Paley DocPitch Competition for Emerging Doc Filmmakers

Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Releasing on YouTube

How do you sell a documentary? Watch virtually and learn as five preselected up-and-coming nonfiction filmmakers pitch their ideas to a group of eminent documentarians. The panel of experts will evaluate the proposals for uniqueness and viability, as well as offering the emerging filmmaker helpful feedback. The winner will be awarded a $5000 grant from A&E IndieFilms to be used toward the completion of the pitched film. Past winners of this contest, now in its sixteenth year, include the acclaimed films The Age of Love, Finding Yingying, and The Pregnancy Exclusion. Our virtual audience will learn valuable lessons in communicating ideas and will also get to cast its "Audience Choice" vote. The Paley Center thanks Hearst for supporting Paley DocPitch and other documentary programs.

The winner of the $5,000 award chosen by our judges, as well as the Audience Choice Award, was announced on Wednesday, December 16. Watch the exciting announcement on Paley YouTube.
Congratulations to our Grand Prize Winner: Brief Tender Light, directed by Arthur Musah
Audience Choice Award: All We've Lost, directed by Preston Randolph


Filmmaker Finalists:

All We've Lost
Preston Randolph, Director/Producer
In small-town Montana, a mother refuses to give up fighting for her wrongfully imprisoned son’s release, culminating in a spectacular bipartisan collective effort spanning local and national exoneration and innocence activist movements.

Brief Tender Light
Arthur Musah, Director/Producer
At elite American college MIT, four African youths strive to graduate into agents of change for their home countries. But can idealism survive growing up?

My Existence is Resistance
Rafael Samanez, Director/Producer
As circumstances deteriorate for transgender people across the United States, three trans women of color attempt to pave the path that will forever change the conditions of their communities.

Michele Gouveia, Director/Producer
The story of silent film stars Olive Thomas and Jack Pickford, whose tragic romance ended in Hollywood’s first public scandal, changing American film forever. ​

Traces of Home
Colette Ghunim, Director/Producer
In order to discover her cultural roots, filmmaker Colette Ghunim takes her parents to find their childhood homes in Mexico and Palestine. Along the way, she must face deep traumas that shape her notions of home in suburban America.

Expert Judges:

  • Opal Hope Bennett, Shorts Producer, American Documentary's POV (PBS); Director of Filmmaker Development, Shorts and DOC NYC U, DOC NYC
  • Jannat Gargi, Vice President, Head of Documentaries, Vice Studios
  • Diana Holtzberg, President, East Village Entertainment, LLC
  • Christine Kecher, Manager, Feature Films, A+E Networks
  • Marie Nelson, Senior Vice President, Integrated Content Strategy, ABC News

Events and participants are subject to change.

Supported by

A&E IndieFilms



2019: Ahead of the Curve directed by Jen Rainin 
2018: Finding Yingying directed by Jiayan "Jenny" Shi
2017: The Pollinators directed by Peter Nelson
2016: Hart Island: How the Other Half Dies directed by Erik Spink
2015: Memories of a Penitent Heart directed by Cecilia Aldarondo
2014: The Pregnancy Exclusion directed by Rebecca Haimowitz
2013: The Age of Love directed by Steven Loring
2012: Unseen directed by Laura Paglin
2011: The View from Bellas Luces directed by Christa Boarini
2010: Charge directed by Mike Plunkett
2009: The Iran Job directed by Till Schauder
2008: Circo directed by Aaron Schock
2007: The House that Herman Built directed by Angad Bhalla
2006: Whatever it Takes directed by Christopher Wong
2005: Asparagus! (A Stalk-umentary) directed by Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly

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