In an exclusive interview with Television Asia Plus, CEO of Asian Side of the Doc Yves Jeanneau highlighted the stakes of the upcoming 5th edition of the Asia-centric documentary film marketplace which will be held in Chengdu, China from March 18-21 this year.

Yves Jeanneau

1. ​Why has Asian Side of the Doc decided to go to Chengdu this year?

Asian Side of the Doc started five years ago with a clear strategy: to roll out the event all over Asia to gather as many documentary producers and broadcasters as possible. Starting from Hong Kong, we’ve been to Seoul, Tokyo, and Kuala Lumpur. And it was obvious from the very beginning that mainland China was a place to go. Given that the Chinese documentary community has developed extensively during the past five years, and with the launch of new channels like CCTV-9, there was really only one country for the 5th Asian Side of the Doc.

We didn’t want to do it in a too big a city and wanted to bring our participants to a less familiar place with a special appeal. Chengdu, in Sichuan, came out as the best possible choice. Thanks to the City Government and to our main partner, the China Documentary Film Commission, we have been really well supported in organising the event there.

When I see the quality and the number of co-productions done with Chinese partners, I am astonished. I’ve never before seen a country move into the international market so quickly. We’ll have a bigger attendance than ever, better projects, and even – for the first time – a 1,200 sqm exhibition space. Asian Side of the Doc has become a real and comprehensive marketplace for Asian Documentary.

2. Is there a consideration to settle in one country eventually?

This is something we’ve always thought about. It is a lot of work to change location every year. You have to start from scratch, to learn about the different setup, to meet and select the right providers, and so on. So yes, we’ll have to settle in one place at some point. I shall wait for the end of this 5th Asian Side in Chengdu before making a decision on when and where I could settle the event in the near future. As it is clear now that Asian Side of the Doc will be the main documentary marketplace, the chosen country must be dynamic in the sector, be easily accessible, and be attractive for well-travelled international delegates who like to discover new places and cultures.

3. What’s the rationale behind introducing the market floor for the buying and selling of docs this year? How has the response been so far?

Until now, Asian Side of the Doc has mainly been a co-production meeting, focused on projects in development. It’s also been a good opportunity for knowing who was doing what in Asia and abroad, and about the opportunities and structures. But as people learn and experience the sector for themselves, they need business opportunities rather than information. Plus the projects which had already been pitched and produced are now on the market for sale. We had to adapt our format to these new needs.