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Developing Factual Ideas

International Factual TV Conferences and Festivals 2011

Photo © TV Mole

Photo © TV Mole

There are many documentary and factual TV festivals every year. This list only contains festivals and conferences where you can pitch/sell/network with channel execs. All prices are in USD unless otherwise stated.


History Makers

Date: 26th – 28th January, 2011

Location: New York, USA

Focus: “The  World’s best program makers… looking forward to the future trends in History and Investigation… with access to the newest digital and multi-platform trends changing the face of factual programming.”

More info: History Makers

NATPE (National Association of Television Program Executives)

Date: 24th-26th January, 2011

Location: Miami, USA

Focus: “Content – Commerce – Connections”. Buyers from 50 countries converge on Las Vegas to pitch and buy film, TV and multiplatform content, as well as attend panels and digital and mobile technology (and maybe drop a few dollars on the tables).

More info: NATPE Market and Conference

How to pitch: Advice from a Hollywood Insider – this is aimed at scripted programmes, but there’s still some good advice in there.

Realscreen Summit

Date: 31st January – 3rd February, 2011

Location: Washington DC, USA

Focus: Non-fiction film and TV event in its 11th year, which aims to identify the best new ideas, recognize top industry talent, offer the forum for discussion and debate, explore issues and uncover trends and ultimately create an international network of connected individuals leading to business growth and career development.” Panels, briefings and pitch meetings by day, schmoozing in the bar by night.

More info: Realscreen Summit


Berlinale European Film Market

Date: 10th – 20th February, 2011

Location: Berlin, Germany

Focus: Feature film screenings, with buyers and sellers looking to do deals and pitch. Meet the Docs focuses on the documentary industry to ‘promote networking and exchange among buyers, sellers, directors and producers of documentaries.

More info: Berlinale


Factual Forum

Date: TBC

Location: London

Focus: “Keeping track of the content requirements, budgets, funding preferences and multiplatform motives of factual commissioners is always an important challenge. Perfecting your factual proposition is even more crucial at a time of pressurised resources, falling budgets and the rapidly changing commissioner tastes. Broadcast’s Factual Forum is the must-attend event to keep abreast of the latest opportunities and stay ahead of the competition in this buoyant genre.”

More info: Broadcast Factual Forum


Date: 21st – 24th March, 2011

Location: Hong Kong

Focus: Broad focus – “distribution, production and acquisition of film, TV programmes, animation, digital entertainment/ games, digital effects and music, cinema operation, video and disc production, distribution and rental, terrestrial TV / cable TV / pay TV and satellite broadcasting companies, radio broadcasting, internet broadcasting, production and post-production services, film and broadcasting equipment and technology companies, service providers to the entertainment industry, licensing companies, festival / fair organizers, industry associations, finance, entertainment-related professional services.”

More info: Filmart



Date: 4th – 8th April, 2011

Location: Cannes, France

Focus: Panels, workshops, networking and matchmaking sessions for international content creators and buyers.

More info: MIPTV 2011

See film clips from MIPTV 09: Realsceen Screening Room

Durban Wild Talk Africa

Date: 28th – 31st March, 2011.

Location: Durban, South Africa

Focus: Small conference dedicated to travel, wildlife and conservation film making, with most of the emphasis on debates, screenings, panels and workshops but there are networking opportunities with executives from National Geographic, NHK and Animal Planet. Includes delegate tours to visit the Big Five game reserves to tempt more international delegates.

More info: Durban Wild Talk Africa

Hot Docs

Date: 28th April – 8th May, 2011

Location: Toronto, Canada

Focus: Documentary screenings, selling and networking. Toronto Documentary Forum selects 30 docs in development or early production to be pitched by their producers and broadcasters looking for co-funding. TDF Pitch Program accepts projects with a broadcaster already attached and Rough Cut Program caters for those that are in production but don’t yet have funding. Subjects covered include: history, natural history, politics, health and the environment and cross-platform projects. Projects are pitched in-the-round in front of an audience. Pitches last seven minutes with eight minutes of feedback. Two-minute video clips are encouraged.

More info: Hot Docs Toronto


Realscreen’s Factual Entertainment Forum: The Real Deal

Date: TBC

Location: Santa Monica, CA

Focus: A day of discussion, inspiration, and networking with reality TV producers, cable channel execs and agents.

More info: Factual Entertainment Forum


Sheffield Doc/Fest

Date: 8th – 12th June, 2011

Location: Sheffield England

Focus: Documentary screenings, panels, masterclasses and the chance to pitch to international broadcasters in the Meet Market.

More info: Doc/Fest

Banff World TV Festival

Date: TBC

Location: Banff, Canada

Focus: Attend workshops, talks, commissioner breakfasts, sign up for a 10-minute face-to-face pitching session or speed date an agent.

More info: Banff World Television Festival

Sunny Side of the Docs

Location: La Rochelle, France

Focus: 2000 people from 50 countries and four days of meetings with commissioning editors.

More info: Sunny Side


Intelligent Factual Festival

Date: TBC

Location: London

Focus: Brings together approximately 600 people from across the factual television industry for a series of workshops, keynote speeches and panel sessions, which are themed across all main genres, from fact ent to documentary.

More info: Intelligent Factual Festival


Edinburgh TV Festival

Date: TBC

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Focus: 2000 international delegates. Focus is on panels, keynote talks, events and networking rather than pitching, but the whole of London TV industry seems to decamp to Edinburgh during the festival, so should be ample opportunity for making connections. The festival claims to “satisfy policy wonks, creative geniuses and celebrity stalkers. In fact we’re swimming in a sea of talent”.

More info: Edinburgh TV Festival


WestDoc: The West Coast Documentary and Reality Conference

Date: TBC

Location: Santa Monica, California, USA

Focus: First year of a new festival dedicated to reality and documentary. Seminars, keynote speakers and the opportunity to pitch your project in front of an industry panel and audience.

More info: WestDoc


Date: TBC

Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Focus: A cross-disciplinary creative conference of ‘ideas, fun and sensory stimulation’, with creative professionals from the business, new media, science, arts, entertainment and technology worlds.

More info: PICNIC



Date: TBC

Location: Cannes, France

Focus: An international conference for selling, and finding co-production partners across all platforms – film, TV and digital.

More info: MIPCOM



World Congress of Science and Factual Producers (WCSFP)

Date: TBC

Location: TBC

Cost: TBC

Focus: Three days of industry panels, pitching sessions, networking and workshops. Approx 2:1 indie producers to broadcasters.

More info: WCSFP

Can’t decide which one to go to? Visit AJ Schnack’s excellent guide to the Top 25 Documentary Festivals.

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