IDFA Forum 2 – What´s on the Agenda?

It is without any doubt absolutely fantastic to see all these documentary professionals gather in one room to exchange ideas, catch up from the last gathering, offer new projects, comment on the last films which have been watched or broadcast – and find out what the audience wants. Ratings!

I sat there for two days, small talked in the corridors, and saw the producers run around desperately trying to catch attention from a commissioning editor, give me just five minutes please to show a taster and talk, fighting to get a small pre-buy for 5000€… It is a buyer’s market and with the decrease in funding for creative documentaries in European public broadcasting, the producers have to do hunting like this. It makes sense because if you are succesful and can do some of those so-called pre-buys, you could go for the EU MEDIA programme and compete to get 20% of the budget as a grant. But is it a tough and many times embarassing job, and some of the commissioning editors behave like small kings and queens even if they have very little to offer! Is it reasonable to ask for influence on a film with a budget of 200.000€ if you only pay 5000€?!

Atmosphere at the Forum? Friendly, family-like, sometimes much too ”cosy” with no real discussions about the projects. This is probably how it has to be in a big room with 30-40 people around the table, a show run with the help of moderators, who sometimes put themselves too much in the picture and try to find a funny remark for everything. Funny projects are precisely the ones that go best, and for sure we need documentaries with humour. ”Culture and Sex” as it was said as a comment to a very interesting and well presented project about the photographer David Bailey. Whereas a beautiful proposal by Catalan director Carles Bosch about the former mayor of Barcelona and his fight to get attention and funding for research for the disease that has hit himself, alzheimer… very nice they all said, the tv people, but we have pour own alzheimer programmes. A tabloid tv doc about Joan Collins was taken by almost all. ”Audiences would eat it up with a spoon”, right, but why is it at a pitching forum for creative documentaries?

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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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