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.
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. With the Greek company 2Kfilms and George Kalomenopoulos, we are discussing co-prodution and we continue negotiating with a renowned French company, which seem to be hopefull to enter coproduction too. However I am just in the process of completing extra documentation to further proceed.
“It is in La Rochelle that we have received also several very positive feedback and promises for pre-sales from several televisions.”
Some didn’t work later as the representatives had to negotiate their tips back in their headquarters, some others are in further discussion and we hope we will get results.
2/ What makes it a story fit to travel across borders?
Vit Janeček: I believe Haruna’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 2019 with very concrete inputs for the projects and also with several useful contacts for future projects. 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 high number of “real” decision makers in attendance, at least from TV environment.
However everyone must negotiate further when back home in their institutions, so meetings there show the right temperature and 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 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 2020 with one of the 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.