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Browse this list to learn about documentary films pitched at past Big Sky Pitch events. Production status, film website, festival premieres and more are detailed below. If you are interested in more information about these projects please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
 

2021

ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE 
Directors Erin Brethauer, Tim Hussin 
Two longtime friends react to narrowly surviving California’s deadliest wildfire in divergent ways. One manifests an outsider oasis of 22 friends and family amid the ruins of their hometown in Paradise, while the other rejects society and builds a tin shed at the bottom of a canyon to live his fantasy of becoming a gold miner. In this 90-minute vérité documentary, Another Day in Paradise offers a rare and intimate view of post-disaster life; one that confronts challenges head on and lets life play out in all its glory and tragedy. 
 

BATTLEGROUND 
Director Cynthia Lowen 
Producers Cynthia Lowen, Rebecca Stern
‘Battleground’ opens an unprecedented window onto the most pivotal year for abortion in America since Roe versus Wade was decided. This timely veríte documentary follows three women who lead formidable anti-abortion organizations, depicting how the pro-life movement has emerged as a central force in American politics. Set against 2020’s political and social turbulence, the film takes us from the March for Life (where Trump was the first sitting President to speak), to the passing of Justice Ginsburg and the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, to the election. Whether one is pro-choice or anti-abortion, the pro-life movement’s influence over America is a fact, and one that is worth understanding: ‘Battleground’ is a much-needed current perspective on an issue that impacts us all.
 

I DIDN'T SEE YOU THERE
Director Reid Davenport 
Producer Keith Wilson 
Spurred by the spectacle of a circus tent that goes up outside his Oakland apartment, a disabled filmmaker launches into an unflinching meditation on freakdom, (in)visibility, and the pursuit of individual agency. Shot entirely from his literal physical perspective, both from his wheelchair and his two feet, the filmmaker’s gaze and thoughts oscillate between how he is seen, his distant family, and whether his films have fallen into the legacy of the Freak Show.
 

IN ANOTHER LIFE 
Director Grace Harper  
A daughter attempts to understand the ways her father’s addiction to opioids has defined her family, and created her own self -- guided by the ghost of her dead brother. A nuanced exploration of addiction, codependency, secrets, loss and renewal -- IN ANOTHER LIFE is a kaleidoscopic story about the unknowable forces that shape our lives.
 

NINE 
Directors:Jeremy S. Levine, Rachael DeCruz
Producers Jeremy S. Levine, Rachael DeCruz
'Nine' follows Gerald Hankerson, a Black 50-year old community leader, as he fights to get his former cellmate out of prison and to pass legislation that would provide a chance for others to regain their freedom. Gerald met Henry Grisby—a man he came to lovingly call “Pops”—in Washington State’s most notorious maximum security prison, where both were serving life sentences for crimes they didn’t commit. Nine is ultimately about the enduring bonds of friendship forged across generations and decades, and the power it gives both men to push back against an oppressive criminal justice system. With COVID-19 raging in prisons across the country, Gerald’s fight to free Henry is more urgent than ever.
 

THE ROLLOUT
Director Eran May Raz 
Producer Abraham Abie Troen 
In 2012, a 27 year-old entrepreneur and tech genius founded Meta, a company that spearheaded the field of Augmented Reality and became one of the faces of its future. Six years and tens of millions of dollars later, the company shut its gates. The film traces the arc of this entrepreneurial journey in intimate detail over the course of several years. From its humble beginnings, glamorous boom, spiral to bankruptcy - the documentary brings the story full circle with the CEO and employees' new endeavors in 2021. A twenty-first century tale, this riveting drama explores the dreams from which innovation springs, and the quest to arrive at the world of tomorrow, today.
 

STANDING ABOVE THE CLOUDS 
Director Jalena Keane-Lee 
Producers Jalena Keane-Lee, Amber Espinosa-Jones
Standing Above the Clouds is a 90 min documentary that follows the largest political movement in modern Hawaiian history and the indigenous women leaders who have sustained it for so long. Since 2010, a consortium of institutions and countries have been working to build the world’s largest telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea, a mountain revered as the most sacred place in all of Oceania that holds the water table for the Island. At the center of this story are the families of Pua Case, Leina’ala Sleightholm, and Mehana Kihoi who have acted as key court petitioners and put their bodies on the line to protect their mountain. Through the lens of mothers and daughters, the film explores intergenerational healing and the emotional toll of retaining ancient ceremony in a rapidly modernizing world.
 

STORMING CAESARS PALACE
Director Hazel Gurland-Pooler
Producers Hazel Gurland-Pooler, Naz Habtezgh
Storming Caesars Palace is a feature-length documentary about Las Vegas activist Ruby Duncan and a band of ordinary mothers who took on Presidents, the Mob, and everyday Americans, challenging the pernicious lie of the “Welfare Queen,” and launching one of the most extraordinary yet forgotten anti-poverty campaigns in our history. Igniting “Mother Power” — a unique blend of Feminism, Black Power and Civil Rights activism — they took the fight for an adequate income down the Las Vegas Strip and to the halls of Washington. Storming Caesars Palace reveals the roots of today’s movements by highlighting the experiences of Black women organizers from the 1970s and interweaving them with imagery of economic inequality exacerbated by COVID19, exposing the timeliness of their hidden story and placing it in the limelight, where it will inspire, and honor the women whose courage, tenacity and dreams could not be quashed, against all odds.
 

THE UNTITLED 19TH* NEWS DOCUMENTARY 
Directors Chelsea Hernandez, Heather Courtney
Producers Chelsea Hernandez, Heather Courtney
Emily Ramshaw wanted to do something about the white men dominating newsrooms. And now, with a scrappy group of fellow journalists, she’s doing it. In August 2020, The 19th* News was launched. THE UNTITLED 19TH* NEWS DOC tells the story of this start-up looking to revolutionize the American newsroom. We go behind-the-scenes as a diverse team of women and nonbinary journalists build a newsroom that reflects and “looks like the people we’re writing about” says reporter and editor at large Errin Haines. Their goal? To focus on the women and non-binary individuals ignored by legacy newsrooms - BIPOC, those living in flyover states, and those from low income and working class communities. But this film is about more than a newsroom. As we follow The 19th* reporters telling stories from all corners of the country, this film is about America in this fraught moment, with women front and center.
 

UNTITLED KQT PROJECT 
Director Patrick G. Lee 
Producer Patrick G. Lee
UNTITLED KQT PROJECT follows a chosen family of queer and trans nightlife performers in Seoul, Korea, as they navigate gender, seek belonging, and protect their freedoms, all while joyfully rejecting societal pressures to conform.

 


 

2020

NOMADS
Directors Vanessa Carr, Josh Gleason
Across America, a growing community of people are living out of cars, vans, and RVs: senior citizens who can’t afford to retire; families escaping the rat race; millennials displaced by skyrocketing housing costs. In search of true freedom and meaning, they’ve embraced a radical revision of the American Dream.
 

MANZANAR, DIVERTED 
Director Ann Kaneko
Producers Ann Kaneko, Jin Yoo-Kim
Status: Completed - Premiering at BSDFF in 2021 
Manzanar, Diverted tells the story of intergenerational women fighting to preserve the land and water of Payahuunadü / the Owens Valley from the insatiable thirst of Los Angeles. Bound by the legacies of colonization and forced removal, Native Americans, Japanese Americans and local environmentalists form an unexpected alliance to fight for their dignity, their home and for future generations.

SNAPSHOTS OF ZEMBER
Director Sara Joe Wolansky
Producer Sara Joe Wolansky
Zember, Mu Phou, and other Kayan women wearing traditional brass rings coiled around their necks were marketed as camera-friendly tourist attractions in admission-charging villages. After 18 years, Zember rebelled.

YINT’AH
Director Sam Vinal
Producer Franklin López
Freda Huson (Chief Howilhkat), a Wet’suwet’en leader, faces down fossil fuel corporations, the government, and police wielding assault rifles as she leads her nation in a high stakes struggle to protect their territory from gas and oil pipelines.
 

AMERICAN ESPIONAGE
Director Christopher Smith
Producer Christopher Smith
American ESPionage is a stranger-than-fiction documentary that reveals the rise and fall of the US Government’s top-secret, Cold War psychic espionage program. It traces the program from its inception at the Stanford Research Center, funded by the CIA, through its evolution to an operational program within the US Department of Defense where it provided corroborating intelligence to US defense agencies.
 

BREATH OF YI
Director Haying Chen
Producer Haying Chen
When three families of the Yi ethnic minority in Southwest China tried to ride the wave of the economic boom, they were caught up in drug abuse and AIDS, losing husbands and fathers. Now these HIV-infected widows endeavor to get back on their feet and give their children a chance at an education.
 

BEBA
Directors Sofia Geld, Rebeca Huntt
Producer Amanda Naseem
Set in New York City, and trapped in the mind of an Afro-Latina poet, activist, and daughter of immigrants, “Beba” shares her emotional process of becoming a thriving young black woman in America.
 

THE PROGRAM
Producer Ann Rogers
When a Facebook friend request unearths decades of male child sexual abuse at a rural Montana high school, survivors and their lawyers must fight decades of institutional failures to find justice in the courtroom and state legislature.
 

TAKEOVER!
Director Emma Francis-Snyder
Status: Completed
Bronx, 1970. To the NYPD, they were a street gang. To the FBI, they were a national threat. To their community, the Young Lords were their last hope.

 

XA-LYU K’YA (WORLD OF MOUNTAINS)
Directors Carlo Nasisse, Geronimo Barrera
What begins as a story of man’s relationship to the land quickly evolves into something much more... as mist, jaguars, carbon, hallucinogenic mushrooms, and dreams announce themselves as crucial actors in an environmental and epistemic conflict. In “Xa-lyu K’ya,” the Oaxacan Chatino people, international corporations, and environmental NGOs become entangled in the debate over the fate of Mexico’s rapidly disappearing cloud forest.
 

2019

AN ACT OF WORSHIP
Director Nausheen Dadabhoy
Producer Heba Elorbany & Sofian Khan
www.anactofworship.com
Status: In Production
Synopsis: In a time when hate crimes have reached their highest level since 9/11, Trump’s Travel Ban, which was recently upheld by the Supreme Court, has sent a message to Muslims around the world: they are not welcome in the United States. AN ACT OF WORSHIP follows several young Muslim-American women activists in communities around the country as they struggle to claim their space in the American landscape.

APOLONIA, APOLONIA
Director Lea Glob
Producer Sidsel Siersted
Status: Post-Production 
Synopsis: Underground rebels meet money and high-society in the art-scenes of the world; With Bohemian Paris, Brussels, Copenhagen, New York and Los Angeles as backdrops, over the course of ten years this coming-of-age story portrays a young French-Polish female painter’s personal and artistic development; from the maturing of a talent to the leap into the commercial art scene.

ILLICIT
Director Colin Askey
Producer Marc Serpa Francoeur & Robinder Uppal
Status: On Hold
Synopsis: "Illicit" is the story of a community of drug users and activists in Vancouver who fought to open North America’s first supervised injection site and transformed a nation’s approach to drug policy along the way. Through radical initiatives and direct action, the Portland Hotel Society (PHS) helps save countless lives but makes powerful enemies along the way. 

INTO THE BANK
Director Oscar Hedin & Eva Hillström
Producer Marina-Evelina Cracana & Asa Ekman
www.filmandtell.com
Synopsis: A Swedish investment banker - former refugee and environmentalist at heart - faces the compromises of modern-day capitalism as he tries to push in a more responsible direction the big bank he works for.

MEMPHIS
Director David Zucker 
Producer Ben Edelman
Status: Post-Production
Synopsis: Memphis loves Seneca. He’s a millennial with severe cerebral palsy, and he wants to be a movie star and a cannabis magnate. Seneca’s an aspiring opera singer, living with her mom in a foreclosed-on house overrun by cats, deep in oil country. Seneca just wants to be friends.

MILLION DOLLAR BLOCK
Director/Producer Diane Hodson & Jasmine Luoma
www.unmappableproductions.com
Synopsis: Brownsville, Brooklyn is home to the highest concentration of public housing in the country. Home to the highest concentration of “Million Dollar Blocks” - city blocks wherein the state spends an excess of a million dollars a year to incarcerate residents from said blocks - residents face the daily realities of over-policing, mass incarceration, lead, mold, leaks, and lack of heat and hot water in their homes. With nearly $32 billion needed to make system-wide repairs, NYCHA is turning Van Dyke Houses into a source of millions in revenue by selling and leasing land within its borders to private developers.

NAVAJO MOUNTAIN HIGH
Director Jared Jakins
Status: Post-Production 
Synopsis: Navajo Mountain is the most remote high school in America. It’s over ninety miles from the nearest town; the nearest stoplight; the nearest store. Some of its 32 students live without running water or electricity, and none of their homes have addresses. It's removed from much of the Navajo Nation, Utah and the rest of America in ways both small and profound, and its students challenge our perceptions of the high school experience. It’s also the last place you’d expect to find a competitive robotics team.

VOLADORAS (FLYING WOMEN)
Director/Producer Talena Sanders
www.talenasanders.work
Status: In Production 
Synopsis: In the midst of tough rhetoric and political clashes around economic migration from Mexico to the U.S., the documentary feature film Voladoras will highlight the resilience of women who stay in their home community in Mexico as they navigate long-distance relationships and concerns for relatives far away. The film follows women as they train and perform the ritual Danza de los Voladores to maintain the vitality of their indigenous cultural practices.

WHEN THEY WERE HERE
Director Ivan MacDonald & Ivy MacDonald
Producer Jessica Hart
www.whentheywerehere.com
Status: In Production
Synopsis: Focuses on the missing and murdered indigenous women crisis. Since January of this year, 30 indigenous women have gone missing. Indigenous women and girls make up a large proportion of those that are deemed missing by the Montana Department of Justice. Murder rates are even harder to track since the ethnicity of murder cases is not mandated to be listed. In some communities, indigenous women face rates of murder ten times the national average. These women are more than statistics, and within indigenous communities, we focus on the stories. These women and girls were mothers, sisters, daughters, cousins, and friends. Our film focuses on the stories of how these women and girls were when they were here. Our documentary focuses on two separate cases on two different reservations in the state.

WHERE THE EARTH MEETS THE SKY
Director Elisa Bonora & Parker Laramie
Producer Shannon Service
Status: In Production
Synopsis: A David and Goliath tale for our time. As the White House swings in erratic and authoritarian directions, emboldening undemocratic regimes around the world, many struggle with shock, impending doom, and a sense of futility. This film provides an antidote—a true story of five Americans summoned by the Tibetan community to confront one of the world's most oppressive regimes and winning

2018

ALL WE'VE LOST
Director Preston Randolph
www.allwevelost.com
Status: Post-Production
Synopsis: The film chronicles the story of Bobbi Clincher, a mother, who for the last 30 years has fought to free her son, Barry Beach, from prison. During which, her efforts inspire historic change and criminal justice reform. 

 
BLACK BARBIE
Director Lagueria Davis
Producer Camilla Hall
www.blackbarbiefilm.com
Status: Pre-Production
Synopsis: The first Black Barbie came out twenty years after Barbie was first released. Through exclusive access to Beulah Mae, a charismatic Mattel insider, we learn about the struggle for representation in a world where beauty rarely meant Black. We bring together Barbie super-fans, real-life Black Barbies and those who opposed it, to deconstruct the mediated image of black women and celebrate Black Beauty.

DRAWING LIFE
Director Nathan Fitch
Producer Emily Collins
Status: Post-Production 
Synopsis: George Booth is a legendary New Yorker cartoonist, who at age 91, still draws on a daily basis. Originally from rural Missouri, George launched his career while serving in the US Marines during world war II and drawing for Leatherneck Magazine, and today resides in the diverse neighborhood of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. At a divided moment in America, Drawing Life is a cinema verite character study of an iconic artist who has been creating his own unique vision of the United States, and the people and animals who inhabit it, imbued with humanity and humor.

THE PASSING ON
Director Nathan Clarke
Producer Tyler Trumbo & Tim Grant
www.thepassingonmovie.com
Status: Completed. Premiering at BSDFF in 2021 
James Bryant, a renowned embalmer, hopes a promising mortuary student will overlook his feelings of rejection within the African American community to continue within the disappearing tradition of Black funeral homes.

SMALL FAMILY, HAPPY FAMILY
Director Anna Munger & Zoe Hamilton
Producer Jana Edelbaum
www.goattreeproductions.com/ourwork/film
Status: Complete - Premiered at BSDFF in 2019
Synopsis: A short documentary following Mitilesh, a young woman from rural Madhya Pradesh, as she is recruited by health workers in her village to undergo sterilization and decides with her husband to pursue the surgery. Her story is situated in the larger context of population control in India, revealing how these policies affect the lives of women. 

STILL MISSISSIPPI
Director Patrick O’Connor
Status: Post-Production
Synopsis: Mississippi is the last state of the original Confederacy to still include the Rebel flag within its official state flag. For nearly two years, a battle has raged over the fate of that flag, revealing long-simmering grievances over race and the legacy of the Civil War. And now, after racial violence erupted when neo-Nazis, white nationalists and the KKK rallied around a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, the entire nation is reckoning with the unsettled history of a war that tore us apart 150 years ago.

STRAY
Director Elizabeth Lo
Producer Elizabeth Lo & Shane Boris
www.elizabeth-lo.com
Status: Complete, Premiered at Tribecca Film Fest 2020. Acquired by Magnolia Pictures. 
Synopsis: STRAY enters the world of Zeytin, a stray dog on the streets of Istanbul. Ancient Greek philosophers thought stray dogs – with no ties to family, property, or wealth – were the most honest observers of humanity. STRAY brings this idea into contemporary Turkey, where Zeytin and the marginalized people around her together face a nation in a state of flux.

THE STOLEN
Director Brian Pearle
Producer Dylan Nelson & Jaime Roman
Synopsis: Families across Argentina search for missing family members who were kidnapped as young children during the 1970s, a brutal period of military rule. But when these families finally come face to face with the children they have been looking for, they find the process of reconnecting is both more difficult and more rewarding than they could have imagined.

THE UNCLAIMED: HABEUS CORPUS
Director/Producer Kacey Cox
Status: Post-Production
Synopsis: The multi-million dollar plastination industry has drawn audiences across the globe, but there are mounting concerns that it may be a byproduct of murder for body parts.

 

2017

BOOTSTRAPS
Director Deia Schlosberg
Producer Deia Schlosberg & Kyle Cadotte
www.bootstrapsfilm.com
Status: Post-Production
Synopsis: Bootstraps is a docu-series capturing America's most geographically diverse trial of basic income to date. Spanning ten states, the series tells the stories of 21 Americans each receiving a no-strings-attached income supplement for two years.

CONSCIENCE POINT
Director Treva Wurmfeld
Producer Amanda Spain & Charles Certain
Status: Complete
Synopsis: In the Hamptons, playground of the rich, land for the development of luxury property is bought and sold at a premium. Becky Genia and Charlie Certain, members of the Shinnecock Nation, tell a different story about the meaning and value of this beautiful peninsula and long to preserve what remains of their cultural heritage. 


THE LAST PARTERA
Director Victoria Bouloubasis & Ned Phillips
Producer Pilar Timpane & Bradley Bethel
www.thelastpartera.com
Synopsis: In rural Costa Rica, a 95-year-old midwife passes on the wisdom of her craft to a new generation of women fighting for their right to choose how they give birth.


LOVE, GILDA
Director Lisa D’Apolito
Producer Julie Goldman
www.lovegilda.com
Status: Complete
Synopsis: The story of how one beloved comedienne found her humor in the midst of the most unfunny thing to ever happen to her.


MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY
Director Lisa Molomot & Jeff Bemiss
Producer Jacob Bricca, Lisa Molomot & Jeff Bemiss
www.missinginbrookscounty.com
Status: Complete. Premiered at Dallas Docufest in 2020. 
Synopsis: Follows the journey of two families who have come to Brooks County to look for their loved ones who went missing. As they search for answers, they encounter a haunted land where death is a part of everyday life. A gripping documentary mystery, it is also a deeply humane portrait of the law enforcement agents, human rights workers, and activists who come face to face with the life and death consequences of a broken system.

THE MOUNTAIN AND THE MAGIC CITY
Director Bridget Besaw
Synopsis: The Mountain and The Magic City chronicles the fight between pro and anti-parkers as rumors begin to swirl in the spring of 2016 that President Obama may designate the land a National Monument, a first step toward becoming a National Park.

THE PRISON WITHIN
Director Katherin Hervey
Producer Katherin Hervey & Massimo Bardetti
www.theprisonwithin.org
Status: Complete, 2020 Premiere Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Synopsis: Survivors of violent crimes and prisoners incarcerated for murder connect inside San Quentin Prison to undergo astonishing transformations, liberating themselves from the debilitating constraints of trauma, and shattering preconceptions of “us and them”.

THE SCOOTER COPS OF BEDSTUY
Director Travis Benn 
www.scootercops.com
Status: Post-Production
Synopsis: Tells the story of Scooter Joe and Kenny, a black and white cop duo that was rare in the 1970s, who became legends in the neighborhood of Bed-Stuy by making themselves an effective neighborhood crime-fighting scooter patrol. They were scooter cops assigned to check potholes and issue parking tickets; however, they decided to go after bigger game - murderers and drug pushers.

SILENT FORESTS
Director/Producer Mariah Wilson
www.silentforests.com
Status: Complete - In competition at BSDFF 2019
Synopsis: SILENT FORESTS is an intimate, character-driven portrait of conservationists and activists who are struggling to stop forest elephant poaching in Africa's Congo Basin region.


WELL GROOMED
Director Rebecca Stern
Producer Dana Kalmey
www.wellgroomedfilm.com
Status: Complete - Premiered at SXSW in 2019. Available to watch on HBO. 
Synopsis: Well Groomed is a psychedelically hued journey into the colorful world of competitive creative dog grooming - diving deep into the passion and hilarity these specialized groomers bring to their competitions.