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Good Pitch Delivers $2m in Eight Hours for Social Impact Films

9 October 2014 at 10:51 am
Xavier Smerdon
Australian philanthropists, corporate foundations and Not for Profits have delivered more than $2million to help fund seven social impact documentaries at the first Good Pitch Australia event in Sydney.

Xavier Smerdon | 9 October 2014 at 10:51 am


Good Pitch Delivers $2m in Eight Hours for Social Impact Films
9 October 2014 at 10:51 am

Australian philanthropists, corporate foundations and Not for Profits have dug deep and delivered more than $2million to help fund seven social impact documentaries at the first Good Pitch Australia event in Sydney.

The emotionally-charged event is said to have changed the way philanthropy and filmmakers drive social change in Australia.

The eight hour inaugural pitching event saw seven filmmaking teams present their documentaries to an audience of three hundred participants including philanthropic foundations, and Not for Profits as well as private philanthropists, corporate foundations, policy makers, and broadcasters.

Good Pitch Australia is an initiative of Shark Island Institute and Documentary Australia Foundation. Pro Bono Australia and Philanthropy Australia, are Community Partners for the initiative.

In the pitching sessions convened by Shark Island Institute Executive Director Ian Darling, the audience heard how the seven very different films were set to change the Australian conversation on controversial topics with the help of philanthropic funds.

The film topics included issues such as the plight of refugees, the environment, the struggles of indigenous youth, obesity and health, domestic violence, gay marriage and international human rights.

A round table of invited experts, philanthropists, policy makers and Not for Profits were asked to offer both financial assistance and in kind support for the production of the films and for the out-reach programs attached to the films.

Organisers said the moderated sessions following each pitch were aimed at creating a lasting and unique coalition around each film to maximise its impact and have an influence in the years to come.

There were tears and applause as the filmmakers revealed their documentary details, along with shouts of delight and even standing ovations as philanthropists and funding bodies offered financial support and in kind outreach resources.

This is the first year Good Pitch, the international documentary forum devised by BRITDOC and Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, has been brought to Australia.

"Good Pitch is the most rewarding and high impact philanthropic event I have ever experienced, demonstrating the power of philanthropy when it works collaboratively alongside outstanding story-tellers and change-agents,” Darling said.

"Today's event out did all our expectations."

The biggest single donation came from a Sydney based Foundation pledging $200,000 towards the production costs of the documentary, Constance On The Edge, which looks at the life and struggles of a Sudanese refugee woman and her six children in the regional centre of Wagga Wagga.

The audience heard that Constance on The Edge, directed by  Belinda Mason and produced by Marguerite Grey would tell the story of a brave, feisty, charismatic refugee Constance Okot, and her family, who face an uncertain future in the regional centre.

The powerful pitch saw a flood of responses raising more than $500-thousand dollars for the production along with an extensive outreach program for Wagga Wagga.

Good Pitch Australia Director Malinda Wink said she was almost lost for words when it was announced that more than $2million had been raised as well as many hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of in-kind assistance and resourcing from around the country and overseas.

"Our plan was to make sure these social change documentaries came into being and to have a voice in Australia. This outcome is amazing,” Wink said.

Wink said there were more than 200 active applicants, and organisers received 123 completed submissions before the seven finalists were chosen.

"Within them were stirring portraits of changemakers, stories that expressed the Australian experience at home and abroad, quiet and beautifully composed projects along with arresting and challenging material. The diversity and quality of the submissions was really impressive,” Wink said.

Pro Bono Australia Founder, Karen Mahlab described the Good Pitch initiative as a “game-changer”.

“The visual medium gives people the opportunity to see the documentaries and experience them with their heart and head and once they move out of the cinema it shifts their emotions into action.

“What’s crucial about this Good Pitch process is that it not only supports the making of the documentaries but the extensive outreach programs that occur post the screenings,” she said.

The seven feature-length documentary projects chosen to present at the Sydney Opera House are:

Call Me Dad / Director: Sophie Wiesner, Producer: Madeleine Hetherton

A story about men who have perpetrated or are at risk of perpetrating family violence. At stake is the safety of children and partners, the stability of families, and the power we as a society have to intervene. These men have problems expressing anger, and other strong emotions, without resorting to abuse, verbal or physical. We follow these men as they attempt to change and heal their most precious relationships.

Frackman / Director: Richard Todd, Producers: Simon Nasht and Trish Lake

Reluctant activist Dayne ‘The Frackman’ Pratzky, takes us on a journey through the bush as we meet a bunch of ordinary people caught up in a modern day multinational gold rush – the race to secure and exploit coal seam gas. From conservative landowners, to radical activists and town-dwelling families, this unlikely coalition of Australians has come together to protect the health of their communities, land and future.

Gayby Baby / Director: Charlotte Mars, Producer: Maya Newell

At a time when Australia is divided on the issue of same-sex marriage, four children with gay and lesbian parents share their stories.  While they each have a unique issue, the kids nonetheless all face the dramas of oncoming puberty and stepping out for the first time into a world that places intense scrutiny on families like theirs.

The Opposition / Director: Hollie Fifer, Producer: Rebecca Barry

In a David-and-Goliath battle over land in Papua New Guinea, Joe Moses, leader of the Paga Hill Settlement, must save his 3,000 people before they are evicted to an industrial waste site. Battling it out in the courts – Joe may find his community replaced with an international five star hotel and marina developed by an Australian run company.

That Sugar Film / Director: Damon Gameau, Producer Nick Batzias

It's the most dominant food in the world but how has sugar infiltrated our diet and culture and what is it doing to us?  One man's journey through academia, irreverence, experiment, celebrity, science and vibrant entertainment, That Sugar Film is a saccharine ride exploring the true nature of sugar…and how to start a new life without it.

Zach's Ceremony / Director: Aaron Petersen, Producer Sarah Linton

Zach’s Ceremony follows a city-raised boy and his quest to reconnect with his Indigenous roots as he goes through the ancient rite of initiation. Fuelled by passion, a father and son’s tense and often combative relationship brings into sharp relief the clash of two worlds and the struggle modern-day Australians face connecting with the oldest living culture in the world.

To view a short presentation on Good Pitch² Australia  click here.

See the documentary trailers here


Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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