Sergi Doladé • Director, Medimed
“The Mediterranean doesn’t separate us; it brings us together”
by Alfonso Rivera
- We chatted to Sergi Doladé, the director of the Euromed Docs Market, which focuses on the promotion and distribution of projects from the EU and the Southern Mediterranean countries
Today, Thursday 10 October, marks the start of Medimed: The Euromed Docs Market, a market for documentaries from Europe and the Mediterranean, which is due to unspool in Sitges until Sunday 13 October. We spoke to its director, Sergi Doladé, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of this meeting point between filmmakers and professionals from the audiovisual scene, hailing from both shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The gathering ultimately aims to be a forum for fostering intercultural dialogue, and promoting and producing non-fiction cinema.
Cineuropa: Who organises Medimed, and what is its philosophy?
Sergi Doladé: It was born of an initiative of the Mediterranean Producers’ Association, which was set up 22 years ago. At that point, the documentary market was created, hinging on co-production, which was Medimed’s main objective: bringing producers from the Southern Mediterranean – the geographical belt that stretches from Morocco to Turkey – closer to producers in the European Union. The MEDIA programme has contributed to making it possible thanks to the funding it provides, and it can also boast support from Spanish institutions such as the ICAA, the ICEC and the Sitges City Council, for example. It was important to create a meeting point for producers from the Euro-Mediterranean region, as that’s where the television channels, in particular, will find content. That was the goal from the beginning, although then it became established as a meeting point that goes far beyond that: we’ve managed to enable Israeli people to meet with folks from the Middle East, or from Iraq, Algeria or Tunisia. The Mediterranean brings us together; it doesn’t separate us. Countries such as Sweden are co-producing with Israel or Palestine, and France and Spain are doing likewise with Morocco. There are manifold examples such as these, of cases where important titles have managed to get off the ground and have then gone on to be successful at festivals.
Is this event also about matching different sensibilities and production methods?
Exactly. At Medimed, people appreciate the fact that everyone quite naturally has their own space, with their meetings and with unfettered access to everyone else, and without any differences of any kind. There’s a lot of camaraderie because by getting to know each other and avoiding rigid protocols, we generate this family spirit that helps people to know more about one another, and they work better together thanks to that knowledge and trust.
How were the projects attending this edition of Medimed actually chosen?
We had a selection committee that selected 27 projects from 15 different countries, some of which follow a co-production model. It’s difficult to single certain ones out, but I would like to highlight the polarity between north and south, as they range from projects that come from Iraq in co-production with the UK to two Lebanese-French co-pros. We also have two or three projects from the Netherlands. There’s one very interesting one, Internet of Emotions by David Borenstein, from Denmark (the production outfit is House of Real), about our emotions online: how we relate to one another differently on the web. There’s also a very curious one, from Germany, called Santorini Wending, directed by Svetlana Strelnikova, about the industry that’s been built up around tourism and, more specifically, around weddings on the titular Greek island. What’s lurking behind that picture-postcard image? I’d also highlight the Catalan-Italian co-production Erasmus in Gaza by Chiara Avesani and Matteo Delbó, about a young doctor’s journey to Gaza as an aid worker, and the sheer horror of the reality he finds there, with a camera following his personal journey from his arrival until his departure. So there are 27 projects coming to the pitching forum, but then there are around 20 that may be at different stages of development, coming for individual meetings with distributors and TV channels.
Which other sections of this 20th edition of the market would you single out?
The so-called anti-pitch, which includes eight projects: three Spanish ones, two French ones (one of which is a co-production with Mali), and one apiece from Egypt, Jordan and the UK. This has really helped documentaries in the final phase of production to gain a stronger foothold in the international market thanks to the finishing touches that can be made to them, and which help them to travel around the world and around the festivals, which they deserve. In another section, which is brand-new this year, we dedicate it to projects with cultural or artistic topics because it’s an interesting genre that should be nurtured. They have pitching sessions that last half an hour, longer than usual in these cases. And in the media library, we gather together around 500 recently produced titles, many of which are Spanish. All in all, about 1,000 meetings are being held among the professionals who come along for these four intense days in Sitges.
Lastly, how do you see the state of health of the documentary scene in Europe?
Non-fiction cinema has found its niche over the last 20 years. The sector has also become more professionalised, with production houses specialising in non-fiction that are working with internationally renowned documentarians. Even the audience is consuming documentaries in a different way: not just on television, but also going to the movie theatres and watching them on online platforms. There’s huge interest in depicting reality from many angles. Another change is in how documentary has come to be understood, with much more creative leeway. In turn, the technical possibilities and, above all, the training have improved a great deal, and this can also be seen in the results.
(Translated from Spanish)
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