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Programming Profile

Terranoa faces the facts


French distributor Terranoa has stocked up on high-end factual programming, including history, wildlife and current affairs content, as well as the firm’s first foray into true crime. Here we explore the company’s playlist on C21’s Digital Screenings this week.


Paris-based distributor Terranoa was founded in 2000 by three French documentary production houses, all well-established on the international market: Gédéon Programmes, 95° West and Boréales. Three years ago, it became part of the Gedeon Media Group.


Over the past 20 years, the company has remained close to its roots and specialised in factual programming sales. Furthermore, it has developed into a meaningful co-financing partner, getting involved early on to secure content that addresses the taste and issues of our time. Executive director of international coproductions, sales and acquisitions Isabelle Graziadey says the company pays close attention to the slate, “focusing on quality rather than quantity.”


Terranoa’s aim is to have a line-up that meets the needs of a broad range of buyers. This includes content covering escapism, travel, science and history, in addition to high-end features and “edgy” factual primetime programming, according to Graziadey.


Isabelle Graziadey, Terranoa

As part of the continued push to diversify its offerings, the company has made its first venture into true crime with Moochie – Who Killed Jill Halliburton Su?, the first show offered up by Graziadey for C21’s Digital Screenings playlist.


The firm picked up the international rights to the programme two years ago. Coproduced by ABC News, which retains exclusive US rights, the six-parter was commissioned by French pay TV broadcaster Canal+. It follows the ongoing investigation into the murder of Jill Halliburton Su, a relative of the Halliburton oil dynasty who was killed during an invasion of her Florida home in September 2014.


The project will zero in on the trial of Dayonte Resiles, nicknamed Moochie, who is facing the death penalty for the crime, as well as his escape from a Broward County courthouse and the ensuing manhunt that took place in 2016. Graziadey says Terranoa was interested in the series from the get-go because it was “a very well researched case, using scripted techniques to engage the audience into the course of this investigation, as it unfolds, with unique access.”


Moochie – Who Killed Jill Halliburton Su?
Moochie – Who Killed Jill Halliburton Su?

“We committed to Moochie – Who Killed Jill Halliburton Su? very early on, and very ambitiously in terms of gap-financing,” she adds. “All the assets were there, from unique access, narrative structure, charismatic characters and it just spoke to us. It was spotted by Terranoa’s representative based in Washington DC, Laetitia Giansily Doyle.”


Another show picked out by Graziadey is documentary The Tinderbox, available as a feature (1×90’), as a miniseries (2×52’) and as a standard 52-minute piece. Produced by Media Lab and Spring Films in the UK, it sees director Gillian Mosely explore both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The journey is a personal one for Mosely, a British-American Jew who grew up in America with a Zionist perspective, until she befriended a Palestinian in London who was apolitical. Through him, she began to question the views she had been taught and started exploring the colonial heritage plaguing the region ever since and the geopolitics playing out.


“Gillian has been gathering information on the historical roots of the conflict and going after archive footage that has been kept unseen and not circulated by the authorities, which very few filmmakers do,” Graziadey says of the project.


The Tinderbox
The Tinderbox

Graziadey adds that The Tinderbox is among a very selective choice of current affairs shows at Terranoa. “It’s not our usual DNA but we knew that, as a distributor, it is essential to shop some programmes that focus on topical issues,” she adds.


Historical content, however, has always formed a significant slice of Terranoa’s offerings, particularly shows that centre on the Second World War. Currently on the line-up is Children of Chaos, What Became of WW2 Orphans, which exemplifies what the firm looks for in content in this space, according to Graziadey.


The show (1×90’/2×52’) is a pan-European coproduction, with France’s Elephant & Cie and public broadcaster France Télévisions; Germany’s Looks Film; Belgium’s Kwassa Films and RTBF; and Poland’s Vertigo Films coproducing the project. It has been in production for two years, after being delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, but is set to be delivered in November.


Children Of Chaos, What Became Of WW2 Orphans
Children Of Chaos, What Became Of WW2 Orphans

Graziadey says: “It’s a look at the immediate post-war period and about what happened to the huge numbers of kids who were displaced or orphaned. The series follows five such children as they set about finding their roots because, at the time, a lot of the information was kept classified by the state. As well as these personal stories, Children of Chaos also features some amazing archive footage as well as fictional re-enactments, which were shot in Poland.”


Joining Children of Chaos on the line-up is history feature D’Artagnan: Searching for the Real Musketeer, from Gedeon Programmes and public broadcaster Arte with first sales into Portugal, Poland, Russia, Greece and Slovakia. As the title suggests, the show explores the hero of French writer Alexandre Dumas’ iconic romantic historical drama The Three Musketeers and real-life character Charles de Batz de Castelmore who inspired him.


For Graziadey, this title is the perfect blend of history and pop culture, as the novel has inspired multiple modern remakes, including a BBC series that starred Tom Burke and a film with Milla Jovovich and Luke Evans.


D'Artagnan, Searching For The Real Musketeer
D’Artagnan, Searching For The Real Musketeer

Focusing on modern history is three-parter Pictures From…, which is produced by Dulcimer Films, BBC Scotland and Screen Scotland. The series follows war photographer David Pratt as he revisits the conflict zones where he took pictures during a 40-year career. Locations include Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans.


Graziadey, who hopes to work on the follow-up episodes of the series, describes the show as poignant, offering a world view on geopolitics from a different angle. “David revisits friends and colleagues to see what extent things have evolved in these countries and what the current situation is,” she explains.


Kicking off Terranoa’s wildlife programming is miniseries Animal Democracy, produced by Lyon-based Cocottes Minute Productions and Arte. The series is shot in Botswana and Europe and reveals how animals collectively make decisions through consensus and collaborative strategies, rather than through a dictatorship. Calling it one of the high points of Terranoa’s summer slate, Graziadey adds that an English-language version of the show is currently in the works.


The Quest for Nature
The Quest for Nature

The Quest for Nature, meanwhile, blends wildlife and travel genres by following free-diving world champion Morgan Bourc’his as he travels to Norway’s Great North to dive for the first time with orcas and other whales near Spildra island. The 1×52’ doc has been produced by Bluearth Production, Ushuaïa TV, Tudor and Whipped Sea.


As audiences are craving for immersion into the natural world after worldwide lockdowns that left people confined to their homes and unable to travel, these kinds of genuine experiences of ‘man meets nature’ are in high demand. “You really do feel as though you could travel to the Norwegian fjords and indulge yourself with the natural world, to wonder at the marvels of the world,” she adds.


United Nations of Dance, meanwhile, takes a different approach to travel, by exploring traditional and urban forms of dance across five continents, including in places such as Mozambique, Bali, New York, New Orleans and Buenos Aires. “The series uses dance as a prism through which you learn about social culture and history for remote places all the way through to megalopolises. It’s a great yet simple idea,” Graziadey explains. And it’s an idea that broadcasters have responded well to, with the first sales brokered in the Netherlands and Hong Kong.


United Nations of Dance
United Nations of Dance

Produced by Producing Partners, two more episodes of the 10×52’ travel series are still due to be filmed in India and Mexico, after production was put on hold following rising cases of coronavirus in the two countries.


Anthropology series Kromdraai (1×52’) completes Terranoa’s playlist. The feature doc follows paleoanthropologist José Braga, who has unearthed in South Africa the ancient remains of the two oldest fossilised child skulls, triggering ground-breaking research into the origins of humankind. “It is an interesting story about the missing link and showcases how modern-day science is able to reveal our earliest roots,” says Graziadey of the show. “It’s very much our DNA to have these hard science programmes, tailored for a primetime slot.”


As for the next six months, Graziadey predicts that buyers will need to commission high-production-value travel series to offer escapist viewing for audiences who have seen their lives overturned by the pandemic. “These travel shows should be made without a host, as that makes them too local, and should go to places that are exotic and far-flung to satiate people’s wanderlust,” she says.



Graziadey also claims that programming about climate change is a necessity for broadcasters nowadays, but adds that it is a “tricky” space. “Channels are committed to shows about the environment, but the difficulty is that each platform has a different taste and mission. What public service broadcasters want differs wildly from what streamers want, for example,” she explains. “However, programming in this field is absolutely necessary and channels are still very much committed to airing shows on the topic.”


Similarly, the ever-growing streaming space can pose challenges for distributors, Graziadey adds. “It’s a battle to make sure that everybody has a slice of the cake and to combine these different needs,” she says.


To solve this issue, Graziadey recommends that distributors set up a database with detailed information on every player, as Terranoa has done. “It means we have an unmatched expertise and can answer producers’ queries about different platforms and what content they’re looking for. It’s a reactive approach to the market,” she adds.

More programming profiles

  • 15-06-2023

    Isabelle Graziadey of France’s Terranoa discusses the importance of diverse slates and reliable partners and outlines the company’s plans to expand into sport and true crime.


    French distributor Terranoa heads to Sunny Side of the Doc this month with a carefully curated slate of science, history and cultural documentary programming.


    The Paris-based factual specialist will shop its content to international buyers at the event in La Rochelle, France, confident that broadcasters and streamers will be attracted to its diverse array of content blending ambition with high-end production values.

  • 10-06-2022

    Isabelle Graziadey, VP of international coproductions and distribution at French distributor Terranoa, walks us through a slate of historical and political documentaries ahead of Sunny Side of the Doc – including a timely production about Brazil’s controversial president Jair Bolsonaro ahead of October’s elections.


    As buyers, sellers and producers return to the physical event circuit, French distributor Terranoa is looking forward to sharing with buyers a host of documentaries that were delayed by the Covid-19 production shutdown and are now coming to fruition with plenty of pre-sales already secured.


    Isabelle Graziadey, VP of international coproductions and distribution, says: “It’s really exciting to be back at Sunny Side because we’re now at a momentum in terms of fresh content recently delivered with over 15 hours ready for acquisition.”