Extra: New director for Center for Documentary Studies; Tresor-MGM deal

Center for Documentary Studies names new director Veteran media executive Opeyemi Olukemi has been appointed the new director of the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University, Olukemi (pictured) is the fourth ...
October 14, 2021

Center for Documentary Studies names new director

Veteran media executive Opeyemi Olukemi has been appointed the new director of the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University,

Olukemi (pictured) is the fourth director in the center’s 32-year history, and began work in September. She came to Duke following stints at Tribeca Film Institute and, most recently, American Documentary | POV.

Olukemi was selected unanimously by a search committee representing the CDS Board of Directors, staff, and faculty.

Olukemi previously worked at media arts nonprofit American Documentary as vice president of innovation and executive producer for POV Spark, the interactive arm of the organization’s independent nonfiction film series on PBS. Under Olukemi’s direction, POV Spark produced and funded interactive projects for public media and supported artists through creative ideation labs, production and distribution support, and collaborative initiatives. These included the African Interactive Art (AIA) residency program, created in partnership with the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Venice Biennale, and Otherly, an Instagram-based documentary film series produced with the National Film Board of Canada featuring female, non-binary and genderqueer creators.

Prior to that, Olukemi was senior director of the Tribeca Film Institute’s interactive division, where she oversaw interactive public programs and supported media- and tech-based makers with targeted funds and innovative spaces for collaboration, experimentation and creation.

“Opeyemi Olukemi brings a wealth of experience across a range of documentary forms and a deep appreciation of both its traditional and contemporary, cutting-edge modes of presentation, along with an understanding of organizations and how to lead them to innovation and excellence,” said committee leader Peter Lange, provost emeritus at Duke and chairman of the CDS board in a statement. “She is dynamic and joyful and brings those qualities to all she does.”

ZDF Enterprises distributing conservation doc Going Circular 

ZDF Enterprises has launched the international distribution of the new feature documentary Going Circular at MIPCOM.

The 88-minute film is produced by ZDF-owned prodco Off the Fence, co-producer of the 2021 Oscar and BAFTA winner My Octopus Teacher, for Curiosity in association with Arte and ZDF Enterprises.

Going Circular examines the concept known as “circularity,” an economic system that aims to eliminate waste and save the planet’s resources. The doc follows four visionaries from around the world: 102-year-old inventor Dr. James Lovelock, biomimicry biologist Janine Benyus, designer Arthur Huang and financier John Fullerton. All have had experiences that changed the way they think about humanity’s future, and each of their stories leads them to reassess what our food, our cities, our financial system and even our fashion industry could look like if we create and produce within the planet’s natural boundaries.

Going Circular is not only an excellent documentary, it is a very important film for the future of our planet and we are proud to be part of this trend-setting project,” said Ralf Rueckauer, VP ZDFE unscripted for ZDF Enterprises in a release.

“This film unlocks the secrets to circularity, showcasing how using nature’s universal principles to transform economies can help create a better future for the planet. I hope that the film will inspire viewers to welcome a circular lifestyle,” added Ellen Windemuth, co-CEO of Off the Fence.

Tresor inks first-look deal with MGM TV

German prodco Tresor has signed an exclusive first-look deal with MGM Television’s Global Formats unit for unscripted formats in Germany.

The one-year agreement is effective this month, and gives Tresor an exclusive window on all new unscripted formats in MGM’s Global Formats catalogue. The deal deepens an existing relationship that began earlier this year when the two companies collaborated on bringing MGM’s Generation Gap to German TV, known locally as Das Ist Mein Zeit – Die Generationenshow (This is My Time – The Generation Show), which Tresor produced.

“Following the success of Generation Gap, we are thrilled to have secured this first-look deal with MGM which gives us an exclusive window on their new non-scripted formats. This will ensure Tresor continues to have access to an on-going supply of fresh and high-quality ideas, including paper formats, for us to develop for our broadcast partners here in Germany,” said Tresor managing director Axel Kuhn in a release.

Additionally, Tresor also renewed its existing first-look deal with South Korean media group CJ ENM for unscripted formats for another year-long term.

Tresor TV and CJ ENM worked together to adapt two formats for the German market: 300: War of United Voices, known locally as United Voices – Das größte Fanduell der Welt, which Tresor produced for Sat1 in March 2020, and the music mystery show I Can See Your Voice, of which Tresor has produced two seasons for RTL so far.

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