South African producers Pascal Schmitz of Amariam Pictures and Ryley Grunenwald of Marie-Vérité Films are preparing to pitch their documentary 'Sands of the Skei Queen' at the Hot Docs Forum which is one of the most prestigious pitching forums in the documentary world. It forms part of North America's largest documentary gathering: the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.
The Hot Docs Forum is a 2 day event on the 2nd and 3rd of May where Schmitz and Grunenwald will present a 7-minute pitch to the international documentary industry's top commissioning editors, funders and distributors as well as 450 observers. The table of financiers will then have a few minutes to comment on whether the documentary is a good fit for their organizations and the pitchers will have the opportunity to meet with those interested.
The political and environmental documentary is one of 25 projects selected out of 150 applications and is the 4th South African project to have been selected since 2000. 'Sands of the Skei Queen' follows a young Eco-activist who wants to protect her community's land and titanium-rich beaches from an Australian mining company and a fenced highway. The developers believe that the projects will help alleviate poverty, unemployment and lack of infrastructure in the area while much of the community argue that their true wealth is their pristine land, a hot-spot of biodiversity, which could be used for sustainable Eco-tourism.
Schmitz and Grunenwald will be part of the official South African delegation attending Hot Docs, which is organized by the Documentary Filmmakers’ Association, in partnership with the National Film and Video Foundation and funded by the Department of Trade and Industry. The South African delegation will be one of the largest at the festival and will be giving a presentation on the benefits of co-producing with South African filmmakers.
Grunenwald recently won 2 Golden Horns for Best Director and Best Cinematographer of a Documentary at the 2012 South African Film and Television Awards for her previous documentary, 'The Dawn of a New Day' (2011), which also took Best South African Documentary at the 2012 Cape Winelands Film festival.
Schmitz and Grunenwald are looking forward to the pitch and are aiming for pre-sales to unlock available South African funding. Sands of the Skei Queen has been awarded grants from the National Film and Video Foundation as well as Canada’s Alter-Ciné Foundation.