“If we change the stories we live by, quite possibly we change our lives.” Ben Okri
Bravo the BBC for showing David Attenborough’s Climate Change: The Facts last week. But we need more. Much more. We need fiction films, TV dramas, we need radio plays. Imagine switching on Eastenders to find characters sharing concerns for the planetary future of their children. Reflecting the very real drama unfolding right before us.
This month Doc Society, Mammoth Screen and Participant Media joined forces to organise an evening for commissioning editors, film and TV writers and fiction directors and producers at the ICA to hear from Kumi Naidoo. Kumi is the new head of Amnesty International, but previously head of Greenpeace, and began a life of activism in South Africa as a student anti-apartheid organiser. He has seen some struggles and had some urgent reflections on the role of storytellers.
“We are dealing with an extremely troubling moment in history, we have 10 years to turn things around and I am saying to you tonight that we are never going to do it without people with the skills you all have becoming actively involved in communicating in much more creative ways that can reach much larger audiences”
If you work as a storyteller, please do watch film of Kumi giving the same talk, a few days later at the Skoll World Forum. And get in touch with us if you’d like to come to the next event like this.
And we have taken up Kumi’s call! Together with the talented crew over at Exposure Labs (the makers of Chasing Ice and Chasing Coral) we have cooked up a Climate Story Lab in NY (see below) and even better, Exposure Labs made a cracking playlist this month to celebrate Earth Day.
So in the spirit of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, we happily reserve it here!
Waves - The Vamps
What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
Carbon Monoxide - Cake
Time is Ticking Out - The Cranberries
Tell Me How Long - Kristen Bell (Chasing Coral, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean - Explosions in the Sky
Mercy, Mercy Me - Marvin Gaye
Ragged Wood - Fleet Foxes
CLIMATE LAB CALL FOR ENTRIES
We are excited to announce that we are joining forces with Exposure Labs and the wonderful folks at the Hartley Media Initiative at Auburn Seminary, Fledgling Fund, JPB Foundation and supporters David and Linda Cornfield to host The Climate Story Lab in New York City in 2019.
Climate communication is more critical than ever before: we need the best storytelling to reach its full potential and hit the audiences that matter. Born of this conviction, The Climate Story Lab will catalyze the most urgent and compelling media projects being made in America right now.
This lab marks the first in a series of interventions bringing together the creative and campaigning expertise of Exposure Labs and Doc Society with the best of the Good Pitch Impact Labs and a laser determination to accelerate climate communication in the United States.
Over five days in New York City in July, we will bring together nine of the best creative climate projects and surround them by the kinetic energy of experts - lawyers & political strategists, indigenous & faith leaders, branding experts & campaign organizers. Together, this powerful group will strategize with the teams and help them to imagine how best to inspire citizens, engage politicians and mobilize communities with these projects.
What are we looking for?
Up to 9 creative storytelling projects of all forms. We want to work with ambitious teams who are poised to launch straight into strategic partnerships with movements and funders. We seek projects with the potential to combine powerful storytelling with innovative impact distribution strategies.
We will be focusing on media projects set in the US or international projects which would resonate with US audiences.
We are looking for media projects which are ready for release within the next 12 months.
These projects could be feature length films (in the phase of post-production through to early distribution), episodic series, short form films, VR projects or podcasts.
We welcome both nonfiction and fiction projects to apply.
For each project selected, we can support up to 3 team members to attend the lab in NYC in July. This team can include the Director, Producer, Impact Producer or Distributor (if already engaged).
“Democracy is not guaranteed, and it is not inevitable, and we have to fight and we have to win and we cannot let these tech companies have this unchecked power. It's up to us -- you, me and all of us. We are the ones who have to take back control.”
Last year Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr investigated the Vote Leave campaign with devastating results, unveiling (with Whistleblowers Chris Wylie and Shahmir Sanni) huge data harvesting by Cambridge Analytica and Facebook that influenced the course of Brexit votes and undermined the foundations of our democratic process.
A year on, after an investigation by the electoral commission and referral to the police, the UK is still in the midst of a Brexit crisis and Carole shares her work at TED to warn us of the online aggressors changing the face of democracy, addressing Facebook directly: "My question to you: is this how you want history to remember you? As the handmaidens to authoritarianism that is on the rise across the world?”
Back in London, Doc Society hosted a discussion at London’s ICA with Professor Shoshana Zuboff (author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism) following a screening of award-winning UK director Marc Silver’s #pinkhairdatawhistleblower. Featuring interviews with whistleblower Chris Wylie, the short film was a collaboration with Carole Cadwalladr at The Guardian, produced by Doc Society in partnership with the Bertha Foundation.
We are looking for motivating feature documentaries that tackles national issues and tells stories that reveal something important about our world, and ourselves.
Documentary films of any style are welcomed - personal, observational, essays, presenter-led, or verité. Your projects can be at any stage, while the rough cut is ideal, early production to completion and even films scheduled for the festival premiere are acceptable. They should be 60+ minutes in length.
ARE YOU A GOOD PITCH FILMMAKER?
A Good Pitch Filmmaker is a filmmaker who thinks beyond traditional funding and distribution models. If you believe that you have creative ideas that can reach audiences that matter. If you are excited about the prospect of designing and partnering on an impact campaign that could change hearts and minds, affect policy, and help build community, then you can be a Good Pitch Filmmaker.
Participating in the Good Pitch programme is both an opportunity and a commitment. Indian Documentary Foundation will work to support the selected film teams till the Pitch event. The Outreach Director works with you to build an extraordinary table full of potential partners. We need you to be ready and willing to participate in the convenings and workshops that precede the Pitch event. Good Pitch India filmmakers are required to participate in a two-day Impact Lab, a two-day pitch training workshop, and the live event, all in Mumbai.
Last week we loaned out to Mary Robinson to International Rescue Committee’s podcast, Displaced, for a chat with Ravi Gurumurthy & Grant Gordon. If you came for Maeve but don’t know about Mary, this week’s ‘specialsode’ is a chance to hear the story of her venture into climate justice from the very beginning. Listen >>here<<
This week we did a countdown to Earth Day’s (22 April) 50th anniversary in 2020. Mary invites Susan Bass of the Earth Day Network onto the show, who takes us back to the very first Earth Day in 1970, and how it bears a stark resemblance to where we are at today. Tune in #EarthDay episode >here<
Rachel Lears’ inspiring Knock Down the House, (supported by the Threshold Fund) features four incredible women - Cori Bush, Amy Vilela, Paula Jean Swearingen, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez aka AOC - rise up to fight for their country and pursue a seat in Congress. The film will have a global release on Netflix on May 1st. You can check out the trailer right here
Nancy Schwartzman, director of Roll Red Roll (supported by the Bertha Doc Society Journalism Fund) has a new short on Steubenville released with our friends over at the Guardian. Anonymous Came to Town has been racking up the views, head over to check it out.
The Peabody Awards nominees and winners were announced these past weeks. Before we congratulate the winners, we’d like to applaud all the nominees and their teams and funders behind each project. What an honor to be recognized. Our Doc Society nominees included Survivors (Bertha Doc Society Journalism ), Shirkers (Pulse/Doc Society), Quest (Good Pitch NY 2016), and Whose Streets? (Threshold).
The Peabody Awards jurors decided on 8 documentary films as winners and we’d like to give a heartfelt congratulations to the filmmakers and teams behind HBO’s A Dangerous Son; Hulu’s Minding the Gap; and PBS’ Independent Lens: Dolores, Independent Lens: The Judge, Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, POV: the Apology, The Facebook Dilemma and The Jazz Ambassadors. Be sure to check out these incredible stories, available to watch!
Lastly, sending huge love, respect and high five’s to our colleagues at Kartemquin Films - winner of this year’s Peabody Institutional Award for their commitment to unflinching documentary filmmaking and telling an American history rooted in social justice and the stories of the marginalised. We salute you!
Away from Meaning (Good Pitch Miami) has won the Havana Star Prize for Best Documentary at the 20th Havana Film Festival in New York. Congratulations to Odin and Olivia on this heartfelt, honest film!
Here in New York for the Tribeca Film Festival? Do check out Laura Nix’s next short film Walk Run Cha-Cha (Pulse/Doc Society). The short documentary is premiering at this year’s fest as part of a series with NYTimes Op Docs. It follows Paul and Millie Cao, reunited in Los Angeles after being separated by the Vietnam War. Forty years later, they become ballroom dancers to reconnect and make up for lost time. Do check out!
And if you’re heading to Toronto for Hot Docs, we are beaming with pride as a handful of our Doc Society grantees and Good Pitch alumni will be showcasing their feature films. It’s quite a group of global storytellers, with each film representing the most pressing issues and conversations happening today.
Art: Jack Forbes (for the Committee to Protect Journalists)
SAFE & SECURE
Our colleagues at the Emergencies team at the CPJ have created a series of toolkits with regional experts for upcoming elections. One is a general toolkit with basic information on election coverage. There are also two in depth country specific toolkits -- India and South Africa:
On Friday 14th June 2019, the BFI Doc Society team are brushing off our boots and heading over the water to Northern Ireland to join the team at the newly launched Doc Fest Ireland. We’re swinging the doors of the QFT wide open to new and emerging creative filmmaking talent, established filmmakers and creatives to join us to explore the rich and diverse landscape for non-fiction film across the UK and Ireland. We will be diving into the detail on Doc Society and how we work with filmmakers, hearing from those on the frontline of independent film funding, showcasing inspiring and original creative shorts and features, excavating commissioning opportunities and hosting an afternoon of one2one doc ‘surgeries’ and networking.
So whether you’re a doc-maker, doc-lover or simply doc-curious, Doc Society invite you to join us and embrace a new vision for documentary film.
We have a number of bursaries available for underrepresented filmmakers who would benefit from financial support to attend this event, so if that’s you, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info and eligibility.
Date: Friday 14th June, 2019
Time: 10am - 6pm
Venue: Queens Film Theatre, 20 University Square, Belfast BT7 1PA
Digging deep on documentary journalism? Our friends at the IDA have your back. The IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund, giving up to $100,000 production funds per film, is open until 28th April.
All things Point North! Our friends at Points North Institute have a flurry of amazing filmmaker opportunities. From retreats for emergent filmmakers to their new Follow Focus grants for completion of short form documentaries (due May 30!). Head over to their site to get up to speed on upcoming deadlines!
Working on a film about the environment and/or conservation? Check out the SFFILM Vulcan Productions Environmental Fellowship. The program supports documentary filmmakers with production grants and mentorship. Deadline is June 5th. More info here.
For Arab Producers!!
Amazing new resource: the 2019 Funding Guide for Arab Producers, a new yearly initiative by Beirut DC, contains information about all international funds and industry platforms to which Arab producers can submit their film projects! Compiled by Irit Neidhardt, produced by Beirut DC, in partnership with ترسو /terr.so/, designed by May Ghaibeh. #SupportArabCinema
Film Africa presents Film Africa Travel Grants 2019-2020 in partnership with Arts – British Council. The pilot scheme offers emerging African filmmakers living and working on the continent the opportunity to apply for funding to travel to the UK to attend one of eight key international film festivals where their work has been invited to screen. Participating festivals include: Sheffield Doc/Fest, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Encounters Short Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival, London Short Film Festival, Glasgow Film Festival, BFI Flare and Belfast Film Festival.
Call out to East African filmmakers committed to social change. Our dear friends at Docubox, in partnership with Comic Relief, are looking for ten filmmakers to author short docs around 4 key issue areas. Each successful filmmaker will be given £10,000 of funding and be part of a week-long workshop to turbo charge these projects. The 4 issue areas are mental health, early childhood development, gender justice and Rights to safe and secure shelter and settlement. Apply here!
The British Council Film and BFI NETWORK are excited to announce the launch of a new travel grant scheme for new and emerging filmmakers, specifically for international training labs.
The Nordisk Panorama is hard at work on your behalf. If you qualify as a Nordic or Baltic production and want to pitch in front of international funders then head on over to the Nordisk Panorama and get your film submitted before 23rd May.
And they’re bringing their Impact Workshops to Reykjavik - Icelandic filmmakers have until 29th April to apply.
Our friends at Open City Docs are seeking six lucky filmmakers for their new development lab. Assembly is a new feature development lab for creative documentaries with a £10,000 award attached, taking place in September, organised by @OpenCityDocs. Six places are available, all costs covered. Applications are due by May 3rd, 2019.
The Miller / Packan Film Fund is now open and supports documentaries that Educate, Inspire and Enrich. The Fund is financed through the Rogovy Foundation. They are seeking work that demonstrate the transformational power that comes from enlightening narratives and inspiring characters. Deadline: May 15, 2019.