Many years ago, at my time in EDN, I asked Hans Robert Eisenhauer to come to Italian Bardonecchia to the yearly Documentary in Europe session as a keynote speaker on the theme ”public service television”. I had known him from many years and admired him for being one of few commissioning editors, who actually edited a programme strand according to the very obvious point of view: this theme we have to offer to our audience. He worked for ZDF/arte’s theme evening and had a big influence on the documentary policy of arte. And he saw clearly that the reportage was not enough to cover a theme, there had to be a documentary interpretation, a personal touch, in other words a creative documentary as we call it today. The talk in Bardonecchia was brilliant including a criticism of the development among many broadcasters to go mainstream = tabloid in the stupid fight for higher ratings.
Eisenhauer is now retired from arte to be a very active producer, who helped producer Orwa Nyrabia and director Talal Derki realise ”Return to Homs”. About this and his time at arte, EDN brings a long interview, also accesible for non-member, link below.
Here is a quote: The public service TV landscape has changed profoundly between the time of my start at ARTE and until today. There is much more competition even between public broadcasters.
We as documentary producers and filmmakers, but also the broadcasters are confronted with two tendencies, which are challenging our professional life. On one hand we see a more and more globalized “market” of documentaries, of ideas, of communication. Thousands of new projects are flooding the documentary landscape every year. On the other hand we are observing, that the broadcasters are constantly cutting budgets, reducing slots and are asking more and more for national or even regional content. This is a real challenge for all of us, but not only for the filmmakers and producers, but also for our TV-colleagues. It is also a huge cultural and an economic/financial problem too. The funding became more and more difficult within the last decade. The support of regional, national and local film- financing funds cannot compensate for the loss. But the most important loss is the fact that innumerable interesting and promising projects will never appear on the small and the big screens…