Realscreen’s MIPCOM Picks 2017: Part One

Another MIPCOM approaches, and with it comes another edition of our annual MIPCOM Picks. Each year, the realscreen editorial team views scores of submissions from international distributors and production companies, ...
October 11, 2017

Another MIPCOM approaches, and with it comes another edition of our annual MIPCOM Picks. Each year, the realscreen editorial team views scores of submissions from international distributors and production companies, and selects several non-fiction projects making their way to the market for our bi-annual MIP Picks lists.

Here, you’ll find a slew of non-fiction and unscripted projects coming to market, ranging from foodie-friendly fare to penetrating explorations of social issues, and from awe-inspiring natural history to light and fun formats.

Congrats to our best in show, which wins a pass for the submitting company to the 2018 Realscreen Summit.

Partners: Drifting Cloud Productions, ITVS, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; FilmRise, Dogwoof, AMC Global, Huanxi, Globosat, EER
Length: 88 minutes / 56 minutes
Premiered: April 2017 (Tribeca Film Festival)
Rights available: World excluding North America, MENA, China, Estonia, SSA, Brazil
From Lana Wilson, director of the acclaimed After Tiller, comes this portrait of Ittetsu Nemoto, a Japanese punk-turned-Buddhist monk who has devoted his life to helping individuals on the brink of suicide to step back from the ledge. However, the film finds him increasingly grappling with his own concerns, as the pressures of his work impact other areas of his life, including his health. As the story unfolds, Nemoto finds himself confronted by the ultimate questions haunting those that he counsels.

Partners: Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation for Smithsonian Channel; distributed by APT Worldwide
Length: 1 x 60 minutes
Aired: April 2017, Smithsonian Channel (U.S.)
Rights available: All rights available worldwide, excluding U.S. broadcast
Recent decades have seen dramatic drops in fish stocks, and study after study points to overfishing as a chief culprit. But according to Dr. Daniel Pauly, the amounts of fish being caught in the world’s oceans are drastically under-reported, and the true numbers should sound alarms for the health of our marine ecosystems. This film follows Dr. Pauly and an international team of scientists as they take part in a global investigation to assess how flawed the official data is, and how close we are to a catastrophic crash of fish stocks worldwide.

Partners: Wellpark Productions for BBC; distributed by Banijay Rights
Length: 1 x 60 minutes
Aired: May 2017, BBC2 (UK)
Rights available: World excluding UK and Ireland
We are all guilty, at some point, of taking our lives for granted. There will always be a tomorrow, and the dream that we’ve silently nurtured over time can always wait until… whenever. But what happens when you’ve been told you have a terminal illness? This program from award-winning filmmaker Sue Bourne finds 12 people, ranging from their 20s to their late 60s, who are facing their own deaths, but who are choosing to use the time left for what truly matters to them. This glimpse into what is, for many, an uncomfortable reality — our own impending demise — serves as an inspiring exploration of how to live life to its fullest.

Partners: Drummer TV for Channel 5 (UK); distributed by Beyond Distribution
Length: 3 x 60 minutes/ 1 x 60-minute compilation
Aired: July 2017, Channel 5 (UK)
Rights available: All rights available worldwide, excluding UK and Ireland
It’s an age-old childhood fantasy that still holds its charm — running away and joining the circus. For some of the children in this documentary, it’s not a fantasy, and they didn’t have to “run away” to be part of the circus — it’s in their blood. Circus Kids follows children whose families have roots in circus performing that extend across multiple generations, as well as those who left “normal” life behind to pursue their dreams under the Big Top.

Partners: Tigress Productions for National Geographic; distributed by Fox Networks Group Distribution
Length: 3 x 60 minutes
Airing: December 2017, National Geographic
Rights available: All rights available worldwide
Dian Fossey was one of the world’s best known primatologists, studying mountain gorilla groups in their own natural habitats over a span of 18 years, before her brutal murder in a Rwandan camp in 1985. This special presentation, executive produced by James Marsh (Man on Wire), is culled from more than 40 hours of rare archival footage. It allows Fossey to tell her own story, from her childhood to her life with the gorillas in Rwanda, with excerpts from her writing narrated by Sigourney Weaver.

Partners: Black Valley Films, Boomdozer; distributed by Off the Fence (theatrical distribution through Abramorama)
Length: 1 x 60 minutes; 1 x 90 minutes
Premiered: June 2017
Rights available: Worldwide excluding U.S. territories and possessions
Directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy and narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson (Cosmos), Food Evolution examines the war of words surrounding the issue of GMOs and our food. The film does have a viewpoint — that a lot of the furor over GMOs is propelled by faulty science and social media commentary — but it allows opposing arguments to be heard… and then, ultimately, rebutted by assorted scientists and data. Whether the doc will sway opinions remains to be seen, but the argument is presented intelligently and entertainingly.

Partners: The Orchard, Dogwoof, NRK, IPBC, DR, BBC, Da Tang
Length: 1 x 87 minutes
Premiered: March 2017 (SXSW)
Rights available: World excluding North America, UK, Denmark, Norway, Israel, China
Directed by Jairus McLeary and Gethin Aldous, this film provides, in Variety‘s estimation, “a remarkable vérité portrait” of a group therapy session at Folsom Prison that teams three free men with level-four convicts. Its depiction of a new, humane approach to rehabilitation has earned the film the Grand Jury Prize for best documentary at SXSW, and the Audience Award from Sheffield Doc/Fest.

Partners: Hudsun Media, Electus for ABC (U.S.); distributed by Electus International
Length: 8 x 60 minutes
Aired: April 2017 (ABC, U.S.)
Rights available: All rights available worldwide
Call it “Shark Tank meets Little Big Shots.” In this crafty competition series, aspiring toy makers present their creations to what is ultimately the toughest panel of judges they’ll face — kids. The pay-off, somewhat reminiscent of Electus’ Fashion Star, sees the winning toy produced by Mattel. Hosted by Modern Family‘s Eric Stonestreet, the series has been picked up for another season by American broadcaster ABC.

Partners: Goldcrest Feature Films for National Geographic; distributed by Fox Networks Group Content Distribution
Length:1 x 120 minutes
Aired: June 2017 (National Geographic)
Rights available: All rights worldwide
From part of the team behind Restrepo (Sebastian Junger & Nick Quested), Hell on Earth is another visceral, eye-opening examination of a territory and populace torn apart by conflict. This time, Junger and Quested took their cameras to the ghastly civil war zone that is today’s Syria, amassing some 1,000 hours of footage from 39 trips to the region. Through historical perspective, analysis and truly chilling footage from a variety of sources on the ground, the film chronicles the chaos that allowed ISIS to thrive and a true hell on Earth to emerge.

Partners: Deklat Binnen for Canvas (Belgium); distributed by Lineup Industries
Length: 6 x 52 minutes
Aired: April 2016 (Canvas, Belgium)
Rights available: Worldwide format rights available excluding Belgium
Members of a championship sports team share bonds that can last a lifetime. There is the hard work, discipline and camaraderie necessary to win; and then there are the experiences that teammates have in the midst of the celebration. Once the cheers fade, however, the champions are once again mere mortals — an adjustment that can be difficult for some. This format follows former teammates as they reminisce in the locker room that they shared for years about the glory days, and reveal who they became after the spotlight dimmed.

Partners: Studio Ramsay for Fox (U.S.); distributed by All3Media International
Length: 9 x 60 minutes
Aired: May 2017 (Fox, U.S.)
Rights available: Contact All3Media International
This live cooking competition series marks the latest format from super-celeb chef Gordon Ramsay to cross the pond and set up shop in the United States. This time, Ramsay brings families into the mix to battle each other for culinary supremacy, with assorted VIPs seated at the judge’s table. The competition element is but one piece of the puzzle for this series, as celeb guests appear both as judges and via “in the field” segments that highlight famous foodies.

(These online honorable mentions are chosen by our editors, in addition to the picks chosen by our editorial team.)

Partners: Sky Vision, Insight TV
Length: 6 x 48 minutes
Aired: August 2017
Rights available: All rights globally
While it may not enjoy the rabid fandom of other sports like football, baseball or hockey in North America, cricket is truly a global phenomenon. This six-part series follows Somerset cricket legend Peter Trego as he treks to various parts of the world — including Singapore, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa and Dubai — to illustrate how the sport creates a sense of community and camaraderie for myriad populations.

Partners: October Films for BBC2; distributed by DCD Rights
Length: 3 x 60 minutes
Aired: August 2017
Rights available: World excluding UK
In this eye-opening, three-part series, journalists Adnan Sarwar and Babita Sharma travel across the 70-year-old partition line between India and Pakistan, to both discover the impact of partition, and relay penetrating glimpses of real life behind the border for those who live on either side.

Look for part two of our MIPCOM Picks tomorrow (Thursday, Oct. 12).

About The Author
Senior staff writer Frederick Blichert comes to realscreen with a background as a journalist and freelance film critic. He has previously written for VICE, Paste Magazine, Senses of Cinema, Xtra, Canadian Cinematographer and elsewhere. He holds a Master of Arts in film studies from Carleton University and a Master of Journalism from the University of British Columbia.