The Edinburgh International Film Festival wrapped on Sunday after 12 straight days of screens and scenes. The festival featured over 40 international documentaries, both short and feature length, which included the awarded, the acclaimed and the aspirants of documentary cinema.
The line-up featured such titles as Jose Padilha’s Garapa, an exposé of the widespread effects of malnutrition in Brazil; Serbian Boris Mitic’s satirical Good-bye, How Are You?; Kirby Dick’s indictment of hypocritical closeted politicians who actively campaign against the LGBT community in Outrage; John Maringouin’s Amazon opus Big River Man, and Hot Docs winner One Man Village by Lebanese Semaan Bil Day’ia. Also featured were nine bright tidbits showcased in the ‘Document Shorts’ program, and an additional seven short documentaries which screened as part of the series ‘Bridging the Gap,’ a new talent documentary training initiative in the UK.
Coinciding with the legendary festival was the ‘Edinburgh Pitch 2009′ (June 17 – 19). Launched by the Scottish Documentary Institute, the annual three-day event offers a pitching workshop, forum and one-to-one meetings with commissioning editors for 12 documentary projects selected from 70 submissions across the UK and Europe, with even some from Asia and Australia. For projects to be officially selected to pitch, they must be a minimum length of 52 minutes (for either cinema or TV), with both experienced and novice filmmakers encouraged to apply.
After two days of workshops and rehearsals, the pitching day was underway. Around 100 observers, coming from the general public and from amongst festival delegates, were present to absorb the spectacle, moderated by Scottish Documentary Institute director Nomie Mendelle, and European Documentary Network director Line Sandsmark. Participating networks, sales agents and producers included: Lichtpunt, ARTE, ZDF, Initialize Films, Scottish Screen, More4, YLE, Britdoc and First Hand Films. For each presented documentary project, commissioning editors gave a score that combined pitch, story, and trailer.
Sonja Henrici, organizer of the Scottish Documentary Institute, said the event brought ‘some lovely verbal feedback from the commissioning editors as to the quality of the projects, and many took interest across the board in a variety of projects. The atmosphere was relaxed, supportive and very focused.’
The hysterical crowd-pleasing pitch, How to Re-establish a Vodka Empire by Dan Edelstyn, took the top award for Most Promising Project, and the Best Scottish Project went to the very moving and personal, Breathing by Morag MacKinnon and Emma Davie.
Back at the ‘mothership,’ prizes for the EIFF were awarded to Aliona Van Der Horst’s Boris Ryzhy, a lament to the Russian poet, for Best Documentary, while the Scottish Short Documentary Award was given to Johanna Wagner’s 10-minute film Peter In Radioland.