Last month, when I attended Good Pitch² Australia at the Sydney Opera House, I was struck by the power of films to advance social justice. In Eastern Africa, where I’m from, films are mostly viewed as entertainment. Yet at the event in Sydney, I saw filmmakers, philanthropists, policymakers, and members of the general public get excited about the impact storytelling can have beyond the screen. And I saw the huge potential my region’s film industry has to join movements working for the public good.
But what exactly happens at Good Pitch? With support from the Ford Foundation, Good Pitch brings together documentary filmmakers, funders, broadcasters, policymakers, and many others committed to current social and environmental issues—helping them forge partnerships aimed at producing films with real impact. Since its inception in 2008, Good Pitch has taken place around the world—including in London, New York, San Francisco, and Toronto—and now, for the second time, in Sydney.
Six feature documentaries were selected for the event in Australia, with filmmakers pitching their projects and receiving feedback from funders and other members of the community. The films brought urgent social issues into relief, ranging from sexual assault and sexual violence on university campuses to the mass incarceration of Australian Aboriginal people.
The event has been a massive success. Ian Darling, executive director of Shark Island Institute, the producer of Good Pitch² Australia, told me that last year’s inaugural event managed to secure more than AUS$2 million in philanthropic funding for film projects, and the impact on the field in the short time since then has been clear: Filmmaking communities are stronger, their capacity for collaboration is broader, and existing campaigns have been reinvigorated. This year saw an increase in project fudning: AUS$3.6 million was raised.
My excitement about the event in Australia—and the clear impact it has had on the community—doubles with the knowledge that Good Pitch² is coming to Nairobi in 2016. Our grantee Docubox Kenya is collaborating with BRITDOC, another Ford partner, to organize next year’s event—the first time such an event takes place in East Africa. I can’t wait to see how Good Pitch’s global strategy will take hold on Kenyan soil.
If you are a filmmaker interested in submitting to Good Pitch² Nairobi 2016, the call for entries is open until November 2.