Autlook Film Sales has closed a multi-territory deal on Karim Sayad’s Of Sheep And Men with Gravitas Ventures. The deal was confirmed on the eve of IDFA. The film, which premiered in Toronto earlier this autumn, profiles two men in an impoverished community in Algeria. One, 16-year-old Habib, is a bus conductor who owns a ram he hopes to raise to become a champion fighter. The other, middle-aged Samir, is desperate to sell enough sheep before Eid to make ends meet.
Of Sheep And Men takes its place on a packed Autlook IDFA slate. One new pick-up is competition title Time Trial, directed by Finlay Pretsell, which offers a radical new insight into professional cycling through the eyes of veteran British rider David Millar, who is followed on his final Tour de France. All territories are available.
Also new on Autlook’s IDFA slate is Marta Prus’ Over the Limit, which looks at the extreme measures taken by the Russians in pursuit of Olympic glory. Its main character is rhythmic gymnast Rita Mamun, who is coming toward the end of her career but is preparing for a final tilt at an Olympic gold medal.
“It is more than a sports story. It is very, very emotional and very intimate with the main character, Rita,” company CEO Salma Abdalla says of the project she picked up through dok.incubator. Broadcasters ARTE and YLE are already on board the project. Autlook is handling Danish kids’ doc, Kids on the Silk Road, a documentary series aimed at a family audience and directed by Kaspar Astrup Schröder, Simon Lereng Wilmont and Jens Pedersen.
The company is also back in business with producer Iikka Vehkalahti, with whom it partnered on its hit, Machines. Their new project together is Raghu Rai, a portrait of the legendary Indian Magnum photographer directed by his daughter, Avani Rai.
Contemplating the current documentary landscape, Abdalla notes that budgets in documentary are getting higher – and, as this happens, fiction sales agents are increasingly active in the doc arena. She points to funders in the US such as Chicken & Egg and Ford Foundation, who are enabling documentary makers to work with budgets similar to those of art house directors in the fiction arena.
Another trend is for documentary makers to concentrate on genres – sports films, culinary and fashion docs – that are easy to market. It helps, too, that VOD and SVOD players like Netflix are picking up documentaries in increasing numbers. Autlook’s football doc, Becoming Zlatan, is available on Netflix in North America, but was also sold to a number of prominent European theatrical distributors.