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Television Documentary Festival

Friday, February 11, 2005

New York, NY—The Museum of Television & Radio has announced the addition of a $5000 award to the Art of the Documentary Pitch workshop, presented as part of the Museum's sixth annual Television Documentary Festival in New York (April 12 through April 22, 2005). The deadline for submissions to the Art of the Documentary Pitch workshop has been extended to March 1, 2005, and the actual event will be held on Saturday, April 16, 2005. In addition, the Festival's opening seminar, The Passion of the Partisan: What is the Future of the Political Documentary?, has been announced for April 12, 2005.

The Art of the Documentary Pitch

All documentaries begin with an idea that is eventually pitched to a producer or network. In this workshop/competition, to be held on April 16 at 1:30 p.m., a panel of respected producers will discuss the process of developing a documentary and will hear pitches from novice filmmakers trying to sell a nonfiction concept. Five emerging documentarians (two directing credits or less) will be preselected to make public pitches to the panelists, who will critique both their pitches and their concepts. After all the pitches have been heard, the panel will choose a winner, based on persuasiveness, originality, and viability, who will receive a $5,000 grant to be used toward the completion of the film. The prize is sponsored by American Documentary Inc., the producers of the award-winning P.O.V. series for PBS. Panelists will also take questions from the audience about how a documentary idea grows from seed to fruition.

Submission Deadline Extended: Filmmakers interested in participating in the workshop can submit a synopsis of their documentary idea, along with contact information and a brief history of the project, via email to Please put "PITCH WORKSHOP" in the subject line. To qualify applicants must have no more than two directing credits. Workshop entries must be received by March 1, 2005. There is no submission fee.  Applicants will be notified by April 1, 2005, of their status.  Official rules, submission forms, etc., will be posted on the Museum's website.

The Art of the Documentary Pitch workshop panel will include Chana Gazit (Producer/Writer, Steward/Gazit Productions), Diana Holtzberg (Acquisitions & Project Development Director, USA, Films Transit International), Lauren Lazin (Executive Producer/Senior Vice President, MTV News And Documentaries), Cara Mertes (Executive Director, P.O.V.), Steve Rosenbaum (President/CEO, Camera Planet Pictures), and Susan Werbe (Vice President, Programming, The History Channel).

Opening Seminar

To kick-off the Festival, the Museum will present The Passion of the Partisan: What is the Future of the Political Documentary? on April 12, 2005, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. 

This year Michael Moore and the Swift Boat veterans proved that there was a passionate audience for partisan documentaries. This Museum seminar will address whether the politically-charged films that made headlines in 2004 have transformed the craft and mission of the documentary.  Panelists will consider if filmmakers are now expected to bring a strong political viewpoint to a project before filming starts and to appeal to a specific audience. The long-term implications of the partisan documentary will also be examined, with executives and distributors discussing upcoming projects. Panelists will include Alexandra Pelosi (Journeys with George), Thom Powers (Guns and Mothers), and Paul Stekler (Last Man Standing), with others to be announced. The seminar will be moderated by Steve Rosenbaum (President/CEO, Camera Planet Pictures).

About The 6th Annual Television Documentary Festival

Building on the success of last year's Festival, which presented the New York premieres of such acclaimed films as Zana Briski and Ross Kaufman's Born into Brothels, Ivy Meeropol's Heir to an Execution, David Grubin's JFK, and Barak Goodman's The Fight, the Museum will again showcase approximately ten of the season's most noteworthy television documentaries. Each screening will be introduced by the filmmaker and followed by a lively Q&A session, a hallmark of the Festival.

In addition to the premieres, the Festival will feature seminars and panel discussions exploring issues critical to the craft and content of the television documentary; a pitch workshop for aspiring documentary filmmakers; screenings of rarely seen "classic" documentaries; and Docu-Jam, an annual showcase of documentaries produced by student filmmakers from around the country.

The Television Documentary Festival was inaugurated in 2000 with the mission of highlighting the role that television plays in bringing exemplary works of nonfiction to the public. Over the past five years, the Festival has explored the art, craft, and history of the documentary through screenings and dialogues that have included such participants as Jon Alpert, Peter Arnett, Ken Burns, Ric Burns, Glenn Close, Robert Drew, Eve Ensler, Liz Garbus, Sebastian Junger, Susan Lacy, Rory Kennedy, Al Maysles, Michael Moore, Gordon Parks, Alexandra Pelosi, DA Pennebaker, Alvin Perlmutter, Sam Phillips, Alan and Susan Raymond, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Weide, and Gideon Yago. 

A complete Festival schedule will be announced at a later date.

For additional information, go to or e-mail

The Museum's Television Documentary Advisory Committee members are Jon Alpert, Downtown Community Television Center; Nancy Dubuc, A&E; David Fanning, Frontline; Paola Freccero, Sundance Channel; Liz Garbus, Moxie Firecracker Films; Chana Gazit, Steward/Gazit Productions; Rena Golden, CNN International; David Grubin, David Grubin Productions; Diana Holtzberg, Films Transit International; Marjorie Kaplan, Discovery Kids/Discovery Communications, Inc.; Lynne Kirby, Court TV; Barbara Kopple, Cabin Creek Films; Susan Lacy, American Masters; Lauren Lazin, MTV News and Documentaries; Ruby Lerner, Creative Capital; Al Maysles, Maysles Films, Inc.; Cara Mertes, P.O.V.; Stanley Moger, SFM Entertainment, LLC; Nina Henderson Moore, BET; Sheila Nevins, HBO; Elizabeth Peters, Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers; Steve Rosenbaum, Broadcast News Networks Inc. and Camera Planet; Vivian Schiller, Discovery; Prof. George Stoney, Tisch School of the Arts; Rosalind P. Walter; Susan Werbe, The History Channel; Christopher Wilcha, Filmmaker; and Kristal Brent Zook, Columbia University.

The Museum of Television & Radio, with locations in New York and Los Angeles, was founded by William S. Paley to collect and preserve television and radio programs and advertisements and to make them available to the public. Since opening in 1976, the Museum has organized exhibitions, screening and listening series, seminars, and education classes to showcase its preeminent collection of over 100,000 television and radio programs and advertisements and to provide a critical forum for the interpretation of these media and their significance in our society. Programs in the Museum's collection are selected for their artistic, cultural, and historic significance.

The Museum of Television & Radio in New York, located at 25 West 52 Street in Manhattan, is open Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 6:00 p.m. and until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays. The Museum of Television & Radio in California, located at 465 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, is open Wednesdays through Sundays from noon to 5:00 p.m. Both Museums are closed on New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Suggested contribution: Members free; $10.00 for adults; $8.00 for senior citizens and students; and $5.00 for children under fourteen. Admission is free in Los Angeles. The public areas in both Museums are accessible to wheelchairs, and assisted listening devices are available. Programs are subject to change. You may call the Museum in New York at (212) 621-6800, or in Los Angeles at (310) 786-1000. Visit the Museum's website at