News | RTL Group | Potsdam, 04/22/2021

UFA Founds UFA Documentary

UFA is launching its own production unit for documentaries. It is called UFA Documentary and will do business as an independent production company under the UFA umbrella. The Managing Directors of UFA Documentary are Gwendolin Szyszkowitz-Schwingel and Marc Lepetit. UFA has already produced major documentaries such as “Expedition Arktis” and “Der große Fake – Die Wirecard-Story.”

Going forward, UFA will focus more on documentary formats and is founding UFA Documentary to expand its documentary content. Productions such as “Expedition Arktis,” “Der große Fake – Die Wirecard-Story” and “Hannelore Kohl – die erste Frau” have already proven UFA’s strong credentials in this field. Like UFA Fiction, UFA Serial Drama, and UFA Show & Factual, the new company will operate as an independent production company under the UFA umbrella and as part of the Fremantle Group, focusing on documentaries, hybrid-docs (a mix of documentary and fiction), and serialized features. The Managing Directors of UFA Documentary are Gwendolin Szyszkowitz-Schwingel and Marc Lepetit. Szyszkowitz-Schwingel joined UFA in her new function on April 15.

“Broadcasters and platforms around the world are increasingly demanding non-fiction content and new formats, such as docu-fiction and serial formats,” explains Nico Hofmann, CEO of UFA. “Now is the time to expand this growing field – the new, independent unit will be an important player for documentary content. Gwendolin Szyszkowitz-Schwingel and Marc Lepetit are an experienced team with very differing expertise in the documentary segment and are very well connected within this field. Both have long ties to UFA and I am very much looking forward to UFA Documentary starting its first shoots – this very year, 2021.”

“Nothing has as much power as veracity,” says Gwendolin Szyszkowitz-Schwingel. “I am very pleased that UFA – known for its great talent in finding and narrating stories – is now putting increased emphasis on people’s fascination with reality as well. Our first formats will narrate the latest red hot observations of the political situation, the current turning point of female empowerment, ultimate sporting achievements and historical innovations.” Szyszkowitz-Schwingel launched her own production company in 2009, after seven years as head of the Berlin office of ZDF Theaterkanal. With her company, she produced documentaries and corporate videos, but also reportage series for SWR.

Co-Managing Director Marc Lepetit says: “We want to narrate societally relevant topics not only in an emotional, exciting, and visually appropriate way, but in the best case also to spark an accompanying debate. With UFA Documentary we want to address creative people and tackle subjects, showing and explaining them to a broad international audience in a manner which is almost more exciting than fiction. Those complex stories, like the recent Wirecard scandal, will be made tangible and comprehensible through hybrid documentaries. UFA Documentary wishes to become a home for talent, filmmakers and creatives, bringing them together with experts and journalists in this genre.” Lepetit has already realized a number of successful projects as a producer for UFA Fiction, for example the “Ku’damm” series, the transmedia project “Kill Your Darling” and most recently “Der große Fake – Die Wirecard-Story.” In winter 2021, the collaboration between BMG and UFA Fiction, which he co-initiated, will bring the musical “Ku’damm 56” to the stage at Berlin’s Theater des Westens.

Internationally, too, UFA’s parent company Fremantle is focusing more on documentary formats. New productions include documentaries such as “Arctic Drift,” the international version of “Expedition Arktis”; “Day Zero,” a documentary about water scarcity; “Enslaved,” Samuel L. Jackson’s series about the transatlantic slave trade; “How It Feels to Be Free,” with Alicia Keys as Executive Producer; the music documentary “Oscar Peterson: Black and White”; and the three-part Hulu documentary series “Von Dutch.”