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AFTRS, Doc Society, AIDC, Screen NSW Announce New Perspectives Pitch Lab Winners

Two projects have been announced as joint winners of the New Perspectives Pitch Lab, a pitch training initiative to support non-fiction talent with a social impact project in development or production. The winning projects are the feature documentary Joy, pitched by Victorian producer Lisa Albert and director/cinematographer (and AFTRS Alum) Vincent Lamberti, and the First Nations-led documentary series Our Country, pitched by NSW-based team, producer Yale MacGillivray and writer/co-director Lille Madden.

The New Perspectives Pitch Lab is an initiative of the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS), Doc Society and the Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC), in partnership with Screen NSW. The lab was led by Malinda Wink and Hollie Fifer from Doc Society, Screen NSW Investment Manager Andrea Ulbrick and Richard Welch, Head of Documentary at AFTRS.

The two teams were chosen after a series of pitch coaching training and development sessions for the five participating teams, culminating in a formal pitch to an industry panel. They will now participate in pitching opportunities at the 2022 Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) and receive one complimentary All-Access pass to attend the conference. AIDC encourages all participants who have not previously attended AIDC to apply for the Leading Lights recipient fund. For the first time this year, all participating teams will also now be supported for the next 12 months in developing their projects by industry mentors.

Our Country is a landmark First Nations-led documentary series exploring what Country means and what’s required to protect it, by revealing the extraordinary yet endangered wonders of the natural world. Founded on First Nations’ knowledge systems and philosophies, this series celebrates a love for and connection with Country as the way towards a better future.

Joy is a feature documentary that begins 36 years ago with the unravelling of a middle-class family and ends in a tragic family homicide. It is told from the unique perspective of the daughter, Kathryn Joy, who grew up in Lismore, NSW with her father, unaware that he killed her mother. It grapples with dilemmas such as Kathryn reconciling the love she has for her only living parent who is capable of both genuine kindness and killing; and a legal system that decided it was in her best interests to be raised by that same person.

Joy’s producer Lisa Albert said: “The New Perspectives Pitch Lab has allowed us to advance our project with the help of inspiring industry peers. We believe now more than ever that Joy is in a position to be made and contribute to positive social change. We are honoured to win the pitch and share this achievement with the Our Country team. We look forward to our ongoing mentorship and bringing Joy to market in 2022.”

Our Country’s producer Yale MacGillivray said: “The New Perspectives Pitch Lab was an incredible opportunity to learn from industry leaders, as well as meet a cohort of inspirational filmmakers. We are excited to take what we learned over the course of the workshop and implement it in the continued development of Our Country.”

The judging panel said that it was highly impressed with both team’s pitches. AFTRS Head of Documentary, Richard Welch, said: “The dedication from every team has been incredible and I’m excited to see how all the projects develop in the future. We were really impressed by the winning projects’ sense of ambition and clarity of vision. Both offered exciting creative new perspectives on how to tell how such compelling and timely Australian stories.”

Doc Society, the creators behind global initiatives such as Good Pitch, Climate Story Lab and the Impact Field Guide, are dedicated to the impact of art and the art of impact. Malinda Wink, Global Director, Good Pitch, on behalf of Doc Society, said: “A heartfelt congratulations to all the teams who participated in the Pitch Lab this year. I was impressed by how responsive the teams were to the feedback and advice, and it was fantastic to see the transformation of each project in a matter of a few weeks. I look forward to the journey of each of these films under the expert guidance of their story mentors throughout 2022: Rebecca Barry, Madeleine Hetherton-Miau, Ivan O’Mahoney, Gillian Moody, and Janine Hosking. A big thank you to our partners at AFTRS, AIDC and Screen NSW, and thank you also to the industry mentors and panellists who generously shared their expertise and insight to help hone each project throughout the lab and at the pitch event.”

Head of Screen NSW, Grainne Brunsdon, said: “Screen NSW is proud to join forces with AFTRS, Doc Society and AIDC for the 2022 New Perspectives Pitch Lab as it unearths exciting non-fiction talent, and I am pleased that NSW’s First Nations-led documentary, Our Country, has been selected for production. The Our Country documentary series comes from the talented minds of proud First Nations filmmakers, Lille Madden and Yale McGillivray, and promises to open our eyes to what Country means, and what’s required to protect it world. I wish Lille and Yale the best of luck as they get the series rolling.”

AIDC, Australia’s premier event for documentary and factual content supporting and elevating nonfiction storytelling across film, television, streaming and digital media, will take place from 6-9 March in-person at ACMI and online, with an online-only international marketplace 10-11 March 2022. Natasha Gadd, CEO, AIDC, said: “AIDC is always looking to support and create opportunities that foster the development of new voices and stories in the documentary sector and New Perspectives does just that! It was an absolute privilege to witness the five 2022 New Perspectives pitches and the breadth of unique voices, storytelling craft and creative vision each team brought to their projects. AIDC congratulates all participants and looks forward to tracking the projects as they come to life. The future of documentary storytelling is definitely in safe hands!”

The New Perspectives Pitch Lab encouraged applications from storytellers with projects that offer a rare insight into the under-represented and overlooked; stories from those who see more than what’s shown in the common zeitgeist; stories that break barriers and explore nuance over polarity. The initiative was open to projects from across the non-fiction landscape – from observational, character-driven stories, to hybrid and essay films, to podcasts and series for television or online. The Lab consisted of seven online coaching and development sessions and an online pitch event. The focus on the pitch training was to support participants to develop strategies and pathways for non-traditional access to audience and finance for projects that have potential for an impact campaign.

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