Good Pitch Pasifika: a film can change the world !

Good Pitch Pasifika was announced at FIFO 2018. This year it is starting to take shape and was presented at a conference on Tuesday 5th February, followed by an impact workshop to explain how this tool can help and play a part in the impact of a film.

The idea is to support the voice of the Pacific and our region’s problems with an impact strategy. Good Pitch helps directors access mentoring, funding, advice and resources. We help create networks and opportunities with a view to working together to make change’. Alex Lee, director of Doc Edge Festival in New Zealand, has come to FIFO to present Good Pitch Pasifika. This audiovisual professional was also here last year to talk about the tool and explain the concept. This year he has returned in force with a team: Holly Fifer, director, and Khadidja Benouataf. On Tuesday 5th February they outlined this tool that is already functioning in other countries. What is Good Pitch exactly? Created in Great Britain by Doc Society, it aims to support the documentary industry through the production of films with great potential for social and environmental influence. After developing in over 15 countries including Australia, the United States and scattered around Europe, it has now reached the Pacific. Therefore FIFO 2020 will host a local Good Pitch in anticipation of the first Good Pitch Pasifika, scheduled for November 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. The aim of these events is to form coalitions between directors, documentary producers and agents of social change (foundations, NGOs, militants, patrons, decision-makers, brands and media) around social, cultural and environmental stakes.

A coalition in order to progress

How does it work in practice? The director Holly Fifer takes the mike to share her experience with regards to her film The Opposition, Main Prize FIFO 2017. This documentary tells the story of a community in Papua New Guinea under threat of being wiped off the map by a hotel tourism project. ‘I pitched my film in 2014 at Good Pitch Australia as I wanted to help this struggling community. I wanted to create social change. Following the film, people working in common law got involved although they didn’t know this community. We were also sued. Without the support of these people, foundations and NGOs, we would have lost the case. Thanks to them, we gained the right to screen the film in 49 cities around the world and to show it to as many people as possible’, explains Holly Fifer who was able to fund a large proportion of her film thanks to the tool. ‘Good Pitch is a blend of idealism and pragmatism. Idealism as films can change lives, the world and situations, as well as making people and politicians aware of certain situations. Pragmatism as there are methods and techniques to change things,’ intervenes Khadidja Benouataf. This professional in the field is back from Amsterdam where the last Good Pitch Europa took place. It is a valuable and hands-on experience. Khadidja Benouataf explains how, once the film has been selected, teams will help and become involved over the course of 9 months to further the cause. ‘Good Pitch knows how to create an impact, to form a coalition between a film and people who can drive things forward’.

What is having an impact?

In order to go one step further in presenting the tool, Khadidja Benouataf and Holly Fifer organised a workshop aiming to show and explain with concrete examples the concept of impact. The Marama room is crowded. Many local directors, producers and activists came to this workshop. ‘In my work, I have produced many films to order, now I choose subjects with important issues,’ confides the 35-year old director Thomas. ‘I need to know how to create an impact as I want to make a film to drive things forward’. Everyone introduces themselves in turn and explains their projects. ‘Don’t worry, nothing goes beyond the walls of the room so we can discuss things freely and share stories in a relaxed fashion’, pre-empts Khadidja Benouataf. For almost 5 hours, a true exchange takes place between participants from all over the Pacific: Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti of course, the Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea. After a presentation about impact, how to create it and with whom, specific examples of Polynesian films were expanded upon.

A dynamic

These include two films about Pouvanaa a Oopa, a historical figure in Polynesia. Marie-Hélène Villierme produced the first film and Jacques Navarro the second. Both had an impact. The film by Marie-Hélène Villierme exposed the history of Pouvanaa. ‘It was important for the population to know who he really was. There was a need to return Pouvanaa to everyone without a political battle. Politicians were scared as a result and everyone marched. Everybody found their place and made a contribution’, confides the director who was in attendance. As for the film by Jacques Navarro, it gave people a chance to see that there was no longer any doubt regarding the case of this man wrongly condemned as responsible for an act of arson in Papeete. This political prisoner was only redeemed years after his death. Two other Polynesian films shall be used as examples for having changed the views and behaviour of people: As du cœur (Ace of Hearts) highlighting organ donation and Alors on danse (So Let’s Dance) portraying what those with disabilities can achieve. ‘This workshop opened my eyes to a real subject and how powerful a film can be’, confides Thomas, who found the dialogue enriching and intends to make use of it for his next films. Moana and Hiro, two activists bursting with energy, have a project to go around the world to make populations aware of climate change and pollution. ‘We want to broadcast our message to as many people as possible, to have a far-reaching impact. We want to influence future generations and stimulate feelings’, explains Hiro before being interrupted by his friend: ‘this workshop provided us with structure. You want to do everything at the same time but you need a vision and to know what you can do in real terms. We must therefore channel our energy to do something specific.’ At the end of the workshop all the participants had just one thing on their minds: how could they change and improve the world…

FIFO – Suliane Favennec