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"I like the spectator to discover a political issue in a very intimate way”

Industry Report: Documentary

Florent Coulon • Producer, VraiVrai Films


The Emerging Producer coming from France discusses how he sees documentary cinema as an instrument of social and political change, as well as his upcoming projects

Florent Coulon  • Producer, VraiVrai Films

An interview with Florent Coulon, producer for French company VraiVrai Films and selected for the 2023 Emerging Producers programme. Read his EP profile here.

Why do you produce documentaries? Do you see documentary cinema as an instrument of social and political change?
Florent Coulon:
Producing documentaries means a lot to me, it is a huge personal involvement leading to sharing stories that create debates and bring the attention of the entire society to human topics. I always pay much attention to putting the audience in a very special place, I like the spectator to discover a political issue in a very intimate way. In the films I produce, the viewer is left free to interpret the subject in its complexity. I try not to offer ready-made answers in order to encourage a deep and nuanced reflection on human paths that interest me because they are not always smooth. It is how our films contribute to replacing the human being in the centre of the public debate, to raising awareness and thus contributing to a global change. So documentaries definitely have a big role to play and I intend to be part of this movement.

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Where do you find audiences for your films?
Our films are screened at festivals, movie theaters, and almost every kind of public space. Public screenings are the best moments to share our films. So we often work with partners from the civil society, concerned by the topic of the film, to organize and promote public screenings, especially in France, where we are based, and where there is a big network of theaters. We even distribute our films ourselves when it is necessary and it is really interesting to have this connection with cinema programmers and the audience. As a producer I feel that it helps a lot. We also try to work with international sales agents and distributors. Then we have an online VOD and DVD shop on our website.

What films have you seen recently and would recommend watching?
I was totally shocked by a documentary I’ve seen in IDFA which is very different from the kind I intend to produce, titled Manifesto directed by Angie Vinchito. The film is composed entirely of videos that Russian teenagers have posted on social media and the editing is really terrific, it shows how violence and oppression is common among the young generation.

What projects do you have underway (including fiction films and other projects)?
Our next film, currently in the editing room, is titled Shenghen, Open Up ! The story takes place in an emigration agency based in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, that helps students and other people to get their visa to go to Western countries. For some of the students, the documentary shows how their life plan is more to travel than to pursue a career choice. I saw the first cut last week and I noticed the manager of the agency often advises the students to apply to Canada as this country is really more open to immigrants. I find this really interesting in producing documentaries to see how the reality can change your first intentions before going in the field, but finally it is still a film on legal immigration questioning the relationship between Africa and Western countries.

I am also developing Lonan tché, the third film of Joël Akafou, after Vivre riche awarded in Visions du Réel in 2017 and After the Crossing [+see also:
film profile
, premiered at Berlinale Forum 2020. Lonan tché – The Stranger follows Bourgeois and Kader, two Ivorian friends who arrived illegally in Europe by risking their lives several years ago, and who are dreaming only of one thing: the great return to their native country. This film continues the story of an Ivorian youth in the midst of an identity crisis. A youth that does not manage to exist in its country and turns to the mirage of the European dream. The aim of the director is to deconstruct the myth of success of those who emigrate. It is also the story of an impossible return, of the end of a world for the displaced.


EMERGING PRODUCERS is a leading promotional and educational project, which brings together talented European documentary film producers. The programme is organised and curated by the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival.

Deadline for applications to the EMERGING PRODUCERS 2023 edition is 31 March 2023.

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