The Toronto International Film Festival has always been an active marketplace for docs to be sold. Noteworthy acquisitions at the festival in recent years include First Position; Cave of Forgotten Dreams; Food, Inc; and Every Little Step. This year’s line-up features more commercially promising titles than ever before in my memory. I circulated a survey among the sales agents known to me and was assisted by my SVA SocDoc student Lauren Kraus. If you’re a seller at TIFF missing from this list, please email me to be added. Watch the STF blog next week for a Guide to Documentary Buyers at TIFF.


Cinephil is an international sales and advisory firm based in Tel Aviv specializing in documentaries, which has a strong reputation for securing international distribution deals and financing for documentaries from all over the world on behalf of film producers and directors. With a history of selling unique and award-winning films, Cinephil also acts as a strategic advisor and co-producer.

Attending TIFF: Philippa Kowarsky

Docs at TIFF: The Gatekeepers – Cinephil was one of the main producers of this film and we were attracted to the project immediately. The film gives incredible insight into a previously unseen world. For the very first time the heads of the Shin Bet, the Israeli Secret Service candidly share stories and insights. A shocking analysis of the current situation in the Middle East but also a mirror to the rest of the world, how do democracies protect themselves? How far can we go?

The Act of Killing is one of the best documentaries we have ever seen. This film offers a look into the psyches of mass murderers in a creative and innovative way. And it does so both in form and content. The killers’ cavalier attitude is a chilling portrait of how their own narratives are self-perpetuating; it is as they say a “…winner’s narrative, it is the winners who write history”. With extraordinary access and beautiful scenes, this film is both a macabre and breathtaking glimpse into not only a part of Indonesian history that most are unaware of, but the psychological landscape of a killer.

State 194 jointly repping with Submarine (North America). In frozen times such as these, this film and its main protagonist Palestinian Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad are a gust of optimism. His courage and determination are contagious. The fact that so much is going on in the West Bank and so little is known in the world, motivates us to get this story of a remarkable leader, successfully establishing the infrastructure of a state while advocating non violence as the way – out there worldwide.

TIFF history:  Precious Life sold to HBO, short-listed for the Academy Awards, HBO LA, theatrical in Canada Mongrel Media and worldwide

Other docs in our history: Recently, Sundance 2011 Love Free or Die directed by Macky Alston sold to Wolfe Releasing, Emmy nominated, Where Soldiers Come From by Heather Courtney, the critically praised A Film Unfinished by Yael Hersonski (also Emmy nominated), Oscar short-listed Precious Life by Shomi Eldar, Budrus directed by Julia Bacha, which premiered in Berlin and Defamation which premiered in Berlin, Special Mention Tribeca FF, Hot Docs and the Stanly Kubrick award at Traverse City FF, among others.

Looking for: Strong creative documentaries with international appeal. Documentaries with unique access and/or fresh perspectives covering both specific and universal subjects, topics that matter, films that just may make a difference, also arts and culture.

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Cinetic Media is a leading provider of strategic advisory services to the entertainment and media industries. Key areas of concentration include film finance, film sales, corporate consultation (strategy and finance), analytical data collection, research and digital rights management as well as talent management. The firm’s clients range from multi-national media companies to individual motion picture producers and directors. Since its founding, Cinetic has been instrumental in putting together films written and directed by the industry’s most innovative and groundbreaking filmmakers

Attending TIFF: John Sloss, Bart Walker, Dana O’Keefe, Linzee Troubh, Christina Bazdekis, Steve Farneth, Ram Murali, Ellie Burrows, Pier Harrison

Docs at TIFF: Venus and Serena. We’ve been involved with this film since it was in its early stages, and have enjoyed watching it develop into the film it is today. We were attracted to the project because it is profiling such iconic figures who are still at the height of their careers. This was both exciting and challenging as the Williams sisters are still competing (and winning!) tournaments that the filmmakers wanted to include in this constantly evolving film.

Other docs in our history: Too many to count, but some are Exit Through the Gift Shop, Senna, Taxi to the Dark Side, Mad Hot Ballroom, Jesus Camp, Why We Fight

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Creative Arts Agency (CAA) is the world’s leading entertainment and sports agency. The CAA Film Finance and Sales Group packages, arranges financing for and sells more than 60 films per year, and represents a select group of financiers, producers and sales companies worldwide.

Attending TIFF: Micah Green, Benjamin Kramer, Dina Kuperstock, Laura Lewis, Nick Ogiony, Daniel Steinman, Roeg Sutherland, Laura Walker

Docs at TIFF: Artifact – D: Bartholomew Cubbins

TIFF history: From the Sky Down – D: Davis Guggenheim, feat U2, Comic Con: Episode IV– D: Morgan Spurlock, feat Stan Lee, Joss Whedon, Kevin Smith, Eli Roth

Other docs in our history: Katy Perry: Part of Me – D: Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz, feat Katy Perry, Catfish – D: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, The Imposter – D: Bart Layton, Tillman Story – D: Amir Bar Lev, The Union – D: Cameron Crowe, feat Elton John and Leon Russell, Greatest Move Ever Sold – D: Morgan Spurlock

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Ealing Metro is a leading UK based independent sales agent, focused on delivering quality, commercial films to the global market, ranging from star-driven US independent productions to intelligent British and European movies and genre product targeted at core theatrical audiences.

Attending TIFF: Natalie Brenner

Docs at TIFF: London: The Modern Babylon. – Julien Temple is one of the pre-eminent documentary filmmakers of his generation. His vision for exploring past and present London proved to be as unique, powerful and moving as you would expect from a filmmaker of his caliber.

Other docs in our history: Page One, Lennon NYC, Last Call at the Oasis and Bobby Fischer Against the World.

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Multi-national vertically integrated producer, distributor and seller of films and recorded (music) content

Attending TIFF: Charlotte Mickie, Charlotte Van Weede, Natalie Kampelmacher, Anick Poirier, Christina Kubacki (on the sales side)

Docs at TIFF: The Secret Disco Revolution (co-repped with The Film Sales Company) Just read the title! Who wouldn’t be attracted?

Other docs in our history: Waste Land, Bengali Detective, Trouble the Water, Force of Nature, Dreams of a Life, The Shock Doctrine

Looking for: We’re extremely selective about documentaries.  We look for theatrical features with strong cultural branding.

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Since its inception in 2002, The Film Sales Company has sold over 175 films for domestic and international distribution and has raised financing for numerous fiction and documentary projects. The Company specializes in both highly commercial movies and critically acclaimed, award-winning films. We develop unique strategies for our clients which draw upon our internationally recognized expertise in sales, financing and distribution, our extensive relationships with all of the major and specialized distributors, and our experiences participating in countless domestic and international film festivals and markets. Unrelenting in pursuit of a deal, we also continue to advocate on behalf of our filmmakers after their films have been acquired and released. If you are seeking financing and/or distribution for your film, the Company will offer you dynamic and personalized solutions for reaching your goals.

Attending TIFF: Andrew Herwitz, Jason Ishikawa, Michael Lerman

Docs at TIFF: Room 237, The Secret Disco Revolution (co-repped with Entertainment One), Men At Lunch

TIFF History: Body of War by Phil Donahue (which was runner-up for People’s Choice Award before TIFF that helped push TIFF to create a People’s Choice Documentary Award), A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism, Joan Baez: How Sweet The Sound, Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts

Other docs in our history: Bones Brigade: An Autobiography, Born Into Brothels, Chris & Don: A Love Story, Fahrenheit 9/11, The Horse Boy, Indie Game: The Movie, Kings of Pastry, Marwencol, My Architect, War Dance

Looking for: Well-made, thought-provoking documentaries that are insightful and entertaining.

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FILMS BOUTIQUE is an independent Berlin-based international sales company specialized in distribution of innovative feature films by filmmakers from all over the world.

Attending TIFF: Jean-Christophe Simon (CEO), Cristina Cavaliere (Sales)

Docs at TIFF: More Than Honey

Other docs in our history: Dancing Dreams by Anne Linsel, No More Fear by Mourad Ben Cheikh, Sofia’s Last Ambulance by Ilian Metev

Looking for: innovative, director driven films with a strong appeal for art-house audience

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Films Distribution is an international sales agency set up in 1997. Since then, the company has made a name for itself in the marketplace as a highly specialized outfit, working with feature films and selling to international distributors and broadcasters. Each year, we launch 15 to 20 new titles in the most prestigious festival selections. We pride ourselves in discovering exciting new filmmakers and introducing them to audiences around the world. Films Distribution now handles a library of approximately 800 features, 300 of which are available worldwide.

Attending TIFF: François Yon, Nicolas Brigaud-Robert, Sébastien Beffa

Docs at TIFF: Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out

TIFF history: Yves Saint-Laurent: L’Amour Fou by Pierre Thoretton; Duch, Master of the Forges of Hell by Rithy Panh; History of Israeli Cinema (Part I and II) by Raphael Nadjari

Other docs in our history: Modern Life by Raymond Depardon; Lagerfeld Confidential by Rodolphe Marconi; Belzec by Guillaume Moscovitz

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Global Screen is a joint venture between Bavaria Film and Telepool for the international sales and distribution of theatrical and TV films. Our company is one of the largest world-sales outfits in Europe and has a catalogue containing more than 15,000 titles. The theatrical distribution handles a varied portfolio of German- and foreign-speaking feature films focusing on commercial art-house films, family entertainment, and high-profile documentary features.

Attending TIFF: Sonia Mehandjiyska, Head of Theatrical Sales

Docs at TIFF: No Place on Earth (co-repped with Submarine Entertainment) tells the amazing adventure story of the longest recorded underground survival story in human history, when 5 Jewish families descended into a pitch black cave to escape the Nazis.

Lunarcy! -With wry humor and affection, Simon Ennis’ “Lunarcy!” follows a disparate group of dreamers and schemers who all have one thing in common: they’ve devoted their lives to the Moon. (From the young man who’s resolved to depart for Luna (permanently) to the ex-ventriloquist who’s made millions selling Moon lots, “Lunarcy!” is a funny and touching portrait of passion, creativity and quixotic dreams.)

Camp 14 – Total Control Zone – This is the story of a man who was born and grew up in a Gulag-style North Korean prison camp. After his escape at the age of 23, he discovered the “outside world” for the first time. The film relates his incredible story, as well as those of his fellow inmates and prison guards

Other docs in our history: Jane’s Journey; The Second Execution of Romell Broom

Looking for: Commercial art-house films, family entertainment, and) high-profile documentary features.

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ICM Partners is one of the world’s largest talent and literary agencies, with offices in Los Angeles, New York and London. A cornerstone of the entertainment industry for more than three decades, ICM Partners represents creative and technical talent in the fields of motion pictures, television, music, publishing, live performance, branded entertainment and new media. Under the leadership of 29 partners from each of the agency’s core areas of business, ICM Partners continues to actively seek new opportunities for its clients as emerging technologies reshape the media landscape.

Attending TIFF: Jessica Lacy, Peter Trinh, Alex Saks, Marissa Moffitt

Docs at TIFF: ICM Partners is representing How to Make Money Selling Drugs. We were attracted to the unique style of the filmmaker and they present the story via a ten step guide, thus making the subject matter ultra-compelling while still making a statement about the “the war on drugs” from multiple perspectives.

TIFF history: Jonathan Demme’s Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains (Sony Pictures Classics), Chris Rock’s Good Hair (Roadside Attractions/ LD Entertainment)

Other docs in our history: Jim Toback’s Tyson, Bandito Brothers’ Waiting for Lightning, Sam George & Greg MacGillivary’s Hollywood Don’t Surf, Pras’ Skid Row, Matt Radecki and Michael Cain’s TV Junkie

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Film Production Company responsible for many provocative documentary and dramatic film adaptations.

Attending TIFF:  Barry Avrich

Docs at TIFF: Show Stopper: The Theatrical Life of Garth Drabinksy. The film is extraordinarily intriguing as the subject matter reflected one of the most infamous rise and falls in show business history

TIFF history: TIFF is a superb market place as it represents the alchemy of film buyers and film lovers. I have sold many films at TIFF including Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project and The Last Mogul.

Other docs in our history: An Unlikely Obsession: Churchill and the Jews; Filthy Gorgeous: The World of Bob Guccione

Looking for: Powerful. Provocative, Commercial

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Paradigm has established itself as one of the leading agencies in the entertainment business, guiding the careers of an elite roster of actors, musical artists, directors, writers, producers, financiers, production companies and behind-the-scenes craftsmen.  The Paradigm Motion Picture Finance Group is an industry leader in film finance, packaging and distribution.

Attending TIFF: Ben Weiss, Nick LoPiccolo, Scott Metzger, Joey Stanton, Chris Highland, Sarah Fargo, Brian Goldberg, David Boxerbaum, Meghan Oliver, Jennifer Hackett

Docs at TIFF: We are representing Reincarnated which follows legendary Snoop Dogg as he undergoes a spiritual odyssey/career reinvention in Jamaica and emerges as the rechristened “Snoop Lion.”  This provides a deep insight into Snoop Dog’s ability to constantly evolve and reinvent himself; it’s a modern and unique take on voyeurism.

TIFF history: We love TIFF because the audiences are friendly, the TIFF staff and programmers are some of the best in the world, and distributors are there to acquire titles.

Other docs in our history: Big Easy Express – A music doc that follows Mumford & Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes travel together by train from San Francisco to New Orleans in the spring of 2011. After premiering at SXSW 2012, where it won the Audience Award, ITunes secured the rights to release this film exclusively worldwide, the first deal of it’s kind. Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest – Directed by Michael Rapaport, this documents the inner workings and behind the scenes of A Tribe Called Quest, one of the most influential hip hop bands of all time. Sony Pictures Classics acquired the film at Sundance 2011. This won the PGA award in 2011. Beware of Mr. Baker – Directed by Jay Bulger, the documentary about legendary drummer Ginger Baker, won the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW 2012. Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story – Follows director Raymond De Felitta (City Island), whose father directed the original 1966 documentary, as he journeys through past and present-day Mississippi with Booker’s granddaughter, searching for details around Booker’s courageous life and shocking murder.  Tribeca Films released this. The films is already getting early award buzz.

Looking for: Innovative stories, ground breaking films

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Submarine Entertainment is a hybrid sales and production company, consulting and strategizing on the sale, distribution and development of documentaries, feature films and non—fiction entertainment programming and producing unique and high quality feature films, documentaries and television properties. Submarine Entertainment is dedicated to developing innovative entertainment ideas and concepts.

Attending TIFF: Josh Braun, Dan Braun, Amanda Lebow

Docs at TIFF: No Place on Earth (co-repped with Global Screen); State 194 (co-repped by Cinephil); and Casting By. These are all excellent documentaries that we feel are a great fit to be represented by Submarine.

TIFF History: We have had great experience selling films during TIFF. The buyers are eager and the ready to pick up some of the years most distinguished independent documentary film

Other docs in our history: Project Nim, Page One: Inside the New York Times; Bill Cunningham: NY; Queen of Versailles; Searching for Sugarman

Looking for: We are looking for documentaries that we feel will work in the marketplace and will inspire viewers and create conversation. We love working with new talent.

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Taskovski Films Ltd. is London based world sales and Production Company of independent documentary and fiction films. We welcome innovative, playful and risky forms of filmmaking capable of engaging and surprising audiences around the globe. Our passion is discovering new talents and new authorial stories.

Attending TIFF:  José Luis Garcia – director

Docs at TIFF: The Girl From the South by Jose Luis Garcia – Filmmaker José Luis García was fascinated by a young Korean student activist he met in 1989 in North Korea. The director begins his quest to ask her how she crossed the most fortified frontier in the world and what happened to her dreams after the fall of communism. Through the original footage the film gave us an unprecedented look on North Korea, just before the end of a 50 years-long geopolitical steadiness. A new age was about to start, anticipated by the Tien An Men revolts that shyly appeared in this witnessing. The end of juvenile passions and the collapse of youthful illusions are the main themes of the film, in a metaphoric parallelism that bound together history and individual lives.

TIFF History: This edition of TIFF will also be Taskovski Films’ first direct experience with this festival and we are happy to be part of it.

Other docs in our history: Taskovski Films is producer and sales agent of the multi-award winner documentary Czech Dream by Vit Klusak and Filip Remunda (The most successful European documentary film), sales agent and distributor of People I Could Have Been and Maybe Am by Boris Gerrets (Winner of IDFA, Visions du Réel, HotDocs), Cooking History by Peter Kerekes, nominated for the European Academy Award, winner of special jury award at Hot Docs 2009, FIPRESCI Jury Award, Leipzig DOKS 2009, and many others. Mustafa’s Sweet Dreams by Angelos Abazoglou (World Premiere Berlinale 2012, North American Premiere – SXSW, Best Documentary – Tiburon FF); Work Hard Play Hard by Carmen Losmann (FIPRESCI Award – DOK Leipzig 2011, Award of the Ecumenical Jury – DOK Leipzig 2011, Healthy Workplaces Award – DOK Leipzig 2011, Golden Key Award – Kassel Documentary Festival 2011); Rene by Helena Trestikova, winner of the European Academy Award – Prix Arte 2008, Golden Dove for the Best International documentary at DOK Leipzig 2008 and other awards.

Looking for: We are looking for feature and mid-length documentaries with challenging narratives and cinematic approach. We are interested in all themes (social issues, politic, society, culture, art), and we privilege strong and innovative point of view on the contemporary world. We welcome and nurture new talents from all the world.

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WIDE HOUSE is the documentary branch of WIDE funded in 2010.

Attending TIFF: Anais Clanet, General Manager

Docs at TIFF: As If We Were Catching a Cobra; Bergman & Magnani: The War of Volcanoes

TIFF history: In My Mother’s Arms; This is Not a Film

Other docs in our history: This Ain’t California; The Black Power Mixtape: 1962-1975; Tony Curtis: Driven to Stardom; Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance; Nuclear Nation.

Looking for: Cross-cultural, social, creative and innovative titles for all rights and all Media