“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
- Charles Dickens, A Tale Of Two Cities (1859)
It is said that the rooms and gardens of the House of St Barnabas (just down the road from our London office) were the blueprint for the imagined lodgings of the French Doctor Manette and and his daughter Lucy in A Tale of Two Cities. Set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution the novel explores Dickens belief in the possibility of resurrection and transformation, both on a personal and on a societal level. Well we are sorely in need of some of that possibility right now at our UK HQ, as the winter nights draw in and the nation hurtles towards a vote on Brexit in parliament on December 11th. ‘A vote on a deal that nobody wants but beyond which nobody can see’ (Zoe Williams).
While much of our work has gone local in the US and UK, international solidarity abounds and is fueling us. We’ve just returned from the Netherlands where we’ve had the most amazing week at IDFA Festival. Where we hosted the third Global Impact Producers Assembly, uniting 116 filmmakers, impact producers and the organisations who support them, from more than 40 countries (yes you heard that right) to share experiences, their live campaigns & inspire each other with stories of resistance and impact.
And huge congratulations are due to Orwa Nyrabia & his IDFA team. By comparison to the conversations gripping the UK, it was a week defined by glorious internationalism. With nearly 300 films and over 3000 guests, with stories made and in the making from all around the world - you couldn’t help but be inspired by the vision and ambition of our glorious global documentary community. The ‘dream-filled filmmakers & curious viewers’ as Orwa would say.
This month’s playlist features the top tracks of 2018 from the nation state of every single colleague we had the pleasure to talk to. From India to Kenya, China to Mexico, Brazil to Turkey. Tune in, turn it up and read on - for crazy good pop magic to accompany well, some pretty good news..
"God’s Plan" - Drake
"Hold Me Down" - Chris Wu
"Without Me" - Halsey
"Pornoo" - SANNI
"Alright" - Jain
"Amigos Con Derechos" - Reik, Maluma….
FRESH OUT THE BOX
Doc Society was dead proud to have three new films premiering at IDFA 2018. First up was Good Pitch alum & Doc Society Circle Grantee, Bellingcat – Truth in a Post-Truth World. Directed by Dutch filmmaker Hans Pool, this film tells the story of the citizen journalists and fact finders behind some of the biggest news breaks in recent times including the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 tragedy & Skripal poisoning. Here is a splendid review from Variety.
On Sunday 18th November, it was the turn of the highly anticipated The Trial of Ratko Mladic by UK filmmakers Rob Miller and Henry Singer. Supported by the Doc Society Bertha Journalism Fund and a labour of love years in the making, the film brilliantly covers both sides of the prosecution and the defence during a trial which lasted five years and saw Mladic indicted on 11 counts. The chief prosecutor, Peter McCloskey and Mladic’s lawyer, Branko Lukic, were both on stage afterwards to discuss the film. The co-directors, Henry Singer and Rob Miller were relieved, elated and not a little exhausted to have finally reached this moment.
Later that evening was the premiere of Hungary 2018, by award winning Hungarian filmmaker Eszter Hadju also supported by the Doc Society Bertha Journalism Fund. Hers was a portrait of an election taking place in a EU dictatorship. It’s a shocking, unrelenting film that should have a huge resonance in Europe & beyond as the film lays out the dangers of populism and the impossibility of providing an alternative vision without a robust, independent media.
Other Doc Soc family screenings at the festival were: Hale County This Morning, This Evening (Threshold Fund), The Silence Of Others (Good Pitch Alum), When The War Comes, (Good Pitch Alum), Aquarela (Good Pitch Alum), Becoming Animal (Pulse Doc Society Genesis Fund). Huge congrats to ALL the film teams one and all.
AND LAUNCHING IN JANUARY UP IN THE MOUNTAINS...
The 2019 Sundance Film Festival line-up has just gone live and we are totally made up for the filmmakers in the Doc Soc fam who have been selected for competition:
Untitled Brazil Documentary. Directed & Written by Petra Costa, Produced by Joanna Natasegara, Shane Boris & Tiago Pavan. A cautionary tale for these times of democracy in crisis - the personal and political fuse to explore one of the most dramatic periods in Brazilian history. With unprecedented access to Presidents Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva, we witness their rise and fall and the tragically polarized nation that remains. A Good Pitch Miami Alum, supported by Bertha Doc Society Journalism Fund & Threshold Foundation
Midnight Traveler. Directed by Hassan Fazili, Written by Emelie Mahdavian, Produced by Emelie Mahdavian, Su Kim. When the Taliban puts a bounty on Afghan director Hassan Fazili’s head, he is forced to flee with his wife and two young daughters. Capturing their uncertain journey, Fazili shows firsthand the dangers facing refugees seeking asylum and the love shared between a family on the run. Supported by Bertha Doc Society Journalism Fund & Threshold Foundation
Knock Down the House. Directed by Rachel Lears, Produced by Sarah Olson, Robin Blotnick, Rachel Lears. A young bartender in the Bronx, a coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia, a grieving mother in Nevada and a registered nurse in Missouri build a movement of insurgent candidates challenging powerful incumbents in Congress. One of their races will become the most shocking political upset in recent American history. Supported by Doc Society / Threshold Foundation
Cold Case Hammarskjold. Directed by Mads Brügger, Produced by Peter Engel, Andreas Rocksén, & Bjarte M. Tveit. Danish director Mads Brügger and Swedish private investigator Göran Bjorkdahl are trying to solve the mysterious death of Dag Hammarskjold. As their investigation closes in, they discover a crime far worse than killing the Secretary-General of the United Nations. A Good Pitch Europe Alum, supported by Bertha Doc Society Journalism Fund
Always in Season. Directed by Jacqueline Oliver, Produced by Jessica Devaney & Jacqueline Olive. When 17-year-old Lennon Lacy is found hanging from a swing set in rural North Carolina in 2014, his mother’s search for justice and reconciliation begins as the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present. A Good Pitch North Carolina Alum
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch. Directed by Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, Edward Burtynsky, Written by Jennifer Baichwal, Produced by Nicholas de Pencier. From concrete seawalls in China that cover 60% of the mainland coast to the biggest terrestrial machines ever built in Germany, to psychedelic potash mines in Russia’s Ural Mountains, to conservation sanctuaries in Kenya, the filmmakers have traversed the globe to document the evidence and experience of human planetary domination. A Good Pitch Vancouver Alum
Congratulations to all the filmmakers - fiction and nonfiction - on this year’s incredible slate! We look forward to seeing you and your stories in Park City!
ANNOUNCING FUNDS INCREASE AND FIRST WAVE OF BFI DOC SOCIETY GRANTEES
Even more good news! We are excited to announce our partners at the BFI have increased their funding commitment to features granted by the BFI Doc Society Fund. This means an additional £276,000 for feature funding. Read more about it here. Second, a huge applause for the first round of grantees of the BFI Doc Society Fund. An array of creative stories that push form and finds new paths in storytelling, we look forward to embarking on this incredible creative journey with the following grantees:
Horseman Dir. Amy Hardie | Prod. Sonja Henrici | Scottish Documentary Institute | UK
What do a peak fitness racehorse and a traumatised ex-soldier have in common? Both react explosively to the smallest stimulus. For two ex-soldiers, the horse is the last chance. In the Scottish Highlands they are about to come face to face with a ton of pure spirit and muscle. Will the experience give them new tools to heal their trauma and return to life? (Development)
Is There Anybody Out There? Dir. Ella Bee Glendining | Prod. Janine Marmot | Hot Property Films | UK
A young woman with a rare disability searches for others with the same condition, when her journey takes an unexpected turn. (Development)
The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks Dir. Dempsey Rice | Prod. Lori Cheatle, Dempsey Rice, Al Morrow | MetFilm, Hard Working Films | UK & US
A cinematic journey into the life and work of celebrated author and neurologist Oliver Sacks, M.D. Filmmaker Dempsey Rice combines her ten years of on-camera conversations with Sacks, using animation and stunning visuals to explore the line between biography and patient histories, painting a fascinating portrait of Sacks and his quest to understand the mind. (Production)
Exterminate All the Brutes Dir. Rob Lemkin | Prod. Geoff Arbourne | Inside Out Films | UK
British-Nigerian poet and activist Femi Nylander travels to West Africa to uncover the secrets of a colonial killer whose spirit lives on. (Production)
Hello, Stranger Dir. Beryl Richards | Prod. Beryl Richards, Alex Usborne | UK
Hello Stranger is a personal film, which follows director Beryl Richard’s adopted son on his turbulent journey from the age of one to adulthood. Joe’s world is recorded on many different formats and his story told from the contrasting perspectives of mother, father and son. (Production)
Maya Dir. Jamshid Mojaddadi, Anson Hartford | Prod. Hugh Hartford | Banyak Films | Iran, UK
Daily life at Mashhad Zoo is interrupted when head keeper Mohsen is invited to take Maya, his beloved Bengal tiger, to act in a fiction film in the North of the country. With real life drama, hallucinatory imaginations and stunning imagery of Iran’s great wilderness, the film stands as a fable for our relationship with the natural world. (Production)
A Story of Bones Dir. Joseph Curran, Dominic Aubrey de Vere | Prod. Jo-Jo Ellison | Archer’s Mark | UK
As the Chief Environmental Officer for Saint Helena’s doomed £285m airport project, Annina van Neel-Hayes witnessed the unearthing of a terrible secret. Haunted by an historical injustice, she takes on institutional and governmental ambivalence to expose disturbing truths about Britain’s colonial past. (Production)
MIDLANDS MAKE MOVIES
On Weds 14 November, we asked the people of the Midlands How do you #DocSociety? Turns out with gusto as over 100 filmmakers, cultural organisers and other creatives joined the BFI Doc Society Fund team for a full day of doc discussion, films and networking at mac Birmingham.
Kicking off with the A-Z of support for independent filmmakers in the region with Film Hub Midlands, Flatpack Festival, Producers’ Forum, Rural Media and hearing what’s cooking with the BFI Doc Society fund. Lindsey Dryden told us what an impact producer does, Anna Griffin of Nottingham-based Wellington Films delivered survival strategies for independent producers, while Shahmir Sanni reflected on being the “Brexit Whistleblower”. There was an opportunity to ‘lunch with Christine’ (our very own BFI Doc Society Business Affairs Exec pictured above) and an opportunity to sign up for one-2-one sessions with industry professionals.
The afternoon brought together a panel of experts from NOWNESS, Guardian Documentaries, British Council Film, MetFilm and Lush, to find out what makes them tick. Myles Dyer gave his top tips on creating online content with integrity and Birmingham-based Simeon Moore (Zimbo Freemind) shared his DATS TV initiative. We rounded up with two terrific creative doc shorts, Millie and The Mess. Phew!
The next location for How do you #DocSociety? will be announced really soon. And as we talk to UK filmmakers navigating the future media landscape under the shadow of Brexit, we are looking for more collaborative, inventive and resourceful ways to operate as a community.
If you are a cultural organiser, a film club, a producers group, a filmmakers collective and you’ve got ideas about how Doc Society can help with other kinds of convenings - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We can’t wait to hear from you.
LIVE & LOCAL IN PHILLY
On 4th December, the Good Pitch Local ship docks in Philadelphia for a day-long networking event showcasing short-form non-fiction media projects that are deeply relevant to the region.
We have an extraordinary group of local partners for this event - BlackStar Film Festival, Bread and Roses Community Fund, Leeway Foundation, PhillyCAM, Scribe Video Center, and Temple University Film and Media Arts Program - all who have helped to realise this day. Our long-time friends at Wyncote Foundation have made us feel super welcome in their hometown. Thank you one and all.
Come Tuesday we are so excited to hear about new projects from media makers including: Janet Goldwater and Barbara Attie (Abortion Hotline), Yolanda Johnson-Young (Finding Elijah), El Sawyer (Hidden Resources), Melissa Beatriz (La Lucha Sigue/The Fight Continues), Anula Shetty (Places of Power), Tony Heriza (The Storefront), Kristal Sotomayor (Untitled Immigrant Rights Documentary), Marie Alarcón (Witness).
The diverse and powerful organisations pitching include: Amistad Law Project, Black & Brown Workers Cooperative, Broad Street Ministry, Girls Rock Philly, Project Maroso, the ReEntry Think Tank / People’s Paper Co-op and Why Not Prosper. Scribe Founder Louis Massiah will preview the newest films in the Precious Places Community History Project and the team from Resolve Philly will share insights form their collaborative solutions journalism projects.
If that wasn’t enough the amazing Philadelphia-based poet, educator and bandleader Yolanda Wisher will help us frame the day with a poetic offering.
At this point if you are local to Pennsylvania and feeling pretty green with envy - well fear not. We will try to squeeze you in. Email email@example.com to catch the last place.
Good Pitch Local Philadelphia is presented by Doc Society in partnership with Ford Foundation and Sundance Institute. Major supporters are: Hartley Media Impact Initiative at Auburn, Cross Currents Foundation, The Fledgling Fund, Propel Capital, and Wyncote Foundation.
Learn more at: www.GoodPitch.org.
CLIMATE NEWS: LAUNCH OF CHASING CORAL AND CHASING ICE RESOURCES ON DOC ACADEMY USA
Calling all U.S. educators! In an effort to reimagine how documentary film can play a leading role in bringing climate change and other issues to life in the classroom, while developing empathy and critical thinking skills in our young people, we are thrilled to announce that Chasing Coral and Chasing Ice resources are now available on the U.S. Doc Academy platform. Featuring clips from both films along with teacher designed interdisciplinary lesson plans, these films lead students on global adventures from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to the glaciers of Greenland showing students where and why climate change is happening while presenting gorgeous imagery from remote corners of the earth.
We know that it is going to take all hands on deck to mitigate the already unfolding effects of climate change and equipping the next generation with knowledge and inspiration to be a part of the solution will be paramount. Help us spread the word to the teachers you know in the U.S. and encourage them to use these free resources today!
A project made in the USA with love and collaboration with our partners at Blue Shift Education. For more about this team and the Doc Academy programme check out http://www.blueshifteducation.com/doc-academy.
And in other news from Doc Academy, we are delighted to welcome Paraskevi Karageorgu to the London team. Evi jumps on board this month as Doc Academy Programme Coordinator, bringing her wide-ranging experience in the film industry to help bring the power of documentary film into the classroom! She produced the biggest film festival for young people in Slovenia and has worked as a programmer for Warsaw Film Festival. She joins Doc Society from a previous research and management role providing marketing campaign analysis to Fortune 500 movie studios.
GLORIOUS GOOD PITCH VANCOUVER
The conversations started and the connections made in Vancouver on November 6th were truly powerful and we’re continuing to reflect with these beautiful photos from Bill Weaver and this slideshow by Robert Ouimet "Good Pitch Vancouver in 120 Seconds" which boils down 6 hours of great storytelling and radical collaboration into a mere 2 minutes.
Films can do that, shrink time in to its essence. The documentary The Anthropocene: the Human Epoch and invites us to think about time in the millions of years, it is a cinematic tour de force which shows mankind’s outsize influence endangering the future of the planet in just a few centuries. During the round-table discussion for the film, the esteemed environment leader, scientist, broadcast TV host and octogenarian David Suzuki exhorted the assembled gathering with “We don’t have time” pointing out that the most recent climate reports are based on faulty data. We don’t have until 2030, the time for humankind to stop and address global warming is here. His words helped imbue the day with a sense of urgency, and a spirit of collaboration, we are in this together.
Indeed, this Good Pitch was steeped in a powerful sense of family, community, and time spent working together. The New Corporation team has a 15 year history; two of the Anthropocene directors are married and have been making films together 25 years, The Conviction team is a three women film team who worked with the women in the prison for nearly four years, and The World Is Bright director started this project 11 years ago and her team is like a family. The Klabona Keepers director is just 28 but has been working with native communities in Canada for years.
Huge congratulations to the Good Pitch Vancouver hosts Story Money Impact and their magnificent funders at the Canadian Media Producers Association, CBC, Telefilm Canada, British Council, Creative BC, Inspirit Foundation as well as community funders who can be celebrated right here https://goodpitch.org/events/gpva18
Stand by for news of the next Canadian Good Pitch programme coming in 2019.
GOOD PITCH LOCAL KARNATAKA PROJECTS ANNOUNCED
Meanwhile the Good Pitch India team, led by the Indian Documentary Foundation, is delighted to announce selected projects for Good Pitch Local Karnataka on March 12th. Good Pitch Local Karnataka 2019 brings together changemakers, filmmakers and media makers who are looking to bring about a transformation to the social fabric of Karnataka through their stories. The chosen 15 Projects for the program will showcase diverse issues of Karnataka through podcasts, short format documentary films, infographics, audio stories, and photo essays. Including the Mobile Living Museum project featured in the image above, which aims to revive the dying art of handloom weaving by creating designs based on oral stories by village elders. To find out about all of the wonderful projects participating go to: https://goodpitch.org/events/gplka18
Good Pitch Local Karnataka is hosted by Ourgroundworks, in partnership with Indian Documentary Foundation.
WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH OUR PEOPLE?
Thank You For the Rain Wins “Kenyan Oscar”
Brilliant news for Julia Dahr, Kisilu Musya, Emily Wanja and the whole crew at Banyak Films and Differ Media, on winning the award for Best Documentary at this year’s Kalasha Awards, the “Kenyan Oscars”. Pictured here (courtesy of Nairobi News) is filmmaker and protagonist Kisilu receiving the award (Kisilu is in the grey suit). Awards ceremonies should all look as joyful as this!
A great moment to remind folks about Doc Academy’s beautiful teaching materials for Thank You For the Rain developed for the classroom with Kenyan teachers, here.
Sweeping up Nominations for the CinemaEye Honors 2019
Congratulations to ALL who have been nominated! A number of Doc Society alumni have been selected for the 2019 CinemaEye Honors, we applaud the following for this recognition: Robert Greene’s Bisbee ‘17 (Circle Fund), Sandi Tan’s Shirkers (Genesis), and RaMell Ross’ Hale County This Morning, This Evening (Threshold) who all got a rather impressive 5 nominations each! Check out Indiewire for the full list of nominees and news. The winners will be announced at the 2019 CinemaEye Honors Awards Ceremony, to be held on Thursday, January 10 in New York.
Film Independent Spirit Awards Nominees
Congratulations to all the incredibly talented nominees in fiction and non-fiction! You can check them out here. What an achievement. We’d like to give a special shout out to our grantees RaMell Ross for Hale County, This Morning This Evening (Threshold) and Sandi Tan for Shirkers (Genesis). The 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards will be held February 23, 2019 in Santa Monica, California and broadcast live on IFC.
Gotham Award for Hale County
Another fantastic award for grantee RaMell Ross for Hale County, This Morning This Evening (Threshold) which has been awarded Best Documentary at the 28th IFP Gotham Awards, in NY last night.
Highly recommended: Fantastic Cities, Penny Woolcock
Doc Society team took a field trip to Fantastic Cities, the first major art exhibition of artist and director Penny Woolcock (Director of One Mile Away, Puma Catalyst and Bertha Doc Society Journalism Fund alumni), an unparalleled pioneer in contemporary visual culture in the UK.
Lucy McBath Makes it in the Midterms
It was a truly amazing group of game changer women who broke electoral records during the recent US midterm elections. But we have a particular place in our hearts for Lucia (Lucy) McBath who became the Member-elect of the United States House of Representatives for Georgia's 6th congressional district. Lucy began organising after the murder of her son Jordan Davies which was captured in the documentary 3 1/2 minutes, 10 Bullets by UK filmmaker Marc Silver. It is amazing to see her rise and rise.
What Fest We’re at Next
Catch Doc Society’s Film & Partnerships Executive Marjon Javadi at ChileDoc Conecta between Dec 10-14 in Santiago, Chile.
DIAL “D” FOR DEADLINE
There is still time.. Just..
Sunny Side of the Doc / IMZ Music and Media Centre Pitch Opportunity - Deadline: 30th November
Making a documentary about performing arts? Sunny Side of the Doc, the renowned marketplace for documentaries + factual content and the IMZ Music + Media Centre, the global network for music + dance films have teamed up to create a new pitching opportunity! Submit your proposal until 30 November 2018 for a chance to pitch at Avant Première Music + Media Market in Berlin. Learn more about this opportunity here.
Documentary Campus Masterschool - Deadline extended to 30th November 2018
The Masterschool is an intensive ten-month training program. It offers media professionals across Europe an excellent opportunity to access the international documentary market and to develop new business strategies. Past alumni include Bertha Doc Society Journalism fund grantee’s Peter Middleton and James Spinney (Notes on Blindness). More information here.
Movies that Matter Submissions - Deadline 1st December 2018
The Movies that Matter Festival takes place from 22-30 March in The Hague, The Netherlands. Both fiction and documentary feature lengths (finalised in 2018 or 2019) about human rights, activism, social justice and sustainability are screened. Hurry to here!
Film Independent Documentary Lab - Deadline 3rd December 2018
Designed to help filmmakers who are currently in post-production on their feature-length documentary films. Find out more information here!
FilmMerton Short Film Commissions - Deadline 6th January 2018
Film Merton - an exciting mix of short film, augmented and virtual reality happening in the London Borough of Merton in 2019 and 2020. For more details and how to apply to be commissioned see: http://www.digitaldrama.org/project/filmmerton/
The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival - Key Deadlines to Note
Hot Docs will run April 25–May 5, 2019 in the heart of Toronto. We wanted to let you know about a few upcoming submissions which are all now open and their various deadlines.
Hot Docs Festival Film Submissions Early-Bird Deadline: November 14, 2018. Deadline: December 5, 2018 Late submissions accepted to January 7, 2019. Higher fees apply.
Hot Docs Forum Submissions Deadline: January 7, 2019
Hot Docs Industry Registration Advance Deadline: January 4, 201. Early Deadline: February 28, 2019. Deadline: April 19, 2019
Screening Room Grant - Deadline: 10th December
The Intercept, Screening Room and Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival partner on a ,000 grant for a documentary filmmaker or video journalist towards the creation of a short investigative documentary film, a one year Screening Room Pro account, mentoring, and, for filmmakers based in the US, in-kind use of a Canon C300 Mark II cinema camera for ten days. Apply here.
DYSPLA International Moving image Festival - Deadline: December 16th
A brand new opportunity for neurodivergent artists, DYSPLA Storymakers Residency. DYSPLA is seeking neurodivergent storymakers to pitch their idea for a new script. The Storymakers Residency is a year-long (part-time) flexible writing program, funded by the Arts Council England. More information on the residency can be found here.
Creative Europe “Single Project” Development Funding Opportunity - Deadline: 18 December
Last month the Creative Europe Media Desk, UK, launched single project funding aimed at European independent production companies looking to develop a project with international potential for cinema, television or digital platforms. For more info and details, here.
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