Archive Valley

Four ‘Historic!’ Days at the Documentary Market #SSD17

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Today, Archives in Motion looks back at the 28th edition of Sunny Side of the Doc (19th-22nd June 2017). The documentary market takes place every year at the Espace Encan, close to the harbor of La Rochelle in France, and gathers media professionals during a four-day program that includes debates, master classes, unique screenings, and for this year’s edition, the latest productions featuring historical content. The 28th edition, which was celebrated under the theme ‘Historic!’, focused on history and innovation with an emphasis on the renewal of the historical documentary genre. 

Following the active participation of Canadian archive specialist Elizabeth Klinck, who was part of the ‘Historic!’ Steering Committee of Sunny Side of the Doc, history was at the core of this year’s documentary market. Klinck heavily contributed to events as she gave interviews (see our interview of Elizabeth Klinck below) and conducted the engaging conference “Delving into Truth through Archives” along André Singer (Spring Films, UK), Michael Kloft (Spiegel TV, Germany), and Tom Jennings (1895 Films, USA). The talk addressed the historical truth and relevance of archival material used in history-oriented documentaries. Other thought-provoking conferences were organized around the theme ‘Historic!’, such as “The Future of History”, moderated by Stephen Hunter (Shunter Media, USA), and “Revamping History at the Age of Disruption”, led by Patrick Hoerl (Autentic/Spiegel TV, Germany).


Among the many cocktails and special events organized by the different companies from the documentary industry, the master class “The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years”, which involved co-producer Matthew White (ACSIL, USA) and Jonathan Clyde (Apple Productions, UK) was stimulating. The master class demonstrated the added value of rare archival footage in successful historical documentaries. Later that day, our team was able to attend the screening of Ron Howard’s feature documentary about the Beatlemania of the 1960s. An introduction was given by Matthew White, whom we had the pleasure to interview prior to SSD. The film shows intimate archive stills and videos as well as popular live performances and exclusive interviews of the iconic band during their finest hour.

Finally, at the end of the four-day program during which content creators exchanged with – online – marketplaces and archive providers, the History Pitch Session saw Josephine Baker: An American in Paris awarded the annual Archive Valley Consultation Award. The immersive documentary, directed by Ilana Navaro and produced by Juliette Cazanave and Kepler 22 Productions, depicts the life of the African-American entertainer and activist through archival images.

Once again, we are very thankful to Sunny Side of the Doc for the well-orchestrated documentary market as well as our fruitful partnership. Our community grows bigger and bigger everyday and the ‘Historic!’ edition enabled us to reach new archive researchers, producers, and filmmakers from all over the world. We hope to renew such an amazing and instructive experience in the following years.


Interviews with key players at this year’s edition of Sunny Side of the Doc

ARD/NDR’s Marc Brasse and producer Reinhardt Beetz discuss their latest historical documentary Leningrad Symphony.


German Director of Programming Michael Kloft (Spiegel Geschichte) addresses the correlation between archive footage and historical truth and relevance. He insists on the importance of archival material and documented evidence.


Elizabeth Klinck, one of Canada’s most prominent archive specialists, talks about the added value of unseen archival footage in historical documentaries.


VP of Content Development and Production at PBS-WETA, Jeff Bieber discusses the significance of relating the past with the present in his latest production, Korea: The Never Ending War.

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