Yves Jeanneau ‘A support to bridge the gap’

Member of the jury for this 10th FIFO, Yves Jeanneau, founder and commissioner general of Sunny Side of the Doc, international documentary market, co-founder of the production company Les Films d’Ici and director of the documentary unit of France 2 from 2001 to 2005, casts a penetrating and avant-gardist look on the documentary world.

Had you heard of FIFO?

Yes, through Wallès Kotra, when I was head of documentaries at France 2.

Have you been involved with documentaries for a long time?

It is the combination of three choices and three types of education: philosophy, political activism and cinema. In the middle of all that, there is documentary. At the start of my career as philosophy teacher, I started to imagine making them, then to produce for other people with my production company ‘Les films d’ici.’ 35 years ago, documentary for television and for the cinema was dead.

Was there a particular documentary which inspired you to produce yourself?

Yes: a documentary by Claude Otzenberger about China. It was real visionary work which announced – I can see it today – what China has become. It explained why and how this population would play a pivotal role in the world.

What was your first documentary about?

I produced a series of 3 documentaries about minors in the north, where I had my first teaching post. I was passionate about the story of the minors, perhaps because it was dying out. I worked, carried out research, published a book and made films…

What can you tell me about creating Sunny Side of the Doc?

That was 25 years ago. I had a moment of clarity and I saw that in order to develop documentary, it required a place and a time of its own. Today, Sunny Side consists of three events per year: one at La Rochelle, which brings together over 1,800 professionals, 300 decision makers, 63 countries, one in Asia and another in Latin America. In Asia – Japan to be precise –, documentary has boomed, whilst in Latin America, it is still quite restrained: it is the reason for which we go there, to set up funding projects, to discuss the problems faced by the community, around digital, etc.

Back to Tahiti: how do you see your role as a member of the jury for this 10th FIFO?

For a start, it enables me to see Oceanian films, which I would not normally have the time to do, thus enabling me to envisage the place. Then, it is an opportunity to meet professionals – producers, distributors – from this Oceanian area that it is not easy to meet in the markets that I organise. We’re also going to organise a Polynesian presence at the next Sunny Side of the Doc, from the 25th to the 28th June at La Rochelle. It was of mutual benefit to have met at FIFO, which is the only documentary centre throughout the Oceanian territory. It is important to have such a support, as it bridges the gap.

What for you makes a good documentary?

Today, I know how to interpret a film including between the lines. The one which will meet with my approval will be the one which makes me put down my professional hat, makes me forget the whole production mechanism and not allow me to look at it analytically or with the eye of a critic