The final pitching session of the Documentary Campus Masterschool took place in Leipzig in the building of the local broadcaster MDR, on the 13th floor with a beautiful view to the city. Only to be watched in the breaks as the showing of film clips (also called trailers, teasers, tasters, demos, pilots) was not a good match to the strong autumn sunlight of this last weekend. The room was darkened when commissioning editor Claudia Schreiner welcomed her colleagues (around 30) around the table as well as the film producers and directors present, waiting to present (pitch) their documentary projects:
Our situation ressembles the one of many of you editors in this room. We have to spend the little money we have for so many documentaries as possible, she said. In this way she characterized the poor situation for European public broadcasters, who face general cut downs in staff and money.
Nevertheless, the atmosphere in the room was as always very ”homey” as the pitchings took off under the moderation of Canadian Rudy Buttignol, who did all he could to set a good mood. Without hiding that the channels who are normally financially strong for the creative documentaries have problems. The European cultural channel arte is going more and more mainstream, and France Télévisions (hosting FR2, FR3, FR4, FR5) has for a long time been in a reconstruction phase that will bring more centralisation.
Topics on the first day were – among others – a classical British social theme on youngsters in Manchester getting into criminal affairs ruining their lives, a television programme on poker-playing, a beautiful emotional story on a Japanese woman who grew up without a mother, married a Greek man and moved to the island of Crete and a cinematic story from a faraway place in Georgia: a house, a restaurant, a barking dog, waitresses. A place where time has stopped.
Photo from film project “Soldiers of the Lord” by Michael Krass, awarded the best pitch in Leipzig.