zinshtein; produced by Duckin’ & Divin’ Films and Passion Pictures for DR, YES, the BBC; distributed by Dogwoof
Length: 1 x 85 minutes
Premiered: July 2016 (Jerusalem Film Festival)
Rights available: All rights worldwide

Beitar Jerusalem has one of the largest and most ardent fan bases of any soccer team in Israel. Many of its supporters are proudly right-wing, and refer to themselves as “La Familia.” During the 2012-2013 season, the club shocked that core of supporters by bringing in two Muslim players from Chechnya. Although the new players have the support of their teammates and coaches, the fans who comprise La Familia will not be swayed, even staging a mass walkout after one of the Muslim players scores a big goal in an important match. The hostility takes a toll on the two players, and, ultimately, the entire team. Journalist and filmmaker Maya Zinshtein captures the action on and off the pitch and takes an unflinching look at how the team’s travails mirror those of the region.

Seed: The Untold Story
Partners: Collective Eye; distributed by Cargo Film & Releasing
Length/volume: 1 x 84 minutes, 1 x 60 minutes
Premiered: March 2016 (Washington DC)
Rights available: Worldwide

Over the course of the last century, a whopping 94% of North America’s seed varieties have vanished. As biotech chemical companies gain control over the majority of seeds remaining, a consortium of scientists, environmental activists, lawyers and seed farmers is attempting to preserve what’s left of the natural diversity in the seed world, and preserve it for generations to come. Directed by Jon Betz and Taggart Siegel, and with acclaimed actor Marisa Tomei on board as an executive producer, Seed depicts how a variety of self-proclaimed “seed savers” are fighting to preserve humanity’s 12,000-year relationship with the mighty, magical seed.

The Talk
Partners: Thirteen Productions for WNET; distributed by PBS International
Length/volume: 1 x 120 minutes
Airing: 2017, air date TBD (PBS)
Rights available: Worldwide

In the wake of several incidents in the U.S. that have shone the spotlight on police brutality against people of color, this two-hour program focuses on the conversation parents of color have with their children, particularly boys, concerning how to act when in situations with the police. The film collects five stories from five directors – including Boyz N The Hood helmer John Singleton – that present the perspectives of parents, kids and police, with an aim towards creating much-needed dialogue and fostering understanding between everyone impacted by racial tensions in America.

Partners: Magnolia Italy for Nove; distributed by Zodiak Rights
Length: 20 x 30 minutes (UK series 1), 40 x 30 minutes (Italian series 1); 60 minutes (format)
Premiered: January 2016 (Nove)
Rights available: Format rights available worldwide

Cutting to the chase has been a key element of unscripted formats as of late, ever since Married at First Sight put couples at the altar without having them first indulge in that tedious courtship stuff. In this Italian format, two strangers meeting each other for the first time climb into a bed together and subsequently unveil themselves – literally, by taking off their clothes but remaining in their underwear, and metaphorically, by discussing their lives and following prompts designed to promote intimacy from a giant TV screen. First airing on Discovery Networks International’s Nove channel in Italy, the format has headed to the Netherlands, the UK and Ireland, and Australia, with more territories sure to follow.

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.