In a move that will cast doubt over the launch of its mooted documentary channel, Sundance Channel announced on Monday the creation of a weekly documentary night planned for March 2003. The so-called DOCday will premiere on Monday March 3 and continue every Monday thereafter from noon to midnight with a weekly feature premiere at 9pm. Sundance Channel president and chief executive officer Larry Aidem said that the company had completed its first acquisition of ten features from Canada's Films Transit International. Programming will comprise original and acquired shorts and features from the US and abroad.
In a statement released today Aidem said: "The creation of DOCday reaffirms and underscores Sundance Channel's and Robert Redford's ongoing commitment to documentary films. In addition to creating this weekly destination, Sundance Channel also remains committed to the creation of a full documentary channel, as do our cable and satellite clients, many of whom have enthusiastically embraced this brand extension."
However, it seems a backward move for the channel which this year at the Sundance Film Festival announced the launch of a documentary network for the second half of the year. Redford himself held a press conference to talk about the channel which was envisioned as a digital spin-off of the Sundance Channel, which was launched in 1996 as a joint venture between Robert Redford, Showtime Networks Inc., and Universal Studios. At the time no US cable or satellite operators had publicly signed on to carry the new network.
Sundance Channel has won critical acclaim for its espousal of documentaries in the past, and premieres include Marina Zenovich's Who Is Bernard Tapie'; Ron Havilio's Fragments Jerusalem; Roko Belic's Genghis Blues; and St. Claire Bourne's John Henrik Clarke: A Great and Mighty Walk. The ten Films Transit films include Stig Bjorkman's Tranceformer and Axel Engstefeld and Hebert Habersack's Automat Kalashnikov. Both will be US premieres.