‘Storyville’ turns to the dark side

BBC 'Storyville' is looking to commission documentaries about "the dark side of the Internet" for a planned season in 2012, including a film from Grierson-winner Ben Lewis (The King Of Communism), according to the strand's editor Nick Fraser (pictured).
April 3, 2011

BBC ‘Storyville’ is looking to commission documentaries about “the dark side of the Internet” for a planned season in 2012, including a film from Grierson-winner Ben Lewis (The King Of Communism), according to the strand’s editor Nick Fraser (pictured).

The UK public service broadcaster has acquired Andrew Rossi’s acclaimed doc Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times - which looks at effect the web has had on traditional journalism – to air as part of the season, and has commissioned Lewis to make a signature film to lead the batch.

“We’re looking for interesting, quirky films that basically tell you things you didn’t know about the Internet – the dark side,” Fraser told realscreen in Cannes. “Five years ago, everyone had a very utopian notion of what the Internet was, but with things like WikiLeaks that is rapidly changing, and not always in a good way.”

Lewis’ project is in the early stages of development, but the doc will broadly ask, “Does the Internet spell freedom or does it spell control?” according to Fraser. He added of Rossi’s film: “Page One really appealed to me – you can see in the film how even an organisation like The New York Times is getting eaten away by the Internet.”

The ‘dark side’ season is one of a number upcoming on ‘Storyville,’ which airs primarily on UK digital channel BBC4, with some films repeated on terrestrial BBC2.

In June this year the strand kicks off a ‘justice season,’ which includes Barry Stevens’ doc The Prosecutor, a portrait of Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague; and Greg Barker’s Sergio, which looks at the life and death of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN Secretary-General’s special representative in Iraq, who was killed in a Baghdad attack in 2003.

Fraser has also acquired Give Up Tomorrow for the season – an ITVS-backed doc from filmmakers Martin Syjuco and Michael Collins, which examines the judicial system in the Philippines.

In October, ‘Storyville’ will air a season on American culture, featuring Liz Garbus’s Bobby Fisher Against The World, a doc which looks at the titular iconic American chess genius; and a repeat of Eugene Jarecki’s Reagan, which examines the legacy of the late U.S. president.

Of Garbus’ doc, Fraser said: “The film very coherently explained how it was to be a genius in 20th Century America, and to what degree people would and wouldn’t tolerate your madness.”

Finally, in November 2012, ‘Storyville’ will kick off its Why Poverty? season; a sequel of sorts to its ambitious Why Democracy? project – a series of 10 documentaries which aired on more than 40 broadcasters in 2007. The latter most notably produced Alex Gibney’s Oscar-winning doc Taxi To The Dark Side.

In addition to the seasons, BBC Storyville will at some point throughout 2011 and 2012 air each of the six films that it backed which played at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. In addition to Bobby Fisher, these include James Marsh’s Project Nim, Steve James’s The Interrupters, Ian Palmer’s Knuckle, and Marshall Curry’s If A Tree Falls.

Fraser paid particular praise to Project Nim, saying of Man On Wire director Marsh: “What he’s particularly good at is taking these stories that people have half forgotten about and turning them into something interesting.”


About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.