Good Pitch Chicago Recap

Good Pitch Chicago Recap

On Tuesday, May 5, documentary filmmakers and their supporters converged on Thalia Hall in Chicago’s historic Pilsen neighborhood for the second Good Pitch Chicago. The event featured six U.S. documentaries in various stages of completion with the hope of finding finishing funds, distribution, and outreach partners to address the social issues at hand.

The event was presented by Britdoc, a London-based documentary foundation, in partnership with the Ford Foundation and the Sundance Institute, and hosted by the Chicago Media Project, headed by Paula Froehle and Steve Cohen.

Similar to the event in 2013 at the Chicago Cultural Center, filmmakers pitched their project in 7 minutes, showed a brief trailer of the film, and engaged with selected community partners on stage about potential education and outreach initiatives.

Many projects had their subjects appear as well to say a brief word about their involvement, including Tom Voss and Anthony Anderson, the two veterans in ALMOST SUNRISE, Davonte, the high school student in RAISING BERTIE, Mark Barden, the bereaved father in NEWTOWN, A DOCUMENTARY, Trisha Shattuck, the filmmaker’s transgender father in FROM THIS DAY FORWARD, and Donté Clark, the urban poet in ROMEO IS BLEEDING.

Britdoc Chief Executive Jess Search served as moderator, and over $350,000 was raised at the event for all six films, similar to what was raised in 2013. Many in-kind donations were received as well. Total attendance was over 300 people.

Several of the films have Midwestern connections. Director Margaret Byrne is finishing RAISING BERTIE in Chicago at Kartemquin with editor Leslie Simmer; the veterans Tom Voss and Anthony Anderson in ALMOST SUNRISE live in Milwaukee; and Trisha Shattuck in FROM THIS DAY FORWARD lives in Michigan.

The six projects were selected from 110 entries. Prior to the event, the filmmakers worked with event organizers to select appropriate community partners, approach funders, and polish their 7-minute pitches.

In her opening remarks, Chaz Ebert praised all six films for their innovative approaches toward their stories. “Filmmaking is at its best when it puts the breath of life into the issues of our time,” she said.

All six films were warmly received, and a young mariachi band closed the day with a serenade before attendees adjourned to the Punch House lounge for a reception next door.

For more about this year's Good Pitch Chicago, please visit

Todd Lillethun is a freelance producer and editor at Flicker Effects and student advisor at Northwestern University's MFA program for Documentary Media.