Chat with Channel 8 head, Sinai Abt

The Israeli doc channel's tagline is 'Curiosity is Endless,' which perfectly describes its openness to a variety of doc themes. Sinai Abt spoke with realscreen about the channel's approach to programming.
August 21, 2008

The Israeli doc channel’s tagline is ‘Curiosity is Endless,’ which perfectly describes its openness to a variety of doc themes. Sinai Abt spoke with realscreen about the channel’s approach to programming.

What is Channel 8′s current programming strategy?
In a world full of specialized channels, where there’s a channel for history, a channel for wildlife and a channel for lifestyle, we answer the main human need: curiosity. We try to give an appealing experience for the curiosity of watching documentaries and we try to make it as varied and horizon opening as we can. Waltz with Bashir would be a very good example for us.

What trends are you seeing in the projects you’re being pitched?
In terms of original programming I think previously, maybe five years ago, people were pitching me more programming about current affairs, about the political situation in Israel, about the occupation. I’m still seeing that but it’s much less. There’s a wider range now of other subjects: the human condition, poverty, human rights (other than the occupation), that kind of thing.

What advice would you give to producers who want to work with Channel 8?
We’re only able to join an original production when it has a substantial amount of the budget spent in Israel. That’s the state regulation, so we are only able to do it when there’s an Israeli producer involved and when it’s relevant. Most of what is relevant to pitch to us, if I’m talking about people outside of Israel, are projects that deal with themes that could be shot in Israel or could interest an Israeli producer.

Investment in programming: 85% acquisitions, 15% is original productions (either coproduction or new commissions)
Pitch to: head of channel 8 Sinai Abt, commissioning editor Liran Atzmor.

About The Author
Andrew Tracy joined Realscreen as associate editor in 2021, following 17 years as managing editor of the award-winning international film magazine Cinema Scope. From 2010 to 2020 he also held the position of senior editor at the Toronto International Film Festival, where he oversaw the flagship publication for the organization’s year-round Cinematheque programming and edited its first original monograph in a decade, Steve Gravestock’s A History of Icelandic Film. He was a scriptwriter and consultant on the first season of the Vice TV series The Vice Guide to Film, and his writing and reporting have been featured in such outlets as Cinema Scope, Reverse Shot, Sight & Sound, Cineaste, Film Comment, MUBI Notebook, POV, and Montage.