Saturday, May 13 • 10:00 am–12:00 pm | Cinearts Sequoia
FREE (ticket required)

DocPitch is designed to connect filmmakers and their ideas to distributors, nonprofit organizations, philanthropists, fellow filmmakers—and future audiences. Five film projects currently in development have been pre-selected to be pitched during this industry forum. The audience will vote for their favorite, which will receive a cash award from the Filmmaker Fund.

Filmmakers will distribute materials at the Forum in conjunction with their 3 minute pitch, a 3 to 5 minute trailer and 10 minute Q&A with the audience. The audience will be comprised of invited funders, organization representatives, distributors and broadcasters, as well as the general public, who will be given a ballot prior to the filmmakers’ presentations to vote on their favorite pitch. The ballots will be collected and tallied, and the winning filmmaker & pitch will be announced on site.

Moderator: Minette Nelson, Founder, Filmmaker Fund

Minette Nelson’s work creating commercials for national and multi-national clients has been profiled in Advertising AgeAd Week and New York Magazine.  She has since turned her expertise towards the nonprofit sector as both a marketing consultant, writer and producer and has served on the boards of several organizations, inclding the Advisory Board of DocLands Documentary Film Festival and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Minette has been an Associate Producer, Producer and Executive Producer on several films. In 2012, shortly after forming a documentary film fund with philanthropist David Eckles she approached Director Marc Silver with the story that became 3 1/2 Minutes – Ten Bullets, which premiered at Sundance 2015 and won the Special Jury Award for Social Impact.  It was broadcast on HBO, shortlisted for an Oscar and nominated for an Emmy. In 2016, she executive produced the Oscar nominee 4.1 Miles.


Catharine Axley  |  US

He’s one of our greatest American sports heroes. You’ve just never heard of him.  ATTLA tells the gripping but virtually unknown story of George Attla, an Alaskan native dogsled racer who, with one good leg and a determined mindset, dominated the sport for five decades, becoming a rockstar figure for both indigenous and non-indigenous people across the country.

Catharine Axley is an emerging documentary filmmaker who seeks stories of empowerment through subjects that defy expectations, transforming our understanding of the past and aspirations for the future. Projects include Counting The Dead, In Port, Balancing Act, Living in Paradise.

Kenji Yamamoto & Nancy Kelly  |  US

DIGITAL DREAMERS is set within the high tech economy of global entrepreneurial culture. Migrants from all over the world come to Silicon Valley, California willing to risk everything, including their families, in order to chase their dreams.

Nancy Kelly is an independent filmmaker, working in documentary and narrative film. With Kenji Yamamoto, she made Rebels with a Cause. Narrated by Academy Award-winning actress, Frances McDormand, Rebels is about ordinary citizens who banded together to protect and preserve open spaces near urban areas for parks and farms from rampant development. Rebels aired on public television through American Public Television. Other projects include Trust: Second Acts in Young Lives, Smitten, Downside UP and Thousand Pieces of Gold, starring Rosalind Chao and Chris Cooper.

Kenji Yamamoto has been editing and producing documentary and narrative films for over 30 years, winning numerous awards. As part of Kelly+Yamamoto Productions, he edited and produced the 1991 narrative feature Thousand Pieces of Gold, which participated in the Sundance Institute Screenwriting Lab and went on to premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Additional projects include the acclaimed documentaries Downside UPSmittenTrust: Second Acts in Young Lives, and Rebels with a Cause, all of which have aired nationally on PBS.

S. Leo Chiang, Producer  |  China/US

A Chinese artist embarks on a magical creative journey in order to connect with his aging father.

S. Leo Chiang is an independent documentarian, born in Taiwan and raised in San Francisco. He has taught documentary production at the University of California at Santa Cruz, Northwestern University, and the Communication University of China. He is a current co-Chair of New Day Films, the social-issue documentary distribution co-operative. His Emmy® Award-nominated film, A Village Called Versailles, about the rebuilding and transformation of the Vietnamese American community in post-Katrina New Orleans, picked up eight film festival awards, aired on PBS Independent Lens series, and has been acquired by more than 200 libraries. Other award-winning projects include Out Run, Mr. Cao Goes to Washington, To You Sweetheart, Aloha, One + One and Safe Journey.

Alyssa Fedele & Zachary Fink  |  Ghana

THE RESCUE LIST is a unique coming of age story set in an unlikely place. After teenaged Peter is freed from slavery on Lake Volta in Ghana, he asks his rescuers to return for his best friend. For the rescue team leader, the work is personal.

Alyssa Fedele and Zachary Fink are a documentary film producing and directing team. Their most recent film is The Ride of Their Lives, a documentary directed by Steve James, about children competing in youth rodeo bull-riding. It premiered at Sundance 2016 and is featured in Amazon Studio’s series, The New Yorker Presents. They have produced, directed, shot, and edited projects for The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Amazon Studios, HBO, PBS, MTV, Facebook, Harvard’s Film Study Center, and the George Lucas Educational Foundation.

Alyssa and Zachary believe that character-driven films have the power to humanize issues of global importance, moving audiences through the strength of their protagonists as well as through the artful craft of nonfiction storytelling. Alyssa has an MA in visual anthropology from the University of Manchester. Zachary has an MA in cultural anthropology from the University of Colorado and an MFA in film from California Institute of the Arts.


Theo Rigby  |  US

SANCTUARY is an hour-long documentary film that interweaves the powerful history of the Sanctuary movement in the 1980’s into the current day struggle for immigrant rights. Today, communities of faith are embracing refugees, providing sanctuary and challenging an immigration system that is deporting more immigrants than ever before. This evocative and emotional film will ask the burning question: when an immigration system is broken and injustice prevails, are we morally and ethically obliged to aid refugees on our doorstep?

Theo Rigby is a director, cinematographer and interactive storyteller based out of San Francisco. Theo has focused on topics ranging from the war in Iraq, to incarceration, and most recently immigration in the U.S. Theo’s last project, Immigrant Nation (iNation), is a series of short films about immigration in the U.S. and has been showcased on the New York Times, nationally broadcast on PBS, shown at Ellis Island, the 2014 New York Film Festival, and 2012 Cannes Film Festival. His film, Sin País (Without Country), won a Student Academy Award, has screened in over 30 film festivals, and was nationally broadcast on the PBS Independent Documentary series, POV, in 2012. Theo graduated with a M.F.A. in Documentary Film from Stanford University and before making films was an award-winning photojournalist working for major newspapers and magazines around the world.