Event Preview: MIPDoc

Lucy Smith, the director of MIPDoc, MIPFormats and MIPJunior, tells TV Real about this year’s MIPDoc, which takes place April 7 and 8.

The mantra in both the drama and kids’ businesses over the last few years has been, it’s all about partnerships. A similar ethos has emerged in the documentary sector as producers, broadcasters, distributors and platforms align to deliver high-end, compelling stories that can travel the globe. As such, the art and science of co-production feature prominently on the MIPDoc agenda this year—on the conference schedule, in the screenings and in the various networking opportunities.

Lucy Smith, the director of MIPDoc, MIPFormats and MIPJunior, says there are three key pillars to this year’s MIPDoc, which is expected to attract some 850 participants, including 400 buyers and commissioners.

***Image***The first is the fourth-annual MIPDoc International Co-Production Summit, which started as a breakfast for broadcasters interested in pursuing alliances. “We work with our clients to make sure we’re delivering what the market needs,” Smith says. “And they wanted someplace where they could find and meet new partners. So we put together this event.” The summit will be open to up to 50 executives—“it’s really curated,” Smith says—and will feature a keynote speech by Woodcut Media CEO Kate Beal. “She’ll talk about the importance of working with all the players, big and small, and taking chances and being creative.” Executives who will attend the summit include Avalon Television Factual’s Jamie Isaacs, CJ E&M’s Andrew Lee, France Télévisions’ Thierry Mino and PBS’s Melanie Wallace.

Another key part of MIPDoc is a series of “content strategy sessions,” Smith says. “This is an opportunity for us to bring in important content execs who will talk to an audience of producers about their programming, acquisition and commissioning strategies. So far we’ve confirmed David Royle from Smithsonian Channel, Sayumi Horie from NHK, and Germaine Deagan Sweet and Tom Koch from PBS International. We’re asking producers to sign up in advance for those.”

The third pillar involves the MIPDoc screenings library—the largest in the world for documentary and factual programming. “There are 400 buyers and 160 commissioning editors who come together over the weekend to screen,” Smith says. In addition to completed programs, the library includes development projects from producers looking for funding and partners. “We are proud of the success stories,” Smith notes, citing as an example Urban Canyons’ Epic Warrior Women. The winner of the MIPDoc International Pitch last year, the project was subsequently commissioned by Smithsonian Channel.

“There’s a big story about the importance of co-production and finding the right partners that is not always evident at MIPDoc, and we really want to develop it more,” Smith says.

Other highlights this year include the third-annual World Screen Factual Trendsetter Awards, which are being presented to National Geographic’s Christian Drobnyk, France Télévisions’ Mino and CuriosityStream’s Steve Burns; and the World Premiere TV Screening of NHK’s Japan from Above.