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PBS SIGNS FOR TANGLED BANK’S SCIENCE SLATE

Germaine Deagan Sweet

A NEW distribution partnership between PBS International and HHMI Tangled Bank Studios will bring a seam of premium science content to the international marketplace. Under the deal, announced at Saturday’s MIPDoc Networking Lunch by Germaine Deagan Sweet, managing director of co-productions and drama acquisitions at PBS’s global co-production and distribution arm, the company will distribute Tangled Bank’s science films, including The Serengeti Rules. This multi-award-winning film follows a band of visionary scientists from their first forays into the world’s wildernesses in the 1960s to their discovery of a single set of rules that govern all life on the planet. “The Serengeti Rules is a beautiful film that speaks to the vital work that Tangled Bank is doing to shine light on groundbreaking scientific stories,” said Tom Koch, vice-president of PBS International. Tangled Bank’s executive director Sean B Carroll said the studio selected stories on their ability to “inspire curiosity and wonder about the world”. Also on show at the PBS International Lunch were excerpts from the feature-length Woodstock and Robert Stone’s landmark fourhour Chasing The Moon — both docs celebrating 50-year anniversaries — and Country Music, a history of the music genre by director Ken Burns.

Gunton: the natural selection for Factual Trendsetter prize FROM jousting tortoises to amorous rhinos to subjecting David Attenborough to thousands of termite bites under a threeton termite hill — Dr Michael Gunton has brought some of the most memorable moments from the natural world to our screens over the past 30 years. Now creative director of the Natural History Unit and factual at BBC Studios, he explained his storytelling style through series including The Trials Of Life, Life, Planet Earth 2 and Dynasties, before accepting his World Screen Factual Trendsetter award at MIPDoc. “I’ve been obsessive about telling stories not about animals, but about a particular animal. Not about rhinos, but about

that particular rhino and what he’s doing on a particular day,” he said. Gunton’s skills were honed in the early days of shooting on the limited resources of film: “It forced you to be decisive about what you did. You edited in your head,” he said. “The myth is you sit and film hours and hours, but to do good stuff you have to think very hard about the story you want to tell.” He said the Natural History Unit had begun production on Planet Earth 3, and would again be using cutting-edge technology: “I try to use the camera to show things the eyes can’t see,” he said. “The natural world is fantastic, it’s almost beyond the imagination.”

Dr Michael Gunton and his World Screen Factual Trendsetter Award

Jury over the moon for One Giant Leap IN THE 50th anniversary year of the first moon landing, it’s appropriate that this year’s MIPDoc Project Pitch: Science and Technology was won by a documentary about Farouk El-Baz, former secretary of the lunar landing committee. One Giant Leap (1 x 60 mins) explores El-Baz’s journey from Egyptian immigrant to celebrity scientist and is made by his daughter, Fairouz El-Baz. “My father’s story is not just about science. It’s about immigration, race and Islamophobia too,” said El-Baz, chief creative officer of P3 Media. The jurors congratulated El-Baz on combining the science with a very human father-daughter story, but also noted that she would need objectivity to make the film work. Fortunately she is assisted by award-winning director Adam Ciralsky. Four other projects were finalists in the contest: 2020: Space Beyond, pitched by Vanessa

Zerda of Beagle Media; 7 Wonders: Building Legendary Monuments, from Olivier Lemaitre of Sequana Media; Ariane, The Impossible Bet from Robert Salvestrin, chief operating officer of Lucky You and Global Science, pitched by Thibaut Martin of T2MP. The session was sponsored by DocuBay, the new SVOD platform for documentary launching in the third quarter of this year. “At present there’s a rush to sweep up lots of content and get it online as fast as possible,”

said DocuBay’s chief operating officer, Akul Tripathi. “We are taking a more curated approach.” Tripathi was a member of the jury, alongside Chris Hoelzl, senior vice-president program development, Smithsonian Channel, Nina Tuominen, acquisition executive, YLE, and Hiroaki Katayama, producer, NHK Japan Broadcasting Corp. The host was Michael Bancroft, executive producer and co-host, Globalive Media’s Beyond Innovation.

Juror Akul Tripathi, pitch winner Fairouz El-Baz, and jurors Nina Tuominen, Hiroaki Katayama and Chris Hoelzl

MIPTV News 1 • 16 • 8 April 2019

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