Sunny Side of the Doc has been around since 1989 and has expanded to Asia and Latin America. What is Sunny Side’s current philosophy?
Sunny Side of the Doc is one of the most renowned international marketplaces solely dedicated to doc professionals, and has been set up at first to facilitate co-productions and sales of finished programmes in the non-fiction and factual markets. The idea was to create a global marketplace in France where people gather every year to exchange ideas, do business, co-create & co-produce, and meet each other, in a more relaxed atmosphere.
In a sense, our philosophy has evolved around the documentary genre itself. We’ve expanded, creating Latin and Asian Side of the Doc, to encourage the circulation of projects and films to emerging markets – and to bring fresh new stories from these countries to the heart of Europe.
This year, for the first time, we’re opening a new event where industry delegates (in the morning) and the general public (in the afternoon) will be able to try out innovative devices showcasing virtual and augmented reality and immersive experiences through an international line-up of documentaries in virtual reality and 360° video.
Sunny Side is definitely a unique and essential moment of the year for the documentary industry. What is your “secret sauce”? What distinguishes you from other industry events?
I think what distinguishes us from other events is the « feel-good », relaxed and friendly atmosphere of Sunny Side. We’re very proud of that! When you come to Sunny Side of the Doc, you’re among friends and colleagues. It’s a very small community – everybody knows one another.
We have a team out there from September to April, travelling the world, meeting people, not only promoting Sunny Side but also gaining insights on new trends and initiatives in the industry. We regularly talk with producers, distributors, and broadcasters to make sure we understand the global market’s needs and challenges. We also push them to take risks when we believe in their stories. International coproductions can be difficult, but it’s definitely worth the journey.
The Pitch Sessions are always a powerful and unforgettable moment at Sunny Side. At Archive Valley, we’re super excited to partner with Sunny Side of the Doc for the Historical Documentary Pitch Session this year.
What makes a good pitch in your eyes? Do you have a story about a pitched project that really got your attention and held it?
A good pitch is all about the story. We’re looking for stories that combine not only quality, but also originality, exclusive access, and creative storytelling. There could many many documentaries on any given subject. What we’re trying to find are those inspiring projects providing a strong point of view, an understanding of international issues – in history, science, social interest, arts – even wildlife. We’re open to all producers, filmmakers, authors, visual artists and digital creators who embrace innovation and creativity.
A few years ago, we met a young couple of producers from Hungary (On the Spot) with a never-before-seen story. They came up with a documentary project on the children of the last living dictators of the 20th century. (Pinochet, Goering, Castro and Amin) They initiated the project’s research on their own, went out and interviewed these children who bare the weight of history on their shoulders. They submitted the idea to Sunny Side’s international pitch competition in 2014 and that’s when we acknowledged the potential of the story and the talent of this emerging creative team. They got selected for the History pitch, won the archival work prize and landed several deals during the 4-day marketplace event.
Their documentary became a successful international co-production and a documentary series picked up by a German partner, Autentic. Recently, they have also found their way into Asian Side of the Doc for a case study and reach for new partners, and actually have started discussions for a commission on a second series about the living children of Asian dictators.
This journey exactly illustrates what Sunny Side of the Doc is all about.