Realscreen’s MIPCOM Picks 2021, Pt. 1

While travel is hampered by the pandemic, programming is still traveling globally, and the annual MIPCOM conference is a prime opportunity to see contente on the move. From social issues ...
September 28, 2021

While travel is hampered by the pandemic, programming is still traveling globally, and the annual MIPCOM conference is a prime opportunity to see contente on the move. From social issues to true crime, and from blue-chip natural history to archive-led documentary, there’s a wealth of great stuff in the mix this spring, as seen here. As usual, our editorial team screened scores of programming clips to arrive at this list, which will appear here throughout this week, as well as in our September/October print issue, available now. Congratulations to our Best in Show, which will receive a pass to the 2022 Realscreen Summit for the submitting company.

Partners: Directed by Bernadette Wegenstein, produced by Anne Porter; distributed by Cargo Films & Releasing
Length: 1 x 90 minutes
Premiered: June 2021 (Tribeca Film Festival)
Rights available: Worldwide
Growing up in New York, a young Marin Alsop was instantly enthralled by the world of classical music — and conducting in particular — after attending a concert conducted by the legendary Leonard Bernstein. But her road to the podium would be long and filled with naysayers. Still, with her passion and talent fueling her and with Bernstein serving as a mentor, she fought on and has created a career built on firsts — she was the first woman to be appointed as music director for a major symphony orchestra, the first woman to conduct the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms, et cetera. This engrossing film chronicles how Alsop smashed the glass ceiling she repeatedly encountered in her ascent. (Photo: Alessandra Fratus)

Partners: Florentine Films for PBS; distributed by PBS International
Length: Eight hours over four parts
Premiered: September 2021 (PBS)
Rights available: Worldwide
For those familiar with the work of Ken Burns, it’s a given that when he finds a subject to explore, the resulting multi-part project will be well worth the time investment required to take it all in. We expect it to be the same story with this four-part exploration of one of the most recognizable and significant figures in modern culture. Muhammad Ali revealed himself to be much more than a brash bruiser throughout his career. By refusing to fight in the Vietnam War, he proved he was a man of conscience. By his steadfast observance of his religion, he proved himself to be a man of faith. And of course, with his remarkable gift of gab, the three-time heavyweight champion of the world showed he was a warrior with wit. Directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon.

Partners: marblemedia and Hemmings House Pictures for CBC; distributed by Distribution360
Length: 10 x 30 minutes
Premiered: September 2021 (CBC)
Rights available: Worldwide excluding Canada; format rights
The Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada is an amazing natural spectacle, home to the world’s highest tides. It’s here where the action for this unique unscripted competition series takes place, as teams of expert sand sculpture artists take to the beach to wow judges with creations that could typically take weeks to craft. They face off against each other and against the oncoming torrents of ocean that will wash their work away. Co-produced by the team behind Netflix’s Blown Away (marblemedia, working here with Hemmings House Pictures), this is another competition series that takes a deep dive into a fascinating world.

Partners: Joined Up Films for SBS, distributed by Magnify Media
Rights available: Format rights worldwide outside of Australia
When Australia’s SBS first aired its non-fiction series Is Australia Racist? in 2017, its groundbreaking approach to studying racism, which included using hidden cameras and actors to see how people would react in certain situations, prompted a national discussion on the question. Since then, that approach has been used for other topics — most recently, attitudes towards disability — to illuminate the work that needs to be done to create a truly inclusive society. Now, format rights for the program are being shopped internationally, providing other broadcasters the opportunity to pose questions that may be uncomfortable, but are ultimately of utmost importance — and can make for engrossing and educational viewing.

Partners: Films à Cinq; distributed by PBS International
Length: 57 minutes
Aired: September 2021 (PBS)
Rights available: Worldwide
In popular culture and in the shadowy substance of our superstitions, bats have frequently received a bad rap. But that fear and loathing has intensified as of late, as scientists endeavor to locate the origins of a pandemic that has stopped the world. This program, part of PBS’s estimable science strand Nova, enlightens viewers regarding some of these creatures’ incredible abilities, like their innate resistance to some of the diseases they carry, including Ebola and MERS. We also meet some of the scientists who are studying bats to uncover the secrets they may hold towards living longer, healthier lives.

Look for part 2 of our MIPCOM Picks for 2021 tomorrow (September 29).

This story first appeared in the September/October 2021 issue of Realscreen Magazine, which is out now. Not a subscriber? Click here for more information.

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