I'm off to Cologne today to for a screening of my Life on the Douro documentary, and thought I'd post a quick reply to some of the comments, especially as to whether the film can help the region or not.
First, I didn't make the film to promote or help the Douro or its wines, but because it has a fascinating history and culture, is visually stunning, and rich with personal stories. Second, previous docs have helped, for regions
As Tom rightly points out (and it's not pouring water on anything, just a realistic view of things) there are thousands of documentaries, and I have no illusions of it getting an major Awards (for reasons that have little to do with it as a film). And even if it did, I don't know what sort of impact it would have in increasing sales.
But there is interest from at least one film distributor to expand it into a series for _possible_ television sales. Again, whether it appears on local cable stations or a major network, I don't know how much impact it will have. Tho it can't hurt.
The opportunity it does provide, however, is for the wineries, to get behind it, work together, and make it into a major event. The screening and tasting events I set up in California, for example, gave the wineries the opportunity to print up post card invitations and posters and plaster LA and San Francisco with them. They could have been distributed not only to every wine store, but every book store and cultural venue in those cities. They could have put a bit of effort in getting the press out, sending out email shots, personally inviting their clients, etc, etc, etc. It's all about creating buzz and building things up, the snowball effect as we used to say in Canada. That, in turn, would give any broadcast of the film more impact, and in turn make future events more successful.
To be fair, it took me a long time to find a suitable place in LA, a lot were out of my price range, but then that's the consequence of arranging it virtually all by myself (tho with the great support of Roy Hersh), and had the wineries come forth and asked me what can be done to support the film and events, things could have gone much more smoothly.
In the film, people talk about working together and promoting the region and Portugal, but it has to be worked at.
Broadbent Selections, importers of Ferreira and Crasto, Martine's Wines (with extra honorable mention to Nina Scherotter for her 110% effort), importers of Niepoort, Quinta do Portal's importer in the USA, and George Sandeman and Ligia Marques (Sandeman brand manager) really came through and saved the day. But the events could have gone much better had everyone done the same. And it is Sandeman and Ligia, and Niepoort who are once again being supportive of my screening tomorrow in Cologne, something I don't think is a coincidence.
I came back from California exhausted, wondering if it was worthwhile doing this. I'll arrange some more screenings in places that are beneficial to my film, but will leave any possible tastings to be arranged by local wine entities or the wineries themselves. I'm very happy with the film, the overwhelming positive response, and its future, but skeptical about whether most of the wineries will respond to the opportunity it presents, and if they don't work together, then the opportunity is lost.
PS. As a plug, the DVD release has been delayed due to several circumstances beyond my control, apologies to those who have pre-ordered, and no one wants it out as much as I do. If anyone hasn't seen the preview, here it is - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFeEJllDJ-I