Playground Documentary


Playground Documentaries is a brand new format at carefully developed for our international Industry Guests. This years’ Playgrounds shed light on distribution of documentaries in many different ways. In an informal atmosphere, the speakers and audience will exchange ideas, talk about their projects and difficulties and concentrate on new possibilities and solutions. It aims on sharing experts insights and gives space for an active audience to create visions for documentary.

Free entry, please register here.

Session No. 2, 2.00 – 3.00 pm

What is the essence of your film? How do you make sure that’s what invites people to see it? In an extremely competitive and financially tight industry success is only possible with a clear and cutting message that emerges from a constructive and productive cooperation between producer and distributor. In this session we will play the title game and compile efficient strategies for each program and its essence to be presented. You are welcome to bring your own (working) title, a key picture or a poster draft, and ideas on how to make the essence of your film come out the best.

Please make sure you have your files ready on your phone, laptop or tablet.

Some basics ahead:

  • Each program needs a recognizable key picture. Take high resolution screen shots during the edit, or, much better, take high resolution and high-quality set photos during the shoot. It’s worth it!

  • When choosing a title for your program, think of an international audience. A title needs to be catchy, compact, simple and make you feel there is a story behind those words that you want to know more about. A title does not summarize the film’s content but make audiences curious to want to see it.

  • Most of the non-fiction TV slots have a length of 52 to 58 minutes. Plan such a version from the beginning of production and don’t consider it to be a mutilation of your story but a shortcut to quality. Think of it as telling your story in another language.


Please see here for details on Session No. 1 and Session No. 3



  • Samstag
  • 14:00
  • HFF - Seminarraum 2
Esther van Messel
CEO (First Hand Films)

Esther van Messel, born 1965 in Vienna, lives in Switzerland and holds a Bachelor's degree in film & television production and in history from the University of Tel Aviv. In 1990, she joined Warner Bros. Israel and became Head of Distribution. From 1992 she produced international feature films and documentaries as Head of Co-Production and Sales for an independent production company in Zurich. Since 1998, Esther van Messel runs her own company FIRST HAND FILMS in Zurich and Berlin