Sunny Side of the Doc closes the door on its brilliant 2023 edition!

The international co-production stakes are high at Sunny Side’s eagerly anticipated pitching sessions. And once again this year, they continued to challenge, question and spark emotion amongst the industry delegates present, who also emphasised the quality of the projects selected. 


La Rochelle, 22 June 2023 - Sunny Side of the Doc, the most important event for the international linear and non-linear documentary community, today draws its 34th festival edition to a close (19-22 June, La Rochelle, France) and honours the pitching session winners.

Viewers, creation and innovation were the focus of attention for the latest edition to be held in La Rochelle, which continues to bring together and inspire the documentary community far beyond our borders. From conferences to market stands and pitching sessions, the event brought new stories, digital projects, and narrative or immersive experiences to producers, studios, creators, broadcasters and decision-makers from around the world.

Over four days, Sunny Side brought together more than 2,000 participants from 64 different countries, 1,000 companies, 90 exhibitors and 300 international decision-makers including major broadcasters, streamers, foundations, sales agents, funders and also museums from all over the world, and welcomed 40 delegations from Spain, Canada, Australia and China, who were back in force this year.

"It’s an immense pleasure to have brought together international industry leaders in La Rochelle to promote and celebrate the genre, especially this year as France is celebrating the year of the documentary” explains Mathieu Béjot, Director of Strategy and Development at Sunny Side of the Doc. "Sunny Side of the Doc is asserting its unique status as the international market place for all forms of storytelling and documentary.”

This year’s central theme, Viewers, was present throughout the entire programme. The documentary genre is growing in popularity with viewers across the globe, particularly thanks to streamers who have increased the genre’s visibility and attractiveness by driving new forms of storytelling. “Now more than ever, documentary has established itself as the key genre for channels and platforms’ broadcast programming,” continues Mathieu Béjot. “Our theme focused on Viewers has confirmed the public’s appetite for the genre, especially amongst younger audiences. While being instructive, informative and a source of entertainment all at the same time, documentary must also be engaging. As such, Sunny Side has strengthened its actions around impact campaigns, in particularly by introducing a new, dedicated pitching session.”

The international co-production stakes are high at Sunny Side’s eagerly anticipated pitching sessions. And once again this year, they continued to challenge, question and spark emotion amongst the industry delegates present, who also emphasised the quality of the projects selected. (See the Pitching Session 2023 Award Winners below).

Our conference programme was more diverse than ever and gave the floor to French and international industry experts as well as newcomers, focusing on today’s latest trends, projects and co-productions in progress, new technology and strategies to be implemented. Participants included: Arte, Brut, CCTV-9, Château de Versailles, CuriosityStream, France Télévisions, Canal+ and M6 groups, NHK, MET, National Geographic, Netflix, PBS, the Prado, Rakuten TV, RTBF, the Sodec, Spicee, and Téléfilm Canada, amongst others.

As for our Innovation section, the gamble paid off, as it inspired and filled participants with enthusiasm. Maïté Labat, Innovation & Digital Experiences Programmer at Sunny Side of the Doc, declares: “There were many wonderful encounters around immersive experiences this year. Creators, project leaders, producers, broadcasters and cultural institutions from around the world passionately exchanged ideas around new and innovative storytelling and documentary forms.”

Highlights from the week include: the huge line-up of French channels (RMC, M6, France Télévisions, Arte, Canal+, etc.), the CNC presenting a study on documentary audiences, the Museum Stories panel looking at how museums use innovation to tell new stories to their audiences, the Netflix conference on the collaborative creative process between filmmaking teams in order to reach a wider audience, The Octopus Strategy or how to present a story on different formats, the new Innovative Studio VR demonstration space offering inspiring experiences, the very first time Australia is the country of focus - along with a large delegation of producers, channels and distributors from the country, new sessions dedicated to archive specialists, a presentation of Spicee’s SVOD service, and conferences lead by USPA and SPECT.


Sunny Side of the Doc 2024 calls on the community to shape the future

At the end of this successful 2023 edition, Sunny Side of the Doc is already setting its sights on 2024. As this year’s market draws to a close, one of the themes for next year’s event can now be revealed: Mapping the Future. For its 35th anniversary, Sunny Side is calling on the genre’s community to shape the future of documentary and the ecosystem that supports it, around 3 central pillars: Creation, Innovation, and New Voices. 

Finally, Australia, a territory that was already in the spotlight this year with the support of various partners including ABC, SBS, Screen Australia and AIDC, will be the country of honour in 2024. There will be a programme dedicated entirely to this country, co-produced with French and Australian institutions and organisations. This focus-event will notably include an Australian pavilion, matchmaking sessions with producers from the country, and Australian industry professionals from the First Nation association will be exclusively taking part.  


Upcoming Sunny Side events: 

  • PiXii Festival, 7th edition, 19-22 October 2023, La Rochelle
  • Global Pitch, 4th edition online event, 6-7 February 2024
  •  Sunny Side of the Doc, 35th edition 24-27 June 2024, La Rochelle


Download the Sunny Side of the Doc 2023 photo album HERE
Visit the press room for more information on previous editions