Hello friends,

We have the great pleasure of working with amazing filmmakers and changemakers all over the planet, and indeed our team boasts seven different nationalities. But as an organisation founded in these Isles of Britain, we are super excited to announce we have hired new team, sorted the paperwork and the British Film Institute’s Film Fund for Documentary is now open for applications. We can’t wait to have a lovely Rosy Lee, roll up our sleeves and get started on them.

The very first documentary footage ever shot in the UK was a garden scene filmed by French immigrant Louis Le Prince in a suburb of the British northern city of Leeds on October 14th 1888. Louis had invented his own camera and, amazingly, it now seems to be the first film footage shot anywhere. But Louis did not get his place in film history, and neither did Leeds, because Louis never did anything with his rushes, so Edison took the credit (filmmakers take note).

What followed was a fine tradition of socially conscious and creatively inventive documentary filmmaking. Much of which has been preserved and re-issued by the BFI’s National Archive, where you will find the work of artists, journalists, cinematographers, anthropologists working in non-fiction over the past 130 years. Fast forward to the past decade and the BFI has been investing in the documentary inventors of our day, supporting ground-breaking work like Clio Barnard’s The Arbor, John Akomfrah’s The Nine Muses, James Spinney & Peter Middleton’s Notes On Blindness, Carol Morley’s Dreams Of A Life. So, let’s do more.

Poet, novelist, and environmentalist Wendell Berry reminds usThe limits of the camera is that it’s always looking in one direction and always looking through a frame. To determine where to set the lens, where it’s going to look from, requires imagination. So the great photographers are the ones who knew where to look from, not necessarily what to look at.”

It’s time to hand the camera around, look in new directions and imagine our country in new ways. A growing pile of recent UK film industry studies have pointed out the inequities of opportunity - filmmakers are still too often male, white, middle class, straight, able-bodied and London-based and not often enough from the UK’s rich mix of cultural and ethnic communities. We are excited to welcome new people to British documentary and we ask your help and guidance to help us achieve that, learning as we go.

So as the April showers clear, we dedicate this month’s playlist to our nations and regions, starting with a track from the birthplace of film, Leeds.

Newsworthy // Sky Larkin - Leeds

In My View // Young Fathers - Edinburgh

Scary // Stormyz - London

Totally Wired // The Fall - Manchester

Special Cases // Massive Attack - Bristol

I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor // Arctic Monkeys - Liverpool

Common People // Pulp - Sheffield



As the BFI’s delegate partner, Doc Society will use National Lottery funds to develop and support storytellers from all parts of the country and all communities, and to back feature projects with bold cultural and social ambitions and we want to support the early careers of the next generation of brilliant British filmmakers. The Fund has production budget of £650,000 to distribute annually, with three calls per year for features. The short film bun is still in the oven so watch this space announcing its arrival.

What we’re looking out for

Our priority is to develop storytellers from all parts of the country and all communities, and to back feature projects with bold cultural and social ambitions and we want to support the early careers of the next generation of brilliant British filmmakers. Our philosophy is to grow the creative community around docs. We are very interested in shorts by and about local people, and meeting creative people, artists, musicians, youtubers, poets interested in discovering the power and beauty of documentary.

We will be encouraging projects that take risks on form and content, where the more commercial sector cannot. We are looking for ideas that challenge and champion the documentary genre, delight audiences with personal stories and engage with the interests of filmmakers in a creative way. Though we love them all, The Fund is not able to support filmed productions such as a theatre show, filmed sporting or music events, artist installation work, journalism, and films intended primarily for broadcast.

So how do I apply?

We’re a small (but very hardworking!) team and all applications and supporting materials must be submitted via our online application system so that we can track them. Please don’t send applications via email.


The Fund is now open and submissions will close at noon on Friday 11th May 2018.

We will then be in touch with all applicants within 4 weeks of the fund deadline to let you know if you’ve been shortlisted. We will meet with shortlisted candidates to discuss their proposals. There is no longer a formal pitching process.

Got a question?

Please check out our comprehensive guidelines which should help with any burning questions. If you can’t find what you need, please contact our BFI Doc Society Fund officer Lynn Nwokorie at hello@docsociety.org.

And please do clock in for the BFI Doc Society team Webinar on Tuesday 1st May from 12.30 to 2pm. Please email hello@docsociety.org with your question and to sign up to be part of it.

BFI Doc Film Fund Out and About

First up our Fund Executive Lisa Marie Russo is heading over to the Queens Film Theatre, Belfast on Thursday 19th April to talk doc film funding both North and South of the Irish border at the Belfast Film Festival. So if that’s your corner, catch up with Lisa Marie there!

...And at the end of May watch this space as the BFI Doc Society Fund team plan to hit the beautiful North East for our first creative caravan!

Credit Due

We want to take a breath to say a huge THANK YOU to our colleagues, the brilliant team at the BFI for putting their trust in us and honoring us with the opportunity to serve British doc filmmakers. Thanks to Amanda, Ben, Lizzie, Liane, Clare, Ian, Jodie and everyone else at the BFI who has helped to make this beautiful thing happen!


The very first Good Pitch Colombia is happening today - April 19th - in beautiful Barranquilla, Colombia. Hosted by Giuliano Cavalli and his team at Fundación Cámara Oscura in partnership with the British Council Colombia and the Ford Foundation.

The outreach team led by Vanessa Cuervo and supported by Kristie Robinson has invited 200 participants including 60 organizations from Colombia, eight from Latin American and ten more from the US and beyond.

Good Pitch Colombia is proud to present six new feature documentaries--five from Colombian teams and one project from Mexico-- to an incredible curated group of foundations, NGOs, campaigners, academics, philanthropists, policymakers, and media. All invited to bring support and ideas for how the films can have the best possible impact. The featured documentary projects are:

Soul of the Desert Dir. Monica Taboada Tapia, Prod. Santiago Fernández Suarez

After decades of solitary exile away from her community, Georgina, a member of the indigenous Wayúu tribe, who is also a transgender woman embarks on a journey to find her family and discovers the tribe struggling with challenges in the face of corruption in Columbia.

Invisible Border Dir. Alejandro Quijano, Prod. Clare Weiskopf and Nicolas Van Hemelryck

In the Colombian Pacific coast there is an Afro-Colombian population living in the midst of a cyclical violence. Modern slavery in sugar cane fields as the only labor alternative, extreme poverty, State’s abandonment, and revenge —transmitted from generation to generation— have led the youth to organize into gangs locked inside an “invisible border”.

Seven Name Woman Dir. Daniela Castro & Nicolas Ordóñez, Prod. Rocío Caro

This is the story of a woman who found through reinvention a way to survive, in a country that turned its back on her. Her identity is built on forgotten names. Yineth is the seventh one. A peasant girl, a young guerrilla, a middle-class mother, and a government official all make up her story.

I’m Not the One Shouting, Dir. Yira Plaza O'Byrne, Prod. Jorge Botero (teaser)

What are the reasons for killing a man? The filmmaker’s father, a 65 years old Colombian union leader, suffered an attempt in 2014. Despite the threats and exiles, he still bets everything for the revolution. “I got from my dad the need to believe in utopias, but I do not know where to put them today. In this film I start an intimate trip with my dad and his history”.

Yuma Río Sonoro Co-directors Simón Hernandez and Simon Mejían

Río Sonoro is a journey along the Río Magdalena, in search of the sounds of the river. Guided by musician Simón Mejía, from Bomba Estéreo, and told through musical encounters, we get to know characters and stories from the river itself; finding out what it takes to make a living near the water and the way in which they -and their music- interact with the river, at times in an organic and fertile manner, and others in crude and ruthless ways.

Cosas Que No Hacemos Dir. Bruno Santamaría, Prod. Abril López

In Mexico, on the Nayarit-Sinaloa border, is an island that seems to be uninhabited by adults; kids work as fishermen, play games, fall in love for the first time, disobey their parents, come to terms with their homosexuality, are afraid of the dark, and narrate their own story.

For more information please visit here


A huge bow down to the outstanding Good Pitch India team led by Sophy Sivaraman at the Indian Documentary Foundation with Outreach Directors Ruchi Bhimani & Manohar Kabeer. April 4th felt like a game changer for Indian non-fiction filmmakers.

The second edition of Good Pitch India supported by Tata Trusts, welcomed 234 representatives of 134 organisations from 11 countries from across the globe.

Pledges of help, advice, funding and networks for the four selected film teams streamed from all over the room. Including dynamic advocate for disability rights and a former member of Parliament pledged her networks for Climbing Uphill; collaboration with police personnel for sensitization towards victims of sex trafficking for Her Song; an outpouring of support for rural women journalists featured in Writing With Fire, along with pledges to connect them to the international journalism fraternity; and, a weekend hackathon to program an augmented reality app to bring about awareness around trafficking and child marriage for #MissingGirls.

In the coming months, Good Pitch India is going LOCAL - in cities across India, to bring together filmmakers with local funders and organizers, lawyers, educators, policy makers and media, to shape innovative media that can galvanize local communities.

And after the first edition of Talk Doc in collaboration with the fantastic team at Mumbai Academy of Moving Images (MAMI), the team are already planning a second edition to bring together documentary filmmakers with film industry professionals, to broaden the scope and engagement with non-fiction media.

Do sign up to the Good Pitch India team to receive updates at http://www.indiandocumentaryfoundation.org/

The Good Pitch horse continues to ride! SAVE THE DATE Good Pitch Local is coming to Detroit on July 17th, 2018. If interested, please get in contact with goodpitchlocal@docsociety.org



Good Pitch and Britdoc Bertha Connect Fund grantee, When I Fall successfully launched its exclusive London premiere of the film on the 14th of April at the BFI Southbank with a Q&A discussion headed by the wonderful Mia Bays of Birds Eye View and the talented directors Kate McLarnon and Sky Neal alongside producer Elhum Shakerifar.

Sheetal and Saraswoti met as teenagers in a Kathmandu refuge, both survivors of child trafficking to Indian circuses. They had been rescued and brought back across the border to Nepal, but what does the future hold for these young women returning to a home they barely remember? Even When I Fall traces their journey over 6 years, as they reclaim their breath-taking skills as circus artists and begin to build a future against all the odds. Along with 11 other young trafficking survivors, they form Circus Kathmandu – Nepal’s first and only circus – creating a livelihood for themselves and simultaneously working to educate and challenge the deep-seated stigma against trafficked women. This intimate, beautiful film harnesses the visual power of circus to give a unique perspective into the complex world of human trafficking.

Even When I Fall is screening across the UK now. View listings and book tickets here.


We’re delighted to see that a special preview of Doc Society grantee Black Mother will open the Frames of Representation - New Visions for Cinema festival at the ICA on April 20th at 8:30pm and will feature a Q&A with director Khalik Allah.

FoR is a week long festival lovingly curated and hosted by London’s ICA from 20th - 27th April 2018. This 3rd edition of the festival takes the theme of Landscape, exploring paths to ecologically sustainable and socially equitable communities. Festival Curator Nico Marzano says the festival “engages with the creative tension between fiction and non-fiction, reality and imagination, aiming to create a space where cinema and art become dynamic forces for change”. #FoR2018


Tribeca Film Festival in New York opens today and runs till Sunday, April 29th

If you find yourself in NY be sure to check out the DocSoc films playing -

Blowin’ Up Dir: Stephanie Wang Breal, Prod. Carrie Weprin

World Premiere. In a courtroom in Queens, women facing prostitution charges may earn a chance at redemption thanks to an experimental program established by a team of rebel heroines working to change the system. Good Pitch New York 2016

Screening: Sat 4/21 at 6:30PM, Sun 4/22 at 3:00PM, Mon 4/23 at 5:15PM, Weds 4/25 at 5:15PM

Roll Red Roll Dir. Nancy Schwartzman, Prod. Nancy Schwartzman, Jessica Devaney, Steven Lake

World Premiere. At a 2012 pre-season high-school football party in Steubenville, Ohio, a young woman was sexually assaulted. The aftermath exposed an entire culture of complicity — and Roll Red Roll maps out the roles that peer pressure, denial, sports machismo, and social media each played in the tragedy. Bertha Doc Society Journalism Fund, Perspective Fund

Screening: Sun 4/22 at 8:00PM, Mon 4/23 at 8:30PM, Tues 4/24 at 6:15PM, Sat 4/28 at 5:30PM, Sun 4/29 at 5:30PM

Check out the trailer here which launched on Teen Vogue last week!

United Skates Dir/Prod: Dyana Winkler, Tina Brown

World Premiere. Credited with incubating East Coast hip-hop and West Coast rap, America’s roller rinks have long been bastions of regional African-American culture, music, and dance. As rinks shutter across the country, a few activists mount a last stand. Threshold Fund *John Legend has recently come on board as an Executive Producer

Screening: Thurs 4/19 at 8:30PM, Fri 4/20 at 8:00PM, Sat 4/21 at 8:30PM, Weds 4/25 at 7:15PM, Sun 4/29 at 9:45PM

The full list of documentaries screening at the festival can be seen here


We’re super proud to announce that two of our film projects have been selected for the influential Hot Docs 2018 Forum with the opportunity to receive first look Pitch Prizes, which will award three projects with a total of 0K; the K Hot Docs Corus Pitch Prize; and the Cuban Hat Award. Both projects are supported through our Bertha Doc Society Journalism Fund:

The Rashomon Effect, Directed by Lyric R. Cabral

Softie, Directed by Sam Soko

Other Doc Society projects you can catch at Hot Docs include:

Bisbee ‘17 Dir. Robert Greene Pulse Doc Society Genesis Fund, Doc Society Circle Fund

Blowin’ Up Dir. Stephanie Wang Breal Good Pitch NY 2016

Matangi / Maya / M.I.A Dir: Stephen Loveridge Channel 4 Fund

Recovery Boys Dir. Elaine McSheldon Good Pitch NY 2016

Roll Red Roll Dir. Nancy Schwartzman Bertha Doc Society Journalism Fund, Perspective Fund

Shirkers Dir: Sandi Tan Pulse Doc Society Genesis Fund

The White World According to Daliborek Dir: Vit Klusak Good Pitch Europe 2016

United Skates Dir. Dyana Winkler, Tina Brown Threshold Fund


This was the first time we attended the fantastic Full Frame Documentary Film Festival which has run for 22 editions in Durham, North Carolina. This year’s programme featured four of Doc Society supported films Shirkers (Dir: Sandi Tan), Dark Money (Dir: Kim Reed), Hale County This Morning This Evening (Dir: RaMell Ross) and the World Premiere of The Pushouts directed by Katie Galloway and Dawn Valladez which follows incredible award-winning professor, author, speaker, and mentor, Dr. Victor Rios as he works to stop the school to prison pipeline for at risk teens in California.

And a special shout out as The Reva and David Logan Grand Jury Award was presented to Hale County This Morning, This Evening. Congrats to RaMell Ross and his entire team!



We were honored to be present at the legendary Skoll World Forum 2018 taking place on 4-7 April and this year took on the theme of ‘Proximity’ as a powerful means for creating lasting social change. In a session that spotlighted the significant rise in female leadership (particularly amongst fearless young women) and world-changing positive action of recent gender equality campaigns like #metoo, Doc Society’s Jess Search interviewed two such internationally recognised women leaders and authorities on climate change - the Convenor, Mission 2020 & Former Executive Secretary, UNFCCC Christiana Figueres and Tara Houska, National Campaigns Director, Honor the Earth (both pictured above).

Native American activist and all round super woman, Tara Houska blew us away when she opened Good Pitch New York in 2016 and has just shared her incredible wisdom in a vital TED talk about indigenous peoples uniting to protect the world's water, lands and history, including the months-long standoff at Standing Rock which rallied thousands of supporters around the world. Imperative viewing!


A quick shout out to UK's Festival of Commonwealth Film, which last week featured the European Premiere of Leitis in Waiting. The film, directed by Good Pitch alumni and Doc Society friends Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson, follows an intrepid group of gender and sexual minorities in the Pacific on a quest to overturn colonial-era laws that criminalize their lives. Such an important film in light of the rising tide of religious fundamentalism and intolerance in their South Pacific Kingdom. We look forward to exploring more vital stories from the Pacific region as our colleagues at Doc Edge New Zealand continue to develop programmes over the next three years with labs and Good Pitch Local events through Polynesia, Melanesia, & Micronesia.


(Image courtesy: Michaela Holland)

Our partners Sheffield Doc/Fest are masters of anticipation as the fest continues to unveil some incredible highlights including their Alternate Realities Exhibition and Summit, showcasing immersive and interactive forms of storytelling.

Face to Face (by Michaela Holland, Michelle Gabel and Ivana Jiron) winner of Sheffield Doc/Fest’s third Alternate Realities Commission will receive its World Premiere in the Alternate Realities Exhibition. This immersive and interactive experience is the extraordinary story of an American mother with two daughters – whose life was forever changed by a gun accident.

Read all the news about all of the projects and people featured in the Doc/Fest Alternate Realities programme here.

Doc/Dispatch, Rough/Ready

Doc/Fest also have two film programme submissions closing soon. Doc/Dispatch is looking for topical, urgent and fast turnaround stories from around the world. Rough/Ready welcomes submissions from UK and Irish films at rough cut and fine cut stages. Apply here: http://bit.ly/DFRoughReady (Deadline Monday 23rd May)

The festival runs from 7th - 12th June 2018, click here for info and to purchase tickets and passes

Watch the trailer for Leitis in Waiting here


Aisha Younis - Production Coordinator - London

After a stint of being Office Intern extraordinaire for Doc Society, we recently welcomed Aisha as our full time Production Co-ordinator where she assists across events and supports the team in delivering research and collating case studies. Before joining Doc Society, Aisha studied BA Politics and International Relations at the University of Westminster. Her dissertation was focused on Edward Snowden with Laura Poitras’ Citizenfour film steering her interest in Documentary. Aisha recently worked across multiple media platforms as a Researcher producing factual content at Sky News, BBC2 and Freemantle Media. In her spare time, Aisha is working on field producing a feature length documentary and is an expert henna artist.


team Doc Society


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