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Josée Brossard • General Coordinator, Sunny Side of the Doc

Factual programming and other "realities"

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- Cineuropa caught up with Josée Brossard, the general coordinator of Sunny Side of the Doc, France's international meeting for documentary professionals

Josée Brossard • General Coordinator, Sunny Side of the Doc

Cineuropa caught up with Josée Brossard, the coordinator of Sunny Side of the Doc, the big event held in La Rochelle for documentary professionals, to talk about the continued growth of the market around the heart of the profession and the spirit of innovation embodied by the brand new PiXii (Paths of Interaction, eXperiences in Immersion & Innovation) space.

Cineuropa: If you’re the general coordinator of multiple markets, it’s because Sunny Side of the Doc has been joined by other initiatives over the last 28 years.
Josée Brossard: Sunny Side of the Doc of course remains the event of reference for the industry, but alongside it are co-production events, which revolve around pitching sessions (a lot of these) and a few conferences. The concept started in North America (New York, Toronto, Montreal, Washington) and then spread to Sofa, London, etc. The idea was to encourage professionals from parts of the world not so used to co-production to network and co-produce, and it worked. These meetings opened up new opportunities: they not only resulted in co-productions, but got professionals used to looking beyond individual projects.

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Indeed, our clients pushed us to go further – as they wouldn’t support us if it didn’t work – and that’s what led us to launch Asian Side of the Doc, the 8th edition of which will take place in November, along with Latin Side of the Doc, which we modelled on existing festivals, but could only keep going for a few editions for financial reasons, and due to the slow-moving nature of these markets: when it came to co-productions and sales, professionals weren’t making things happen.

How would you describe the European presence at Sunny Side?
Looking beyond France (54%), we’re pretty happy with the selections of and attendance of Europeans here: the Germans especially are very active here. We also get a lot of Scandinavians, and the EDN always presents a significant selection. When it comes to the Eastern European countries, apart from Poland which has a selection at the market (while Bulgaria doesn’t), things are a bit trickier, for financial reasons and due to the crisis, which didn’t help. As we have the support of Europe Creative MEDIA, we regularly try to pitch new incentives (free selection, the possibility of reaching multiple producers), but it’s still quite complicated.

The new addition to this year’s edition is the PiXii space, which claims to explore the "4 realities" (virtual, augmented, mixed, immersive).
With PiXii, we leave behind screens stricto sensu to use 360° screens, headsets, devices like The Cube (which is actually a cylinder) and augmented reality sound installations. Opening the space up to the public in the afternoon will allow us to gauge the appeal of these devices, especially those that are both educational and entertaining, like the multidisciplinary exploration of Mars brought to us by the Canopé network, which allows children to learn how to code (to move robots) in a way that clearly excites them, although the exercise wins over all ages. Moreover, one of our aims was to provide varied installations.

Are they accessible to producers attending Sunny Side?
They already are. For some time now distributors have had different forms of works online, on various platforms, that they build in short formats created for the Internet. They are increasingly establishing departments dedicated to new technology, some are already producing content, and then they need to digital tools to index their catalogues – as the proliferation of different forms of works that you get with these products encourages them to start using digital tools, indexation platforms, work platforms, which also gives them ideas, opening up a potentially huge field of creativity as there’s no pre-established model. Digital tools, imagination, data: everything’s there on the table.

And the role of producer is still of key importance. Studios produce top-notch technology, but the content is always the point of departure and arrival. It’s really about encounters between the creative minds, studios and producers that can give the best results in terms of ideas and profits.

And all that fits in with the theme of History that has been chosen for this year’s 28th edition of Sunny Side of the Doc.
Absolutely, especially as aside from the new PiXii space, the heart of the profession revolves around "factual programming": programmes about History, science, etc. A lot of our participants focus on this core of the profession, and the number is getting bigger and bigger every year.

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(Translated from French)

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