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Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

Five Takeaways from Guangzhou Doc Fest 2015 / Asian Side of the Doc 2016 Announced

By Bill Graff.

Market Format:

  • More of a Festival/Seminar than a market.
  • Around 20 Exhibitors, mostly municipal or regional film commissions, as well as footage and translation companies aimed at the filmmakers.
  • Formal pitching sessions daily, with comments from Chinese and International commissioning editors, distributors and other experts as to the quality of each pitch and viability of project.
  • Also: Master Classes; Personal screenings of the catalog in DocuMart area; Screenings of Golden Kapok Award candidates.


  • Very business-like, with most interaction taking place at the venue, the Guangzhou Library, a very impressive modern edifice in the center of the New City section.
  • Dinners were all private, except for an informal get-together at a local restaurant near the main hotel following the Awards Ceremony the final night (replete with Oscar-style production numbers, it was broadcast live.



  • 1,000+ total attendees.
  • 27 International “Decision-makers” from US, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Singapore, Denmark, South Korea, Vietnam, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand and India.
  • 54 Chinese “Decision-Makers.”


  1. China’s documentary culture is slowly Westernizing
  • Rather than arising from societies where free speech and advocacy journalism are the building blocks of documentary culture, China’s “unscripted” film-making has its origins in Party propaganda.
  • This can lead to an approach where “getting the the facts right” is not the leading imperative in producing what will be a peer-reviewed factual production.
  • Seminars at the Festival emphasized the importance of research and verifiable materials to local film-makers who would like distribution outside of China.
  1. International co-productions with China are increasing
  • Projects from France, Italy, Germany, the UK and New Zealand competed in the Pitch Sessions for Chinese investment.
  • South Korea and Eastern European countries also competed.
  1. Urbanization and loss of Ethnic/Regional traditions
  • This broad topic was the subject of numerous pitches by Chinese producers.
  • The strong sense of tradition in a 5,000 year old culture lends itself to a broad interest in preserving unique cultural elements before they disappear as China modernizes.
  1. Follow the money
  • Western producers with stories drawn from local Chinese expat communities can find strong interest in China.
  • CCTV 9 (the national documentary channel) and Shanghai Media Group (SMG) have interest in co-producing these type of stories in return for rights in China.
  1. Recent History is a strong draw
  • Perhaps because 2015 represented the 70th Anniversary of the end of the Anti-Japanese War (as WWII is referred to,) there were numerous docs on many aspects of that conflict.
  • This could also be due to unresolved issues stemming from the War that still simmer between Japan and China, as well as between Japan and Korea.
  • There is a sense of urgency to record the stories of veterans of that conflict, as well as the Sino-Vietnamese conflict of 1979 and the Cultural Revolution, before those generations pass away.

About Bill Graff

Bill is a broadcast and cable veteran based in South Florida, whose company, Kismet Media Group focuses on talent-driven original content with leading brands, media partners and production partners, as well as distribution of International content in the Americas. Bill is also a Programming Executive for broadcast and cable platforms, including Tribune and Discovery Networks, and a Consultant whose clients have included BBC WW and Reelz Channel.



Dates and host city announced

The 7th edition of the international documentary marketplace in Asia, ASIAN SIDE OF THE DOC, will take place from March 21 to 24, in the water town of Suzhou also known as “Venice of the East” and the “City of Gardens” in China.

After Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Chengdu, Xiamen, the four-day factual event is hosted for the third consecutive year in China, one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for content owners, producers and broadcasters

Situated in the southeastern Jiangsu Province, about 100 km to Shanghai, the city of Suzhou has over 2,500 years of rich history with an abundant display of cultural relics, ancient bridges and canals. The classical gardens in Suzhou were added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997 and 2000.

Each year, Asian Side of the Doc draws more than 720 documentary professionals, including 140 decision makers, from Asia and beyond (40 countries) to its industry-leading market, designed to maximize investment and international co-production through a line-up of inspiring panels, unique networking events, a high-quality pitching forum and the added value of an exhibition space leading to real deal-making.

“We are delighted to partner with the vibrant city of Suzhou and the Jiangsu Television to keep on expanding our network of Asian broadcasters, in particular the Chinese regional channels increasingly open to international co-productions for documentaries”
said Yves Jeanneau, CEO of Sunny Side markets.

“The 7th Asian Side will provide unprecedented access to Chinese broadcasters from CCTV9, CCTV10, China Education Television, Shanghai Media Group, Hunan TV, Beijing TV, Heilongjiang TV to Youku Tudou, iPhone, LeTV (Leshi Internet Information & Technology) and also new platforms for factual.”

The 2016 ASIAN SIDE OF THE DOC, organized with the support of CREATIVE EUROPE – MEDIA Programme of the European Union, will witness and feature new opportunities in the financing, co-producing, buying and selling of non-fiction and unscripted content across all platforms.

Other highlights will include the “China Pitch” on the opening day, March 21st, to showcase emerging talents and original Chinese stories selected from the Asian Side Training Week in Beijing on January 19-22, 2016.

The 2016 Asian Side’s call for projects will open mid-January for a month.


Asian Side of the Doc is the first international documentary marketplace in Asia. Created in 2010, this annual event offers new business and creative partnerships opportunities for the international doc professionals on the dynamic Asian factual programmes sector now running in both directions, Asia to Asia, and Asia to the rest of the world. Now in its 7th year, Asian Side of the Doc’s objective of building a unified factual content market within Asia and bringing potential co-production partners together is notably achieved.