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IDA Scores at 1999 MipDoc

By Grace Ouchida

IDA scored its first sale on behalf of filmmakers they represented at the second annual MipDoc. The IDA presence at the two-day screenings event, held April 10-11 at Cannes, preceded the six-day MipTV, and provided an opportunity for independent documentary makers to have their works seen by buyers from around the world.

Thanks to the continued support of the Reed Midem Organization (an alliance conceived by IDA Trustees Ron Devillier and Brian Donegan last year), IDA was able to pursue its initial foray into the world of television by representing 10 of its members’ programs. The single programs ranged from a hot-off-the-edit bay program, to a 20-year-old production, and films ranging from 30 minutes to 90 minutes on a variety of subject matters.

The idea to take films to MipDoc originated with Executive Director Betsy A. McLane, who, with years of experience as a distributor, felt that this would be a great service to the members. IDA staffers, including Associate Director Grace Ouchida, and Special Projects Coordinator Apple Via, along with the invaluable guidance of Board Member Richard Propper, negotiated a discounted registration fee for IDA members wishing to attend MipDoc, and discounted program fees for the individual programs.

Due to a short and limited time frame, Reed Midem sent out registration packets to US members only, which were accompanied by a letter from IDA offering members the discounts and representation. (It should be noted that IDA was primarily acting as an information source representing its members’ programs, not as a sales agent, or distributor.) As this was the first venture by the IDA, the number of programs also had to manageable for the staff. The IDA received 15 films, 10 of which were accepted, and represented in 5 of the 9 categories listed below:

Arts, Music & Culture

Mary Jane Colter: House Made of Dawn, 1998, 90 min., Karen Bartlett
Tokyo Blues: Jazz & Blues in Japan, 1999, 61 min., Craig McTurk

History & Ethnology

Beyond Courage 1999 56 min. Will Furman
Here Am I, Send Me: The Journey of Jonathan Daniels, 1999, 50 min., Larry Benaquist
Mi Puerto Rico, 1997, 86 min., Sharon Simon


Inside Out: Portraits of Children, 1996, 50 min., Joanna Lipper
Street Talk & Tuxes, 1998, 54 min., Susan Shadburne

Personal Viewpoint

Ronnie’s Feet, 1998, 25 min., K.C. Schillhahn
Tak for Alt: Survival of a Human Spirit, 1998, 61 min., Laura Bialis

Science & Knowledge

The Flight of the Gossamer Condor, 1979, 27 min., Ben Shedd


All of IDA’s programs (with one exception) were screened to as many as 12 buyers. Actual follow-up sales were the responsibility of the participating producers. Although negotiation of license agreements and sales contracts take time, with the generous assistance of Richard Propper, K.C. Shillhahn, the producer of Ronnie’s Feet, secured her first international sale, to Carlton International U.K. in June 1999. Negotiations are also pending with a distributor from Poland.

Unfortunately we are unable to provide information from the other producers, as of the date this article, but have been informed that negotiations are taking place, and hope to be able to report on more success stories in upcoming issues of International Documentary.

In light of this success, and the response to the MipDoc 1999 mailing, IDA is interested in opening up this opportunity to its worldwide membership in the year 2000. If you have a program with US and/or international rights available, and, assuming that Reed Midem will continue to support IDA’s presence at MipDoc, look for our MipDoc 2000 mailing and be sure to have six VHS copies of your program and a few hundred dollars (or more if you want to attend the market) ready for your venture into Cannes. (For information on the structure and logistics of MipDoc, refer to McLane’s coverage of the market in the June 1998 issue of International Documentary.)

The four most watched program categories in 1999 were “History & Ethnology” (1561 viewings) followed by “Arts, Music & Culture” (1318), “Discoveries, Nature & Wildlife” (1309) and “Current Affairs” (1172).

The three most frequently screened programs included Galileo, The Messenger of the Stars from Trans Europe Film (France) in the “Science & Knowledge” category, Russia’s Richest Women from Spiegel TV (Germany) in the “Arts & Lifestyle” category, and Sex, Drugs and Democracy from ICE (USA) in the “Current Affairs” category.