The 35th Edition of Sunny Side of the Doc Concludes in La Rochelle, France

The 35th Edition of Sunny Side of the Doc Concludes in La Rochelle, France
The 35th edition of Sunny Side of the Doc opened its doors in La Rochelle, France, from June 24 to June 27. This year, the event was dedicated to exploring the future of our ecosystem and the documentary genre itself.

The documentary-focused market hosted numerous distributors and documentary specialists, including PBS, BBC, Arte, Canal+, Mediawan, NHK, Newen, Al Jazeera, and National Geographic. The conference agenda featured a range of activities from keynotes and channel line-ups to pitching sessions.

During a keynote address on Tuesday, Diana El-Osta, senior director of multiplatform development and programming at PBS, discussed the current challenges faced by documentary producers and commissioners. “I think there’s pretty broad recognition that we’re in the middle of a moment of contraction across the industry,” El-Osta said. “We’re seeing that across broadcasters — we’re seeing layoffs. A lot of the media landscape is grappling with what the future will look like and grappling with our business models and how do we remain sustainable.”

This year, 42 projects competed for the Best Pitch Prize. The call for projects resulted in the submission of 320 documentary projects from 60 countries. During the sessions, two projects were recognized with awards:The Brain Garden won the Best Science Pitch. Dreams of the Wild Oaks won the Best New Voices Pitch. Innovation WIP Program.

Sunny Side also selected five projects for the inaugural Innovation WIP program. These projects were:
Animals Talk, Atlas Cinema — The Eyes of Lousanouch, Coral Island, Follow the Carnation, Uncanny Reverie.
The aim of this new program was to encourage the creation of all forms of non-linear documentary, including podcasts, video games, immersive technologies, digital arts, and virtual worlds.

A sizeable Chinese delegation attended Sunny Side, seeking co-production opportunities for several documentary projects. This included the second season of the environmental-themed series Neu Earth. At a luncheon on Monday, producers showcased footage from Neu Earth 2: Skyline, which is expected to be completed in November of this year. The series is a production of China Intercontinental Communication Center and Beach House Pictures Pte Ltd., which was acquired earlier this year by Fremantle.