On Friday, Cinereach Founder and Executive Director Philipp Engelhorn participated in a panel at the first edition of “Envision: Addressing Global Issues Through Documentaries.” The event, to take place annually, consisted of two days of screenings and symposia. Envision is a joint project of the United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI) and the Independent Feature Project (IFP) and is designed for those interested in how global issues can be addressed through documentary film.
The panel was asked to discuss sources of, and motivation for, funding for issue-oriented docs and included: Nina Chaudry, from Wide Angle; Judith Helfand of Chicken & Egg and Working Films; Patricia Finneran of the Sundance Institute; and Emily Verellen from The Fledgling Fund. Filmmaker Annie Sundberg, Producer of THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK, moderated. The panelists (all speaking as funders of socially relevant films) represented a variety of mandates, challenges, agendas, and levels of involvement with funded projects.
In a letter to participants, Eric Falt of DPI and Michelle Byrd of IFP wrote that participants in Envision included the international filmmaking community, civil society organizations, entrepreneurs, activists, journalists, philanthropists, public policy makers, NGOs, the general public, and representatives from the UN. “The primary focus of this year’s program,” they said, was “the UN Millennium Development Goals and their impact on women.” Films screened included: ROUGH AUNTIES, PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL and THE GLASS HOUSE.
On a parallel note, Cinereach Grants Manager, Adella Ladjevardi, recently returned from Hot Docs, where she was invited to participate in “The Good Pitch.” The Good Pitch is a touring pitch forum created by Channel 4 Britdoc Foundation and the Sundance Institue Documentary Program, supported by the The Fledgling Fund, Working Films and others. Hot Docs marked the North American debut of The Good Pitch (which kicked off last year in the UK). Its focus is to give select filmmakers an opportunity to pitch their films and outreach campaigns to foundations, NGOs, campaigners, advertising agencies, brands and media to form alliances that can enhance each film’s impact.
Cinereach is pleased to see this trend – in the tradition of Working Films and the hundreds of socially conscious filmmakers who have long sought to connect inspiring stories with change-makers – toward creating a structured, public space for these pairings.
As an organization that supports both documentaries and narrative films of vitality and craft, Cinereach hopes to eventually see independent fiction filmmakers with a similarly grassroots approach included in efforts like this in the future.