Our good friends at the Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation invited WITNESS to be a part of the Good Pitch at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.  A commercial pitch forum brings filmmakers, funders and distributors together sort of parliamentary debate style. There are moderators, microphones, and an audience of 100 plus involved. The Good Pitch puts a social justice spin on that format. Representatives from NGO’s join film industry professionals to create outreach campaign coalitions around works in progress.

The day had an exciting start with the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund pledging $10,000 to the first film, Moving Windmills; The William Kamkwamba Story (see excerpt above). With that and a Mobility Award from PUMA.Creative , the filmmaking team (who have day jobs for TED) got a lot accomplished in 20 minutes.

Another highlight was the film An American Promise, a personal story from the filmmakers/parents about their son’s experience of the racial achievement gap.  The film was poignantly described as an “academic Hoop Dreams” by Mark Samels, Executive Producer of the American Experience.

The Anderson Monarchs Soccer Club played right into my love for sports movies and all things female empowerment.  It looks like a great candidate for the OWN Documentary Film Club, Oprah Winfrey’s soon to be launched doc series on her network which was represented by Annie Roney founder of ro*co films.

Give Up Tomorrow also hit close to home (being Filipino-American), telling a story of gross injustice and the death penalty from the Philippines.  It is a fascinating story with major parallels to the US, so the Good Pitch’s Outreach Director, Sandi Dubowski, gathered representatives from US based anti-death penalty organizations to discuss possible outreach collaborations. Brian Evans from the Amnesty International USA Death Penalty Abolition Campaign explained that US audiences wouldn’t necessarily be interested in seeing a film about the death penalty in the US, but would see an international film that would get the message across.

The day ended with Detroit Hustles Harder from the producing team behind Jesus Camp and The Boys of Baraka. It already looks awesome and they are only at the research phase. I expect there will be lots of developments to come from these filmmakers and the Good Pitch.

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