The international documentary community has lost a passionate advocate with the passing of Sunny Side of the Doc/Asian Side of the Doc founder and CEO Yves Jeanneau, at 69.
According to the team behind the La Rochelle-based documentary and factual content conference, Jeanneau passed away on November 14, with loved ones at his side. No cause of death was given.
Jeanneau’s love for the genre stemmed from his work as a producer, director and content executive, beginning with a stint as managing director, producer and director for French prodco Les films d’ici from 1984-2000. From there, he headed up the documentary division at Pathé Televisions from 2000-2001, before moving to France Télévisions to manage the doc department at France 2 from 2001-2005. He then moved back into documentary production via a stint with Telfrance Group from 2006-2010. Production credits include Murder on a Sunday Morning from director Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, which won the 2002 Academy Award for best documentary feature.
Sunny Side of the Doc, one of Europe’s longest-running industry conferences for the genre, recently held its 30th anniversary edition this past June, which boasted record attendance from international delegates. According to event organizers, Jeanneau was eagerly anticipating the 31st edition.
“Teeming with ideas, he wanted to open up to new talent and to as many people as possible – without losing this unique marketplace’s DNA. He wished to put the theme of history at the heart of the next festival edition, which will take place on 22nd to 25th June 2020, in La Rochelle,” said the Sunny Side of the Doc organization via a statement.
“There is no doubt that history in turn shall remember Yves Jeanneau’s passionate dedication and commitment to all documentary genres.”
As well as co-founding the La Rochelle conference, Jeanneau sought further opportunities to bring together producers, filmmakers and buyers from the East and the West, culminating in the founding of Asian Side of the Doc in 2010.
In an interview with Realscreen prior to the launching of the 30th anniversary edition of the festival, Jeanneau told Marie-Agnes Bruneau that bringing the conference to life with co-founder Olivier Masson was nothing short of a “utopian dream.”
“I believe that in the current troubled times, demand for documentaries will grow, as in crisis, people look to understand what’s going on,” he told Realscreen, adding, “Producers need to learn [that] it’s not anymore just about a film, but how to tell a specific story in a multitude of forms for various audience profiles — a media responding to another.”
Céline Payot-Lehmann, head of international distribution at ARTE France, told Realscreen that Jeanneau “will be so very missed,” adding, “I’m very thankful to him for helping me numerous times in finding the right partner for a show, for advising me on strategic moves and for simply organizing the best documentary market there is.”
Ellen Windemuth, founder and CEO of Amsterdam-headquartered producer/distributor Off the Fence and honorary president of the 30th anniversary edition of Sunny Side of the Doc, shared her thoughts on Jeanneau’s passing with Realscreen.
“Yves was a highly intelligent caring leader and visionary,” she said. “His passion went far beyond filmmaking or event production. Yves dedicated himself to our global non-fiction community. He helped all of us to say what we felt needed to be said, to show the films we needed to show and create the largest impact we could to educate, stimulate and inspire.
“We will miss him.”
A ceremony open to the public will be held on Thursday, November 21, at 3:30 p.m. at Père-Lachaise Crematorium, (71 rue des Rondeaux – 75020 Paris, Metro Gambetta).