« There are thousands of ways to change the world, and it’s high time we started.
People don’t just ‘fall into’ directing and producing. They believe in the power of cinema. They develop films to open people’s minds, and touch their hearts—never more so than when the subject matter is drawn from real life. Documentaries speak to the human condition, and whether they cover music, science, politics, history, justice, or society, they hold a universal appeal.
Documentaries explore the human stories at the heart of a given issue, bringing new perspectives and new energy, and enabling unlikely partnerships to be forged. The insight documentary films can offer into key issues such as the environment, human rights, or social justice can be so penetrating that they directly impact the course of events. This ambition, in fact, often informs the genesis of a film.
Of course, this is not true for all documentary films, nor is it a recent phenomenon: it has previously been referred to as political or social filmmaking. But the 21st century has undoubtedly seen a new, more lateral way of aligning intention with action, which documentaries have adopted wholeheartedly, in an effort to change the way in which we live together on this planet, now and in the future. »
FIPADOC IMPACT, the festival
Among the selections of films put forward by the festival, a new IMPACT category has been introduced encompassing a dozen French and international documentaries, chosen for their technical merit and treatment of subjects including the environment, human rights, and social justice.
In this competition, the selection committee is particularly looking for messages of optimism, conveyed either by the individuals captured on film, or the solutions these documentaries offer to contemporary issues. The IMPACT competition will receive the National Centre for Cinema and the Moving Image (CNC) Award, which includes 5,000€ in credit for the Images de la culture catalogue.
The festival also features a series of Industry Days, which have been designed to help documentary filmmakers master impact-producing methods of promoting and distributing their work through the use of case studies, impact-specific support mechanisms, an overview of the festival’s country of honour, and a plenary session on a specific issue (sponsorship, NGOs, lobbying, etc.).
IMPACT nominees and winner, 2019
In 2019, the IMPACT Prize was awarded to director Denis Parrot for his film Coming Out.
Among the nominees were Angèle Diabang’s Dr Mukwege, the Man Who Saves Women, Anne Richard and Caroline Darroquy’s The Solidarity Challenge, Alexandria Bombach’s On Her Shoulders, Sandrine Rigaud’s A Plastic Surgery: Coca-Cola’s Hidden Secrets, François-Xavier Drouet’s The Time of Forests, and Thierry Leclère’s La tête haute, au coeur de la vallée de la Roya (Heads High in the Heart of the Roya Valley).
2019 Industry days
In 2019, Good Pitch’s Nicole van Schaik gave a presentation on the role of an Impact producer, with case studies on Madeleine Leroyer’s #387 and Lieven Corthouts’s The Invisible City (Kakuma). Moving Docs, a platform specialising in the distribution of certified IMPACT documentaries, placed particular emphasis upon the importance of festivals in their promotional campaigns.
FIPADOC IMPACT NOMAD
FIPADOC is committed to supporting the promotional campaigns of the films selected within this category, which by extension enjoy the benefits of a FIPADOC IMPACT certification, after the festival is over. Such support includes organising country-wide screenings, or meet-and-greets with directors, throughout the year.
A dedicated member of the team will be responsible for making use of existing partnerships and professional networks to organise each film’s distribution, customising it to best serve the film’s particular focus. To achieve this, FIPADOC is primarily looking for corporate or non-profit sponsors, whose support will finance this work, and ensure that films are promoted in areas where they’ll have the most impact.
FIPADOC has also forged partnerships which help coordinate screenings that vary in both size and status.
- FIPADOC is a partner of Images en bibliothèques (Library Images), the non-profit organisation behind the country-wide Mois du documentaire (Documentary Month) event held every November. Within this framework, films from the IMPACT selection are made available for screenings at over 2,000 venues including cultural and educational institutions, community centres, and the like. In 2018, more than 3,000 screenings were organised, attracting 150,000 viewers (of which 10% were young audiences).
- FIPADOC is a partner of the Semaine du cinéma positif (Positive Cinema Week), organised by the Positive Planète foundation, and will screen a film from the IMPACT selection during the Rendez-vous International des Villes & Territoires Positifs in Le Havre.
- On an international level, FIPADOC is a member of Moving Docs, a platform for European festivals that screen IMPACT-certified films to audiences across the continent'.
However inspiring the thought of documentaries bringing about positive societal change may be, goodwill isn’t enough. Projects face a constant struggle to simultaneously uphold their artistic vision, attain their impact-producing goals, and ensure quality distribution, while balancing these demands with funding concerns.
English-speaking creators have professionalised their methods of producing and distributing this unique category of films, notably via a new, specialised type of branding managed by Impact producers.
FIPADOC’S IMPACT LAB is a training scheme aimed at producer-director duos. During the two days immediately prior to the festival, five or six selected films will enjoy access to training (including tools developed by Good Pitch) and the Good Pitch community, who are currently the most technically advanced when it comes to matters of promotion.
- How do you find potential partners, or work with NGOs, charitable trusts, and philanthropists?
- What are the legal obligations regarding sponsorship, and what role can crowd-funding play?
- How do you decide on an impact-producing strategy?
- Who’s your target audience, and what are the ultimate goals of your publicity campaign?
- What’s your pitch, which festivals should you attend, which distribution channels should you use, and who do you mobilise on the ground?
- What about policy changes, cooperatives, raising awareness?
A broad range of questions which can be discussed on-site with top specialists, who will be there to provide personalised advice to the teams from the chosen films.
At a time where Impact producing is almost exclusively English-speaking, FIPADOC is offering this training in French, for French-speaking film projects. Naturally, this includes films from West Africa, the Pacific region, Quebec, Belgium, and Switzerland. Such projects (which are often particularly suited to international co-production) will inevitably enter English-speaking distribution channels, but they’ll do this even more successfully if they’ve been able to lay the foundations of their promotional strategy in their native language.
FIPADOC is also working with the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH), held in Geneva each year in March.
Our goal is to coordinate our two festivals by using FIPADOC LAB to prepare creative teams for meetings with potential partners (such as NGOs, international institutions, etc.) who will be present in Geneva on Impact day at the FIFDH.
FIPADOC hopes that the creative teams who have received this training will join their fellow Impact producers (trained in the Good Pitch Labs in the United Kingdom or northern Europe) within a wider community of some 200 members, who meet annually in Amsterdam for the Global Impact Producers’ Assembly. This assembly is intended to further the exchange of best practices, provide model examples, and present new developments, while also bolstering individuals’ impact campaigns.