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Doc Edge 2011 on activism

After a day of workshopping, pitching, exposing, and taking risks with new films, Saturday’s Forum programme concluded with a discussion facilitated by Borderless Productions’ Qiu Jing Wong. This panel line-up included New York-based Skylight Pictures Granito documentary veterans, Pamela Yates & Paco De Onis, NZ directors Annie Goldson & Dean Easterbrook, and Stefano Levi, director of Out of the Darkness.

The discussion was popular with everyone – even those not interested in making activist documentaries. By the end it yielded not only inspiring contributions from each of the filmmakers, but very diverse ways in approaching audience outreach, which all filmmakers agreed was equally as important as each film itself.

The panel first explored varying philosophies, aspirations, and challenges behind making documentaries. Each filmmaker took a turn in discussing their approach in executing a film, the outreach work attached to that film and seeking funding for a project they had each recently made or are in the process of making.

Paco & De Onis opened by discussing their partnership with local NGOs and anthropology research teams for their film Granito as well as their interactive media, multi-lingual delivery, to the success of free streaming the film Reckoning (which, Yates said, was the most sold film they’ve made to date).

Annie Goldson displayed a website for her upcoming film, Brother Number One, which included an outlet for debate and testimonials designed to provide a space to build a community around the subject matter of the film. In addition she revisited an old school film promotion technique of handing out flyers and postcards.

Stefano Levi discussed the vast network he accesses for his film by simply linking with Facebook and keeping the site up to date. He’s posted three times since his arrival in New Zealand, promoting both his film screenings and participation in the Doc Edge Forum.

Dean Easterbrook shared grassroots approaches taken for Borderless’ A Grandmother’s Tribe, which included offering free DVDs and brochures to whoever wanted to organise screenings as a means of generating debate and fundraising for particular issues behind a film. He also talked about promotion via blog-writing and grassroots fundraising as a film is being made.

By the end of the discussion and a Q&A, panel and audience members had chimed in with many different funding resources. The session invigorated and empowered this writer with a wealth of new ideas, creative solutions, and tangible resources at my feet.

– Jessica Munna

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