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The growing demand by SVOD operators for non-fiction productions also contributes to the rise of the Spanish audiovisual industry.
Eleven Spanish producers and distributors will negotiate their latest titles at Sunny Side of the Doc market

El SVOD anima también la producción de documentales

The huge investment in content by SVOD companies such as Netflix, HBO, Amazon and Movistar + is not only aimed at television dramas, which are living a golden age, but also documentary production, among other genres.

"The Alcàsser Murders", the first Spanish original documentary series by Netflix, premieres on 14 June, produced by Ramón Campos, co-founder of Bambú Producciones, and directed by Elías León Siminiani.

For Bambú, makers of acclaimed television dramas like "Cocaine Coast", "Velvet" and "Cable Girls", "The Alcàsser Murders" is a new bet on the "true crime" documentary subgenre, which it already explored successfully with “Lo que la verdad esconde: Caso Asunta" for Atresmedia, and which it will pursue with the documentary series for Movistar +"Bajo Escucha: Acusado", directed by Isaki Lacuesta.

Awards for 'Six Dreams'

The Mediapro Studio, the audiovisual giant based in Barcelona, has a long history in the production of documentaries. Last year, it produced "Six Dreams" for Amazon Prime Video , an ambitious documentary series about football that won two Daytime Emmys, directed by Justin Webster and produced by Sumpta Ayuso, both from JWP.

The Barcelona company JWP is also behind HBO Europe's new original production "El pionero", a non-fiction series about Jesús Gil, deceased president of Atlético de Madrid.

However, these recent movements do not mean that the documentary industry is enjoying a boom similar to that of TV fiction production.

"In fiction there is a real change because there are operators investing a lot of money in financing; in the case of the classic documentary the rules of the game are not changing as much", says Elena Mera, general coordinator of Treeline Distribution, an international documentary sales company based in Santiago de Compostela.

Public TV channels, keys for the industry

In Spain, the financing of documentary production depends largely on public television, especially RTVE, who allocate to documentaries a minority share of the obligation to invest 6% of their income in European audiovisual content.

The role of RTVE, a national operator, is key to the documentary industry in Spain. Between co-productions and in-house productions, the public operator promotes more than 50 documentaries a year.

Some of these correspond to cinematographic documentaries, generally more auteur-based, with an operational model more focused on the festival circuit.

RTVE's main slot for television documentaries is the series "Imprescindibles", from La 2, which has received numerous international awards, including the 2018 Silver Globe at the Hamburg Festival, for "El extraño caso de Gonzalo Suárez" and the Bronze Medal at the New York Festival 2018 for "Joaquín Sorolla: los viajes de la luz".

"In the case of documentaries for television, the main strategy of the channels is logically to produce the content they need for their programme schedule," says Carlos Sevillano, director of the company Ártico Distribution.

"Documentaries on history, science and nature are the ones that get the best reception in the international market," says Elena Lera.

"France and Italy are the markets most open to Spanish documentaries. Latin America demands those with the greatest cultural content,“ adds Sevillano, an external agent in the international sale of RTVE documentaries.

The growing international interest in non-fiction content produced in Spain will be evident at the next edition of Sunny Side of the Doc, the most important international documentary market in Europe, which takes place from 24 to 27 June in La Rochelle, France.

Eleven producers and distributors of Spanish documentaries will participate in the DOCs from Spain pavilion, organized by ICEX. You can see the line-up HERE.
Apart from them, some thirty more Spanish companies will participate in the market.