21 - 24 JUNE 2021 / EDITION N°32


Sunny Side of the Doc

[Interview] Success Story from Europe by Vit Janeček

Olympic Halftime won the Sunny Side of the Doc Award at East Doc Platform 2019 in Prague featuring a unique pitch opportunity at Sunny Side of the Doc’s 30th edition last June, in La Rochelle.

We are glad to hear back from this enlightening story, which depicts the social impact of the Olympic urbanism in several cities across Europe and Asia that hosted the the greatest of international sports events.

We were lucky to follow up Sunny Side of the Doc with very concrete inputs for our project and useful contacts for future stories.
The high number of “real” decision makers in attendance enabled us to get a more realistic view of the way our documentary could fit within a global TV environment thanks to its author-based approach.

Vit Janeček – Producer, filmmaker, tutor, D1film

1/ The documentary « Olympic Halftime » was successfully pitched at Sunny Side of the Doc 2019 in the « Social and Human Interest » session.
Tell us Vit, what followed on from your pitch and which partners did you attract?

Vit Janeček: We found right on the spot two very good connections, with whom exchanges have extended since June. On one hanh, it resulted in an agreement to co-produce with the Greek company 2Kfilms and the producer George Kalomenopoulos. We continue negotiating with a renowned French company met in La Rochelle. We have also started several deeper talks with televisions; I might hope it will lead not only to pre-sales. On the other hand, some hopes didn’t work out later on as the representatives had to negotiate their tips back in their headquarters, but it is a normal process. After attending Sunny Side of the Doc 2019, Ex Oriente Film (2019) and Crossing Borders training programme (2018), we have just recently confirmed a selection at Work in Progress of Asia Film Financing Forum. We are very lucky to further develop the project this way.

2/ What makes it a story fit to travel across borders?

Vit Janeček: I believe director Haruna Hancoop’s concept reveals a unique point of view on Olympic Games. The angle is critical but not anti-Olympic. It challenges an issue with Olympic mobility. I think it makes it internationally attractive, because it combines generally known phenomenon with a new perspective and access to people and situations, which can well be filmic. Last but not least – and it was confirmed by various feedbacks received – it’s a also the timing of production, that makes certain topics currently interesting, beyond the core representation of the issue.

3/ First time attending our documentary marketplace event. What are the key takeways from your first participation? 

Vit Janeček: We were lucky to follow up Sunny Side of the Doc with very concrete inputs for our project and useful contacts for future stories. We got also very good feedback, which provided us a more realistic view if the way the project could fit within a global TV environment thanks to its author-based approach. In comparison to other documentary events, I appreciated the high number of “real” decision makers in attendance, at least from TV environment.

However everyone must negotiate further when back home with their institutions, so meetings in La Rochelle show the right temperature and provide key insight into the project’s chances to reach the next level.
I also appreciate the focus on the realities of our industry, with events dedicated to relevant and up-to-date issues/challenges of international co-production and documentary funding.



4/ In your opinion, what are the main difficulties Central/Eastern European documentary makers and producers have to face to develop international coproductions? 

Vit Janeček: In the most general aspect, I believe Central/Eastern Europe lost an international status, as an area where the world would expect something really substantial to appear. We experienced autocratic regimes where majorities underwent the numerous challenges of living under one-sided authorities, refusing plurality of the political sphere.
On the other hand, many people also learn how to adopt such system… So after first decades of energy dedicated to bringing the change in 1989, we are now facing some kind of restauration attempts of authoritarianism. I believe this second wave will force a deeper reflection on the meaning of life, creation and be manifested in cinema. As Godard said: the worse for society, the better for cinema…

5/ How does D1Film overcome this challenge?

Vit Janeček: We show more and more concern for the need to distinguish local (in a good sense) and international potential of each project. I believe that “local” themes are important, especially in documentary filmmaking, and some stories can’t be transformed into international tale.

We are directing significant efforts to develop the production design and narrative aspects of our films. We have just recently released a film entitled The State Capture, which deals with mafianisation of the Slovak State, a topic brought to light throught the murder of an investigative journalist. The film is out there in more than 70 cinemas, including multiplexes and we tried it to make it an internationally reachable and interesting story, even though the core is a local theme.
We also try to focus more on participation at international platforms and events – either for co-producion and promotion reasons, but also to keep learning on the art of co-producing.

6/ Would you recommend Sunny Side of the Doc to fellow producers who have not come in La Rochelle yet?

Vit Janeček: Definitely yes, we will surely apply for Sunny Side of the Doc’s pitching sessions in 2020 with one of our new projects. I would recommend it especially for projects at least on the edge of TV and festival interest, probably more TV market oriented. Following my first experience in 2019, I would recommend to pay much more attention to the preparation of the trip and appointments via the Sunny Side’s digital platform, which gives very good outline of who is there and what happens.


Click on the video below and copy the following password to unlock the trailer: BrainSports2022

(CZ / SK) 2021, 85 min. + 52 min.)
Directed by Haruna Honcoop
DOP: Lukáš Milota
Sound: Jan Richtr
Script consultant: Martin Ryšavý
State: development and pre-production
Producer: Vít Janeček – D1film (CZ) + VIRUSfilm (SK) – others in negotiation
To be released: 1Q 2021
Support: The Czech Film Fund (development + production)

Workshops and markets: Crossing Borders 2018, Ex Oriente 2019 (IDF Award, Sunny Side of The Doc Award), Sunny Side of the Doc 2019

About the film:
OLYMPIC HALFTIME is a documentary, that shows and reflects on the gestalt and economic impact of the Olympic architecture and urban development in several selected locations in Europe and Asia.
The film will explore the gestalt of the Olympic Games in several cities that have already hosted the event and are preparing for another round or have even hosted the Games for the second time. The choice of the cities is balanced so that we can document various examples of pros and cons and the strengths and weaknesses of the Olympics in urban terms. In Europe, we will visit Athens as the “birthplace” of both the ancient and the modern Olympics where most stadia are currently decaying, and Paris where the Olympics took place twice and a third edition is in preparation for 2024 on the backdrop of the typically French severe public protests. What was the benefit of the Olympics for those cities and countries? What are the pros and cons of organising mass sports events? In addition to Europe, we will also visit Asia to watch different approach to organising the Olympics as well as their architectural gestalt and impact on the public space – in Beijing, the citiy that have the organising experience and is now in “half time” of preparations for the upcoming Games Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022).

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