Sundance: Buyers Bid $20 Million as the Feature Documentary Category Booms

The feature documentary is booming. That’s the message from Sundance 2019. Reported bids for rights approach $20 million. Topping the list is Knock Down the House, the Sundance Audience Award winner that captures the run for Congress in 2018 of the “AOC” superstar Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The SVOD giant reportedly bid $10 million for worldwide rights. That’s …


Sundance Takeaways: A Podcast with Peter Broderick, Veteran Distribution Strategist

Peter Broderick has just returned from the Sundance Film Festival. The quality of both the films and the deal-making in the Documentary category made a big impression on this veteran distribution strategist. Peter shares his Sundance Takeaways, including: 10-12 docs were at the “phenomenal” quality level; The impact of Netflix on the growing audience for …

Sundance and the Single Documentary Economy: The $1.3 Billion Cost of Missing Out

The documentary niche has remarkable financial scale, as measured by the films seeking selection at Sundance. Let’s assume that the average production cost of all 2,649 Sundance submissions for 2019 is $500,000. Actual budgets range from around $200,000 up to $5+ million. $500K is a conservative average. Production Cost: 2,600 documentaries were “Not Accepted” in 2019. The …

Sundance Film Festival Selections 2019: What are the Odds for Documentaries?

A Sundance Film Festival award lags only behind an Oscar nomination as a measure of success for documentarians. But what are the odds that a U.S. or international documentary will earn a slot on the program? Submissions 2,649 Documentary Features were submitted to the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, which opens on January 24: 767 were from the …

Trends in the Arts Documentary Category. A Podcast with Dr Reiner Moritz, Veteran Distributor & Producer

Today’s podcast guest from Munich is DR REINER MORITZ. Our topic: Trends in the Arts Category, including Performances and Documentaries about the Arts. Reiner Moritz is a highly-regarded industry veteran. Dimitri Shostakovitch, Ann Sophie Mutter, Peter Brook, Herbert von Karajan, Robert Hughes… He has been a friend and associate with more great artists, orchestras, broadcasters …

Letters from Baghdad: A Case Study of an Archive-based Documentary With a $1.2 Mn Budget

Letters From Baghdad is a beautiful documentary that uncovers the story of British adventurer, diplomat and Arabist, Gertrude Bell. (Republished December 11, 2018 to mark the PBS premiere. Original publication: 6/6/2017) Filmmakers Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl reveal the struggles of a brilliant, lone woman in an all-male world. Their research uncovered a largely forgotten but mesmerizing film …

“Death of a Nation” and the Rightwing Documentary Ecosystem

I have been tracking the rightwing documentary economy and its leading personalities for several years. I saw it as a lucrative sub-niche that had the potential to disrupt the largely “progressive” character of the American documentary community. Then, several of the key characters, notably Stephen K Bannon and David Bossie, emerged as significant players in …