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BBC appoints Philippa Kowarsky as Storyville commissioning editor

The BBC has appointed Philippa Kowarsky, founder of international sales and advisory firm Cinephil, as the new commissioning editor of its documentary strand Storyville.

Philippa Kowarsky

It comes after Mandy Chang, who previously held the role, left the UK pubcaster in May to lead a new factual division at European production giant Fremantle, which is plotting a push into documentaries.

Kowarsky’s focus will be identifying and coproducing original documentary feature films from around the world, bringing unique stories and perspectives to diverse audiences across the BBC’s platforms, the pubcaster said. She will report to Rose Garnett, director of BBC Film.

Following Kowarsky’s appointment, the BBC’s assistant commissioner for factual acquisitions Jo Lapping has taken on an expanded role as head of factual acquisitions.

Lapping reports to Sue Deeks, head of programme acquisitions at the BBC, and will acquire both documentary films and factual programming for the BBC, working alongside Kowarsky at Storyville to expand the range of feature documentaries available to audiences across BBC channels and BBC iPlayer.

Kowarsky is currently MD at Cinephil, having overseen the distribution of documentaries worldwide and also acted as coproducer and executive producer on titles including The Gatekeepers, Night Will Fall and Flee since founding the company in in 1997.

Kowarsky said: “Crossing over from Cinephil – my company of over 20 years – and from sales, distribution and production to commissioning is a thrilling prospect.

“As a firm believer in public service television and its role in democracies, I’m proud to be working for the BBC. I’m looking forward to merging my love of great storytelling with Storyville’s, and to upholding its commitment to reach and include audiences all over the UK. It is an honour to follow this incredible legacy and continue the quest to find, nurture and support the best documentaries from around the globe.”

Garnett added: “Philippa’s extraordinary experience and formidable reputation as a champion for bold, original stories and filmmakers make this a truly exciting appointment.”


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