Two producers in particular are walking away from the Realscreen Summit with smiles on their faces. Two public pitching sessions at the Summit – So You Think You Can Pitch and the Brazilian Pitching Showcase – gave Jason Osder and his film Let the Fire Burn and Krishna Mahon and her film Brazilian Hooligans: In the Name of Football, respectively, top honors.
Osder, from the Documentary Center at George Washington University, took the top spot at the second annual So You Think You Can Pitch event, scoring 35 of a possible 40 points from judges Nicole De Fusco, VP original programming & development for Sundance Channel; Amy Introcaso-Davis, SVP original programming and development for Oxygen Media; Gary Lico, president and CEO of CABLEready and Rob Sharenow, SVP non-fiction & alternative programming for A&E Network.
Let the Fire Burn is the story of the May 13, 1985 bombing of a Philadelphia row house by the Philadelphia Police Department to smoke out an activist/presumed terrorist group called MOVE. The trailer for Osder’s doc shows stock footage of the group, the police and the fire that burned over sixty homes, as well as current interview clips with individuals who were there. The provocative trailer posed many questions – why the police took this course of action knowing there were children in the house, and why the group didn’t leave the house in order to protect the children. All the judges praised the compelling trailer, with Sharenow saying he could easily see the film at Sundance. Other pitchers included Gedeon Programmes’ Robert Salvestrin with In the Footsteps of Tintin, Greg Hemmings of Hemmings House Productions with Wrestling with Reality and David Brenner of Shankly Productions who brought a project concerning the 150th anniversary of the Pony Express.
The pitching session was hosted by Bravo’s SVP original programming, Andy Cohen, who cracked wise several times over the course of the competition. One moment that got guffaws came after the star and co-producer of Hemmings Houses’ Wrestling with Reality, indie wrestler Rick Doyle, took over Hemming’s pitch after a computer glitch killed the trailer’s audio. Doyle proceeded to take off his clothes while pitching to reveal his wrestling costume – tiny shorts and tall black boots. ‘I’ve never had to tell someone to put their pants back on after a pitch,’ said judge Introcaso-Davis to which Cohen responded with tongue firmly in cheek, ‘That’s a shame.’
The Brazilian Pitching Showcase was hosted by Jacques Bensimon, international consultant for ABPI-TV Brazilian Independent TV Producers Association, and judged by Kristina Hollstein, director coproductions and development/documentaries for ZDF Enterprises GmbH; Diane Rankin, head of acquisitions for Cineflix International Distribution and Allison Winshel, senior director of primetime programming for PBS. The session featured five pitches from Brazilian producers, with the winner being Mixer’s Krishna Mahon (pictured) and Brazilian Hooligans: In the Name of Football. The doc follows five days in the life of a football super fan, a prosecutor and a police officer as they deal with the high tension and violence that results from extreme football fanaticism in Brazil. The judges agreed that Mahon’s pitch was the most compelling and timely due to the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. The other competitors who came in from Brazil to pitch were Juliano Enrico Teixeira with his documentary Ultimate Brown Bull, which Teixeira called ‘a cross between City of God and Raging Bull,’ about an old Brazilian boxer and his push to make his sons Olympic boxing champions; Luciana Freitas and her doc-series Positive about women in Brazil who were infected with HIV by their husbands; Marcos Negrao and Marina Rupp and Broken Moon, part of a planned doc series about how people on different continents deal with climate change, and Luis Antonio Silveira and Renato Fagundes with their series about city-dwelling animals, Zootropolis.