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BBC Partners with BRITDOC Foundation to Fund Documentaries

Variety logo Variety 1/19/2017 Robert Mitchell
© Provided by Variety

The BBC has formed a partnership with nonprofit organization BRITDOC Foundation to fund up to four documentaries a year, primarily for the broadcaster’s renowned “Storyville” series.

The co-funding agreement is for three years, the BBC said Thursday. Kate Townsend, commissioning editor for “Storyville,” which normally airs on BBC Four, will serve as the editorial lead for the partnership.

“‘Storyville’ has a proud tradition of showcasing the very best in international film-making and I’m delighted that we will be working with BRITDOC to develop a fantastic slate of new films for our audience,” Townsend said in a statement. “BRITDOC’s collaborative approach is an opportunity to create new connections with documentary makers in the UK and around the world and bring fresh thinking to ways in which documentary films can reach audiences on new platforms.”

The deal recognizes the BBC as the exclusive U.K. broadcast partner of BRITDOC and will allow the BBC to acquire television rights or digital rights for its iPlayer platform to new and existing BRITDOC projects.

“Working in partnership with the world’s leading public-service broadcaster has been a long-held ambition for BRITDOC,” said the nonprofit’s chief executive Jess Search. “It’s a great honor to share our expertise with the BBC and help documentary films flourish on television, the most democratic of all visual storytelling mediums. We need great documentaries to help us understand the world now more than ever before.”

The BBC’s Project Lead for Audience Accountability, Rob Berkeley, has already joined the board of BRITDOC and will also play a key role in the partnership.

BRITDOC supports more than 20 international documentary features each year. Five of its projects have received Oscar nominations, including Laura Poitras’ 2014 Oscar-winner “Citizenfour.” Recent films include Peter Middleton and James Spinney’s BAFTA-nominated “Notes On Blindness.”

Films featured in the BBC’s “Storyville” strand have won four Oscars, five BAFTAs and three International Emmys. It most recently broadcast Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney’s “Zero Days” (pictured) on Jan. 16.

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