Investigative doc A Leak in Paradise (Swiss Bank Whistleblower) won the MIPDoc International Pitch competition (pictured) on Saturday (April 5), beating four other finalists in the jury-judged event for producers in search of copro partners for doc and factual projects.
Thierry Detaille, manager of the doc’s distributor Ventes-CBAWIP-Sales, pitched the feature in front of a jury that included Catherine Alvaresse, deputy director specialist of factual at ARTE France; Axel Arno, commissioning editor at SVT; Ann Julienne, head of international development for documentary at France Télévisions; Catherine Olsen, exec producer of documentaries for CBC News Network’s ‘The Passionate Eye’ program; and Charles Schuerhoff, director of acquisitions at PBS International.
The doc, produced by Belgium-based Domino Production, details the case of Swiss whistleblower Rudolf Elmer, who used WikiLeaks to reveal the actions – including tax evasion – of the Cayman Islands-based Swiss bank he formerly worked for. Elmer was later charged with breaching Swiss bank secrecy laws and brought to trial, which continues to this day. Describing the production – which is in search of broadcasters, particularly in France – Detaille said: “It’s not a geopolitical film, it’s the story of one man.”
A Leak in Paradise already has Belgian public channels RTBF and VRT Lichtpunt coproducing, as well as Denmark’s DR. At the pitch, SVT’s Arno confirmed he would be pre-buying the film.
The doc bested four finalists that included A Journey to Icaria from France’s Je Suis Bien Content, a transmedia project on the Icarian adventure that will start online and become a live-action/animation docudrama and documentary game; Angry Warriors – The Salafi Call for Jihad from Germany’s New Docs, about a small, powerful Muslim minority; Annihilation from France’s Zed, an exploration of the attempted eradication of European Jews during the Second World War; and Invisible Mothers from Spain’s 3BoxMedia, on the challenges faced by single Moroccan women having children, which is illegal in the country.
Following the Leak in Paradise pitch, when asked by SVT’s Arno whether Elmer’s story will still be relevant when the film comes out by its projected release date of January 2015 – since the trial may have been resolved by that point – Detaille admitted that the team is still not sure when the trial will end so a number of outcomes are possible. CBC’s Olsen also questioned how much of Elmer audiences will get to see, because of a variety of other sources being interviewed in the doc.
Despite jury members’ questions surrounding the production, A Leak in Paradise walked away with top honors, leaving Detaille stunned. Addressing the audience, he joked he was “doubly surprised” to have won a competition in Cannes with a film about tax evasion.