SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: Linda Krige writes… Seven documentary projects with strong social justice messages were pitched to an assembly of over a hundred organisations at the inaugural Good Pitch² at Atlas Studios in Johannesburg yesterday.
It marked the first Good Pitch to take place outside the UK or US.
Good Pitch is an initiative of the Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation and Sundance Institute Documentary Film Programme and brings together NGOs, foundations, philanthropists, brands and media with the aim of building partnerships around documentary projects.
“Everyone in this room needs each other,’ said Jess Search, chief executive of the Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation, “Filmmakers need partners in civil society, and organisations need powerful documentaries to help them spread their messages. It’s about pooling resources.’
The filmmakers had seven minutes to pitch their project to the audience, after which representatives from the selected organisations, ranging from Amnesty International, the SABC, the National Film and Video Foundation, IDASA, Al Jazeera and the Sonke Gender Justice Network to the Ford Foundation, responded on how they could either help the project or use it as part of their work.
One of the films to receive the most attention was The Dream of Shahrazad by director Francois Verster and producer Neil Brandt. It promises to locate the events of the recent Arab Spring within a context of storytelling and music, and more specifically the famous Arab fables of 1001 Nights, using the stories of four people in Egypt and Turkey.
“It will combine music, fable and politics, showing the connection between art and freedom, and revolution and storytelling,’ said Verster.
The first project pitched to the audience was The Dawn of a New Day by Ryley Grunenwald of Marie-Verite Films. The documentary, which premiered at the recent Durban International Film Festival, focuses on access to healthcare and volunteerism.
Director Mike Hutchinson and producer Sharon Farr’s Guardian of Uganda’s Gentle Giants is a documentary looking at Uganda’s first appointed veterinary officer Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka as she searches for a sustainable conservation model for Uganda’s mountain gorillas.
Ntsika, by director / producer Alette Schoon and producer Johanna Mavhunga, is a film about a white, female principal who moves from a privileged Grahamstown school to a township school and learns what it takes to run the school.
Devil’s Lair by director Riaan Hendricks and producer Neil Brandt, focuses on the challenges South African convicts face when they are released from jail, and the lack of prisoner rehabilitation. The film was born out of Hendricks’ own experience of growing up in the Cape Flats and his relationship with a childhood friend who is now a convicted murderer and gang leader.
Dirty Money by producer and writer / director Peter Goldsmid and producer and visual artist Jacki McInnes explores the world of informal street recyclers, while the last project pitched was director Jo Higgs and producer Jacky Lourens’ project, Men from Atlantis. It follows a group of men who take a dramatic stand against the abuse of women and children in Atlantis.
All the projects pitched received positive responses from the audience and promises for partnerships to use the films in outreach actions and awareness campaigns.
Good Pitch² took place as part of the People to People International Documentary Festival and the Tri-Continental Human Rights Film festival.
For more on Good Pitch², read the October issue of Screen Africa.