Documentary Boom in Cannes

The trade magazine Screen Daily has a long article (May 20) on the big presence of documentaries in Cannes. The article, written by Melanie Goodfellow, mentions films to be shown and sold as well as statements from people who sell and distribute documentaries.

Rithy Panh is there with what is called a hybrid work, ”The Missing Picture” and Marcel Ophüls presents his autobiographical film in the Director’s Fortnight section. ”Ain’t Misbehaving” is the title of the film that has interviews with Jeanne Moreau and Fred Wiseman, reflects on the director’s relationship to his famous father Max, and includes clips from the director’s two masterpieces ”Le Chagrin et la Pitié” (English title, see poster photo) and ”Hotel Terminus” – that every documentary interested should have on their shelf, available on dvd they are.

At the festival in Cannes there is a Doc Corner with sales agents, documentary festival people – and a documentary Brunch for talking and mingling.

Anaïs Clanet from Wide House in Paris is quoted for this fine statement: “I definitely have a sense that more and more companies are getting into documentaries,” comments Clanet, head of Paris-based documentary specialist Wide House who is selling Ophüls’ Ain’t Misbehavin. “I see a lot of companies, traditionally specialising in fiction, now handling documentaries. They have woken up to the fact documentaries can actually be more profitable than fiction and easier to place, especially when there are fewer and fewer broadcaster slots for fiction features”.

Another important player in documentary sales: “It is a tough time because prices for TV rights have dropped but at the same time I am optimistic,” reveals Peter Jäger of Vienna-based doc specialist sales company Autlook Films. “Digital revenues are beginning to pick-up, not enough to compensate for the loss of DVD sales but enough to give me hope.Documentary, even when dealing with big subjects, is essentially a niche product and niche products lend themselves well to digital distribution although a theatrical release remains important.”

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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