Erica here for the next installment in Docs In Progress coverage of the Silverdocs Film Festival. Matthew already provided his perspective on the Documentary Conference and I have few thoughts to add since my work schedule made it difficult for me to attend much of the Conference. The one piece of the Conference I did attend was The Good Pitch which was its second year at Silverdocs. Having seen Docs In Progress alums Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer's project Out in the Silence flourish partially as a result of participating in last year's Good Pitch, I wanted to see how a new batch of documentary works in progress are likely to make a difference.
Though I could only attend the morning session (and did not attempt to compete with the live reporting from the quick fingers of the folks at Working Films and the Center for Social Media), the Good Pitch was highly instructive for anyone interested in approaches to outreach campaigns and how to work with philanthropic and grassroots partners.
My personal favorite of the pitched films I saw was The House That Herman Built, a nuanced approach to the prison documentary genre, this time about an Angola prisoner in solitary confinement who is collaborating with an artist to create an art installation of his dream home. That said, the biggest wow moment of the morning probably came after Macky Alston's pitch for The Truth Will Set You Free. The film about the first openly gay partnered (and resultingly controversial) Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson not only had a pitch perfect pitch and trailer you'd expect from a seasoned filmmaker like Alston, but was capped off by a pitch from Robinson himself.
Robinson was hardly the only celebrity putting in an appearance at Silverdocs this year. Although the festival has seemingly given in to the same cutbacks that have affected film festivals and arts organizations more broadly, they did manage to nab Oliver Stone to participate in a panel after the oddly timed (4:00 pm on a weekday) local premiere of South of the Border. And I'll share some thoughts on Stone's latest opus and other Silverdocs festival fare in these pages soon.