Talking about Japanese Docs
J-Pitch Seminars:
International Co-production of Japanese Documentaries

Film festivals are where business and the arts meet. We will take advantage of this occasion with a series of four lectures by special guests, some from overseas. The seminars will provide information about documentary production schemes in the West and the state of the international market, and case studies will allow us to consider whether Japanese documentary production houses can find funding and a new audience through co-productions.

When: Oct 5–8 (Fri–Mon)
Where: Yamagata Central Public Hall 4F
Admission: Free
Presented by: UniJapan J-Pitch Office
Language: Oct. 5: English/Japanese, Oct. 6-7: Japanese only, Oct. 8: French/Japanese.

- Session (1) Oct. 5 (Fri) 10:00–12:30
The World’s Documentary Market and International Co-production
Speaker: Esther van Messel (CEO, First Hand Films)

First Hand Films is an international sales company handling over 200 documentaries from around the world, including The Monastery. An important part of their work is international co-production, as they collaborate with producers (including those from the Middle East and Africa) at an early stage and negotiate presale deals with international public broadcasters. Speaking from her wide range of experiences, including as a consultant and lecturer at film markets around the world, Ms. van Messel’s presentation may provide tools for furthering the international reach of Japanese documentaries, in the fields of sales and co-production.

- Session (2) Oct. 6 (Sat) 10:00–12:00
Campaign and the World-Broadcast Documentary Series “Democracy”
Speaker: Soda Kazuhiro (Director, Campaign)

In October 2007, a documentary about an LDP candidate for the Kawasaki City Council by-elections—a very local Japanese subject matter—will reach the eyes of TV viewers in 200 countries around the world. Public broadcasters collaborated to produce an innovative series of independent documentaries questioning the state of democracy in the world today. The director/producer of Campaign, the selected project from Japan, will speak about the details of the film’s production and distribution.

- Session (3) Oct. 7 (Sun) 10:00–12:00
NHK and International Co-production: Case Study Skeletons in the Closet
Speaker: Hamano Takahiro (Senior Producer, International Co-production, NHK)

Why not a “real” co-production, contributing Japanese content and not just funding? Motivated by such an ambition, Mr. Hamano has actively participated in “pitch sessions” where international broadcasters convene to select documentary project proposals for co-production. Using his own footage, he will speak about the development, funding, and projected completion of Skeletons in the Closet, a documentary program about Japanese ghost stories.

- Session (4) Oct. 8 (Mon) 10:00–12:30
Producing with a Japanese Director
Speakers: Luciano Rigolini (Commissioning Editor, ARTE), Kawase Naomi (Director, Tarachime birth/mother)

In addition to co-producing Kawase Naomi’s Kya Ka Ra Ba A and Tarachime birth/mother, Mr. Rigolini has also purchased and broadcast many of her other documentaries. As commissioning editor of ARTE, he is renowned for his collaborations with Alexander Sokurov, Chris Marker, Chantal Akerman, Sergey Dvortsevoy, and many other filmmakers. He will speak about the difficulties and rewards of working with a Japanese director. Ms. Kawase will join him on stage and offer her comments as a director co-producing internationally.

What’s J-Pitch?

Initiated by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry and UniJapan, J-Pitch aims to support international co-productions of Japanese producers’ film projects. Activities include (1) offering networking opportunities with foreign producers at international project markets, (2) supporting project development through workshops run by Japanese and non-Japanese advisors in Japan, and (3) hosting seminars on the legal and financial basics of international co-production.