The Good Pitch San Francisco starts off with an intensive two-day campaign development workshop led by Working Films for the selected filmmakers September 24-25. A day-long event on September 27 will bring together the filmmakers with NGOs, foundations, philanthropists, brands and other stakeholders to forge coalitions and campaigns that are good for all these allies, good for the films and good for the world.
Below are descriptions of the six selected projects and their award-winning directors:
American Village(Dir. Mary Posatko, Emily Topper)
1972: a father of thirteen is murdered in Baltimore, Maryland. Three boys are arrested, represented by a famous civil rights attorney, and acquitted. Traumatized and confused, the victim’s family flees, and never looks back. Now, amidst a family crisis, his granddaughter returns – to uncover the era’s brutal history, meet the men involved, and begin to heal her family.
Gardens of Paradise (Dir. Bernardo Ruiz)
A veteran reporter and his colleagues at an embattled news weekly challenge the drug cartels and corrupt local officials during a wave of unprecedented violence against journalists in Mexico.
God Loves Uganda (Dir. Roger Ross Williams )
In a journey that spans two continents, African-American director Roger Williams, son of a Baptist minister, explores the nature of belief – in America, where congregants search for spiritual meaning, and in Uganda, where American missionaries and Ugandan evangelicals struggle for the hearts and souls of a people facing dire poverty and tumultuous social change.
How To Survive A Plague (Dir. David France)
Using never-before-seen archival footage, How to Survive a Plague is the intense story of how AIDS stopped being a death sentence, and the improbable group of young HIV-positive activists who, though lacking scientific training, infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry to help develop effective, breakthrough medications. They saved millions of lives – including many, though not all, of their own.
The Invisible War (Dir. Kirby Dick)
The Invisible War is an investigative and powerfully emotional documentary about the epidemic of rape within the US military, the institutions that perpetuate and cover up its existence, and its profound personal and social consequences.
Turkey Creek (Dir. Leah Mahan)
Turkey Creek tells the story of a group of determined Mississippians who struggle to save their endangered Gulf Coast community in the face of rampant development, industrial pollution and disaster. Bridge the Gulf is a citizen journalism and new media initiative designed to help the Gulf Coast’s most marginalized communities convey their stories and their vision for the future.
The Good Pitch was created by Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation, in partnership with the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program. Support for The Good Pitch comes from Chicken & Egg Pictures, The Fledgling Fund, Ford Foundation, Impact Partners, Wyncote Foundation, CrossCurrents Foundation, Amnesty International and anonymous donors. Campaign support for filmmakers is provided by Working Films.
After starting in festivals in Europe and the US, Our Schoolfinally had its premiere in Romania – a homecoming of sorts for the film and an event that we have been anticipating for almost six years.
We shot in a small town in Transylvania, a very real place in Northern Romania. Our intention was to begin to understand, and hopefully improve, race relations between majority Romanians and the Roma ethnic minority by showing under a magnifying glass the story of three spirited Roma children involved in a school integration project in Targu Lapus. After four years of production and two years of editing we ended up with a paradigmatic story of hope, squandered opportunities, and infuriating cultural and institutional inertia. And racism, quite a bit of racism. Some intentional, some merely reflexive, yet all of it profoundly familiar to all Romanians (ourselves, the filmmakers, included). This is precisely why we were bracing so hard and for so long for the Romanian premiere. We knew that in Romania, even more than in other places in Europe or the United States, Our School would be holding a mirror up to its audience – an unflattering one at that. And there are few things as counter-productive and virulent as unexamined, defensive racism.
We did what we could to prepare for the premiere in terms of press, NGO partners on the ground, and the main characters themselves. The NGO partners were as nervous as we were and chomping at the bit to use the film for their own purposes. The characters got to see the film on their own terms before the festival premiere, on the principle that it is cruel and unusual treatment to see your own story projected on a very large screen with a large audience before absorbing it privately. The kids had never been to the cinema before, so they were extra nervous. Our youngest participant, Alin, helped to lighten the mood by eating three ice-creams in rapid succession and contently throwing up right before the screening.
The press was lukewarm, understandably, since they had not seen the film, and the international success of the new Romanian cinema over past ten years has made them unimpressed with projects with the kind of international festival success that Our School has had). The online comments to the advance press coverage came exclusively from people who had not seen it, but assumed that no film on Roma would ever help. They made violent threats and personal attacks against our team for “destroying Romania’s image abroad.” We imagined they were people who had too much time on their hands, but we were still put on notice: Our School had the potential of generating a strong backlash, and that was the last thing we wanted to happen.
Matters were not helped much by the great folk at the Transylvania Film Festival who programmed us in the largest cinema they had: 750 seats. We worried that the seats would remain empty or would be filled with people who do not like what they seen on the screen.
We worried about everything.
Whatever fears we had were dispersed in the first five minutes of the screening. The huge audience laughed loudly at even the smallest jokes in the film. They clapped after particularly poignant lines, making the projectionist worried that they would not hear the soundtrack. They started sniffling, visibly moved towards the end. And, when the credits ended and we all lined up on the stage, we found them giving the children a standing ovation. For five whole minutes.
Alin turned to me and whispered: “Are all of these guys Romanian?” Yes, they were. And they were applauding the courage, resilience, spirit and sass of Alin, Dana, Beni – and all the Romanian friends they managed to make, despite all odds, along the way. The audience had connected to the kids, managing to see themselves in our film without defensiveness or rancor. They found ways to process and understand what they could change in themselves by the time the credits stopped rolling.
After the film…
A teacher confessed to treating her Roma students as inferior. I wanted to put her in touch with the New York teacher who confessed during our Q&A at the Tribeca Film Festival that she had been tracking immigrant children in special education programs because she herself lacked support and know-how to integrate them.
A local mentioned a case of segregation next door to the screening venue – an activist invited the audience to investigate the case, right then and there. A journalist mused about what the Ministry of Education should do with the film – we referred him to the principal in Our School, who despite an awareness that the film showed him in a light that was “a little too true” (his words), ended up generously saying that it is an extraordinary tool that should be used to train and inform people not only in Romania, but abroad.
There were also hugs – lots of them. Alin, Beni, and Dana said that they were treated, for that one night, better than they had been treated, cumulatively, their entire life.
The press reaction that came in response to the screening was no less enthusiastic. A journalist confessed an allergy to issue films and declared herself not only surprised, but cured. An editorial talked about how Our School is not only a film about Roma, it is a film about us. A reputed blog said the audience had come in with fixed ideas and had come out with the urge to apologize to Roma children on behalf of all Romanians.
We know this was an ideal audience in many ways – progressive, trained by ten years of challenging festival experiences, and moved by the presence of the children in the room. But having an initial reaction like this from hundreds of people gives us confidence in what this film can do. It gives us trust that the film can accomplish what we always intended: Point to a systemic problem, make us understand it in the most direct, human way, and do the hardest things of all – change hearts and minds and open up a some hope for the future.
Guest post by Mona Nicoara, Director of Our School.
Eight documentary projects were selected out of hundreds of applications. The selected filmmakers and their projects are:
Dir. Dawn Porter Gideon’s Army is the story of new public defenders working in the South. With long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads, many will not last. But now they have an advocate. Super-lawyer Jonathan Rapping, founder of the Southern Public Defender Training Center, is revolutionizing criminal defense by mentoring and supporting those who represent the people society would rather forget.
We The People
Dir. Soniya Kirpalani
United Arab Emirates, 2010: 17 Indians are given the death penalty for murdering 1 Pakistani. Further investigation reveals 1,785 more Indians languishing behind bars, 200 of whom face capital punishment. As Arab defense teams and India’s Lawyers for Human Rights challenge the Sharia Law Processes, We The People highlights the plight of migrant workers in repressive environments.
Who Is Dayani Cristal?
Dir. Marc Silver
An anonymous body is discovered in the Arizona desert. The only identifying feature is a tattoo reading ‘Dayani Cristal’. To unravel the mystery we must go on an epic journey beginning in a tiny Honduran village and ending in the corridors of power in Washington. Who Is Dayani Cristal? is a groundbreaking fusion of drama and documentary, starring Gael García Bernal, one of the most exciting actors of his generation.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Dir. Alison Klayman Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is an intimate portrait of an international art star during two tumultuous years of his life. A “dissident artist” in the headlines, an online god to liberal Chinese netizens, Ai Weiwei blurs the boundaries of art and politics. But can an artist change China?
Untitled Partners In Health Documentary
Dir. Kief Davidson
Partners In Health is a remarkable global public health organization, insisting on quality health care as a basic right. This film delves deeply into their methods and beliefs, exploring the controversial characters that refuse to ‘choose one life over another, when there is all this wealth in the world.’
Dir. Katie Dellamaggiore
Amidst financial crisis and unprecedented public school budget cuts, Intermediate School 318 in Brooklyn, New York, has assembled the best junior high chess team in the nation. Brooklyn Castle follows five young teens for one school year as they struggle, grow and challenge themselves both on and off the chessboard.
Not In Our Town III: Light in the Darkness
Dir. Patrice O’Neill Not In Our Town III: Light In The Darkness follows a community in crisis after the fatal attack of a local immigrant resident. Stunned by the violence, diverse community stakeholders openly confront the crime and the divisive atmosphere, and commit to ongoing actions to prevent future hate crimes and intolerance.
Crime After Crime
Dir. Yoav Potash Crime After Crime is the exclusive documentary on the legal battle to free Debbie Peagler from prison two decades after her connection to the murder of the man who abused her. The film premiered at Sundance 2011 and has been acquired by OWN. Debbie’s Campaign is the accompanying campaign designed to spark public awareness and changes in domestic violence law.
Check out the activity that happened on twitter during the Good Pitch:
“This year’s must-see documentary” — the New York Times
Budrus is an award-winning feature documentary film about a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites local Fatah and Hamas members along with Israeli supporters in an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier.
Success eludes them until his 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, launches a women’s contingent that quickly moves to the front lines. Struggling side by side, father and daughter unleash an inspiring, yet little-known, movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that is still gaining ground today.
Budrus is the latest production by Just Vision, a nonprofit organization led by a team of Israelis, Palestinians, North and South Americans committed to increasing the power and legitimacy of Palestinians and Israelis pursuing nonviolent solutions to the conflict. The film has won numerous awards at top international festivals, including Berlin, Tribeca and San Francisco, and has been featured in major press outlets such as The New York Times, Washington Post, The Economist, Newsweek, Charlie Rose, MSNBC, and others. It is now playing before a variety of Israeli and Palestinian audiences in the region and is showing in theaters, campuses and communities across the US. Watch the trailer below:
After the screening, Director Julia Bacha will be joined by a panel of peace activists, educators and social media practitioners, including Ingrid Kopp of Shooting People, among others. We are planning a lively interactive discussion about the film’s strategic community organizing and engagement campaign in Palestine, Israel and the U.S., with a special focus on the upcoming campus and community organizing tour. The discussion will be moderated by Peabody-winning filmmaker, educator, environmentalist and co-founder of Chicken & Egg Pictures and Working Films, Judith Helfand.
Open City Documentary Film Festival
London’s newest film festival is a 4 day celebration of documentary filmmaking brought together by University College London (UCL). Open City runs June 16-19, 2011. They have extended their submission deadline to March 10th. Find out more about submission guidelines on their website and submit your film today!
Tribeca Film Institute New Media Fund The Tribeca Film Institute has partnered with the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms Initiative to create the Tribeca Film Institute New Media Fund (TFI Media). $750,000 in funds will provide support to film projects that go beyond traditional screens by integrating film with content across newer media platforms, from video games and mobile apps to social networks and micro-blogging. All projects will activate audiences around issues of contemporary social justice and equality. Submissions will open on April 4th and run through May 25th. Mark it on your calendars now and start preparing!
Media That Matters The eleventh annual Media That Matters Film Festival is now accepting entries for short films 8-10 minutes long. If selected, your film will become a part of Media That Matters™ — an international, multi-platform campaign streaming and playing to thousands of people at screenings across the globe. Check out the criteria and fill in the online submission form.
George Stoney Fellowship Working Films is seeking candidates with a demonstrated commitment to social justice and an interest in documentary film and social media for the 2011 George Stoney Fellowship. The fellowship will last 8-10 weeks starting in May/June 2011 at our main office in Wilmington, North Carolina. The deadline is May 1st. Please click here for information on how to apply.
Chicken & Egg Pictures
Are you a woman filmmaker? Do you have a unique story and great characters that will transform conversations and inspire the world? If so then submit a funding proposal to Chicken & Egg Pictures. C&E funds female filmmakers and offers them mentorship, collaboration, community building and strategic feedback. The deadline to apply is March 30th. Visit Chicken & Egg’s website for more information.
Games for Changes Submissions are now open for the 2nd Annual Games for Change Awards, leading global advocate for supporting and making games for social impact. The Games for Change Festival is the largest gaming event in New York City and the only international event uniting “games for change” creators, the public, civil society, academia, the gaming industry and media. Deadline is March 31 and the awards ceremony will be presented in NYC on June 22. Please click here to read the full criteria and entry form.
konsonant/ Sounding Together initiative (STi) | Indie Fellowship This fellowship will give free music licenses to indie filmmakers working on socially conscious films. This is the first part of the konsonant/ STi which seeks to help projects aiming to make a difference. konsonant/ will choose a handful of filmmakers to work with throughout the year, providing them with the music their causes deserve. Deadline to apply is March 15, 2011. Apply now!
PUMA.Creative Impact Award
The PUMA.Creative Impact Award is a major new annual award to honor the documentary film creating the most significant impact in the world. This 50,000 Euro award acknowledges the filmmakers and will help the continuation of the film’s campaign work. Deadline to apply is April 1st. Find out more on their website.
Pink Sheep Film Festival Wilmington, North Carolina’s first annual LGBTQ film festival will be one of the main events during Wilmington’s Pride Week on June 10th, 2011. The festival is dedicated to showcasing positive LGBTQ themed films. Deadline for submissions is May 3rd. Click here to apply.
How do you make your documentary film resonate with local audiences and issues? How do you build a bridge between community activist groups and the movements in your film? Watch how Deep Down’s film team is bringing together grassroots leaders from Appalachia with community leaders from across the country engaged in similar struggles.
Deep Down’s protagonist Beverly May, co-director Jen Gilomen, and outreach director Lora Smith traveled to Chicago for an ITVS Community Cinema Screening partnered with members of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO). The group toured the Little Village neighborhood, a community known as “The Midwest Mexico,” to learn about their struggle to fight the abuses of several toxic industries including two massive coal powered power plant that are poisoning their air and people.
IMPACT is a series of videos created by Working Films and The Fledgling Fund focused on building film campaigns that ignite social change. Previous videos include “No Impact Man: Activating Your Audience” and “IMPACT: A Funder’s Perspective.”
The Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation, in partnership with the Sundance InstituteDocumentary Film Program, are delighted to announce that the touring funding and networking forum the Good Pitch – will be returning in 2011 with expanded plans, including a third forum in New York City hosted by the Ford Foundation at their midtown headquarters.
The call for entries for the Good Pitch NY 2011 is now open and will close on February 18th. The call is aimed at filmmakers of any nationality working on feature-length or hour-long independent documentary film projects which tackle important global and national issues and enhance our understanding of the world. For more information and to apply go to http://britdoc.org/goodpitch.
Chicken & Egg Pictures and Rooftop Films have joined together to offer a short film grant of $6000 to women filmmakers. Any filmmaker who has ever screened at Rooftop Films, or who has ever applied for or received support from Chicken & Egg Pictures is eligible to apply. For more information on what to include in your application, please visit Chicken & Egg Pictures. Application deadline is August 3, 2010.
Whew, just back from Washington DC and the Good Pitch @ Silverdocs, where it was hot hot hot – both inside the Performing Arts Center with an amazing lineup of films and responses from funders, NGOs, and strategists, and outside, where the temp hovered around 99. Jess Search, of C4 BRITDOC, set up a time lapse camera to capture the day:
Reel Engagement participants and facilitators, from left to right: Robbie Gemmel, Josh Levin, Rennifer Redfearn, Lora Smith, Kristin Henry, Taira Akbar, Deb Anderson, Josh Fox, Emily Verellen, Judith Helfand, Jen Gilomen, Amanda Berger, Natalie Difford, Peter Bull. Photo courtesy of Peter Bull.
During Reel Engagement for the Energy and Natural Resource Revolution, we spent a week drilling down deep (excuse the pun) into audience engagement plans with filmmakers, coordinators, and non-profit organizations on energy and natural resource extraction issues. We’ll be updating you shortly on our website with exciting collaboration plans.