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December 1, 2022

Congress '22, presented by the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers (WCSFP), has wrapped its sold-out 30th edition. The world’s most prominent international creators of science, history and natural history content gathered in person for the first time in three years to celebrate community, exchange fresh ideas, and find a way forward together in an enormously changed industry. Congress ’22 was held November 28 - December 1 in Glasgow at the SEC Centre. The dynamic four-day event welcomed 684 members from 27 countries, 37% of whom were first-time attendees. Congress ’22 was made possible with the generous support of host sponsor BBC Studios Productions and signature partner Screen Scotland.

Congress '22 featured an exciting lineup of distinguished speakers, presenters, and session participants– all cutting-edge pioneers in their field–including: space scientist, author, and BAFTA-nominated TV presenter Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE; science, wildlife and natural history presenter Liz Bonnin; TV presenter and journalist Mobeen Azhar; explorer, palaeoanthropologist, evolutionary biologist and stand-up comic Ella Al-Shamahi; emergency medicine doctor and TV presenter Dr. Ronx Ikharia; award-winning wildlife cameraman, presenter and public speaker Gordon Buchanan MBE; Emmy-nominated host, television winning producer; podcaster Trace Dominguez, and many more.

Over four days, world-renowned scientists, factual and science producers, and top decisionmakers from leading global broadcasters participated in 29 sessions covering a wide scope of themes, including: recent achievements in space exploration, diversity and inclusion in the science and factual production industry, the future of war documentaries, the 100th anniversary of the BBC–the world’s first public broadcaster, the hottest new trends and most buzzworthy content of the year, advances in deep ocean archeology, the evolution of virtual reality, solutions to the climate crisis, and new technologies impacting wildlife content production. Twelve Close Encounters of the Funding Kind sessions made available online offered direct industry intelligence from broadcasters, platforms, and funders who either commission science and history programs from independent producers or who provide significant funding or support. Participating decisionmakers included those from ARTE France, BBC, CBC, Curiosity Stream, France Télévisions, GBH/PBS, ITV Studios, National Geographic, NHK, Red Bull Media House GmbH/ServusTV, S4C, and ZDF Studios GmbH. Congress' popular Speed Dating program arranged 277 meetings at which 277 projects were pitched to 58 decision makers.

The Buzzies Awards, celebrating excellence in science and factual storytelling, were awarded today at Congress' Awards Presentation and 30th Anniversary Celebration. The full list of winners can be found in the second release of this press kit. Chosen from 170 submissions, 78 projects were shortlisted and 10 Buzzies were given to top science, history and natural history projects in short and long formats and to the best multiplatform project and best host/presenter, as well as for innovation and green impact. Four individual achievement Buzzies were awarded for Diversity Leadership, Mentor of the Year, Lifetime Achievement and Emerging Producer of the Year.

The Emerging Producers Bursary program, which supports rising talent in the industry, funded the participation of 11 emerging producers from eight countries, including Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Japan, South Africa, UK, and USA.

December 1, 2022

At Congress '22, funding for three blue chip science documentaries was announced at the United We Stand session. This initiative and call for proposals were introduced at Sunny Side of the Doc 2022 and is backed by nine public broadcasters (France Télévisions, ZDF [Germany], Channel 4 [UK], CBC [Canada], SVT [Sweden], ORF [Austria], ABC Australia, NHK [Japan], and RAI [Italy]), who have joined creative and financial forces.

Producers from across the globe were invited to submit proposals for documentary films that fit into either of these two categories.

  • Category 1: dealing with ancient civilizations, archaeology, paleontology, geology, or space exploration
  • Category 2: exploring how cutting-edge science can provide solutions to save the planet.

An international jury composed of representatives from each broadcaster selected three ambitious projects from 55 projects from 13 countries, with two winning projects in Category 1 and one in Category 2.

“We were all extremely impressed with the variety of subjects submitted–how very unusual and intriguing many of the subjects were–and with the depth of research that went into them,” said Caroline Behar, Head of International Coproductions and Acquisitions at France Télévisions. “The valued partners who so generously joined France Télévisions in this initiative all showed great commitment, and I found the quality of our discussions hugely enriching.”

The three winners of the International Science Documentary Funding Competition present epic scientific adventures with an international scope, a strong narrative with a clear resolution, wide audience appeal, factual clarity combined with an engaging and emotional approach, spectacular visuals, and feature cutting-edge scientific techniques and equipment:

CATEGORY 1: Ancient civilizations, archaeology, paleontology, geology, space exploration


    Honourable mention by the jury goes to Pompei Secret Underworld (Blink Films)

CATEGORY 2: Exploring how cutting-edge science can provide solutions to save the planet

  • THE FOREST, Windfall Films

Honourable mention by the jury goes to Resurrection Planet (Media Stockage / Zed)

November 29, 2022

The World Congress of Science and Factual Producers (WCSFP) announced today the appointment of Dr. Patrick Hörl as the new WCSFP Ltd. chairperson. John Lynch, chairperson since 2016 and instrumental in the development of the organization, will step down at the close of Congress ’22 and will remain on the board of directors to lead the transition.

"I am honoured to take on the role of chairperson of the board at such an exciting time for our industry, with smarter and more extraordinary content than ever before. Under my management, and with the help of our dedicated board of directors and editorial committee, World Congress will continue to provide leadership, inspiration and guidance to science and factual content creators from across the world in a rapidly changing landscape, as we keep exploring new horizons and opportunities," said Patrick Hörl, WCSFP Chairperson. "The WCSFP board of directors thanks John for his steadfast leadership as chairperson during the last 16 years and for his unwavering support of our organization. John’s contributions to World Congress are vast, and we are very glad that he will remain on the board for the foreseeable future."

During his tenure as chairperson of the board of directors, John Lynch has been instrumental in growing the WCSFP to become the preeminent, and most popular, international specialist factual industry event. John is a leading industry figure in the production of specialist factual film and television, with a substantial track record in creative innovation, editorial judgment and international partnership. In a distinguished media career, including the editorship of Horizon and culminating in a decade as the creative and business leader of the renowned BBC Science Unit, he has long been committed to reaching the widest possible audience with knowledge that matters to their lives. As an award-winning executive producer, writer and director, with three BAFTAs, two Emmys, two RTSs and a Prix Italia, he was responsible for the global smash-hit Walking with Dinosaurs, and produced the acclaimed Horizon documentary Fermat’s Last Theorem. In 2011 he was honoured with an OBE for services to broadcasting. Following his departure from the BBC he has been active on a variety of advisory boards that focus on the communication of knowledge.

Dr. Patrick Hörl is the founder and managing director of the factual entertainment label Autentic. The company produces and distributes high-quality factual shows and series for audiences around the world. Furthermore, he is the MD of the two factual pay-tv channels Spiegel Geschichte and Spiegel TV Wissen, a joint venture between Autentic and Spiegel TV. Patrick is one of the founders of Documentary Campus and serves as chairperson of the board of Campus, a Pan-European advanced training program for young aspiring filmmakers in the fields of documentary film and factual entertainment. Additionally, Patrick is a member of the board of directors of the factual section of Produzentenallianz and has been a board member of WCSFP since 2017.

November 24, 2022

We've just added a very special VR experience, as well as a new social event featuring karaoke, to the Congress '22 schedule!

VR Experience: Prepare to be wowed! After popular museum showings in Europe, Gedeon's latest VR experience, Gaudi, the Workshop of the Divine, is coming to Congress. Dive into the work of famous architect Antoni Gaudí. Guided by the voice of the master himself, discover Gaudi's workshop and the secrets of his know-how with the goal of understanding his extraordinary personality in order to take over and complete, when the time comes, the monument to which he dedicated his life: the Sagrada Familia.

November 29, 2:15-5:30 pm - More >>
November 30, 9:30 am - 5:00 pm - More >>

A Wee Song & a Drink: We're bringing back a time honoured, highly requested Congress tradition: karaoke! Drop in for some drinks, grub and tunes. Enjoy a nightcap and network in the funky OUIBar restaurant space and then pop by our karaoke lounge to bond over your music tastes and sing the night away.

November 30, 8:45 pm - More >>

November 1, 2022

Collage of the hosts

At Congress ‘22, What's the Buzz, an annual round-up of the hottest new trends and most buzzworthy factual content, will be presented by four of the most prominent factual hosts in the UK:

Ella Al-Shahami is a National Geographic explorer, palaeoanthropologist, evolutionary biologist, TV presenter and stand-up comic. She specializes in the study of Neanderthals and fossil hunting in Palaeolithic caves, often in unstable, disputed and hostile territories, and uses her comedy as an accessible way to communicate science. Her 2019 TED talk The Fascinating (and Dangerous) Places Scientists Aren't Exploring has nearly 2.5 million views and her first book The Handshake was a Times and Sunday Times Book of the Year. Ella's vibrant broadcasting career includes some of the most thrilling science and history television of recent years: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon for Channel 4, Waterhole: Africa’s Animal Oasis for BBC2, the PBS and BBC science series Neanderthals: Meet Your Ancestors, and National Geographic’s Viking Warrior Women. Most recently, she has presented Tutankhamun: Secrets of the Tomb (Channel 4), What Killed the Whale (Channel 4) and the ambitious seven-year series Our Changing Planet (BBC), which saw Ella present the first chapter of the seven-year series documenting six of the planet's most threatened ecosystems. Ella’s brand new podcast Why Do We Do That?, An Anthropologist's Guide to the Modern World (BBC Sounds), came out in October 2022.

As a TV presenter and journalist, Mobeen Azhar has produced and presented access-based documentaries across BBC television, radio and online for nearly 20 years. Mobeen’s work for BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Three includes the documentaries Secrets of an ISIS Smartphone, Scam City, The Battle for Britney: Fans, Cash and a Conservatorship, Hometown: A Killing, A Black and White Killing: The Case that Shook America, The Satanic Verses: 30 Years On, Plastic Surgery Undressed, The Best Pakistani Transgender Retirement Home and multiple editions of the flagship current affairs series Panorama. He is a regular host on BBC Radio 5 Live, founded Forest, an independent production company, and has also made programmes with Vice Studios, Expectation, Mentorn, Gobstopper and ITN Productions. Mobeen is a BAFTA, Grierson and Royal Television Society award-winner, and received the RTS Presenter of the Year Award 2020 for the BBC Three series Hometown: A Killing. In 2022, Mobeen began the long-running World Service strand Outlook and launched the podcast series Lives Less Ordinary via BBC Sounds.

An award-winning wildlife cameraman, presenter and public speaker, Gordon Buchanan MBE has 30 years of experience capturing wild and wonderful creatures in remote areas of the planet, no matter how tough the assignment, always with a view to raising awareness of the fragility of the world’s endangered species and habitats. Gordon brought a fresh perspective to filmmaking in the BBC Two series Animals with Cameras, with specially designed on-board animal cameras to gain unprecedented insight into their secret lives. He has presented the Family & Me series since 2016, which earned him a Royal Television Society award. Other recent productions include Equator from the Air, Life in Polar Bear Town, and the highly acclaimed Tribes, Predators and Me series, all on BBC Two; and Life in the Snow and Super Cute Animals on BBC One. Notable among his recent TV credits are Wild Burma, The Dark: Nature’s Nighttime World, Land of the Lost Wolves, Lost Land of the Tiger, Lost Land of the Volcano, Lost Land of the Jaguar and the popular Into the Wild series, where Gordon takes celebrities such as Alastair Campbell, Dermot O’Leary and Sara Cox amongst others up and close with Britain’s beautiful wildlife. His contribution to numerous award-winning BBC, Discovery and National Geographic wildlife programmes and documentaries resulted in an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Stirling in recognition of his outstanding services to conservation and wildlife filmmaking. He has also won the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland award in the environment category. In early 2022, Gordon went on tour around the UK to sold-out audiences with his latest show 30 Years In The Wild, sharing with theatre-goers his life and path into presenting.

Dr. Ronx Ikharia is a multi-award-winning emergency medicine trans nonbinary doctor. They describe themselves as a queer, black intersectional feminist. Extremely community-focused, Dr. Ronx uses their personal life story to inspire others. Dr. Ronx’s first children’s TV presenting job was Operation Ouch! on CBBC in 2012. In 2020, they worked on the BBC3 programme The Unshockable Dr. Ronx and filmed their second series of Operation Ouch with Maverick TV. Dr. Ronx also presented the highly acclaimed Channel 4 investigative documentary Is Covid Racist?, which looks at why Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic NHS workers have been hit harder by Covid-19. In 2021, Dr. Ronx had two poignant and important documentaries air: The Truth About Boosting Your Immune System on BBC One, which looks at how we can defend ourselves against Covid-19 and how to boost your strength during cold and flu season; and the Channel 4 documentary Are Women the Fitter Sex?, which asks why more men are being affected by Covid-19 than women. Dr. Ronx can currently be seen co-presenting season 12 of Operation Ouch! on CBBC.  

October 18, 2022

Liz Bonnin

Science and natural world expert and broadcaster Liz Bonnin is the latest speaker to join the Congress ’22 line-up, where she will discuss her wide range of work, from wildlife programs to investigative environmental reporting on plastic pollution, and share her hopes for the planet’s future. Liz Bonnin's keynote is supported by JJ Charitable Trust.

With an Honours degree in Biochemistry & Wild Animal Biology, Liz Bonnin's infectious passion for the natural world is evident in her over 40 primetime projects, including Blue Planet Live, Super Smart Animals, Galapagos and her most recent series, Our Changing Planet, a seven-year diary documenting the fight to save our planet's most threatened ecosystems. Liz's landmark BBC One documentary Drowning in Plastic raised the level of public awareness and debate on the ocean plastic crisis and her ambition is to continue to push the boundaries of storytelling and reawaken the public's curiosity about the world around them.

Throughout her career Liz has presented a variety of shows, from Channel 4’s breakfast show RI:SE, to Bang Goes the Theory, BBC One’s popular science magazine show, which aired for eight series. Liz has also worked on BBC Two’s Museum of Life, a series about the Natural History Museum in London; BBC Two’s Horizon, where she delved into the latest science and technology set to transform the planet; and Animals in Love for BBC One, which saw her travel the globe to investigate the science of animal behaviour, cognition and emotional intelligence. Other projects include Operation Snow Tiger, a series on Amur tigers for BBC Two, tracking the world’s largest big cat during the harsh winter of the Russian Far East, and BAFTA award-winning Big Blue Live for BBC One and PBS in the USA, a marine wildlife extravaganza in which humpbacks, great white sharks and blue whales, amongst other animals, were filmed live. Liz also presented the award-winning Galapagos for BBC One, a three-part series which saw Liz join a team of scientists carrying out ground-breaking research and undertake her first submersible dive to 1km beneath the waves, the deepest anyone had gone on the archipelago.

September 15, 2022

Maggie Aderin-Pocock

We're excited to reveal a first look at the slate of dynamic and engaging sessions exploring the latest programming trends, industry intelligence and technology impacting the factual community. As it celebrates its 30th anniversary, Congress’ 22 will feature several world-renowned scientists and thought-provoking sessions, top decision makers from leading global broadcasters, and exclusive social events and face-to-face networking opportunities. Taking place in Glasgow at the SEC Centre from November 28 to December 1, 2022, Congress '22 is made possible with the generous support of host sponsor BBC Studios Productions and signature partners Screen Scotland and Creative Scotland.

Congress '22 is thrilled to present Spark of Inspiration: Reaching for the Stars, exploring the recent incredible achievements in space science and looking ahead at the return of humans to the moon and then on to Mars, featuring space scientist, author, and BAFTA-nominated TV presenter Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE. Dr. Aderin-Pocock has spent her career making novel, bespoke instrumentation in both the industrial and academic environments, including instruments for the James Webb Space Telescope, and has worked on a wide variety of shows, including BBC’s The Sky at Night, the world’s longest-running science television program. Working in broadcasting, she served as scientific consultant for the miniseries Paradox on BBC and Intergalactic on Sky 1. She appeared on Doctor Who Confidential, and presented Do We Really Need the Moon and In Orbit: How Satellites Rule Our World on BBC Two. Maggie has also featured in a number of game shows, including the two series of Channel 4's I Literally Just Told You as the question-setter/fact finder, and four series of Duck Quacks Don’t Echo for Sky 1. Dr. Aderin-Pocock is the founder of Science Innovation Ltd.,a company set up to change the demographics of scientists and science knowledge in the UK and around the world.

Over four days, an abundance of enlightening and fascinating sessions will reflect and assess the enormous changes in the industry landscape while exploring new frontiers and celebrating community, resilience, and innovation. New boundary-pushing technologies including virtual reality, gaming, interactive platforms, and virtual studios, will be explored in sessions like Lights, Camera, Technology: Capturing Wildlife’s Greatest Stories, focusing on projects using new technology to observe never-before-seen animal behaviour; Underwater Mysteries, revealing exciting new discoveries in ocean-deep archeology and storytelling; and Virtual Worlds: Bringing Science & History to Life, featuring industry leaders who are immersing us in unimaginable virtual realities, like the extinction of the dinosaurs. Critical conservational issues and ideas will be the focus of The Planet’s Dying…So What?, presenting new ways to reinvigorate environmental content in an oversaturated market, making the genre more relevant and impactful.
New hopes and opportunities for a better future in a changed industry will be explored in sessions like Hiring for Success: How to Diversify Your Team, featuring diversity success stories while exploring ways of breaking down barriers to more inclusive hiring; The Changing Face of Distributors, where a panel of distributors will reassess their role in a transformed industry; and Genre Benders: Is the Future of Factual Fluid?, an in-depth discussion on the popularity and potential of genre-bending programming.

In honour of BBC’s centenary, Congress '22 will feature recognizable BBC faces across the program and will present The BBC & Me: the BBC at 100, a celebration of the world’s first public broadcaster featuring a panel of industry heavyweights. The event will also spotlight Scotland's consummate production community and talent at sessions like Getting to Know the Talent from Scotland and Working with Scotland.

Funding for three blue chip science documentaries will be announced during the United We Stand session. This initiative and call for proposals were announced during Sunny Side of the Doc 2022 and is backed by seven public broadcasters (France Télévisions, ZDF (Germany), Channel 4 (UK), CBC (Canada), SVT (Sweden), ORF (Austria), ABC Australia) who have joined creative and financial forces. Other new sessions include the innovative and interactive Give It a Pitch!, an exciting cross between improv comedy and the art of pitching, where heads of development will create an instant pitch to a panel of tough-to-please decision makers based on one-word subjects shouted from the audience. Returning this year are some Congress favourites, including What's the Buzz, presenting the hottest new trends and most buzzworthy factual content of 2022; The Buzzies, Congress’ annual awards honouring excellence in science and factual storytelling, recognizing short-form, long-form and multiplatform science, history and natural history projects, as well as awarding projects for innovation and impact; and Little Gems, a celebration of factual programs and films that succeeded, sometimes against all odds.

June 20, 2022

The International Documentary Coproduction unit of France Télévisions has united with partners ZDF (Germany), Channel 4 (UK), CBC (Canada), SVT (Sweden), ORF (Austria), ABC Australia, to launch a call for documentary proposals at Sunny Side of the Doc.

Producers are invited to submit proposals for high-quality documentary films, dealing with the following themes:

  • Category 1: Ancient civilizations, archaeology, paleontology, geology, space exploration.
  • Category 2: How cutting-edge science can provide solutions to save the planet.

An international jury composed of representatives from each broadcaster will select a maximum of three ambitious projects, with the aim to select two projects in category 1 and one in category 2. The deadline for proposals is October 14, 2022.

The selected proposals will be announced at Congress '22 in Glasgow during the United We Stand session on Thursday, December 1 at 9:30 a.m.

January 14, 2022

"Creative, relentlessly positive, warm, caring, determined but disarming, and a privilege to call a colleague and friend: Jana Bennett—who died, too young, this week—was one of the great leaders of factual broadcasting. She drove the renaissance of science television at the BBC and on channels across the globe. Jana was a staunch supporter of Congress and its values, at its centre in its early years, as a frequent panelist, and as a sponsor. We invite you to watch again her very personal interview for Congress '20. She was a true spark of inspiration." – John Lynch, Board Chair, WCSFP

December 1, 2021

Glasgow at night

The World Congress of Science and Factual Producers (WCSFP) has announced that its 30th annual Congress, the leading international industry event for science, history and natural history content creators, broadcasters and platform executives, is slated for late 2022 in Glasgow, UK. Congress '22, which will mark the return to a live in-person gathering after two years of virtual Congresses, is generously supported by host sponsor BBC Studios Productions and will coincide with BBC's centenary.

"It's been 15 years since Congress was in Manchester and our return to the UK is long overdue," said Paul Lewis, WCSFP Conference Director. "It's such an incredible hub for creative and innovative factual programming and the ideal place for our community to gather in person after two years apart to get reinvigorated and inspired. We’re thrilled to be working with our long-time supporter BBC Studios Productions to bring Congress ’22 to Glasgow and to celebrate the BBC’s centenary."

"I'm so delighted that we’re able to support Congress coming to Glasgow during a milestone year for the BBC. Glasgow is a thriving home for Specialist Factual programming with brilliant indies, big and small, and world class creative and production talent based in the city," said Tom McDonald, Managing Director of Factual for BBC Studios Productions. "It feels extra special that BBC Studios Productions is the host sponsor for the first in-person congress since 2019 for what will not just a celebration of the BBC’s birthday and a chance to celebrate the independent production sector in the city but hopefully a memorable reunion of colleagues and friends from all around the world."

Congress '22 will offer a full slate of dynamic and engaging conference panels and speakers exploring the latest programming trends, industry intelligence and technology impacting the factual community, along with popular Close Encounters of the Funding Kind sessions that feature presentations by leading broadcast and platform decision-makers, and Speed Dating one-on-one curated pitch meetings. Congress '22 will also mark the return of unforgettable social events for which Congress is renown. Taking full advantage of Glasgow, a city known for its rich history, stunning architecture and remarkable friendliness, Congress '22 will offer members exciting events to socialize and network after two years apart.

BBC Studios is the BBC's main TV production arm, producing bold, British, creative content across a range of genres and specialisms. Its Factual division is the biggest producer of Factual content in the UK, producing world-class Natural History, award-winning Science and critically acclaimed Documentary, History & Arts series. Recent titles include the Emmy-nominated The Year Earth Changed, the Bafta-winning Surgeon's Cut, and Blair & Brown: The New Labour Revolution. Spanning seven bases across the country, our mission is to reflect and represent diverse voices and creative talent from all over the UK. BBC Studios Productions launched as a commercial business in April 2017, making programmes for other broadcasters as well as the BBC, supporting the BBC’s public service mission and generating financial returns for licence fee payers.