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"L'industria del documentario ha bisogno di rinnovamento"

Rapporto industria: Documentario

Mara Gourd-Mercado • Direttrice sezione industry CPH:DOX


La nuova responsabile della sezione industry si sofferma su come trovare il giusto equilibrio nella scelta dei progetti del CPH:FORUM

Mara Gourd-Mercado • Direttrice sezione industry CPH:DOX

Questo articolo è disponibile in inglese.

Mara Gourd-Mercado, an Argentinian-Canadian arts manager specialising in film, television and digital media, worked as the executive director of the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) from 2015-2020 and as executive director of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television – Quebec section from 2021-2023. Now, she has arrived at CPH:DOX as head of industry, and we sat down with her to chat about this year's edition of one of Europe's key documentary festivals.

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Cineuropa: How do you find the industry section of CPH:DOX, and what do you hope to bring to it?
Mara Gourd-Mercado:
For me, it’s about preserving the essence of what the industry event is and making sure that I build on what has been built, which is already amazing. Tereza Šimikova and Katrine Kiilgaard did a fantastic job. I think what I bring is a renewed energy and a new point of view, being from the Americas, as CPH:DOX Industry and the Forum is very much a bridge between North America and Europe. I think that I bring with me that sensibility and that network, but also the network I've developed over the years across the world. And every time there's a renewal in such a position, you see new faces but also the regulars. It's a renewal, but with a kind of continuity; it's important to preserve that. It is a very successful event where creatives, filmmakers and producers find something for them and their projects, as do industry representatives, broadcasters and funds.

The Forum has been going from strength to strength, and again this year, there are famous names with big projects, plus a wide variety of countries, topics and artistic approaches. Is there something that could be considered a common thread?
What is unifying is that we are able to find those projects that strike a good balance between innovation and creativity, but also marketability. We want to make sure that these projects haven't been seen everywhere, out of respect for the industry representatives and the pitching teams. We want to bring a new energy, but we also want to ensure that those projects get completed and get seen by an audience. So, we always look at that – what is the potential for an international audience or sales? Artistic quality is also something that's really important to us, looking at the project as a whole – not only marketability, not only the theme, but also, what does it look like as a complete project?

We also want to strike a balance between established players and fresh voices. The documentary industry needs renewal; it needs new people coming in. And I want to be really clear that it's not necessarily about age; it's more about voices that we haven't heard – you can be an emerging filmmaker at any age in the realm of documentary. It's also about making sure that the projects speak to each other, so it’s a bit like programming a film festival. This is reflected in the industry representatives attending – besides the traditional broadcasters, film funds and streamers, we invite professionals from the art-gallery and museum worlds, from funds specific to science or art, and people who work on impact. They can delve into a project that could be more delicate, artistic or different to what these core representatives might be looking for.

CPH:DOX is tackling big themes, such as “Re:Building Narratives” and the Declaration of Independence by the DISCO Network in the Conference section [see the news], as well as “Who Owns the Narrative” in the Inter:Active Symposium.
The idea is to look at what's happening within the industry right now, but it's also about being inspirational. On the other hand, there is the business-related, very tangible side of things. What we found interesting is that the word "narrative" can be applied to so many things: the narrative within a film, the narrative of how we talk about things, the narrative concerning financing or representation. So we want to examine the stories we tell each other as an industry, the way we talk about ourselves, the way we present ourselves and whose voices we are hearing.

“Declaration of Independence” is about what it means to be an independent filmmaker. There are elements on which we all agree, more or less, and then we build on it from there, and we go in as one to ask for different things that independent productions or independent filmmakers need. That also goes back to the theme of rebuilding narratives: we are rebuilding the way we see what independence is.

With the narrative on the Symposium side, there is the rapid growth of what AI is doing. It's about how AI is embedded in our lives and in filmmaking, who owns what, what belongs to whom, and what you make as an artist, with or without AI. And when it finds itself in the immersive XR space, who does it belong to?

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