Lagardere’s New Imagissime Banner Develops Internationally Driven Documentaries

Elsa Keslassy
Variety

CANNES, France – Lagardere’s Imagissime Label bowed with a bang in March, delivering Niels Tavernier’s “Elles ont toutes une histoire,” a documentary series about the condition of women across the globe which brought together some of the world’s most powerful foundations, from Kering to Chanel and Sisley.

Commissioned by French pubcaster channel France 5 and TV5 Monde, the 10-episode series was shot in 10 countries and dealt with hot-button issues such as abortion, violence against women, right to education and forced marriage.

The creator of the company, Elodie Polo Ackerman, is a well-rounded producer who previously worked at Doc en Stock and Film en Stock, the outfit behind Olivier Assayas’s “Carlos.” She’s now looking to broaden the scope of Imagissime and deal with a variety of topics, including history, science, discovery, culture and society.

“We’re aiming to produce premium documentaries with high production values and topics that have an international appeal for primetime slots,” said Ackerman, who envisions producing half of her projects with foreign partners.

Among the ambitious documentary series on Imagissime’s slate are Barbara Necek and Florian Dedio’s “Les chars du siecle,” a four-part series co-produced by France’s Looks Film and Germany’s ZDF, and “L’odyssée sécrète des animaux,” which is based on an original idea by Lydia Tassier. Imagissime is also developing a high-profile documentary on Auguste Escoffier, the famous French chef, with Arte and a Canadian broadcaster. Set for 2017 shoot, the doc will mix archive, animation and live action.

Imagissime is also producing Virginie Linhart’s “21, rue de la Boétie,” a one-off commissioned by France 5 and Belgium’s RTBF, which will explore the world of art gallerists from the pre-WWII era to today. The doc will again mix archive, live action and animation.

Ackerman said they was no better time to get into documentary-making, as premium outlets such as Netflix and HBO have ramped up the genre, encouraging filmmakers and producers to apply the production values of TV drama to documentaries.

“Thanks to Netflix, HBO and other cable, streaming services, we’re seeing more and more upscale documentaries that have a big scope, are compelling and even [have] glamour,” Ackerman said.

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