The 2012 Hot Docs Forum Full Report
20 May 2012DocMovies examine all 26 feature doc projects pitched at the annual event, along with detailed judges responses and analysis. This report was written by director Eli Brown, owner of of Postbrooklyn, a production and post-production studio based in Brooklyn, NY. Made possible thanks to filmmaker and Hot Docs Pitch Fourm particpant Hilla Medalia Watch Hot Docs pitch member Hilla Medalia acclaimed HBO documentary - TO DIE IN JERUSLAEM
1. The Audacity of Louis Ortiz. The film details the unusual life of a man who happens to look very much like Barack Obama. There is a somewhat lukewarm reception from panel. Overseas Commissioning Editors (CEs) are not that interested; American CEs are more interested, but the project can’t be legitimately called a home run for this team. ITVS mentions that they should apply for their Open Call – June 29th; mark your calendars!
2. Sand Wars. Fairly sweeping epic documentary about the fast depleting natural resource of silica sand. Trailer was very traditional doc style (pulse pounding music, talking heads, and the like). It’s an untold story, global consequences – fits well at ZDF (who was working with the production team, and was therefore seated at the table for the pitch). ZDF has a slot on their channel for projects like this. This is the second consecutive pitch that received some criticism from the CEs on the panel for not having a clearly defined story arc they could discern from the trailer and pitch. During the discussion between the filmmakers and the panel, it appears that the documentary might have a split focus (according to the panel). The panel seems to like the mafia-crime controlling the depletion of a natural resource angle, not the environmental disaster angle as much. So, maybe crime does pay. Also, they didn't show any characters in the trailer, so PBS had questions regarding that, as to which strand to place it in if they were to get on board with the film.
3. Zanta. An intimate story about a Tibetan street peddler that transitions into a family story of single mother caught between two worlds (Tibet and China) that are a bit unknown to many western audiences. The CEs respond: POV is interested in this story but want to see more of the story arc. (Wow! 3 for 3. Story arc is the single hardest thing to put together in a short 7 minute pitch, not surprisingly). Tribeca was curious as to what the role of the filmmaker would be. The trailer impressed the panel, overall. Seemed like it got the most interest of the first 3 pitches.
4. Filmmaker couldn't make it, so Britdoc Foundation supporter framed it. About a Swaziland woman's struggle.They need to get an international co-pro in order to move the project forward.
Second Round! New moderators, more people in the audience, a few different panelists. CNN is one of the new CEs at the table -- maybe reflecting their "all-acquisition" strategy for their documentary division that was announced relatively recently.
5. Holy Ghetto. Producer Chico Colvard does a pretty long preface about why he got involved. Then DER talks as "fiscal sponsor." But I feel like the clock is almost done and I haven't seen the trailer or even heard from the filmmaker. The film is about human trafficking in Israel. Their presentation went over by 3 minutes, but no one wrestled them to the floor. The trailer has some strong characters that the panel seems to respond to well. DR questions the title, as in what the "holy" part of the title means. (Editorializing: I agree with DR and the title doesn't quite work since they're not dealing with a religious construct, but rather human trafficking). Chico chimes in that he also wants to change the title, so problem solved! Again, story arc is a bit confusing from the trailer. Panel seems to encourage the filmmaker to follow the women's stories rather than a "current affairs" style of documentary, so there are some difficult choices for the filmmaker to make in bringing the project to fruition.
6. Leone Stars. Ah, eschewing the technique of the previous pitch crew, they get right to the trailer. Powerful story about Sierra Leone-ians competing in the amputee soccer World Cup. They run an initial trailer, then the producing team sets up a second clip and then sets up a third clip. They do a good job of setting up a bit of the story arc in a way that hasn't been done as of yet in the previous pitches. The pitchers seem very well rehearsed and are doing a good job of articulating the story and keeping eye contact. Nick Fraser (BBC-Storyville) is very complimentary. NHK has a "current affairs" slot, so they need more of the "daily life" aspect. Lorenzo from RAI is a little confused by the story. Nathalie at ARTE needs more investigative material or angle. CBC likes the complex story, differing in opinion from the comments made by RAI. Seems like a mixed response across the table.
7. Shadow Girl. Perhaps learning from the sixth pitch, they jump right into the trailer. This is a story about a filmmaker who is in the process of going blind. Out of the trailer, they talk a bit about the point of view of the film. SVT is interested in the film becoming about more than just going blind but also about seeing. RAI is totally fascinated by story, but main concern is shape of story which doesn't appear to be clear from the pitch. Director talks about story arc as a story about dealing with society's imposition. TVO is taken by the lyricism and the idea of the "blind gaze." But, they are also concerned about the story arc. Tribeca feels it's a beautiful film. They, too, are also concerned about how the threads come together for a compelling narrative over 3 acts. Shaw has already put money in for development. In the interest of time and continuing the discussion, the moderator cuts off a response from the filmmaker that verges on the defensive and is eating into the time allotted for panel questions. POV applauds her courage to tell the story. DR is not crazy about the title. Titles, as it turns out, can be important in a pitch. Also, DR can't co-produce with Puma awardees, so perhaps this is a project they will have to pass on.
8. 112 Weddings. Lisa Heller from HBO leads off. She sells the project team. Lori Cheatle, (the producer) talks about 51 Birch Street to back up the ability of the team. Doug Block (director) pitches the project itself as a story about marriage over the long haul and sets up the trailer. Roll clip -- the trailer gets some good laughs and is a relief compared to some of the heavier material covered earlier in the day. Tribeca is already supporting, and very supportive of it as a lighter, fun, project. Submarine (a new attendee on the panel) is looking for theatrical releases and is very interested in the broad theatrical potential. Since the Submarine representative is new to the table, he starts to talk a bit long about theatrical potential, kind of dominating the panel, until he gets cut off by the moderator. BBC chimes in with, “I can't fund anything self-indulgent,” so as long as you don't do that, Doug... is that a deal? Nick Fraser is being snarky. NY Times wonders, “What's the takeaway?” Doug responds that marriage is still a mystery. Then he gets cut off. Knowledge Network feels like it's a good fit. Are the rights available for Canada? Sounds like there might be a deal there. TVO hopes that a successful marriage isn’t about being a boring couple! CBC seems to think that it's about unpredictability and would love to be a part of it. NHK says that it’s important that there is a broadcast hour. Doug quips that he’ll cut himself out for the broadcast hour, so Nick Fraser and NHK can both be happy. The panel wonders, how much will Doug be involved (on camera)? Doug says, “I'll be more in the background.” YLE thinks it’s a great project.
9. Humania. This picks up after lunch, and the crowd has thinned a bit, either not getting back from meetings that come during that time period or just falling asleep perhaps on the brilliant afternoon in early May Toronto. The pitching team doesn’t include the filmmaker, who is shooting, so the producer and co-producer are pitching for her. It’s a story about a woman who becomes an aid doctor in Africa after her twin sister dies from cancer. Appears to be a very personal journey film. Panel kicks it off with ARTE. Is this a film for ARTE? Nathalie thinks, yes, maybe, they have a slot that deals with society issues. Thinks young people can relate to the struggle to find meaning in your life. And likes the cinematic approach. RAI is concerned about how to make a documentary about questions. ZDF echoes what ARTE says. Might be a bit too somber. NHK thinks it's a universal story that might work for Japanese audience. They wonder if there will be any characters in central African republic? The producer says there will be colleagues as secondary characters, as well as patients. TVO would be interested, but was also interested in same questions as NHK. SVT thinks they will get behind it. Knowledge Network wonders if the main character is going to find meaning in life and then comments that, “it's pretty dark without that.” The producers think they will end on a "glimpse of hope." CBC admires character, but the universal theme is also well-traveled, so maybe not as interesting for them. ITVS is interested, but can't stand "white person coming to save people of color," but feel like this is a wider story, but wants to understand way the story will play out before making any specific commitments.
10. Indian Spacemen. The pitch team is being supported by SBS (Australia) and NRK. The film is about a group of men and one woman who are building India's first satellite to measure a black hole. Trailer is reliant on a lot of talking heads, and some of the characters might’ve benefited from subtitles for those of us with untrained ears. The arc is based along meeting a launch date in the future. Trailer is somewhat long, so they're running out of time on the pitch. The panel starts in at the BBC wit hNick Fraser. He likes this very much, and Storyville doesn’t have enough shows from India. It's about old and new India in a creative way. Knowledge Network says that it's come a long way since they first saw it. TVO wonders how they are going to balance the science with the characters? The filmmakers respond that the science is inevitable; but they have to deal with personal trials. The science won't be so major. NHK comments that space works on their channel; for Japanese, they think that India has the technology so insight into the society there is important. DR says they have a science strand that works well for this project. They like the humor (humor seems to be a big seller, actually, probably in contrast to some of the more somber/dire projects that they see on a daily basis). DR also wondered about the balance between science and people. ZDF doesn't see it for their science slot. POV enjoyed seeing the scientists as seen in a different way but had questions about story arc. The filmmakers say that the team leader and two of the younger scientists are key characters and they will be following the construction, but that the film ends at the launch of the satellite. HiFiHDTV says that they work with other Canadian broadcasters, but they don't specifically have a science block. However, he sees it as a human story, a positive story out of India and could be an acquisition. At the end the director admits the written material felt "dry” in comparison to the trailer.
11. These Birds Walk. This is a film about a family shot in Pakistan, featuring a boy who lives at a home for runaways and an ambulance driver who becomes a reluctant hero. Also, there is the elder who runs the runaway home who appears to be in failing health. Trailer has very nice cinematography, looks like a 5D. They finsih the pitch on time. ITVS says we're interested and they can submit to open call with a rough cut. Tribeca adds that this is a project for them, as well, but they've funded a lot from Pakistan, so it might be a saturation point issue. NYT thinks they should talk about it in a short form and it could fit on their web op-doc strand. NHK likes that it’s a film about pakistan without guns. They haven't seen much so they would like to see a rough cut. CNN adds that it's beautiful – but hard to imagine it broken up with insurance commercials on a network. ARTE agrees with CNN that it's beautiful, but they don't have any slots for a program like it. ZDF likes the poetry of the film, but also has no slots for such a thing. RAI liked the visual approach and thinks it could be interesting. Knowledge Network concurs that it’s a beautiful trailer and they would love to see rough cut. HiFiTV would also like to follow up with them. CBC says that they are always looking for way to understand what's happening in Pakistan, so she'll take a look at rough cut. TVO wants to see how the story develops, but if PBS comes in that becomes a territory issue for them. They also weren't sure about the number of characters. BBC agrees with the great images, but was not sure what happens in the film, and until they know what happens in the film, the filmmakers won't get a great response. PBS wraps up by agreeing that it's a stunning trailer and they love the angle on the story, so she will watch the rough cut. The representative (Kathryn Lo) also says that she will work with TVO possibly to arrange any territory issues, so there might be a way around even the most difficult issues!
12. You Ain't Heard Nothing Yet. This was the first “Mountie Hat Pitch,” which was a pitch selected out of a random collection of business cards put into a hat for a drawing as to who would be the “lucky” wildcard pitch. This film was based around the story of cinema sound about the technological wonder and power of sound technology. Working with sound designers and the directors they worked with. Trailer heavily reliant on film images from Hollywood movies (also seems to be running fairly long). Length – see it as a 90’ and a 52’, and the budget is 1.5 million (yes, million) due to clips (presumably). Tribeca is first to respond with a resounding no. They do creative, story-driven. PBS thinks it would appeal to the US audience, but might fit within their American Masters strand. CBC thinks it has potential for audience appeal, most likely as an acquisition, if they can get the rights to the clips. BBC liked the trailer, but wondered where they were going to find that kind of money? Independent Lens has broadcast some similar stuff, but the rights issues for publicity (not just the show) would probably be an issue. It's a little outside their normal realm, but they promised to follow up. A panelist wondered if there were foundations that might be interested? The filmmakers mentioned that they want to talk to Dolby. They see the film as a cousin to “Visions of Light.” DR says there is a whole channel for films like this, but they don't have that kind of money. However, she would be willing to write a letter of intent. POV wondered if they had met with the Paley Center or with Annenberg's preservation project.
13. Men's Choice. A movie about men who go to work in the oil/gas industry in the north of Russia. Main character is 23 year old who goes to support his family. He will introduce other characters through his interaction. They all do "shift work,” so the film will move back and forth from the northern industry area to home towns. POV is first on the panel to respond. They did My Perestroika last year and think this might be an interesting follow-up, but wants to learn more about how the labor issue will play out over time. NHK thinks it has a potential story they would be interested in, but need more information on the story arc. Valencia (Latin American channel) liked the interesting history and liked that it was a movie about men that was directed by a woman. But, doesn't think it's a co-production, although it could be an acquisition. Knowledge Network already has a project like this in development, so they’re passing. RAI thought it was an interesting way into Russian life but felt like there were too many characters to follow. TVO thought the woman's perspective on this was interesting, but not sure how interesting it is for their audience. They might consider acquiring. ZDF said they don't really have a slot for such thing. Independent Lens thought that the title doesn't really work.
14. Sands of the Skei Queen. A personal story about the conflict between people in South Africa dealing with a mining company coming in to uproot the native people. Beautifully shot trailer. Tribe's king and queen publicly protest, but are removed by South African government. Main character is an eco-activist and local and the film will be mostly cinema verité. Feature length with a TV hour. Tribeca liked the pitch, but there are a lot of films in the same territory regarding similar issues. That said, Ryan at Tribeca is still interested. Independent Lens remarked that it’s apparently a bad year for sand! Footage looks great, and they have an initiative called Women and Girls Lead about women around the world changing their communities. BBC loves the pitch, hates the title. They are also awash with people standing up to big corporations type projects. The reality of the film sells it better with the focus on the characters. Knowledge Network adds that the people are what matters, so this speaks to everyone. ARTE says that even though they don't have slots, there might be a special evening about indigenous communities and they are interested as well. They like the point of view of the community and that the community is divided. DR thinks that it’s an important story and adds that maybe the film doesn’t need the girl activist searching for meaning in her life. They think that the story is more important. Then they wonder, “But you have some funding from government – isn't that counterintuitive?” The filmmakers respond that even if one government's department is doing one thing, another can do something different. Shaw cautions that most of their channels are acquisition. It’s not quite a fit with them because they're not doing current affairs. TVO thinks that the royal battle makes it interesting and could see it being of interest. NYT noted that the filmmakers are not taking any position on the story and follows that if someone would take a position, they could get involved. NHK thinks it might fit with community or resources, so it has a lot of potential in Japan. How much do you go into the Australian mining company? The team says that the mining company will have an opportunity to defend themselves in the film.
15. Caught in the Net. A film about internet addiction in China, following three boys through the cycle of treatment. All the characters resist the treatment (they were tricked to get in). Rare glimpse into Chinese culture and society. BBC starts off and has questions. They wonder if the viewer will know what to think of the method of treatment and they also wonder what the filmmakers attitude it is toward this treatment. DR asks, “Are these kids addicted?” The filmmakers respond by saying, “We don't want to answer it, we just want to ask the questions.” (It seems like the CEs want them to answer this question). NYT is interested in this subject personally. What troubles the NYT CE is that it may not be investigated as critically as they need it to be. NYT wonders, would the filmmakers be examining why this doctor thinks it's an addiction? The filmmakers say that they are not planning on bringing experts in from the west. RAI says that he doesn’t believe the docmakers have to make a choice in answering the questions, but the focus of the film is a bit fragmented for him. DR thinks that they might want to look at it as a microcosm. DR adds that it would be good to film them before they get to the boot camp. Are they followed afterward? The filmmakers did shoot some addicts beforehand and they filmed at center before the characters knew it was a treatment center. And then they followed for a year afterward. Valencia thinks the point of view is a little bit of a concern for them. They believe that it needs to focus more on the children's story. NHK says that in Japan they have internet addiction for children, but she shares Nick (BBC)'s concern about the point of view. They say that the moment a western filmmaker comes to China and makes a film, it will be seen as judgmental, so not making a judgment is a tricky thing. NHK says that they are only critical because they like it and want to see it. And that wrapped up the first day. The second day featured another full slate of pitches.
16. Vidal V. Buckley started off the day. The pitch begins with a narrative set-up about how Vidal and Buckley were contemporary combatants in an intellectual and cultural realm. For some reason, the audio on the pitch trailer is wildly out of sync at times. (Hope that doesn’t happen with the final film!). The producers now talk about the narrative arc and how it would be– threaded along with the debates that the two had. The second thread is what they said and how they said it. The producer compares it to Frost v. Nixon. The third thread would be the modern relevance. They’ve raised half the budget and are looking for the rest. Panel responds by saying that it was a very clear pitch. Tribeca thinks they would be interested. Loves this one and wants to get involved. PBS echoes Tribeca’s inclination and feels it's relevant. Interested in following up. Independent Lens echoes everyone else. They've worked with this team before. ITVS CE has been waiting for this film her entire life. BBC is optimistic and thinks it can travel to the UK, too. Frost v. Nixon was a big success in UK. He'd like to know more about how it presages current TV? Filmmakers are kind of unsure of the question. Nick Fraser (BBC) the clips in the trailer show me as much about the lost power of television as anything else. YES (Israel) loved it and felt it was relevant for Israel. They liked the tone and the sarcasm and wondered if Vidal would be participating in the publicity. RAI bucks the trend and says that this is not a film for Italy, where they are not big on talking heads. ZDF thinks that this is something they would be interested in. NHK thinks that it could work as an acquisition. They say that they are interested because US is interested (peer pressure!). Knowledge Network is very interested; he remembers the debates. SVT thinks it can travel to Sweden, but not sure that Sweden's obsessed with it.
17. Merkato. First time pitch, but she seems very composed and is completely alone at the table. Typically, most pitches have had at least a producer and a director and very often additional funder support to back them up during the pitch. This is the first time just the filmmaker was present. Her film is about a colorful market in Ethiopia. Well shot trailer (she's a cinematographer). Structured over one day in the life of numerous people at the market and she is seeking finishing funds. ITVS is already in talks to get it to open call. POV was impressed with the day in the life of a market and what it means to a culture. They want to see how that develops over time. YLE likes the characters. Interested in non-exclusive internet ($1000 -- which they readily admit is not much money). YES says that they have an Ethiopian minority and also compliments the cinematography in the trailer. However, he’s not sure it stands out enough for him. After it does a festival run, then they could consider. Tribeca gives her credit for sitting there alone. It might fit for one of the programs at Tribeca (Tribeca All-Access). He raises some questions about the structure and the story. RAI wonders is there an arc within each portrait? The filmmaker responds that there is and that they represent different aspects of the market. Knowledge Network needs to be convinced that it's more than a lyrical documentary. NHK admits that Ethiopia is of interest for them, but is also not sure of structure. BBC says that it’s beautifully shot, but it would be better to make a story about characters rather than a day in the market. People's stories are more interesting– Nick Fraser (CE at BBC) says that everyone else is being very nice to her, but he takes her a bit more to task for the structural shortcomings that he sees.
18. Elephant Soldiiers. The pitch starts with the director wondering, “Why should you care about elephants?” He says he saw them and seeing them is very emotional. He talks a bit about ivory poachers. Concentrates then on the main character who is a scientist. The trailer has some gruesome elephant dismemberment shots which are a bit hard to watch. It’s an exposé on the ivory trade from Africa to China, but it also functions as a detective story. SVT has already put money in and thinks it's an important story that needs to be told. HiFi would like to talk. CBC, "the nature of things" commissioner, is very interested in how it would play it out, but cautioned that seeing animals being killed is hard on their audience. The more investigative side might draw a larger audience. Is there a lot of natural history in there? It might be too hardcore for them. ITVS is more interested in the character-driven stories, but encourages it for their international call. BBC is absolutely interested and thinks the main character might be a good fit, but notes that they have to build the action around him and make it an adventure. Might not fit at Storyville (BBC), but he says that he will try to broker a deal if it's not. YES likes the tone of an eco-thriller and thinks that can work wonderfully. Would want to know more about this main character and what motivates him. YLE says that it's a thriller and mentions that they have been involved with the development. YLE calls it "The Cove for Elephants.” RAI thinks the eco-thriller is okay, but he needs more of the character. The music in the trailer sets the mood more than the character in the trailer right now.
19. The Battle for Rio. All eyes are on Rio because of upcoming World Cup and Olympics, so they are trying to deal with the favelas – so, how do they do it? The filmmakers have not started shooting... roll the trailer (apparently, they’ve shot just the trailer, at least!). It’s a long trailer that puts the pitch near the end. Director goes way over time during the pitch. Independent Lens worked on the director’s last film and would encourage them to come to IL. BBC wonders is this an investigation (a current affair show), or a story of the inhabitants and their lives being transformed? NYT thinks it's an intriguing subject and they could be a platform for reflecting before the project is even done. NHK shares BBC’s concerns. They want to know how this film differs from other films. The timing is good, but what's new and what's the difference? ARTE is already on board and says that it's definitely going to be a character-based documentary. CBC wants more info about who the characters are. They also had concerns about the timing. As they get closer to the event, the tension gets more – so why would the production team want to release so far before World Cup? Answer: wants to deal with the process beforehand – it's a film with more questions than answers?
20. Svalka. FilmsTransit head Jan Rofekamp starts with the chronology of how the film got to him. The director starts discussing film. Reads a letter from a lawyer about her previous film and the impact it had on the lawyer’s work. The new movie she hopes will have a huge impact on people, as well. In 2002, she came to a garbage dump near Moscow where the regular laws don't apply. She met a girl there (at this point, the pitch time is running out) and she followed her for several years and there is a more happy ending in this story than the previous film. She had really amazing access to an insane place, as evidenced in the trailer. ITVS says that international call doesn't work, but open call is a good fit. Indy Lens adds that it was an incredibly strong trailer and the story is exceptional. They would love to see a cut when she has it. Tribeca says that this was extraordinary and mentions that he has a lot of respect for the film and that she's a finalist in Tribeca already. CNN says that they need to do stories that are riveting stories and this is the kind of story that would be strong in any context. Would really like to talk with them. HiFi claims that it would be a project for EQHD and they love the storytelling. Knowledge Network loves seeing someone grow up on camera . CBC agrees and says that the access is amazing. BBC has nothing but accolades to add. ZDF comments that it is difficult for ARTE programming because they have few slots for this kind of film. ARTE follows up that maybe next year they will have more ability. Jan says that she is trying to finish for IDFA. ARTE counters that makes it more difficult. RAI says that they are on board now. NHK may have potential to have it as a longer than the one hour. YES likes the “7 Up” films and they have a large Russian community, so they are going to buy this one.
21. An Honest Liar. The winners of the MIPDOC pitch, starts with a strong statement: "You have been decieved." Everyone is out to deceive you and their enemy is critical thinking. Film is about James "The Amazing" Randi. Nice trailer. The film follows Randi around the world on the growing skeptic movement. Randi might have some non-honest moments as well.The pitch team swap each other's names in the summary of their films. They have been in production for the last 10 months. In a world where science and reason are in a losing battle, story is more important than ever. Panel responds: BBC really likes it, likes the trailer, but would like to know more about what proportion has current troubles and whether what he's done is more interesting than what he's doing now? The filmmakers respond that even though he is 84, he is still traveling the world, still at work. The unfolding story is pretty dramatic and is happening right now. They claim that it will be a 60/40 mix. SVT thinks it has a really amazing appearance. But wonders who the current funders are. The filmmakers say that they are unsolicited donations from all over the world and a significant grant from a man in Silicon Valley. YES says that it’s a wonderful project, love the current story, but are you going to have confrontations with charlatans? Filmmakers say that they’re going to try and already have a few. Randi questions what people hold most dear, so there are people who hate him and they will show that. DR loves the project, has a feature doc strand for people with a strong storyline and a different way into talking about superstition. Independent Lens compliments the pitch and has worked with them before, but can't come in with funding at this stage but interested. Tribeca has also worked with filmmakers before. But, for them, now it is at the stage where they could get involved and it might be a good fit for a new funding initiative. CBC says it’s a good pitch but wonders who one of the other characters (Jose Alvarez) is? The filmmakers say that they’ll have to pay to find out. Knowledge Network thinks it would be great for our audience if the CBC doesn't pick it up. CBC (second channel) wonders about how they will weave all of the different threads. The filmmakers say, “It'll be 4 hours.” (There are knowing laughs). ZDF thinks that this could work for a Sunday, but is not clear on the structure and how the elements are going to hold together.
22. Let The Fire Burn. EP starts. He reads something about how he wanted to be involved. It's a thriller told solely through archive without any talking heads or narration about the bomb set off by the police department in Philadelphia that killed several members of the MOVE organization in their compound. They show several short scene selects. The filmmaker stands up for his presentation. He was 11 when it happened and it scared him. He wanted to find out, in retrospect, how does the unthinkable become possible? His answer is that If we see the label on a person instead of the person, we stop seeing (and relating to) their humanity. Sundance Fund came on board because it was an amazing capturing of a moment in time that stands alone. CNN starts the panel response by saying that they remember MOVE and saw the whole thing. They had a great deal of success with films about Jonestown, Waco. They want to talk. Tribeca says that they may very well throw money into this. Do we meet any survivors in present day? Filmmaker did shoot some interviews, but the power of the story was in the archive so that material would become secondary web material. MSNBC thinks this could work for them as they've had some success with historical material; the trick for them is to create a tight narrative arc without interview/narrative. They want to talk and likes that the filmmaker has a personal connection and passion for the subject matter. PBS thinks that this could be a fit on American Experience. Would like to stay in touch and make an introduction to Mark Samuelson. POV would like to continue conversation to see how collaboration is possible. Independent Lens saw the 11 minute clip and found it to be extremely compelling. It's a great idea to stay with the narrative, and reminds her of Black Power Mixtape. MOVE is mostly forgotten, so it's timely and extraordinary–– so they're interested. BBC says that they like this, but American mayhem is not so surprising to the rest of the world. A contemporary interview might make it easier outside of America. They would like to see an edited 20 minutes; very intriguing. YES sums it up with big story, big drama, and big interest on their part.
23. The Adventures of Dr. Crackhead. The second Mountie Hat pick. A film about an addiction research specialist by day who is an addicted crackhead at night. Pitch seems to be mostly read; producer is the voice in the film. TVO thinks it’s an interesting outside of the box character, but once you get past the peculiarities wonders if this film is about a different kind of understanding of addiction or is it a character study? The filmmaker thinks of it as a character study, about a guy who is managing his addiction. BBC likes this because it's a non-politically correct Canadian doc. He advises the filmmakers to dump the animated reconstructions and take the narrator out of it. The film, if it's going to work, needs to force people more into the world. Knowledge Network agrees with Nick on this one. Shaw has a strand on global network that could work but there isn’t a second window, though (the film is already set up on a Canadian channel, so Shaw wouldn’t be able to put money into it). POV thinks addiction and a strong character driven story is important and would like to see more in terms of how the story is developed. Agreed with Nick on animations. “Don't go there – you have it in the character.” The title is a hard one, too, and they expected something more humorous and it wasn't. Would consider for acquisition. Deadline June 30th for acquisitions at POV. Apparently, there is artwork created because the guy sees himself as a superhero. POV wonders how is the story arc going to develop, though? DR was looking for what his adventures were. The say that we hear about them, but he doesn't do them. DR doesn't agree with Nick. She doesn't like him that much. Feels like the tone is a bit wrong or off. The filmmaker admits that when you first meet him, he seems a little off. There is a little back and forth between the filmmaker and DR, but DR remains unmoved. ARTE doesn't like him, either and doesn't understand what is he fighting for. Does he have something to say? The panel seems to have woken up more feisty after the long lunch break.
24. Trend Beacons. Film is about Dutch fashion and design. Pitch starts talking about the background on the filmmakers. A handful of people are responsible for the underlying elements of fashion. This film profiles these people. They have "universal access" and has been following them for 20 years. It's "art + copy" meets "The September Issue." SVT thinks that it could find a home there. Three colleagues wore the same dress as she wears today. This is an important story for them. Wonders what access will be for Lij Endelkoort (one of the people profiled in the trailer)? This film has to be a cinematic and trendy film and not sure of that yet based on the trailer, but will see how it will develop. ARTE has questions from the trailer about form, style, and access for the film. They wonder if we are going to have the relationship with the people from the market and industry where maybe we can be outside of the "art" slot. The filmmakers state that they have access to those people. They will incorporate the people who are buying the design forecasts, so you will see the effects of the forecasts. BBC wants to ask how you deal with the "bollocks" factor in this. There is also no tale of failure in your documentary, and shows about failure are a bit more successful (or shows with that aspect), so they don’t appear to be on board. YES likes the project, and gives credit to the filmmakers that they will find a way. Sees more fashion stuff that plays well. They have 2 weeks of fashion films and people love it. Independent Lens has met with the filmmakers already (and they supported art + copy). It's not a natural fit for them. Gary Hustwit's film, “Objectified,” covered some of the same terrain. Would want to see how it intersects with American audiences, so they wouldn't fund it at this stage. TVO wonders are we going to witness the process by the end of which there's this thing that gets to be the next big thing? The filmmakers state that their goal is to witness from birth to release of a "forecast."
25. The Pleasures of the Scents. The director not present, but producer, main character, presenting CE are. This a story about a man who is a "nose" who developed a way of cooking based on the molecules in aroma. The film is about sex, food, and the seeking of pleasure. There is a historical aspect and a science aspect. Smell is deeply connected to emotion. They will do man-on-the-street type interviews, as well as reenactments of historical moments, and interviews with experts. They talk to a scientist who treats PTSD and alzheimer's with smell. The tone will be similar to Amelié, Peter Greenaway’s films, and Tree of Life. Nearing the end of the pitch, the Main character begins talking, but probably doesn't realize he's about out of time. They cut him off as he goes into how molecules vibrate to generate smell, which is getting everyone to glaze over, a bit. DR jumps in first, as they have a science slot, but it's an hour, so we're looking for out of the box science story, but they cannot show a feature length. Send me a cut, 1st of June, she says. CBC thinks they should explore the international marketplace first. NHK doesn't find this film for world doc slot, but there might be a place for it on the cultural channels, where they would have to compete with the in house Japanese teams at NHK. They also think it might be too science-y for a women's audience. The filmmakers jump in to say that there is very little science, according to the writer. DR hits their microphone and jumps back into the conversation, “Then don't send it to me if it isn't a science program.” ITVS says that they can't fund it. But, they can't wait to see it. BBC can't imagine any circumstance that this would work in UK and wonders who this is made for? The filmmakers think it is to appeal to a wide audience because it has a wide appeal. BBC says that Brits are all about how to do it and how to get it, and he’s not sure if this shows that. The filmmakers say that the connection between sex and food is the point of it. We want to enhance your senses. DR jumps back in and asks, “Do you know at the end how to have a big orgasm?” The filmmakers say, “Yes.” SVT had a meeting before, and Swedes are not the trendiest, but most trend-sensitive. So, very interested in food and wine, so the topic is interesting, but looking at the trailer it is apparently for science slot and not arts and culture. DR jumps back in again and wonders why is this not science? (The filmmaking team keeps claiming that their science film doesn’t have any science in it). The filmmakers also claim that they didn't want to alienate the audience. DR responds that, well, \ you're only alienating if you're not being honest. The filmmakers say finally that it is science, and they think they’re being honest. The main character closes the testy panel discussion by saying that it's a "nose opening movie."
Inside Joke: How Humor Invented the Jews. This is a feature length plus 52' version. The filmmaking team toasts each other to start the pitch. They're making a film about how Jews have dealt with their nightmarish history through humor. The film aims to take you on a surprising international road trip and get you to the root of a stereotype that Jews are funny. Woody Allen, Larry David – this film tells a surprising international story that you don't know. For 5000 years, Jews weren't considered funny at all. Trailer starts late and Jamie remarks that the key to comedy is timing. Trailer features a lot of clips (no footage shot for it). They describe the film as being anchored around a deli table of leading Jewish comedians. Film follows three lines – history, international, and America. There will be set pieces like a psychology experiment that aims to show that Jews are funny. The film is driven by the basic question of "Why are jews funny?" Valencia starts off by saying that in Latin America, Argentina you would have support there; they are concerned about Jewish issues. They would think about an acquisition, maybe. SVT has already talked, and will continue in Sheffield. Interested in how it will develop. NHK thinks that jokes are quite difficult to make work in Japan (at which point, the audience cracks up). Jewish community is a bit far as well, but they would love to see final film. ZDF thinks it could be something for ARTE. People want to laugh and the journey of how the humor moves around could be interesting. POV says that they had a meeting at lunch. They would need to see more. It’s not a natural fit for them but they liked the multi-layered approach. Shaw says that they do have a feature doc fund that is for docs with a million or more for the budget. It would be difficult to come in and it seems like it's highly reliant on talent, so you might want to add someone to handle talent onto the team. TVO says that they are going to keep talking about it with the filmmaker. Interested in seeing how it goes. They are still not convinced why it's important to know, though...
And that marks the end of the Forum.
This report was written by Eli Brown, a director/owner of Postbrooklyn, a production and post-production studio based in Brooklyn, NY, specializing in independent films and the broadcast finishing process. Visit him on Twitter at @postbrooklyn, or at his website at http://www.postbrooklyn.com