Pitching by Pitchers

The long-awaited pitch session took place on Thursday at 3pm in the FIFO village marquee. T
he subjects presented were wide ranging and seem to have won over the distributors and certain decision makers: climate change; traditional architecture; sexuality and the older generation; focussed portraits and tradition.

The Oceania documentary community gathers at FIFO, notably at the Oceania Pitch, which has been organised for the last 3 years in partnership with the ATPA.

What is the idea behind it? So that the producers and distributors invited to FIFO meet the project bearers face to face. This initiative enables film makers to extend their network by approaching professionals from the whole region – and beyond – who are spending time at the festival. In order to accomplish this difficult exercise, a fast-track formation is on offer to them throughout the week. This year, our pitchers were coached by three masters of the genre: Laurent Mini, producer, Luc de Saint Sernin, Director of Outre-mer 1ère, Giovanna Stopponi, a producer for Native Voice Films and Delia Baldeschi, Programme Director for Planète.

This year, Oceania Pitch selected projects from four countries (Australia, New Zealand, Salomon Islands, French Polynesia).

Poppy Walker, the Australian film maker of ‘Sixty + Sex,’ has come to FIFO for the first time, she heard about the festival from her producer. ‘It is very unusual to have training and a pitch session at the same place and time. FIFO is a human-oriented event where professionals can be easily approached, that is really rare. Our trainers are very attentive towards us; we have really progressed during this very intense workshop. Now, I hope to find some co-producers and above all, one day to present this documentary at the FIFO competition!’

Alexander Behse, a producer from New Zealand, is wearing two hats since two of his documentaries were included in FIFO’s official selection (‘Allan Baldwin’ and ‘The Road to the Globe’) and he is pitching a new one at this session. The film is ‘Tuohe Building,’ a film exploring the challenge faced by a Maori tribe to create a building of a new kind: a ‘living building’ concept showing a new way of living, a modern construction which respects the land and the environment. ‘I heard about FIFO through Briar March and Thomas Burstyn* who are colleagues and friends. In my mind, it is the most important documentary festival in the Pacific as for us English speakers, it is an opening to France.

A few words from Delia Baldeschi, Director of programmes for Planète.

‘We have really seen the pitchers progress during this course. They all have stories to tell but sometimes they needed help to find the right words to encourage the producers and distributors to follow them. Often, the film makers are so involved in their story that is it hard for them to put their message across. We had to take into account the qualities and flaws of each to lead them to something marketable. Between the pitchers and coaches alike there was a very good atmosphere; there was no divergence so we really moved forward. There are projects which have great potential and we are going to keep up with them.’

* Briar March produced ‘Te henua e noho, There Once Was an Island,’ Grand Prix FIFO 2010, and Thomas Burstyn produced ‘This Way of Life,’ Special Prize FIFO 2011.