At this year’s MIPDOC, realscreen (in partnership with HBO) facilitated the fourth MIPDOC Co-production Challenge. Five producers were given the opportunity to pitch their projects to a jury whose job was to decide which project would work best in various territories and, therefore, held the most value as a coproduction.
The five projects pitched were Beijing Goes Bloodless, a doc by Asia Geographic Entertainment (Hong Kong) focusing on the problems involved in using plasma stored in blood banks; Bloody April, an ASA Productions (Bromley) doc on the experiences of WWI pilots; South Africa 2010 – Faith, Love & Hope, following people in South Africa who feel the World Cup is the answer to the country’s problems, by impulsWERKSTATT (Salzburg); Taqwacore, a doc on Islamic punk rockers by EyeSteelFilms (Montreal); and Threads of Tradition, a Sprocket Science Films (Dubai) series about the struggle to build an eastern fashion industry out of the western world’s sweatshops.
Based on the project descriptions alone, early buzz from attendees favored Taqwacore, a doc by Daniel Cross, ep on 2007′s Up the Yangtze. The word ‘taqwacore’ refers to a brand of hardcore punk music that reflects Islamic culture. As Cross described in his clip-heavy presentation, the film focuses on how punk and Islam fit together, though they seem like an odd couple. In their deliberations the jurors invented a Special Jury prize for Taqwacore, but the Grand Prize went to Soniya Kirpalani’s Threads of Tradition.
Triggered by the western world’s monopoly over the eastern clothing manufacturing industry, Threads will be a 6 x 52-minute series, each part telling the story of a different eastern fashion designer who left their home country to make it in the West, but who’ve returned home to support their fashion industry. As a fashion editor herself, Kirpalani is deeply involved with her subject matter, and the judges complimented her on her passion for the stories. What most disturbs her about the current state of fashion is that most Asian and Arab youth are buying clothes manufactured in their home country, then exported to foreign countries, reimported and sold back to them at 200% markups. The mission of these designers, and this production, is to bring the money back to the East.
Aside from her passion for the subject, another element that worked in Kirpalani’s favor was the number of territories featured in the story. Each designer in the series is from a different country, taking the production from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka and Korea. Kirpalani and her team raised 65% of the budget before the pitch. Since the Challenge, producers from Lebanon and South America have contacted her to coproduce other series along similar lines. The Challenge Grand Prize included €2,000 in cash and free passes to MIPDOC 2009 and the 2009 Realscreen Summit.