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Event Preview: Sunny Side of the Doc

This year’s Sunny Side of the Doc will take place from June 25 to 28 under the theme “Culture in Motion,” exploring new interactions, environments and ways of presenting reality and communicating culture.

The 2018 edition marks year number 29 for the event, which gathers international players from the worlds of documentary film and factual content in the seaside town of La Rochelle, France.

Yves Jeanneau, CEO of Sunny Side of the Doc, credits the event’s success and longevity in part to its ability to adapt. “Not only have we made adaptations, but we have also introduced new techniques, new technologies and new ways of producing, financing and distributing.” He also notes that it’s not just about keeping pace with changes and trends in the marketplace, it’s about staying ahead of them.

***Image***Sunny Side of the Doc is once again broadening its horizons with PiXii—Paths of Interaction, eXperiences in Immersion & Innovation. The event is open to both professionals (in the morning) and the general public (in the afternoon). Several virtual reality, augmented reality, holographic and 3D sound recording devices will be presented during PiXii, taking place in a showroom at the Musée Maritime for the first time. There will also be various synchronized presentations featuring a selection of films using 360-degree video and VR that will be shown in the VRthèques.

This focus on the digital world and innovation is perhaps one of the reasons that Sunny Side has been able to attract younger participants as of late, Jeanneau notes.

There are a number of events focusing on themes of culture and heritage. On June 25, for example, there is the “Culture and Heritage: Audacity, Innovation and Opportunity” panel, organized by News Tank Culture, exploring how the digital revolution of the documentary world also concerns various cultural epicenters such as museums, heritage sites, festivals or concert venues.

Two pitch sessions will be dedicated to the themes of arts and culture, and culture and digital creation. One session will see original linear projects pitching with a view to being distributed internationally. A second session will welcome projects and devices that are developing innovative digital tools that create new interactions with the public: apps, VR, AR, 3D, binaural sound, animated video games, visual arts and the like.

During the four days of Sunny Side, international heads of programming specializing in arts and culture programs for the channels NRK, AVROTROS, SVT, France 5, Histoire and Museum will present their strategies and discuss the types of projects they’re looking to produce.

The “Master’s Vision” master class will feature a case study of the VR series developed and produced by gebrueder beetz filmproduktion in co-production with Navigator Film (Austria), Camera Lucida Productions (France), Oya Interactive (Norway), ZDF/ARTE, ARTE France and ORF.

There will be a strong contingent from Europe in attendance. The Documentary Group and Science & Knowledge Group from Eurovision (EBU) are set to gather together almost 60 programming managers from European public channels to promote top projects with international potential and discuss new strategies to support European documentaries against the global competition from digital players like Amazon and Netflix. A panel on the future of a modernized and fully European public audiovisual services sector is a highlight.

Another track will zero in on how YouTube and new platforms are impacting the documentary genre. Several key players from the sector will come together for a roundtable, along with TV producers and executives representing linear channels who already collaborate with web talent. Initiated by Canada’s Bell Fund, the “New Platforms, New Broadcasters” roundtable provides the opportunity for an exchange between a group of digital native operators and outlines the possible collaborations and co-productions between these new services and documentary producers.

Jeanneau points out that the vast majority of those who attend Sunny Side return year after year after year, citing a 90 percent retention rate.

Next year will be a banner one for Sunny Side, as it gears up to celebrate what will be its 30th anniversary.

About Kristin Brzoznowski

Kristin Brzoznowski is the executive editor of World Screen. She can be reached at


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