PRODUCTION/The sense of Tuscany for Docs
A global network of movie theaters dedicated to documentaries to strengthen and promote this theatrical genre around the world. This is the project espoused by Docxchange, the collective of documentary movie theaters: to offer support and collaboration to documentary enthusiasts in order to create places, from converted store windows to 500 seat art deco theaters, that are a source of inspiration for encouraging filmmakers and the public ‘to pass over to documentaries”.
Docxchange was the subject of a panel held in Florence during the 59th Festival dei Popoli which was attended by the managers of three cinemas dedicated to documentaries: Chris McDonald (Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema- Toronto), Elizabeth Wood (Bertha Dochouse- London), Stefania Ippoliti and Camilla Toschi (La Compagnia-Florence).
Evidence of the networking and sharing of experiences between these cinemas was the visit to the Festival dei Popoli of a delegation of supporters of Hot Docs, the most important documentary film festival and market in North America as well as the proprietor of the aforementioned Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.
This is one of Hot Docs’ ‘friend raising tours’.
Shane Smith, the festival’s director, who we met at MIA in Rome, told us about it: “We invite our supporters to festivals so that they can see documentaries, meet filmmakers and also discover the cities, museums and restaurants. We have already organized these types of tours at IDFA, CPH Dox, Sundance and Berlin.”
This operation is part of Hot Docs’ ongoing work to strengthen what Smith defines as “the documentary eco-system” that brings art and business together, “because it is
a festival created by filmmakers and producers so this is part of its DNA”.
It has also paid particularly sophisticated attention to the public especially since HD became the proprietor of Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinemas, the largest commercial theater in Toronto with 650 seats, a cinema backed by 100 years of history that the board of Hot Docs saved from closure in 2012, reopening it as a documentary house where 90% of the screenings consist of this product genre.
“It is an opportunity to turn the viewing of documentaries into a habit, as well as scheduling innovative events like the Podcast festival in November, for example, and creating experiences built on different audiences: events that revolve around food, special speakers or our lectures that enjoy a high participation of older people, we even get up to 500 people at 10 a.m. on a weekday morning coming to listen to experts who, accompanied by clips and images, talk about the history of Toronto, Leonard Cohen, architecture in Italy. And then maybe stay on for the first screening of the day.”
Smith has a very positive opinion about recent Italian documentary movie production: “it is growing, not just in numbers, but above all in quality and diversity. This is testified by the fact that there were three Italian titles present at the last edition of Hot Docs: “Happy Winter”, “The Call” (winner of the Best Mid-Lenght documentary Award in World Showcase) and, in the competition, “Wind of Swabia” which won the Special Jury Award”.
Shane Smith was also the protagonist of two panels at MIA, one dedicated to the Canadian market, the other to “Documentary Events in Cinema” that looked at the resounding success of “Michelangelo – Endless” which, despite not being exactly the type of product scheduled at Hot Docs, Smith has defined as a “source of great inspiration, above all when put together with the North American box office success of titles such as “3 Identical strangers”, “ABG”, “Won’t you be my neighbor” and now “Free Solo” which is about reach $ 10 million. This is truly the year of the documentary in North America.”