Good Pitch New York 2016 did not disappoint. On a personal level, it was a much-needed opportunity to come together post-election. There is no doubt that we are in a new political reality and many of us are struggling to come to terms with what that means for the issues we care deeply about – climate change, health equity, women’s rights, immigration, freedom of expression, and racial justice, to name just a few. The Britdoc team did a phenomenal job creating a space for reflection and connection. They also provided a platform for two leaders – Tara Houska of Honor Thy Earth, and Ilhan Omar, the first elected Somali-American — to challenge us to listen to all stories and continue to standup. Oh, and the film line up was particularly strong!
Dark Money and Councilwoman took on important issues around our political system and the very real barriers that exist for those seeking to make change within it. Dawnland took us inside the first truth and reconciliation commission for Native Americans in Maine and challenged us on the importance of raising the visibility of overlooked issues and the critical role of dialogue and reconciliation. Madame Tran’s Last Battle showed us the importance of holding corporations accountable and the long-lasting impacts of war. Rescue Breath, set in rural West Virginia, put a human face on the opioid epidemic and the challenging road to recovery. While Quest: The Fury and the Sound provided an important portrait of an American family and the power that each of us has to impact the lives around us. Finally, Imitation of Choice showed us an innovative approach within our criminal justice system that seeks to empower and assist rather than criminalize vulnerable members of society.
There was tremendous enthusiasm in the room for each film and concrete offers of help as well as generous financial commitments both small and large. I came away with renewed commitment to the power of film and storytelling and their role in raising up marginalized voices, creating opportunities for real dialogue and healing, highlighting the impact of policies on real lives and inspiring us all to work for change. The work we do seems more urgent than ever and the film teams that pitched brought that into clear focus.