Subscription 790/year or 190/quarter

Goodpitch: NGO meets doumentar

Profitable hunting prey of Brazil's rainforest, pollution and altered living conditions in the Faroe Islands, and violence in South Sudan.


The woman standing in front of us told us that her task in the Bosnia prison camp was to run around and wash away blood. After they brutally executed her brother and father – while she was forced to watch – she had to put them in the grave! She lost count with all those who raped her. But she survived. She was strong – and after the war experiences chose to work to help others – help women. Zainab Salbi is her name. She opened the big documentary film conference Goodpitch in London two years ago. During a break we stand and talk together, and she takes my hand, holds it, and I look straight into the big, dark eyes of the round face. She has short hair. I notice a strong woman, with a lot of love and a huge charisma. Her unique communication skills have brought her into television programs around the world, and she has raised millions of kroner for her relief work. The message is that it pays to move on. Now she has taken the camera into her own hands, and become a director of documentaries. What exactly is Goodpitch? Since 2008, the British initiative has brought together humanistically inspired documentarians to meet with NGOs – non-governmental aid organizations. To date, around 250 documentaries under development have received around NOK 120 million for productions and campaigns from these organizations. This week, Goodpitch is arranged at the Opera in Oslo. Seven selected film projects are presented to close to 100 organizations for possible cooperation and financial support – including the Rainforest Fund, Fritt Ord, DnB, NRC, Amnesty International, Transparency International and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Is this mostly for the mutual benefit of business partners, or is it more about values? Britdoc, the Ford Foundation and the American Sundance Institute were initially convinced that documentaries are a powerful tool for promoting social change. This can probably be confirmed by something close to 2500 organizations that have visited Goodpitch. But does an alliance between filmmakers and private foundations – with an organizational purpose to promote – maintain the critical integrity of filmmakers? They risk ending up in the campaigns of worldwide NGOs, such as participating Progressive Christianity Network, Oxfam or World Economic Forum. Then it is asked whether they can keep the necessary distance, and act independently. Completed campaigns have been financed with approximately the same amount as it has cost to make a film – around two million kroner. For example, NRK's ​​Odd Isungset pointed out in a Norwegian-ranked Goodpitch debate in 2013 that campaign-driven documentaries are not as welcome with them. Such an outreach campaign could be about an environmental issue for the planet's continued existence, criticism of gun use, gay rights – or the survival of gorillas, like the Goodpitch movie Virunga now launched on Netflix in 60 countries. A number of documentary filmmakers engage in investigative journalism, and the film work can last for several years. On the other hand, more and more personal documentaries are made, inspired by the fictional film's dogma of following a main character's growth, fall and finally self-searching change – a narrative in which the audience identifies with the hero or tragedy character in the film. Common to the Goodpitch projects is that they address ethical issues – questions of right and wrong. Something is always at stake. Among this year's good "pitches" are Norwegian Rebels by director Kari Anne Moe. She wonders why a third of young Norwegians drop out of upper secondary school – twice as many as elsewhere in Europe. Another is the environmental film Borneo Case, about raw felling in the Amazon (See page 5). The films we are presented with are not yet finished. One looks more closely at whaling and pollution outside the Faroe Islands, another at the trial against Ratko Mladic (from the area that almost destroyed the aforementioned Zainab Salbi). A fifth film is about a newly trained South Sudanese lawyer who returns to his home country, only to experience that he is shot again – just like in his youth. The last two are of the more personal kind: one is about a man's blindness – where audio tapes are to reproduce the feeling of loss, rebirth and renewal in his inner world – and one follows a transgender man seeking self-realization and acceptance in Turkey. Movies where something is at stake? A film about four Norwegian boys dropping out of school, a film about a person's blindness, or a transgender man's need for recognition – can they be "good"? Or is profit-hunting predation of Brazil's rainforest, pollution and changed living conditions in the Faroe Islands, and the violence in South Sudan more "good" for the NGOs present? In London two years ago, the Fritt Ord-supported Norwegian film Ida's diary – about self-harm in young people also participated. One can only nod appreciatively to the work filmmakers and affected volunteers put in so that we can understand each other's problems, respond to abuse, and ensure that people in our global neighborhood are not humiliated so they harm their souls. This globe is not really that big, is it? The documentary is possibly today's most important tool for changing an attitude – if it avoids ending up in viewer mentality and entertainment. Truls Lie

Truls Lie
Truls Liehttp: /
Editor-in-chief in MODERN TIMES. See previous articles by Lie i Le Monde diplomatique (2003–2013) and Morgenbladet (1993-2003) See also part video work by Lie here.

You may also like