Roses are red, oceans are blue,
Fake news still sucks but your films are true
This Valentine’s Day we’re giving our hearts to someone special - every doc filmmaker we’ve worked with so far! This newsletter is going out to all of you, wherever you are today. Know that we have L.O.V.E. for you for so many reasons. You’re there for us when we need controversial topics to be tackled head on. You elevate the most humble of human experiences to the centre of a powerful narrative. When people say it’s hard, you’re brave. When things get tough, you persevere. Documentary filmmaking is .. complicated.. but after all these years you’re still keepin’ it fresh. In sickness and in health, we do!
It turns out that Valentine’s Day was not invented by Hallmark, but by 14th-century English poet Geoffrey Chaucer. He romanticised (literally) a 3rd-century saint called Valentine who broke the law to marry Roman soldiers (who were meant to stay single) so they couldn’t be sent off to war. Legend has it that, before he was horrifically martyred, he sent a note to his jailer’s daughter signed “from your Valentine”. In honour of this patron saint of illegal marriages and draft dodging, we’re also thinking today about those who are prevented from celebrating love equally and openly. To the filmmakers telling these stories across the world, we stand firm with you - knowing that your work will continue to serve as a tool for change.
Cornel West tells us to “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public” and a couple of weeks ago Cara Mertes said that his quote made her realise that “each independent film is an act of love in the face of injustice”. Can I get an Hallelujah up in here?
Thanks to our trustee William Sieghart for prescribing the following poem in his essential Poetry Pharmacy, It Happens All the Time in Heaven by the Fourteenth-century Sufi poet Hafiz
And this month, we’ve swapped out our usual Spotify playlist for a Valentine’s poetry playlist instead. Enjoy!
And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos // John Berger
Body // Yrsa Daley-Ward
It Is Here (for A) // Harold Pinter
You // Carol Ann Duffy
The Poet As Husband // David Whyte
OSCAR NOM STRONG ISLAND AT ICA
And talking of love.. We joined Director Yance Ford and producer Joslyn Barnes at the ICA last night for a packed-out screening + Q&A of Oscar Nominated (Best Feature Documentary) Strong Island hosted by Variety critic Guy Lodge. Alumni of Good Pitch Chicago 2013 and multiple award winner Yance Ford is our hero, the first trans director to be Oscar nominated and for such a devastating and formally incredible piece of transcendent documentary work. During a fascinating discussion, Yance spoke about the narrative of multi-generation structural racial violence in his family and where the personal is inherently, deeply political.
We extend a huge congratulations to the other Good Pitch alumni Last Men in Aleppo. Last Men in Aleppo is the first ever Syrian Documentary to be nominated in history - what a moment. The Oscar nomination provides an opportunity to bring the story of Syrian resilience to a new audience. As the tragic violence and destruction shown in the film continues in Aleppo we salute the efforts of Crisis Action (recipient of Doc Society Flex Fund) in their work to use the film as a vehicle to convince policymakers to take decisive action to prevent further atrocities in Syria.
So a quick round up of all the Best Documentary Feature Nominees
Last Men in Aleppo I Dir. Feras Fayyad, Søren Steen Jespersen I Prod. Kareem Abeed and Søren Steen Jespersen. Strong Island I Dir. Yance Ford I Prod. Joslyn Barnes Abacus: Small Enough to Jail | Dir. Steve James I Prod. Mark Mitten and Julie Goldman Faces Places I Dir. Agnes Varda, JR I Prod. Rosalie Varda Icarus I Dir. Bryan Fogel I Prod. Dan Cogan
Good Luck to each and every one for March 4th!
DEADLINES: GOOD PITCH EUROPE AND IMPACT LAB 2018
Europe calling! The Good Pitch and Impact Producers Lab 2018 deadlines are upon us, please apply before Friday 16th February, 4pm GMT for our team to consider. As always we’re truly bowled over by just how amazing the response is and with just 2 days left to go, we hope that more fascinating, important film projects come our way, helping to nurture the future generation of dedicated impact producers and hard-hitting docs. If you have a project that addresses a core social issue and is being crafted to effect change at the heart of society, the Good Pitch journey couldn’t be more worthwhile.
For more information and to apply for Impact Lab 2018: ttps://docsociety.org/impact-lab/
For more information and to apply for Good Pitch Europe 2018: https://goodpitch.org/events/gpeu2018
Successful applicants will be informed by 9th March 2018. Good luck!
OPEN CALL: BERTHA DOC SOCIETY JOURNALISM FUND
Do you have a project that addresses the important stories of our time? Exposes injustice or brings attention to unreported issues and cameras into regions previously unseen?
Then our Bertha Doc Society Journalism Fund may be for you. A rolling fund that can award grants between £5,000 - £50,000, we especially love supporting filmmakers in early production and offer editorial support, Safety and Security training and legal advice.
Proud supporters of Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis’ Whose Streets?, Nanfu Wang’s Hooligan Sparrow, Laura Poitras’ Citizenfour, Hollie Fifer’s The Opposition, Orlando von Einsiedel’s Virunga and Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla’s An Insignificant Man (featured image) we look to work with filmmakers from across the globe and support a wide range of voices from both emerging and established storytellers.
Go here to read more about the fund, films the fund has supported in the past, full details of what we do and do not fund and most importantly how to apply.
We can’t wait to hear from you!
GOOD PITCH LOCAL TEXAS IS GO
From a landmark event at the New York Times Center and a focus on seven or so feature documentaries, Good Pitch has gone local, expanding to more places, more pitches, and more formats, including shorter-form and multi-platform productions. Good Pitch Local (GPL) is an experiment at the nexus of independent storytelling and movement building, creating a place for highly engaged local leaders to come together in real time to talk to each other, to forge new partnerships, and to tell stories that matter in this moment, in this place.
And the next place is Texas! We are thrilled to be bringing a whole host of workshops and then the Good Pitch itself to various locations across the state.
Dates for your diary below - more detail can be found over at https://goodpitch.org/texas
Sunday February 25 | Media Impact Workshop for Filmmakers with Austin Film Society | Austin Public in Austin | 2:00 - 5:00pm
Tuesday October 27 | Good Pitch Local at Gilley’s Dallas | 10:00am - 5:00pm
You can get in touch with any further questions you might have. Can’t wait to see y’all there.
Up next is Michigan! Good Pitch Local is headed to Detroit on May 8th, 2018.
AND MEANWHILE IN TAHITI
In more thrilling news from across the globe, Alex Lee representing our partner Doc Edge New Zealand, alongside Good Pitch alum Hollie Fifer, Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer announced the launch of the Good Pitch Pasifika programme - which will run over the next three years with labs and Good Pitch Local events through Polynesia, Melanesia, & Micronesia.
CPH:DOX - FILM:RISK / SAFE+SECURE DAY
Looking ahead to one of our favourite festivals of the year, CPH:Dox at the end of March, we are thrilled to be curating a Film:Risk day on Thursday 22nd March as part of the 5-day CPH:DOX and Documentary Campus conference.
As we all know, conditions for making films are not getting any easier. From Ferguson to Nairobi, Bogotá to Manila, covering volatile situations and dealing with repressive regimes and powerful corporations represents immense challenges for independent documentary filmmakers. Quick decisions need to be made in any number of scenarios: from where to place a crew in an unpredictable protest, to whether to trust a fresh source with evidence.
The Safe+Secure sessions will engage filmmakers on how to assess and mitigate the plethora of risk faced whilst making a film. From fact checking in an era of fake news to managing a dark PR attack; from mitigating physical danger in the field, to managing emotional trauma and moral injury in crew & subjects.
This day dives deep into these issues and there’s a stellar all-day line up for YOU to participate in, kicking off at 10am and running till 5pm and featuring a line up of experts who’ve got your back including: Doc Society General Counsel Prash Naik; Digital Security Strategist Kim Pham; Founder of CoCo Studios and former CEO Center of Investigative Reporting, Joaquin Alvarado; and Director of Dart Centre Europe, Gavin Rees.
For full information please visit: https://cphdox.dk/film-risk/
Hope to see you there and in the meantime, stay safe.
VICTORY FOR FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN ZIMBABWE
We’ve just heard great news that in a groundbreaking court order, Zimbabwean High Court Judge Justice Muremba has lifted the ban on the internationally acclaimed documentary Democrats . The award-winning film chronicles Zimbabwe’s writing of its first democratic constitution during 2010-2013. In the photo is Democrats director Camilla Nielsson with Chris Mhike, from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, and MP Brian Chuma.
Bertha grantee and Good Pitch Europe alumni Camilla Nielsson had full access to the political process behind the 2013 constitution-making, led by a Parliamentary Constitutional Committee. After her resulting film, Democrats, was released in 2014, it toured the world to win more than 30 international awards for its honest fly-on-the wall account of how Zimbabweans from across the political divide worked together to produce a progressive democratic constitution. The New York Times called the film “Outstanding, urgent, vivid. Finally a film that deserves to be called necessary.” Zimbabweans, however, were not allowed to see the film as the Censorship Board banned it as “Not suitable for public viewing.”
The case was argued by human rights lawyer Bellinda Chinowawa, who called the High Court order: “A great victory for all Zimbabweans” which will assist in expanding media freedom in Zimbabwe – as intended in the Constitution. Camilla Nielsson said: “After a 3-year delay, we can now finally distribute the film in the country where it was made.”
THAT’S A WRAP SUNDANCE 2018
Amongst the line up at Sundance this year we’d like to give some special love to the filmmakers we had the privilege of supporting on their journey. And who happened to pick up some love of their own in Utah last month.
Circle Fund and Pulse Genesis supported Robert Greene epitomised the artistry of non-fiction with Bisbee ‘17 “a large-scale study of political psychology, an expedition of historical archeology, and a form of drama therapy for a community that, in crucial ways, reflects the pathologies and the conflicts of the country at large” - The New Yorker.
Genesis grantee, the brilliant Sandi Tan deservedly took the Directing Award in World Cinema Documentary for her phantasmagoric debut Shirkers “A wry and wistful cine-essay on movie love, a capsule autobiography and a lament for what might have been. It's also a fascinating rebel's-eye view of an authoritarian culture.” - The Hollywood Reporter
It was a big night for first time feature filmmakers, RaMell Ross’ remarkable Hale County: This Morning This Evening (supported through the Threshold Fund) scooped the US Documentary Special Jury Award for Creative Vision, with “Ross acting like a guide, providing statements but mostly asking questions about Black life, what the source of our dreams are, and if we can even be contained within the frame of a film”, - Shadow & Act
We’re proud to call Kimberley Reed’s Dark Money both a Good Pitch alumn and a Threshold grantee. It’s also “a densely packed documentary that earnestly and obsessively addresses campaign finance reform, its history and vital importance.” - Hollywood Reporter. Special congrats to producers Katy Chevigny and Marilyn Ness on their Sundance Institute / Amazon Studios Producer Award.
And finally, a special shout out to Stephen Loveridge and our friends over at Cinereach on Mantangi / Maya / M.I.A a long time in the making (we had the pleasure of developing and supporting it) Stephen picked up the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award - we couldn’t be more happy for him.
A WUNDERBAR BERLINALE 2018 LINEUP
More nonfiction films than ever are having their world premieres across programme sections at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival (and to recognise this, the fest will be hosting a Meet the Docs initiative as part of this edition).. We’re pleased as pretzels to share that three of our lovingly supported knockout docs are among those making tracks on chilly Potsdamer Platz.
Good luck and Viel spass to…
The Silence of Others | Dir Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar | USA/ Spain - Good Pitch Europe 2016 , Bertha-BRITDOC Connect Fund Mantangi/Maya/M.I.A | Dir. Stephen Loveridge | Sri Lanka/UK/USA - developed and supported by Doc Society, When the War Comes | Dir. Jan Gebert, Prod. Radovan Sibrt | Czech Republic/Croatia - Good Pitch Europe 2017
When the War Comes has also been nominated amongst 18 documentaries for the Glasshüte Original Prize judged by Food Inc.' producer Eric Schlosser, German director Ulrike Ottinger and Portuguese festival organizer Cintia Gil. Fingers crossed for them!
AND FINALLY... HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH FILM FESTIVAL, LONDON
Some amazing films in this year’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival lineup showing at the Barbican from 7th - 16th March 2018 including:
Daniel McCabe's This is Congo (which we supported with Bertha Foundation) is playing as part of their Benefit Gala, Julia Bacha’s Nalia and The Uprising (which we supported with the Threshold Fund), Anjali Nayar and Hawa Essuman's Silas (Good Pitch alumni and old Puma Catalyst grantee) and Sabaah Folayan's Whose Streets? (featured image) will all be screening.
Do head down if you can! Tickets can be bagged from the Human Right's Watch Film Festival or Barbican websites
team Doc Soc