Realscreen’s MIPTV Picks, part 2

As we gear up for another trip to Cannes, Realscreen shares its picks of projects heading to the market that are worth scoping out. For part one, click here. Drowning in ...
March 26, 2019

As we gear up for another trip to Cannes, Realscreen shares its picks of projects heading to the market that are worth scoping out. For part one, click here.

Drowning in Plastic (pictured)

Partners: Raw TV for the BBC; distributed by All3Media International
Length: 1 x 90 minutes; 2 x 60 minutes
Premiered: October 2018 (UK)
Rights available: Worldwide excluding UK and U.S.

With Blue Planet II, the BBC turned a long overdue spotlight on a massive environmental crisis — an estimated 51 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean. In this special, biologist Liz Bonnin travels around the world to examine the issue and spotlight not only the seemingly overwhelming severity of the problem, but also those on the front lines working to turn the tide. With a recent report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation stating that the amount of plastic in the ocean will outweigh the number of fish by 2050, programs such as this drive home the fact that the time to act is now.

The Clinton Affair

Partners: Jigsaw Productions for A&E; distributed by A+E Networks
Length: 8 x 60 minutes
Premiered: November 2018 (U.S.)
Rights available: All rights worldwide

On December 19, 1998, U.S. President Bill Clinton was impeached, and formally charged by the House of Representatives with lying under oath and obstructing justice (acquitted by the Senate several weeks later). This six-part series, executive produced by prolific documentarian Alex Gibney and directed by Blair Foster (Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind), details the events leading up to that day — the secret affair with 21-year-old intern Monica Lewinsky, the process of how the information leaked to the general public and how it was subsequently handled — and the impact of the event upon America. Featured are comprehensive interviews with Lewinsky and former special prosecutor Ken Starr.

When Lambs Become Lions

Partners: The Documentary Group, Fusion Media Group, Kasbe Films, Project Earth; distributed by Dogwoof (UK and international)
Length: 1 x 52 minutes; 1 x 79 minutes
Premiered: April 2018 (Tribeca)
Rights available: World excluding U.S., UK, SSA, Sweden, Poland

The first full-length feature from Jon Kasbe, who won acclaim and an Emmy for his short film Heartbeats of Fiji, provides a rare glimpse into the African ivory trade and the battle against it, and the human beings on either side of the equation. Kasbe takes his cameras to Northern Kenya and spends time with Ivory dealer “X” and his partner, elephant hunter Lukas, and learns more about the reasons behind why they do what they do. Meanwhile, he also follows Asan, part of the wildlife ranger team committed to fighting poaching, with deadly force if necessary. While the issue of poaching understandably elicits rage among many of us, this doc attempts to delve into the deep rooted problems — with poverty being chief among them — that drive the trade.


Partners: Topkapi Nonfiction, NTR, Autentic; distributed by Autentic Distribution
Length: 6 x 50 minutes
Release: April 2019
Rights available: All rights worldwide

This six-part series explores the motivations behind six of the most terrible terrorist attacks in modern history with the aid of archive, dramatic reconstruction and exclusive interviews. From the attack on the King David Hotel in 1946 to the horrific killing spree in Norway unleashed by Anders Breivik in 2011, the series will examine terrorism through multiple lenses — economic, political, societal — in an attempt to understand the carnage of the past, and perhaps better prepare us for the future.

Behind Closed Doors: Through the Eyes of a Child

Partners: A True Vision Yorkshire production for BBC2; distributed by Orange Smarty
Length: 1 x 60 minutes
Premiered: February 2019 (UK)
Rights available: Worldwide rights available excluding UK & Eire

Following up her BAFTA-nominated examination of domestic abuse, 2016′s Behind Closed Doors, documentarian Anna Hall trains her lens on how children are impacted by domestic violence. Four children and their stories are profiled here with sensitivity and empathy, ranging from eight-year-old Ollie, whose mother endured harrowing violence at the hands of her boyfriend, to 14 year-old Kirstie, who speaks for the first time about her family’s experience, which culminated in the disappearance and tragic murder of her mother by her step-father.

Naked Mole-rat: Nature’s Weirdest Superhero

Partners: Taglicht Media for ZDF, Arte, Smithsonian Channel, National Geographic; distributed by Albatross World Sales
Length: 1 x 52 minutes
Premiered: January 2018 (Arte)
Rights available: Free TV rights worldwide excluding U.S., MENA, France, Germany

Winner of the NHK Science Award at the Wildscreen Festival in 2018, this program focuses on the rather unsightly but practically invincible Heterocephalus glaber, perhaps better known as the naked mole-rat. With their nearly hairless pink bodies and pointy front teeth, these subterranean rodents won’t win any beauty pageants any time soon, but they are blessed with an ability to resist certain kinds of pain, can survive up to 18 minutes without oxygen, are resistant to cancer, and — perhaps most incredibly — don’t seem to age. What can this strange creature tell us about human mortality, and how can it burrow pathways to cures for our most evasive ailments?

Asia in the Great War

Partners: Babel Studios and ECPAD; distributed by TVF International
Length: 4 x 48 minutes
Premiered: November 2018 (Channel NewsAsia)
Rights available: All rights worldwide

Close to two million men were recruited from across Asia to fight in World War I, and this four-part series explores the myriad stories within that statistic. From the Indian soldiers joining what came to be called The Forgotten Army to the Vietnamese fishermen who were under the French empire, and from the efforts of the Chinese Labour Corps to the important role the Japanese Navy played within the Alliance, this series places its focus on the sacrifices made by the various Asian forces, and the impact the conflict would ultimately have in each territory.

When I Grow Up

Partners: Optomen Television for Channel 4; distributed by All3Media International
Length: 3 x 60 minutes
Premiered: Fall 2018 (UK)
Rights available: Worldwide excluding UK and U.S.

Social experiments featuring kids are enjoying a resurgence in factual entertainment, but with more of an onus on “feel good” results than tempting tantrums. Case in point: this Channel 4 series, in which three companies bring in a bevy of seven-to-nine year-olds to join their employee roster. Whether it’s pitching story ideas at Hello Magazine or testing the goods at Montezuma’s chocolate factory, the kids are put to work in adult environments and learn valuable lessons about teamwork, social mobility and responsibility.

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.