CANNES DOCS: Time to Rise and Shine

CANNES DOCS: Time to Rise and Shine

The Berlin-based doc sales specialist presents Scars, the new film by Agnieszka Zwiefka, in German Films Previews, as well as a slate of recent festival successes.


The company’s festival manager Anja Dziersk points out however that work life against the corona backdrop has been somewhat of a strain. “Selling films during Covid-19 has not been an easy task. We would have imagined that the demand for programmes would rise substantially, but it often seems that buyers are trapped in a kind of lockdown-situation. Sales do happen, but particularly for lighter topics and uplifting stories.”


She is nevertheless upbeat about her Cannes Marché slate, underlining that the films she represents are not without “an entertaining quality, and a special kind of humour.”


Waterproof is such a light and empowering story of friendship between middle-aged women in the Arab world – the first female plumbers in Jordan, one of the driest countries on Earth,” she comments. “Garage People was awarded at Berlinale (Heiner Carow Prize) and just received the Werner Herzog Award – and is a humorous and intimate look at the soul of Russia.”


Also on the slate is Once Upon a Time in Venezuela, which premiered at Sundance, and which chronicles a village and its inhabitants as they prepare for parliamentary elections. “Critics are raving about it,” says Dziersk, “And Ninosca is a one of a kind…the life of a Nicaraguan woman filmed over 40 years by Swedish documentary master Peter Torbiörnsson.” 


She describes Polish Zwiefka’s Scars, which looks at the forced recruitment of female Tamil Tigers, as “a very intense and unique experience.”


Dziersk is very curious to see how online Cannes pans out, having been active within other virtual presentations since lockdown. “We think the online format works very well for pitching events like Meetmarket, or similar events. The difference between sitting on a table in Cutler’s Hall (Sheffield) or at home at the computer for a meeting is not that big – meetings are very often much more focused in an online situation. Also roundtables work [up to] a certain size. 


“What we miss, though, are the informal follow-up meetings, the many short talks or further conversations you have with filmmakers, producers, buyers while being at a location and/or at social events. These cannot be substituted by chat rooms. 


“We are curious how market set-ups like Cannes or Docs For Sale in Amsterdam will work when they are online only. Here it is all about meeting people face-to-face [during] project presentations or sales meetings. I wonder how this will affect the business. Cannes is a good test for it. My colleague Diana Karklin will be sitting in the virtual Doc Corner. We will see how successful this will be…”