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17/09/2007

Wales Creative IP Fund Invests In Factual Documentary Productions

The £7 million Wales Creative IP Fund has invested in factual productions for the first time, backing a documentary about a US death row in-mate, executive produced by actor Colin Firth, and a six part series on the Rivers of the World, produced by Cardiff-based Green Bay Media.
The Fund, managed by commercial funding company Finance Wales on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government, has previously invested in fictional films, television and new media projects.
"This is a significant move for the IP Fund into the genre of factual documentaries," said Linda James, Fund Manager. "Our previous investments have focused on fictional film and television productions, but with the strength of Wales’ existing factual production houses, it was only a matter of time before we invested into this genre which has significant global potential and a huge amount of talent."
‘In Prison My Whole Life’ focuses on William Francome and his interest in the trial of radical journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal claims to have been wrongly convicted of the murder of a police officer and remains on Pennsylvania’s death row awaiting re-trial or the death sentence.
The documentary follows 25-year-old Francome who was born on the same night Abu-Jamal was arrested. He investigates the trial and interviews people involved in the events leading up to the murder. It includes interviews with Mumia, along with Snoop Dog, Mos Def, Noam Chomsky and Steve Earle.
Marc Evans directed the production which was produced by Livia Firth, alongside her husband, the actor Colin Firth, as executive producer. The film will be launched simultaneously at the London and Rome film festivals.
‘Rivers and Man’, is being produced by Cardiff-based Green Bay Media and forms a series exploring six of the world’s most iconic watercourses, tracing their routes and histories and the people living along them.
The Wales Creative IP Fund is investing into the production which will produce six hour-long programmes looking at the Amazon, Nile, Mississippi, Ganges, Yangtze and the Rhine. ‘Rivers and Man’ will be directed and produced by BAFTA award-winner Amanda Rees of Green Bay Media.
In return for the investment, the Wales Creative IP Fund will take a share of the Intellectual Property (IP) generated by the two projects and will be looking to recoup the full amount of the original investment and to share in future revenues.
John Geraint of Green Bay Media, said: "Rivers is a very exciting, high-profile project that will be shown all over the world. The IP Fund’s investment has been crucial in helping us reach the budget necessary for such an ambitious production."
Livia Firth, producer of ‘In Prison My Whole Life’, said: "William Francome realised that he was born on the same night as the arrest of Mumia Abu-Jamal and that each minute of his privileged life has been counted by a black man in solitary confinement, awaiting a death. What makes the film different is not just its novel and accessible approach to Mumia’s fascinating case – which is up for appeal this year – but also its take on the socio-political context that has made Mumia ‘The Voice of the Voiceless’."
The IP Fund has invested £3.2 million into ten productions since it was established in 2005. The last investment was made in ‘The Edge of Love’ starring Keira Knightley and Welsh actor Matthew Rhys, which was filmed earlier this year in West Wales.
It focuses on part of poet Dylan Thomas’ life in Wales and is due for release early next year. This investment represents the largest investment in film to-date made by the Wales Creative IP Fund at £700,000.
Earlier this month another IP Fund investment was premiered at the prestigious Venice Film Festival. Nighwatching, directed by Newport-born Peter Greenaway, focuses on the characters in Rembrandt’s famous Nightwatch painting in a tale of conspiracy, lust and murder. It stars Martin Freeman from the BBC’s The Office.
(SP)
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