Exclusive: Sunny Side of the Doc plans immersive content focus for 2023 edition

Sunny Side of the Doc, the French international documentary event, is putting a focus on innovative and immersive experiences, particularly extended reality (XR), at the heart of its 2023 edition, TBI has learned.

The annual event, which will take place from 19-22 June in the seaside town of La Rochelle, aims to showcase international creation and innovation throughout the four-day marketplace.

Maïté Labat, programmer of the Innovation & Digital Experiences section for Sunny Side, told TBI she would use experiences gained in previous roles in charge of digital production and innovation at The Louvre Museum and Palais of Versailles to inform the event.

“I’m really trying to take my background with me and we will be extending the innovation part of the market. We want to invite more exhibitors, XR studios and creators to the conference and increase networking opportunities to make the most of the market for everybody.”

Museum curators will be invited to reveal how they are working with documentarians and extended reality on exhibitions, while Labat added that Sunny Side would also “explore some of the challenges around distribution of VR content and how new mediums, such as podcasts, have boomed.” Emerging business models will also be explored.

Conferences and case studies will this year address the different issues faced by the industry around innovation and in particular XR. Topics will include the different audiences for immersive experiences; challenges surrounding audio adaptation from documentary into podcast; and the creative challenges for new narratives.

The question of documentary audiences will also be a major focus this year, alongside distribution, adaptation, immersive exhibitions, impacts and financing. A selection of this year’s projects will also be shown in a special VR area.

Sunny Side of the Doc’s call for projects opens on 16 March and will run until 6 April. Those whose projects are taken to one of the pitching sessions will receive mentoring from industry experts and gain access to an experienced and diverse professional audience, as well as financial, creative and business co-production opportunities. This year, the seven pitching sessions will welcome digital and XR documentary projects.

Meanwhile, the PiXii Festival, which is usually held alongside Sunny Side of the Doc and is itself focused on immerse experiences, is to move to the autumn.

This year’s 7th edition will be held from 19-22 October, also in La Rochelle, and will be made open to the public, while there are plans to expand the event across the Charentais region.

“By separating the general public’s activities from the professional sector, our ambition is to respond as well as possible to the expectations of each of these targets,” explained Mathieu Béjot, director of strategy and development at Sunny Side of the Doc.

“More than ever, for this 2023 edition, we wish to multiply the bridges between linear documentaries, digital experiences and all the innovative forms of real-life narration. These bridges are used by a growing number of players in the sector, and Sunny Side of the Doc must reflect, accompany and anticipate these developments.”

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