THE GOOD PITCH at the 2009 SILVERDOCS Festival brought together the masters of the docuverse and NGOs to harness the power of documentary to initiate global change. In association with Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation and the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, eight film projects that tackle important global and national issues were presented to a group of experts from over 95 charities, foundations, advertising agencies, and public and commercial media interests.
This select group of invited attendees included representatives from Cinereach, IMPACT Partners, Fledgling Fund, Moveon.org, Katahdin Foundation, Avaaz.org, Amnesty International, ITVS, Tribeca Film Institute, Wide Angle, Indiepix, BAVC Producers Institute for New Media Technologies, POV, Incite Productions, 1% for the Planet, The Impact Arts + Film Fund, Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media and the Phoebe Haas Charitable Trust.
IndieWire remarked that as THE GOOD PITCH came “roaring into Silver Spring with a vengeance,” there were “some wonderful surprises of synergy, and moments that crystallized partnerships and opened eyes to the new memes of strategic partnership for documentaries”. The event travelled to DC from Hot DOCS, where Cara Mertes, director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, said, “The Good Pitch is a new evolution in the pitch forum format,” and Still in Motion “noted that “emphasis of The Good Pitch is not on ‘advocacy,’ so much as on global social transformation”. SILVERDOCS artistic director, Sky Sitney, echoed this sentiment, saying, “It is a perfect fit with our ethos of celebrating excellence in cinema, supporting a diverse range of voices and storytelling, and fostering the power of documentary to enhance our understanding of the world”.
The eight inspiring finalists that presented at SILVERDOCS, “one of the most prestigious film events devoted to the non-fiction form,” according to Fest21, were selected from a pool of over 300 applicants. The film projects ranged widely in topic, incorporating issues reaching from environmental sustainability to non-violent resistance in the Middle East. They included the following, as described by Cineuropea.org:
BUDRUS HAS A HAMMER
Dir. Julia Bacha
A Palestinian community organizer unites Fatah, Hamas and Israelis in a Gandhian struggle to save his village, unleashing a non-violent movement – with women on the front lines – that is still gaining ground today.
CAPE WIND: THE FIGHT FOR THE FUTURE OF POWER IN AMERICA
Dir. Robbie Gemmel
CAPE WIND illuminates the divisive controversy surrounding the Cape Wind Project – a proposal to build 130 wind turbines off the coast of Cape Cod – translating the furor which exploded on the Cape Cod community into a story of transcendent national importance for the future of sustainability in America.
Dir. Hugo Berkeley
ETHIOPIA’S EXCHANGE tells the story of a woman on a mission – and a world of trouble standing in her way. Eleni Gabre-Madhin, a charismatic Ethiopian economist, wants to end hunger in her famine-plagued country. She designed the nation’s first commodities exchange, which she hopes will revolutionize an age-old market system.
GREEN SHALL OVERCOME
Dir. Megan Gelstein
GREEN SHALL OVERCOME takes an in-depth look at the green-collar job movement through the lens of Van Jones, an African-American civil-rights lawyer. Jones envisions the new green economy as a pathway out of poverty for low-income Americans while simultaneously solving challenges of environmental destruction. After years of advocating for change, Jones is recruited by the Obama Administration and appointed Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation by the White House Council on Environment Quality.
HIGH TECH, LOW LIFE
Dir. Stephen T. Maing
HIGH TECH, LOW LIFE is about one of China’s first citizen reporters and the achievements of a fearless new digital youth generation. The film follows the evolution of a young vegetable seller from blogger to internet celebrity as he reports on sensitive news stories in China.
HUNGRY IN AMERICA
Dirs. Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush
HUNGRY IN AMERICA will investigate why nearly 38 million Americans – including 14 million children – go hungry here, in one of the richest nations on earth.
OUT IN THE SILENCE
Dir. Joe Wilson & Dean Hamer
Out in the Silence uses the story of a small American town confronting the firestorm of controversy ignited by a same-sex wedding announcement to illustrate the challenge of being an outsider in a conservative environment and catalyze new ways of making resources and support available for those working for change.
Dir. Debra Anderson
SPLIT ESTATE follows an unfolding conflict in the Rocky Mountains. With cries from Washington for more domestic gas and oil production, the citizens of Colorado and New Mexico find themselves in the path of an unstoppable rush to drill that is destroying their health, their homes, and their communities.
Out of a rousing series of fast-paced pitches, each lasting a mere seven minutes, came on-the-spot financing, next-day TV broadcast offers, as well as NGO, non-profit, and media platform partnerships. One high-profile alliance was forged between Art Stevens, relationship manager at the Calvert Foundation, who offered a contribution of $10,000 to filmmakers Megan Gelstein and Rick Butler, the makers of GREEN SHALL OVERCOME. Other notable partnerships included a broadcast offer from Planet Green for Debra Anderson’s SPLIT ESTATE. Additionally, Lucy Bailey and Andrew Thompson’s MUGABE AND THE WHITE AFRICAN, one of the films pitched at last years BRITDOC’s Big Pitch last year, earned the SILVERDOCS’ World Feature Award, along with $10,000.
From SILVERDOCS, THE GOOD PITCH will go first to London, September 7th-8th, and then on to the Independent Film Week in New York City on September 24th.
SILVERDOCS was thrilled to host this esteemed event on its inaugural North American tour and will continue to be actively involved in GOOD PITCH events and the business and creative partnerships it helps to forge. Special credit goes to the Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation, the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, and Sandi DuBowski for their masterful stewardship of the event.