Two Words with Mathieu Béjot, Director of Strategy and Development at Sunny Side of the Doc

Two Words with Mathieu Béjot, Director of Strategy and Development at Sunny Side of the Doc
Mathieu Béjot is the Director of Strategy and Development at Sunny Side of the Doc. This year the event will take place in presence at La Rochelle next week (20-23 June, 2022).  Here a brief interview about the upcoming event. 

After the pandemic this is a big return in a presence-event. How do you relaunch the event?

After two years of taking place online, Sunny Side of the Doc - the international market for documentary and narrative experiences - is returning to La Rochelle, France, for an in-person event. The top priority for this year’s market, is to bring everyone in the industry back together again, enabling attendees to meet face-to-face, facilitating new business opportunities and fruitful conversations. There has been a lot that has been done online, but at the end of the day, we all know that the kind of discussion that can be had in person is totally different. We want to make sure that people have enough places to meet and meet easily. What we’re all looking forward to is the energy, serendipity of markets, the creative discussions, which are much more difficult to have online. We hope to see that energy that we all know, that only happens at markets.

What are the key topics of the event this year? Are there any trends to highlight?

Once again, Sunny Side will host its traditional themed pitching sessions: Global Issues, Wildlife & Conservation, Science, History and Arts & Culture. Under the digital creation umbrella, there will be the Immersive Experiences session as well as the Digital Na(rra)tive Stories session, which will include basically all nonlinear documentaries, produced for YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat etc. We will be introducing some podcasts as well. The idea is to explore new types of storytelling in documentary.

Forty percent of pitch submissions were first or second films, and there was absolute parity, as many projects directed by women as by men. It was great to see across all categories that we have this absolute parity between projects from female directors and male directors. That’s a good sign that the industry is headed in the right direction. In terms of trends on all the themes that we found, many films deal with women, the role of women, both behind the camera and on-screen, revisiting stories and history through the lens of women.

In keeping with Sunny Side’s theme this year, it will have a specific New Voices pitching session. Under the umbrella of New Voices, not only are there emerging talents—first- and second-time filmmakers and young and inexperienced producers—but also those from underrepresented communities and countries. We have to make sure that we have all of these new voices bring their own projects.

In addition, Sunny Side will host important delegations from Canada, Spain and Italy, as well as a delegation from South Africa, as the market looks to expand its connections on the African continent and worldwide.

 Do you think that this event can send a message of peace in this tough period time for the all TV Industry?

We hope to contribute to this in any case. As we all know, documentary has a key role to play in understanding an increasingly complex world and different cultures. This is a powerful means to promote peace by breaking prejudice and discrimination. We are here to serve and bring together the community which needs to remain united and supportive in these troubled times.

We will host a showcase of Ukrainian projects will include titles in development, those that are looking for production, as well as those at a more advanced stage. We want to make sure that some of the Ukrainian producers and filmmakers can reach out to the international documentary community. We are working with several partners to be able to bring producers and or directors from Ukraine. And that's going to be very important to us.

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