11 NOV 2021

Florence Sala: "Digital platforms have changed the game for documentaries"

The Head of international distribution and marketing at ARTE Distribution explains how digital platforms have raised documentaries' demand and their quality.

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Florence Sala, Head of international distribution and marketing at ARTE Distribution

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ARTE Distribution specializes in documentaries ranging from history, science, art, cinema and discovery. The French distributor has a large catalogue and launches new titles for every market. In the recent MIPCOM, ARTE highlighted woman empowerment documentaries such as "Becoming Marilyn" and "The Mystery of Joan of Arc".



"Becoming Marilyn" (52’) is a unique portrait in the feminist and post #Metoo era, with a contemporary point of view on violence against women in the Hollywood’s 50’s golden years, through the eye of a female director Michele Dominici. "It's a great documentary, we had a lot of success with it", stated Florence Sala, Head of international distribution and marketing at ARTE Distribution to Señal News.

"The Mystery of Joan of Arc" (52’ & 90’) is a deep dive into European medieval history of Joan of Arc, a French woman who's helps the French king to win the war against the English. "It's a cold medieval case to understand how she died and what she was accused of", said the executive. "She's a very iconic woman for feminism. She dressed like a man she did war, and saved French's in general".

On the other hand, ARTE Distribution's catalogue also includes documentaries about iconic stars from Hollywood, which is kind of new for ARTE. "We have a lot of new portraits made by great filmmakers about Judy Foster, Tom Cruise, Johnny Deep. They are really elaborate documentaries about their lives, and their careers", completed Salas.

Artisan work

ARTE Distribution produce and acquires its documentaries very carefully working together with producers and commissioners. "We're not working on a big catalogue and showing it to the networks. We're really working title by title, and we will continue doing it. Every title is important for us", explained the Head of international distribution and marketing at ARTE Distribution. "When we acquire a movie, we talk a lot with the producer and the commissioner in order to have a movie that can travel and reach a global audience. It takes a lot of time, but in the end, it's worth it," detailed the executive.

Currently, ARTE documentaries are touching all the territories, but the company wants to expand more in the US and Asia. "We need to have documentaries that are suitable for the American public, and sometimes it's not always the case with European documentaries. So we're trying to work on documentaries that can travel more", added Salas.

Game changer

Digital platforms' demand for high-end documentaries that targeting general public has changed the game for documentaries, according Salas' opinion. "Digital platforms treat documentaries like movies, like a feature films", said. "We can compare the documentaries that platforms want with the primetime big documentary that big networks have. There's a turn in the documentary business now, and it is growing either in festivals, either on platforms, and it's the genre that is taking a much more importance especially because it was before documentaries were not touching young public, and now they're touching all ages." she affirmed.

New habits

During the pandemic the digital platforms' consume grew exponentially and Discovery programs took a big place during the Covid because everybody wanted to escape. "We had a lot of success with our Discovery Programs", mentioned Salas. Sports had also a raise during this period. "At the time, there was no competition, people wanted to see sports documentaries".

"The pandemic changed the fact that people are watching more platforms, VOD and SVOD especially, and also more documentaries. So it's a new demand on the market, and it's growing. In terms of where to watch documentaries, the pandemic is a game changer", expressed Salas.

ARTE Distribution had also to adapt during the pandemic as a company. "We've been developing a lot of new digital and marketing tools around our line-up for each market and the clients really appreciated it, and they really liked it", said ARTE executive.

By Romina Rodríguez and Karla Flores

 

We can compare the documentaries that platforms want with the primetime big documentary that big networks have. There's a turn in the documentary business now, and it is growing” Florence Sal Head of international distribution and marketing at ARTE Distribution