Al Jazeera-Encounters Pitching Forum call for submissions
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Tue, 24 May 2016 11:22
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The Encounters South African International Documentary Festival, in partnership with Al Jazeera, is calling African filmmakers to submit proposals for the Al Jazeera-Encounters Pitching Forum taking place in Johannesburg during the 18th Encounters South African International Documentary Festival on Saturday, 11 June 2016.

Encounters announced that it will host the fifth Al Jazeera-Encounters Pitching Forum and a maximum of 12 African filmmakers will be selected to pitch to an Al Jazeera commissioning editor. The call is open to projects at any stage of development or production and each selected filmmaker will have a maximum of seven minutes to pitch their film, with an additional seven minutes allocated for feedback and questions from the Al Jazeera commissioning editor. Projection equipment will be provided for those that have DVDs or other visual presentations to augment their pitch. Selected applicants who cannot attend will be able to participate via Skype.

The Pitching Forum has been highly successful in creating opportunities for filmmakers, last year Al Jazeera commissioned two one-hour documentaries from projects at the forum.

Submission Details

Interested parties should send not more than:
● A one-page synopsis of their film.
● A one-page biography of the filmmaker and producer, including complete contact details (Skype contact, telephone number, city of residence, home and work addresses).
● One page of further background information and/or visual treatment of the subject.
● Links to previous works and promo of proposal, if available.

Submissions should be emailed to with ‘Al Jazeera Pitching Forum’ in the subject line. Deadline for submissions is on or before 16h00 (South African time), Friday, 27 May 2016.

Any submissions that do not follow the strict page limitations will be disqualified. Click here to gain a sense of the Al Jazeera Witness documentary style.

About pitching to Witness
Witness is an immersive, character-led strand on Al Jazeera English with a focus on observational, visual storytelling. The strand has one-hour and half-hour slots each week. The former are usually acquired or co-productions, while the latter are normally commissioned projects.

These are the elements Al Jazeera looks for in half-hour commissions:

● A strong central character/s who owns the film and tells their own story.
● A specific journey that the character/s are on with the potential to capture an unfolding narrative, compelling storylines and a sense of transformation.
● Actuality-driven narrative style with well-shot observational scenes and confidently crafted sequences.
● Few or no formal sit-down interviews. In-situation interviews filmed while characters are immersed in the events driving the film are preferred.
● Films that are character-driven, rather than issue-driven, but still have a current affairs theme as a backdrop. The aim is to provide depth and context to topical issues through the lived experiences of the characters.
● Docs that have a timeless quality and therefore are usually not built around fast changing news events.

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