MIPTV Picks ’22, part one: Best in show and more

At press time, buyers and distributors of screen content were preparing for returning to Cannes for the first in-person MIPTV conference and market since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. ...
March 31, 2022

At press time, buyers and distributors of screen content were preparing for returning to Cannes for the first in-person MIPTV conference and market since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. If this year’s submissions to our annual MIPTV Picks feature are anything to go by, business should be brisk.

Here, we’ve assembled a plethora of picks from a cross-section of non-fiction and unscripted genres, ranging from sumptuously shot natural history to thought-provoking current affairs and many points between, for your consideration as you cruise the Croisette. Look for part two of our Picks in tomorrow’s daily.


Partners: Field of Vision in association with Canal & the Gallery, Arch + Bow Films, Trailer 9, XRM Media and LinLay Productions; distributed by Dogwoof
Length: 91 minutes
Premiered: Sundance 2022
Rights available: Worldwide excluding North America

Sierra Pettengill’s fascinating and chilling archival documentary is built upon a foundation of found surrealism: 1960s government footage of U.S. Army crowd-control training in false-front towns, where soldiers dressed up as “hippies” and “outside agitators” play out urban-unrest scenarios inspired by the authorities’ skewed vision of upheavals like the Watts rebellion. From here, the film spirals outward to show how these officially sanctioned fantasies became violent reality in Miami during the 1968 Republican convention, as guns, tanks and tear gas were turned on African American protestors. Beyond its inescapable timeliness, Riotsville, U.S.A. brilliantly details the step-by-step process by which the delusions and wishes of those in power are made into a reality that the remaining 99% of humanity must unwillingly inhabit — but it also reminds us that there remains an actual world outside of that fabrication, one where resistance and possibility can, however precariously, endure. Andrew Tracy

Partners: Beach House Pictures for CuriosityStream in association with Blue Ant Media; distributed by Abacus Media Rights
Length: 6 x 60 minutes
Premiered: January 2022
Rights available: Contact Abacus Media Rights

Nature has always had much to teach us, and even as we become a more technologically advanced species, that hasn’t changed. In this six-part series, biologist Patrick Aryee takes us on an action- and information-packed voyage that explores how humanity can solve many of the fundamental issues it faces by “mimicking” innovations found in nature. From healthcare to transportation and numerous other areas, and with the help of cutting-edge CGI, Aryee and assorted experts showcase what these naturally inspired innovations might look like in our world of the future. Barry Walsh

Partners: RadicalMedia for A+E Networks; distributed by A+E Networks
Length: 3 x 150 minutes
Premiered: February 2022
Rights available: All rights worldwide

The History Channel’s “mega-doc” about the 18th president, adapted from historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Leadership: In Turbulent Times, follows the successful template of the broadcaster’s previous event series Washington and Grant: interviews with experts and commentators interspersed between handsomely mounted historical re-enactments. What is most welcome in this treatment of perhaps the most studied U.S. president is how it places Lincoln’s evolving views on race and slavery front and center — to the extent of according his foil, the legendary abolitionist Frederick Douglass, his own independent narrative strand within the series. By regarding Lincoln as very much a work-in-progress, the series crafts a credible portrait of him as a man both of and ahead of his time. AT

Partners: Blink Films; distributed by PBS International
Length: 2 x 47 minutes
Airing: TBD
Rights available: All rights worldwide

On April 26, 1986, a nuclear power plant near the town of Pripyat in northern Ukraine became a global focal point when one of its reactors exploded, unleashing unprecedented levels of radioactive fallout that is still impacting individuals and communities more than 35 years later. Over the course of two parts, this timely program brings to light revelations from hundreds of declassified KGB documents, and features interviews with rescue workers on the scene and other survivors of one of modern history’s more horrific events. BW

Partners: AMS Pictures; distributed by BossaNova Media
Length: 2 x 60 minutes
Airing: TBD
Rights available: Worldwide

The German dirigible Hindenburg was touted as the future of air travel, but its fiery crash in a New Jersey naval air station put the push for airships on ice. Remarkably, out of 97 passengers, 62 survived. But what was truly behind the crash that turned what was the largest aircraft ever flown at that time into a massive fireball? This project, featuring engrossing archival content, reveals new theories behind the event, pointing towards a possible transcontinental cover-up. BW

Partners: Attraction for Science Channel; distributed by Beyond Rights
Length: 4 x 60 minutes
Premiered: February 2022
Rights available: Worldwide excluding the U.S.

This four-parter uses cutting-edge technology to examine the secret pathways, communities and outposts that provided refuge to Freedom Seekers during the days of American slavery. Narrated by actor-director Clark Johnson (Homicide: Life on the Street, The Wire), the series also features interviews with the descendants of Freedom Seekers as well as archaeologists, historians and academics who highlight the ingenious methods that the Underground Railroad fugitives used to reach freedom. Justin Anderson

Partners: Zed & Patrick Morris for France Télévisions, Love Nature, Servus TV & Ushuaïa TV; distributed by Zed
Length/volume: 2 x 52 minutes; 90-minute & 52-minute versions available
Premiered: November 2021
Rights available: All rights worldwide

With temperatures that range from 45 degrees Celsius in the peak of summer to minus 15 Celsius in winter, the Kalahari desert can be an extremely challenging environment. Yet it is also home to an incredibly diverse range of animal species, from the humble meerkat to the majestic elephant. This two-episode series, directed by Pierre Stine, showcases how the various living creatures within the Kalahari’s ecosystem collaborate, and sometimes clash, under the savanna’s sweltering sky. BW

This story first appeared in the March/April 2022 issue of Realscreen Magazine, which is out now. Not a subscriber? Click our subscription link here for more information.

About The Author
Andrew Jeffrey joined Realscreen in 2021 as its news editor. Here, he helps to oversee assignment, reporting and editing for Realscreen's daily newsletter. Prior to his work covering documentary and non-fiction film and TV, he worked as a reporter and associate producer for CBC Edmonton, and as a reporter for The Star Calgary, where he covered daily news on beats such as local and provincial politics, health care and harm reduction, sports and education. His work has appeared in other Canadian news outlets such as TVO, the Edmonton Journal and Avenue Magazine.