Below are the Pitches that made it through to the 2018 shortlist.
Set in modern day Sub-Saharan Africa, Going Home follows talented doctor Nehemiah returning to his parents' homeland, the fictional country of war-torn country of Gamali (loosely based on the former British Colonies of Southern Africa). Nehemiah has promised his late father that he will reopen the family clinic his parents left after a civil war forced them to flee and become refugees in Britain. With only fond childhood memories of his abandoned home, he returns to Gamali. However, re-opening the clinic brings Nehemiah unexpected challenges, as Sanballat, the self-proclaimed village spiritual healer, spreads fear and lies about Nehemiah and his mission with the help of corrupt officials. Whilst giving out flyers to the clinic, he meets a helpful young orphan, Mambwe, who reminds Nehemiah of what the reality is for those who can't escape poverty. This young man sees the clinic as a beacon of hope in an otherwise hopeless land. With very few patients, and constant threats to Nehemiah and the lives of those helping him, he must decide whether there is indeed a cost too high to rebuild his fallen homeland.
I was inspired by the Biblical story of Nehemiah, an Israelite living in Persia and his efforts to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, decades after it was left decimated following invasion by the Babylonians. The account, found in Nehemiah chapters 1-7 tells the story of a man who leaves his life of privilege and job as servant to the Emperor of Persia to help his fellow countrymen. Against the odds and with heavy opposition in the form of the influential Sanballat the Horonite, he endeavours to inspire the people around him to stay strong and rebuild their fallen ancestral homeland. I believe there are modern day parallels with this story and the struggle of some young African and West Indian migrants. These individuals, after being educated and brought up in relative prosperity, desire a return to their family's homeland to rebuild a country in which they feel they will belong. However, the reality is often that naivety, systematic corruption and violence stops real progress from being made. The film alludes to a hope in which the corrupt elite will be overtaken by a generation striving to make not only their lives better, but those around them as well.
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