Welcome Joe!

A very Happy New Year to all. When this newsletter left you last, The Opposition's Joe Moses was winging his way to Panama where the film was one of five Bertha BRITDOC films playing for delegates at Transparency International's International Anti-Corruption Conference. Joe was seeking help in his struggle for justice following the eviction of his community from their homes in Papua New Guinea.

A lot has happened to Joe since then.

He was five days in transit to Panama because KLM refused to fly him from Singapore, didn't feed him for 32 hours and generally treated him disgracefully. He missed the screening but, just half an hour after arriving, he did meet the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders Michel Forst who took note of Joe's work.

Joe at IACC with Michel Forst

And in another twist of this remarkable journey, we heard we were soon to be welcoming Joe to the UK for a six-month stay under the European Human Rights Defenders programme. And arrive he did. Joe made it safely to London, landing at Heathrow on Christmas Eve with director Hollie Fifer and the next day they enjoyed a BRITDOC Christmas lunch and some long-awaited rest and recuperation. On January 19th Joe will begin a six month course studying International Human Rights Law, further bolstering his commitment to his community’s cause, their current case for damages, and the ongoing protection of their land and that of others' like them.

Getting to grips with the joys of Marmite

It's been incredible welcoming Joe to London, an opportunity to contemplate, to see things through fresh eyes again. We've closed out on a year that defied all expectations, that challenged our once confidently-held ideas of the countries we reside and work in and what they stand for. Stepping into the New Year alongside Joe we are channeling his particular combination of pragmatism, faith, a deep-rooted sense of justice and a ready laugh.

Attitude of Gratitude! Hollie's film would not have been possible without the support and partnership of the Bertha Foundation who also paid the legal fees and ran legal strategy when the film was sued in Australia last year (remember that previous episode of Team Opposition). And Joe would not be here without the film - which captures and makes undeniable the truth of his community's mistreatment.

We are now urgently raising money to support Joe's stay here - we need to match-fund the £15,000 grant money from European Defenders - and ideally find a pro-bono knee surgeon! If you are in a position to help Joe with either, please get in touch.

Some lovely announcements down below too - new people, new grantees, new ground. Join in with our welcome-themed Spotify playlist featuring the likes of

Welcome to My World // Jim Reeves
Family Affair // Sly & the Family Stone
Welcome to Paradise // Green Day
Ticket // Jaala
Positivity // Stevie Wonder

Here's to a progressive, productive year - looking forward to it!




After a tough selection process, the eight projects selected for Good Pitch Miami 2017 tackle issues facing the many cultures of Latin America, the Caribbean and their diasporas, including US Hispanics. Film teams from Mexico, Colombia, the US and Brazil include three first time filmmakers and for the first time in Good Pitch history will feature an all female cohort of directors.

The powerful stories in this year’s line-up of films include an environmental thriller, the promise and perils of public education, America’s invisible child refugee crisis, a personal account of mental health care in Mexico, a study of the vulnerability of democracy and the exploration of a peace and reconciliation process.

The first edition of Good Pitch in Miami is being supported by the John. S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and Fusion Media Group (FMG) -- a division of Univision Communications Inc, the leading media company serving Hispanic America. In collaboration with our long standing partners at the JustFilms initiative at Ford Foundation. The first Impact Lab will be hosted in February in Barranquilla, Colombia in partnership with Giuliano Cavalli of FicBaq festival in the city’s new Cineteca at the Camera Oscura Foundation. The live event takes place on 20th June at the New World Center, Miami.

Away from Meaning Dir. Olivia Luengas (Mexico)

The Age of Water Dir. Isabel Alcantara (Mexico)

Madidi Dir. Elizabeth Unger (US)

The Negotiators Dir. Margarita Martinez (Colombia)

The Pushouts Dir. Katie Galloway, Dawn Valadez (US)

500 Years Dir. Pamela Yates and Paco de Onís (US)

Unaccompanied Children Director Alexandra Codina (US)

Impeachment Dir. Petra Costa (Brazil)


Really excited to announce our final selections for the first ever Queer Impact Producers Lab, kicking off on January 31st. Four pertinent and diverse film projects, and ten Impact Producers from across Africa and North America will becoming together for the three-day lab in New York City.


Southwest of Salem | Director, Deborah Esquinazi | Producer, Sam Tabet After being wrongfully convicted of gang-raping two little girls during the Satanic Panic witchhunt era of the 80s and 90s, four Latina lesbians fight against mythology, homophobia, and prosecutorial fervor in their struggle for exoneration in this riveting 'True Crime' tale.

Truth | Director, Peter Surimi | Producer, Toni Kamau | Impact Producer, Aida Mbowa A father of two and gay sportsman lives with his lover in a Nairobi slum. It’s a far cry from the life his rural parents believe he has with his son’s mother. An aspiring politician’s ambitions for a “stone the gays law” are at odds with our hero’s desire to live a truthful life. What will the truth cost him?

Growing up Coy | Director, Eric Juhola A young Colorado family engage in a highly publicised legal battle and landmark civil rights case, as they fight for their 6-year old transgender daughter's right to use the girls' bathroom at her elementary school. The film asks a question that any parent could face - how far would you go to fight for your child's equal rights?

Pearl of Africa | Director, Jonny von Wallström | Producer, Andre Wallström The Pearl of Africa is a story about Cleopatra Kambugu, a 28 year old Ugandan transgender girl. An intimate fight for love, in one of the most transphobic places in the world. She sets out to fight for her right to love, and against all odds, to become the first accepted trans person in Uganda.


Selly Thiam (Kenya), Nhlanhla Ndaba (South Africa), Khanyo Mjamba (South Africa), Kamoga Hassan (Uganda), Olutimehin Adegbeye (Nigeria), Tiggy Garcon (New York), Shu Ling Yong (Chicago), Chris Riley (Mountainview, CA), Sam Feder (Los Angeles), Andre Perez (Chicago).

Organizations that will be in the room include: Sundance, Ford Foundation, Sexual Minorities Uganda, WITNESS, National LGBT Task Force, Transgender People of Color Coalition, Center for Constitutional Rights, Bertha Foundation, Arcus Foundation, Auburn Theological Seminary, Human Rights Watch, and many more filmmakers, activists and funders.

Congratulations all, cannot wait to convene in a few weeks’ time.


Nine films overall have been granted through the Bertha BRITDOC Connect Fund this year, funding outreach and engagement for each project. These include:

Care | Deirdre Fishel CARE sounds an alarm about an aging population, an exploited workforce, and a crisis that will affect millions. Working with a growing national movement, Care will help spark a wide-ranging public conversation about elder care in the U.S.

The Invisible City | Lieven Corthouts Filmmaker Lieven Corthouts decided to stay in one of the toughest places on earth and make the Kakuma refugee camp his home. While filming his friends for more than 4 years, he unveils the true dynamics of today’s refugee camps.

When The Guns Go Silent | Nathalia Orozco For 4 years, Natalia Orozco has followed the FARC’s commanders and the Government’s negotiators that were holding the peace talks that aim to end 50 years of violence.

Almost Sunrise | Michael Collins Tells the epic journey of two friends, ex-soldiers, who battle the moral injuries of war, and the temptation to escape through suicide, as they walk across America.

Machines | Rahul Jain A visual journey in to the work and working conditions in a pre-modern, huge textile factory in Gujarat, India.

An Insignificant Man | Khushboo Ranka & Vinay Shukla A non-fiction drama chronicling the most outrageous political debut in the largest democracy in the world, "An Insignificant Man" follows Arvind Kejriwal and his insurgent Common Man's party as they look to shake up Indian politics while struggling to keep their own idealism alive.

Thank You For the Rain | Julia Dahr Five years ago Kisilu, a Kenyan farmer, started to use his camera to capture the life of his family, his village and the damages of climate change. When a violent storm throws him and a Norwegian filmmaker together we see him transform from a father, to community leader to an activist on the global stage.

Forever Pure | Maya Zinshtein Beitar Jerusalem F.C. is the most popular and controversial football team in Israel, the only club in the Premier League never to sign an Arab player. Forever Pure follows the team as two Muslim players join the team for the first time and sent the club spiralling out of control.


Ed Vaizey MP, the former Minister for Culture, Communications & Cultural Industries and Anna Bateson, VP Platforms & Partnerships at the Guardian have joined BRITDOC Foundation’s UK board.

"I'm delighted and proud to have been invited to join the board of BRITDOC. The future of public service media will increasingly rely on new thinking and smart interventions like this. It's an exciting time for documentaries in Britain and globally and I'm believer in their power to inform and unite us. I look forward to helping the team grow their impact and effectiveness" - Ed Vaizey

"I am proud and privileged to be able to join the BRITDOC board, having long admired their work. There has never been a more important time for the best storytellers to be using the powers of documentary films - in all forms - to cast light on the issues that matter today, and deliver real impact and change in the world. The work of BRITDOC in ensuring that the right stories are made, and seen by people who can make a difference has never mattered more, and I am very inspired to be a part of it." - Anna Bateson

Ed and Anna join our current members Rob Berkeley, Project Lead for Audience Accountability at the BBC; Mark Cridge, Chief Executive of NGO MySociety; Tony Tabatznik, co-founder of the Bertha Foundation; and chair, John Bates, the former Head of Entrepreneurship at London Business School.

Joining the BRITDOC Charitable Trust Board is Natalie Samarasinghe, Executive Director, United Nations Association.

“Stories matter. Without good storytelling, crises are ignored, injustice goes unpunished, and people's experiences - harrowing, encouraging, cautionary, emblematic - remain invisible. For many who survive war and abuse, telling their story is a crucial part of rebuilding their lives. BRITDOC is at the forefront of compelling storytelling, helping stories to reach their potential and to promote understanding and - crucially - action. By becoming a trustee, I hope to contribute in some small way to this inspiring organisation.” - Natalie Samarasinghe

Natalie joins Angela Seay, Chair of the Board; Stephan Chambers, Trustee; and William Sieghart, Trustee.


Marjon Javadi joined us right at the end of December and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome her to the New York office. She brings a wealth of experience from her background in production, development and acquisitions. Following her tenure with the documentary team at Netflix Originals, Marjon worked as an independent producer as well as a consultant for IFP and Animal Kingdom Films. She previously worked in development for producer Scott Rudin, in film finance and sales at Creative Artists Agency, and for directors Morgan Spurlock and Ross Kauffman.

We are also welcoming Juan Carlos Zaldivar as our new Outreach Director for Good Pitch Miami. Juan Carlos has a diverse and accomplished background as an artist, filmmaker and curator and has long been an active advocate in both New York and Miami for documentary filmmaking and the visual arts. He co-founded the social issue film festival The Florida Room, The Miami Filmmakers Collective, and most recently collaborated as associate producer and cinematographer of the Virtual Reality short film A History of Cuban Dance (Sundance 2016; VRSE app) and co-producer of the anticipated feature Buena Vista Social Club: Adiós.

After many years as a collaborator, we are thrilled that Jessica Edwards is finally joining us full time in the London office as Director of Impact & Partnerships. With expertise bringing the worlds of creative media and non-profits, she has deep experience of working with film impact as a strategist on films such as ‘Unrest’ (premiering at Sundance 2017) and 'He Named Me Malala’, an extensive background as a documentary and factual television producer as well as having lead a number of high-profile projects with prominent NGOs.


Be sure to join Jess and Maxyne at Sundance at the end of the month cheering on our wonderful grantees. Including Bertha BRITDOC supported:

  • Trophy by Saul Schwarz, Co-Director: Christina Clusiau.
  • Whose Streets by Sabaah Folayan, co-director Damon Davis. Prod. Jennifer MacArthur. Whose Streets was also a Good Pitch NY project in 2015.
  • 500 Years by Pamela Yates, Peter Kinoy and Paco de Onis.

BRITDOC Circle Fund supported:

Chasing Reefs by Dir. Jeff Orlowski. Chasing Reefs was also a Good Pitch NY project in 2015.

And some wonderful GOOD PITCH alum are having their world premieres, including:

  • Unrest (formerly Canary in a Coal Mine) - GPNY 2015 Dir. Jennifer Brea.
  • Quest - GPNY 2016 Dir. Jonathan Olshefski, Prod. Sabrina Schmidt Gordon.
  • Last Men In Aleppo - GPEU 2017 Dir. Feras Fayyad & Steen Johannessen.
  • Strong Island - GP Chicago 2013 Dir Yance Ford.

GREAT PANEL ALERT - Resistance is Fertile! Storytelling, Law and Activism

Putting a shout out for this extraordinary conversation being presented at Sundance Film Festival by The Bertha Foundation the day after the inauguration with three of the people you'd most want in your corner when you fight the power.

Bertha are honoured to bring together storyteller Dawn Porter (director of Sundance films Trapped and Gideon's Army), radical lawyer Vince Warren (director of the Center for Constitutional Rights) and legendary native activist and organizer Winona LaDuke (co-founder of Honor the Earth and a leader of the Standing Rock movement).

Come and hear their reflections of the way forward from here for filmmakers, lawyers and activists who want to create fertile coalitions. Moderated by BRITDOC's Jess Search.

Saturday, January 21, 2017 | 12:30-2:00 PM | CineTransformer

5th Street between Main Street and Swede Alley


We are thrilled to announce that we have partnered with documentary education provider Blueshift to pilot Doc Academy in the United States. Whilst American schools already tend to value working with film in the classroom, though there is nothing quite like Doc Academy in the US education sector. We plan to move forward with a pilot with a handful of films and schools during 2017 to test the partnership and the concept.

More updates to come via @DocAcademy, @BlueShiftEdu and @BRITDOC on Twitter, so US teachers will know when and where they can access resources and get involved. Exciting times!


Our fantastic competition with Skype and the Malala Fund is still open - until January 20th.

We're excited to join students from four different schools across the country in an ideas exchange Skype in the classroom with Shazia and Kainat of the Malala Fund

If you know teachers or students who are passionate about development, human rights, campaigning, collaborating... we need them in the mix!

Share this link to enter -


Congrats to all the riders and winners at this year's Cinema Eye awards. We saw big wins for Kirsten Johnson’s Cameraperson which picked up Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking, along with editing and cinematography wins. Right behind it was Ezra Edelman’s O.J.: Made in America. We were whooping for joy for Nanfu Wang who took Outstanding Debut Feature for Bertha BRITDOC supported Hooligan Sparrow. And the magnificent Michal Marczak, whose dreamy All These Sleepless Nights received the Heterodox Award for films that blur the line between fiction and nonfiction. Just awesome.

Congratulations also in order to the wonderful Notes on Blindness team, nominated for three BAFTA awards - Best Doc, Best Debut and Outstanding British Film. Roll on 12th February!


Avoid the New Year sales and pick this 2 for 1 Something Real offer off the shelf instead. Doyenne of documentary Agnes Varda and dearly departed Albert Maysles create beautifully eccentric tributes to local legends and their métiers - from the humble to the haute couture. Explore the shops that time forgot on a picturesque street in Paris and get to know nonagenarian fashion icon Iris Apfel as she struts her stuff down the sidewalks of New York.


Dir. Agnes VardaAn insight into the shops and shopkeepers on a short stretch of the Rue Daguerre in Paris. A beautifully composed picture of a city and way and life that no longer exists.


Dir. Albert Maysles

Maysles's penultimate film presents an affectionate portrait of Iris Apfel, the beloved 93-year-old New York style maven.

'til next month!


Editors notes: Correction to last month's Good Pitch Europe announcement - Even When I Fall is directed by Kate Mclarnon and Sky Neal

twitter facebook
© 2017 BRITDOC Foundation
If you need to get in touch or have questions please mail