IDFA: Arte Boards Alleycats’ ‘Trophy Hunters’ as Sideways Rolls Out Its Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

John Hopewell
Variety

French-German broadcaster Arte has boarded the Alleycats-produced “Trophy Hunters,” whose sales agent, Sideways Film, will present it to buyers at this week’s IDFA festival-market, having already closed a quartet of pre-sales on the title.

Directed by Des Henderson (“How To Defuse a Bomb: The Project Children Story”), and now an Alleycats-Arte co-production, “Trophy Hunters” lifts the lid on the usually off-the-radar world of big game hunters, gaining access to the world of the Dallas Safari Club and to the arguments used by its members to justify their hunting.

In first-round deals, “Trophy Hunters” has been acquired by VGTV in Norway, part of the Schibsted Media Group, Canada’s Tele-Quebec, Polsat Docu, a new Polish documentary channel, and Yes-Docu, an Israeli service.

“Trophy Hunters” goes behind the scenes at an auction room of the Dallas Safari Club where millionaires bid for the rights to hunt endangered species – lions start at $60,000 – and segues to Africa for the shoot. It will also accompany a family on an elk hunt in Montana where parents actively encourage their children to stalk and kill animals. Taking in Celtic Field Sports, which organises bespoke hunts in Ireland, “Trophy Hunters” will “uncover a world of blood sports emerging on the fringes of modern Irish society.” It will also join an organised hunt of roe deer on the Atholl Estate in the Scottish Highlands.

paramount in terms of controversy, “Trophy Hunters” will allow big game hunters to make their own case of why their killing elephants helps save the species – by funnelling money into local communities, alleviating their need to poach elephants simply to feed their families, or so the rationale runs.

“The hunter actually pays for conservation while the anti just yells at me,” one hunter says on the teaser to “Trophy Hunters.”

“Does killing elephants help to save the species? The ‘Trophy Hunters’ of the exclusive Dallas Safari Cub believe so and will give us a surprising insight into their world and perspective on wildlife preservation,” said Sabine Bubeck-Paaz, who commissioned “Trophy Hunters” from the German side of Arte.

“Trophy Hunters” will mark the first time a documentary crew is allowed access to the Dallas Safari Club. Scheduled to go into production in January, it is produced by Ed Stobart whose 2010 doc feature “Pink Saris” won the Prix Europa, backed by top European public broadcasters, and was nominated for a BAFTA Award. It is executive produced by Sideways Film’s Kazz Basma.

Also produced by Alleycats, which is based out of Northern Ireland’s Derry, Henderson’s  “How To Defuse the Bomb” won the Audience Award at Dublin’s Irish Film Institute Festival, beating out films from Werner Herzog and Morgan Grenville.

Sideways Film is also representing at IDFA “The End of Truth,” directed by Eric Mathies and Tricia Todd, an exposé of the global kidnap-ransom industry, and Billie Mintz’s “The Guardian,” which plumbs corruption in the Nevada guardianship program.

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