Realscreen’s Spring Picks 2020: Part 1

Spring brings May flowers, but before that, it usually brings scores of content buyers and sellers from around the world to Cannes for the annual MIPTV market. But as we ...
March 30, 2020

Spring brings May flowers, but before that, it usually brings scores of content buyers and sellers from around the world to Cannes for the annual MIPTV market. But as we know, this year is different.
Prior to the cancellation of the market, the editorial team at Realscreen combed through a veritable slew of clips from assorted projects to offer our picks of programming worth investigating. These projects are still being shopped, so we want to shine the spotlight on what we will call, for this year, our Spring Picks for 2020. Here’s the first batch for this year’s list.. more to come tomorrow.

Partners: TBC Productions, Participant Media, zero one film, Close Up Films, ARTE France
Cinéma, RTS – Radio Télévision Suisse for ARTE France, RTS; distributed by Dogwoof
Length: 1 x 99 minutes
Premiered: September 2019
Rights available: World excluding France, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland
We first met Bhutanese monk Peyangki in French filmmaker Thomas Balmes’ 2013 film Happiness, which depicted the life of the then eight-year-old child as he moved through his days blissfully free of the trappings of modernity. Fast forward to 2020 and Peyangki, and many of his schoolmates, are caught up in the wired world, with the young man now contemplating giving up the monastic life to bring his virtual relationship with his “girlfriend” from the city, Ugyen, into the real world. This feature doc (pictured) examines the ever increasing impact of technology on corners of the world — and humanity — that it hadn’t troubled before.

Partners: Coco Content for Virgin Media One and A+E Networks; distributed by A+E International
Length: 1 x 60 minutes
Aired: February 2020
Rights available: Worldwide excl. Ireland, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Romance is beguiling — and perplexing — to young and old alike, and the prospect of looking for true love at any age can be a daunting one. But maybe it’s all just a matter of perspective.
This format from Ireland’s Coco Content brings together singles from two vastly different age demographics — 18-35 and 65+ — to advise each other on affairs of the heart. A younger singleton is paired with, shall we say, a more mature individual also looking for their soulmate, and the two share with each other their hard won wisdom for wooing. The teammates help each other find dates, prep each other for their big nights out, and then get the lowdown on how it all went, along with the rest of us. This format could inspire co-viewing not only between genders but also across generations.

Partners: ZDF in association with ZDF Enterprises; distributed by ZDFE
Length: 3 x 50 minutes
Airing: March 2020
Rights available: All rights, worldwide
Not to be confused with the Jennifer Baichwal/ Nicholas de Pencier doc of the same name, this three-part miniseries similarly explores the impact humanity has had on planet Earth and its natural systems, but through perhaps a more optimistic lens. While examining the devastating side effects of some human endeavors, the project also devotes its attention to some of the cutting edge science and technology being employed to combat and potentially correct the damage inflicted upon our home. Shot with state of the art invasive cameras, drones and macro lenses in 4K over the span of two years, this program, with its marriage of science, natural history and social commentary, aims to inspire and educate.
Trailer here.

Partners: Peddling Pictures for Channel News Asia; distributed by Boat Rocker Rights
Length: 4 x 60 minutes
Premiered: September 2019 (Channel News Asia)
Rights available: All rights, worldwide
Whether it’s the process of deciding what to watch on our favorite SVOD platform, or the development of potentially game-changing artificial intelligence, the almighty algorithm is playing an increasingly important role in our day to day lives — a role that we are barely conscious of. The data we generate through our lifestyles, our choices, our work, and myriad other aspects of our existence is being used to shape the world around us, providing incredible levels of convenience… but at what cost? Author, journalist and mathematician Anjan Sundaram takes a deep dive into the Algorithm Age to reveal with it’s providing us with, and what it could be taking away.

Partners: Erica Starling Productions, Ronachan Films; financed by BBC Arts, Northern Ireland Screen, ZDF Arte, SVT and Moviestar+; distributed by MetFilm Sales
Length: 1 x 59 minutes
Airing: May 2020
Rights available: World excluding UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Spain
Artist muse, trailblazing photographer, feminist icon — Lee Miller was all of this and more. Beginning her foray into culture in front of the camera as a model for Vogue and for surrealist photographer Man Ray, Miller would go on to develop her own style and sensibility as a photographer, moving from fashion shoots to war correspondent for British Vogue. While she gained notoriety by being photographed taking a bath in Hitler’s bathtub in his vacated Munich apartment on the day the tyrant committed suicide, her cultural contribution, as illustrated in this documentary overview of her life, goes far beyond that image.
Trailer here.

Partners: Montana PBS and Montana State University; distributed by PBS International
Length: 1 x 56 minutes
Rights available: All rights, worldwide
Since the days of the French Revolution, the world has subscribed to a mode of measurement that is contained within a small metallic cylinder, housed in a super secure vault somewhere outside of Paris. But now, all of that is changing as teams of scientists from around the world contend with how to modernize measurement of weight, with the end results sure to have far-reaching impact across every aspect of our lives. In this science thriller, filmmakers Jaime Jacobsen and Ed Watkins track the efforts of these scientists who, in the process of potentially changing history, have the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Trailer here.

Partners: Great Pacific Media for CBC; distributed by Beyond Distribution
Length: 8 x 60 minutes
Aired: January 2020 (CBC)
Rights available: Worldwide excluding Canada
Canada’s Arctic Archipelago houses some of the most remote communities on the Earth. Every year, ships filled with important supplies, ranging from food to medical materials to clothing, make the perilous journey across treacherous, ice-laden seas to deliver the much needed haul to the High Arctic’s inhabitants. This access-driven series provides a
close look at the men and women behind the haul, and the resilient inhabitants of the communities at the top of the world.
Trailer here.

Partners: Bamboo Doc for ARTE France; distributed by Off the Fence
Length/volume: 3 x 60 minutes
Airing: TBD
Rights available: Worldwide excluding France & German speaking territories
At a time when the threat of climate change looms largely in the public consciousness and the political arena, a good news story concerning the environment is perhaps hard to come by. But this three-parter provides reason for optimism.
As home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity, and to myriad ecosystems ranging from dry forests to rainforests and from volcanoes to marine parks, this Central American country has proven the value of adopting innovative and ambitious environmental policies. Here, you’ll see the wonder of this region’s flora and fauna, and meet some of the scientists and citizens working to keep their country on the vanguard of the fight against potentially catastrophic climate change.

Partners: Program 33 for ARTE France; distributed by Zed
Length: 1 x 52 minutes
Aired: November 2019 (ARTE)
Rights available: Worldwide
War is messy, brutal business, and the advent of “sophisticated” torture techniques in the 20th century, which moved from physical pain to psychological brutality, made it even more horrifying. The KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation Manual, created by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in 1963, spelled out various approaches to “no touch” torture, with some of those methods seemingly employed in more recent conflicts. This doc looks at the history of modern, “clean” torture through eye-opening footage and interviews with former practitioners and victims.

About The Author
Jillian Morgan is the Associate Editor at Realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.