Award-winning international news and media agency, Ruptly, brings an emotionally charged documentary slate to MIPTV 2020. Highlighting the stories of people and communities from around the world, from overcrowded cities and battle-scarred warzones, to the African savannah and deepest Siberia, no area of the human experience is left uncovered.

Key titles for 2020 include:

  • The Coca Trap, which follows rural Colombians whose livelihoods rest upon growing coca leaf, under constant threat from predatory drug traffickers.
  • Dying Alone, an exploration of the Japanese phenomenon of kodokushi – ‘lonely death’ –, now so prominent that there is an entire industry built on cleaning the apartments of the recently deceased who passed with no one to care for them.
  • When an Elephant Smiles, the story of a woman who brazenly turned her family farm in the heart of Zimbabwe into a wildlife sanctuary, nurturing orphaned and injured animals back to health before returning them to the wild.
  • Syrian Tango, an ode to the uniting power of arts, shedding light on the dancers, artists and musicians who formed an art collective in the midst of the Syrian war, channelling their creative passion in a time of extreme conflict.
  • To be a Cosmonaut, an account following three candidates on the gruelling selection process to become cosmonauts, pushing their bodies to the limit in a bid to reach the stars and realise their dreams.
  • Baikal Babushka: Songs of Life, which introduces audiences to 78-year-old Lyubov, a woman living alone on the remote shoreline of Lake Baikal, contending with the harsh climate and the pull of her family.

Matt Tabaccos, Chief Commercial Officer of Ruptly, said: “We are proud to introduce a wide variety of documentary content to the market in our debut slate. We have gathered an array of award-winning documentary content from our partners to license globally, and look forward to extending our catalogue further as we grow our documentary offering for clients across OTT, broadcast network media, production houses and online publishers.”

He added: “We have seen an increasing demand for high-quality long-format content that engages viewers and retains audiences across platforms. This first slate offering represents the start of a series of collaborations with producers and partners to bring long-format projects to our well-established international distribution network, and new buyers at MIPTV and beyond.”

The Coca Trap journeys to Colombia to meet the growers who rely on illicitly growing coca leaf, the plant from which cocaine is made, to survive. Coming under fire from local authorities and vigilante actors who uproot their crop and threaten them with violence, these growers have no choice but to continue working in order to support themselves and their families, remaining vigilant to avoid becoming wrapped up with drug cartels. Beautifully directed by Artyom Somov, this vividly coloured HD production gives voice to these forgotten communities, setting in stark relief a daily struggle that many could never imagine.

The melancholic Dying Alone steps into the shoes of the Japanese companies whose job it is to sort through the homes of the growing number of elderly people who die alone. Travelling from room to room of the desolate apartments left behind, panning over eerily unfinished food and drink left out on the table and abandoned possessions, this compelling documentary forces the audience to confront the finality of death. In turns macabre and philosophical, this is an accomplished exploration of the lives that people leave behind, and of those who have come to clear them up.

Elsewhere, in Zimbabwe, When an Elephant Smiles relays the heart-warming story of Roxy Danckwerts, a mother and wildlife enthusiast who transformed her family home into a safe haven for the injured and orphaned animals of the savannah. Vivid, beautifully-shot footage takes us on an emotional and geographical journey. The viewer is given a window onto the daily lives of Roxy, her sons and the ‘Wild is Life’ sanctuary’s devoted staff as they care for animals from giraffes and lions to cheetahs and warthogs, and the baby elephants that Roxy is convinced won’t stop smiling.

In Syrian Tango, we meet the musicians and performers who are expressing their passion for their country and homeland through art. They relay the disconnect they feel with many of their fellow countrymen, who seemingly have little time to dare to dream in the midst of a nation destroyed by conflict. In a moving story of hope and the uniting power of creativity, this insightful documentary follows the inspirational citizens of Syria who are determined to not just keep surviving but keep living.

Irina, Konstantin and Andrey dream of working in space. To be a Cosmonaut follows their unyielding struggle to make their childhood dream a reality. This stunning documentary trails the hopefuls throughout the cutthroat selection process – through demanding medical tests, intense interviews and gruelling physical trials – after which only 8 of the 420 can be chosen to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Yuri Gagarin. Director Aleksandr Panov and writer Lidia Vasilevskava take us on a whirlwind journey from earth to space in the ultimate illustration of the human mind and body being pushing to its limit.

Rounding off this year’s Ruptly MIPTV slate is Baikal Babushka: Songs of Life. Here, we are introduced to the 78-year-old Lyubov Morekhdova who lives alone on the remote shores of Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake in the world. Despite the harsh conditions and the unwavering attention from media she is resolute in her determination to stay, preferring to be at one with nature and the old Russian folk songs that provide the soundtrack to her daily chores. Expect sweeping panoramas and stunning cinematography as Nikita Sutyrin expertly captures the stark beauty of the Siberian wilderness and the struggles of inhabiting this forgotten world.