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Doc Edge 2010: stare, with longing in your eyes, at international commissioners with budgets

In Meet the Industry, the industry in question was not the local industry, but the bulk of the international guests and commissioners, many of whom will be on the panel for the Pitch Forum, pleasingly displayed in one package to allow everybody to get an early look at who to buttonhole over lunch.

Manutai Schuster repped the NZ edge of the planet, appropriately enough as she’s head of acquisitions and commissioning at Maori Television (MTS) which is now widely regarded as the best free-to-air home for documentaries in NZ.

Specifically MTS looks for projects with indigenous interest, but on a global scale. Submissions are welcome.

Hans Robert Eisenhauer, of French and German channel Arte, was featured in The Knowledge, Doc Edge’s daily newsletter: “the first time I’ve ever been on a front page.”

Arte broadcasts into 120 million European homes, in French and German simultaneously. Much of its content is documentary. Specific strands on Sunday and Tuesday “theme nights”, which screen a combination of fiction and documentary product around, surprisingly, a common theme.

Arte commissions and increasingly engages in co-productions as well as making acquisitions. The channel broadcasts more feature length documentaries (around 100 hours each year) than any other non-documentary specific channel in Europe. Most of the commissioned material is made as co-productions and it’s worth remembering that there is a NZ-German co-pro agreement.

Fiona Lawson Baker commissions and acquires for Al Jazeera English, predominantly for the Witness strand. Based in Kuala Lumpur and covering the Asia-Pacific region, she works out of one of four Al Jazeera hubs. All hubs seek stories of worldwide interest and relevance, rather than being region-specific.

To pitch an idea for Witness, go to this place, but only once you’ve honed your pitch to 200 words!

Julia Overton, longtime friend of and participant at DOCNZ’s conference events, works for Screen Australia as one of three development and investment managers. Screen Australia operates a specific documentary fund for projects that arrive without a broadcaster attached. Although Screen Australia is an investor in its own right, Julia also seeks out opportunities to assist projects find international co-production funding.

She’d welcome more NZ-Australian co-pro activity. The latest report on documentary activity in Australia is available here.

Peter Zimmermann and Frederick Marx both felt validated by being on the panel, feeling accepted into the industry that they’ve both worked alongside for many years. Peter is a German academic with mucho kudos and an impressive array of research behind him; Frederick is a producer for Warrior Films, and runs a programme through The Documentary Studio mentoring young filmmakers. He is, of course, better-known as one of the producers of the world’s best documentary ever (Hoop Dreams) – as voted by the International Documentary Association.

Rounding out the industry were Xavier Rashid from the UK’s Raindance Film Festival and Raindance TV; and Leland Ling from China’s LIC (see separate article for LIC’s presentation as part of China Day).

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