#StorytellingMatters Interview with... Catherine Alvaresse, Head of Documentaries at France Télévisions

Sunny Side of the Doc 2021 aims at helping bring to light talents and stories which question, engage and impact.Through a series of #StorytellingMatters interviews, discover the vision of our most influential partners in the international documentary ecosystem.

Be together! Please introduce yourself and tell us briefly what your company’s main objective at Sunny Side of the Doc.

I am running the Documentary Department for FRANCE Télévisions, that includes the 3 main channels (France 2, France 3, France 5 and our digital platform France.tv).
Our main goal at Sunny Side is to present to the industry our lineup and our next challenges for the coming year. And of course to hear and discover new projects and new partnerships in France and abroad.

Be positive! Sunny Side of the Doc supports the international documentary community who remains stubbornly insistent on pursuing facts through a mode of seeing, investigating and creating that no other art form provides. What has been your greatest professional accomplishment over the last 12 months? What lead to this success?

My greatest professional accomplishment over the last 12 months is definitively our incredible success and impact we had with our primetime documentaries “Us, Workers of the land” (ie ”Nous paysans”), “Decolonizations, of Blood and Tears” (ie, Décolonisations du sang et des larmes) and “Meet in Unknown lands" (ie Rendez-vous en terre inconnue).
3 very ambitious programs and very different that have reached large audiences. That means a lot for us, as people have a great appetite for documentaries on primetime! And how we are at the heart of public service.
And of course my biggest accomplishment is to have kept running with succes our teams despite the lockdown in order to be able to support as much as we could the producers and filmmakers. 


Be inventive! With the rapid audience shift from television to digital, staying relevant in broadcast media is challenging but necessary for long-term viability and serving audiences no matter where they are. What new strategies are you looking to develop in order to attract international partners as well as provide engaging content in 2021/2022?  

We had great success this year however our next challenge is to intensify as much as we can our storytelling, our narrative to reach new audiences, especially a younger audience.
For this we are developing series with strong narrative as well as projects with innovative formal approaches. This effort will be especially on social issues and history programs.
Concerning our international partnership, our goal is to reinforce our different partners thanks to Global Doc.    

Be aware! This year’s marketplace event aims at helping bring to light talents and stories which question, engage and impact. To that extent, what will make a good documentary pitch/encounter for your organisation this June? What’s the best way to reach out and start co-creating?

The best way to start is to be aware of what we are looking for. Our lineup, website and so on are easy to look at.
After this, my team of commissioning editors, that are experts in their own fields (history, science, social issues and so on…) is quite open to any good pitch as long as it’s a good project and not only a good idea! Meaning a project with a clear intention, a strong formal proposal and already structured in a few pages.   

Be inclusive! A challenged world calls for a well-informed global citizen. In this collective endeavour, the documentary genre has an important role to play, in all its diversity of stories, forms and points of view. How is your organisation stepping up to the challenge of fulfilling a mandate for a diversity of voices and a more inclusive pipeline of upcoming storytellers across the entire production process ?

Our organization and our President Delphine Ernotte are super involved in giving a chance to any voice to be heard. We work hard on diversity, from our talent and expert on screen to our production teams.  This is a continual commitment from us.    

Let’s revive our community spirit! Who would you want to put on the spotlight at Sunny Side of the Doc 2021, for some well-earned recognition? And why?

For 2021, I would like to put on the spotlight not one person but a lot of people…all the nurses and doctors who have fought against the pandemic throughout the world. And also all the front line workers who have supported us throughout the lockdowns...And finally I would like to salute the scientists and researchers for their amazing achievement to create a vaccine in less than a year! And hopefully we will be able to offer a better future for our youth…     

StorytellingMatters  |  documentary  |  Interview  |  #SSD21  |  Storytelling Matters  |  Sunny side of the Doc 2021  |  Catherine Alvaresse  |  France Télévisions  |  Gold Partner



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