The winners of The Pitch 2022 Film Fund have been announced. The age-old story of the Nativity, The Innkeeper and an environmental story about disregard for our planet, Stump, are the winners of the 2022 Pitch Film Fund; with Maternal – a story of protection and family, winning the Lucy Scher Award.
Irish writer Denise Deegan won the judges over with her retelling of the Nativity through the eyes of seven-year-old Holly. In The Innkeeper – winner of the Comedy award – a young girl is struggling to make her mark against her arrogant peers. When Holly is cast as the Innkeeper in her school’s Nativity play, she finds it hard to refuse Mary and Joseph room at the inn and chaos ensues. After the play, Holly and her mum go home to their hostel where we discover that they are actually homeless, and her compassion for Mary and Joseph’s plight takes on a deeper meaning.
Finnish newcomer, Silva Kuusniemi, is the winner of the Drama award with Stump - a story set in the wilds of Finland. In a world where disregard for the planet has mysteriously sent those responsible feral, forests are now home to former CEO’s living like animals. Some environmental activists seek to capture and sell these ‘beasts’ for cash, but the heroine is set on a different course – can she find a way back for one of the most powerful feral creatures? Her father.
The Lucy Scher Award for the best female filmmaker was awarded to Eva Edo for Maternal, who wins development time with screenwriter and script developer, Justine Hart. Lucy was a friend of The Pitch and former judge, who sadly passed away in 2018.
Director of The Pitch Luke Walton explains: “We’ve had a fantastic panel this year, brilliant discussions, sharp insights and great humour! They could see the relevance of issues in both our winning concepts – homelessness and environmental care – but also chose these two in particular for the way they had developed their storylines, responded to feedback and created emotional and powerful stories that will linger in the heart and mind.”
Denise Deegan, winner of the Comedy Award for The Innkeeper, says: “Homelessness is such a big issue and I‘m honoured to have the opportunity to draw attention to it. Housing insecurity affects so many people. I want this film to offer a meaningful contribution to the conversation for change.”
Silva Kuusniemi, winner of the Drama Award for Stump, says: “It’s a struggle to get out there and establish yourself as a filmmaker, so I think it’s invaluable that opportunities like The Pitch are available. It's not just in terms of scoring funding for the film and production support, but all the lessons along the way – story development and developing as a pitcher.”
The panel of industry judges includes Jon Wardle, head of NFTS, who returns for a third year; BAFTA winner Gbemisola Ikumelo, Producer Martin Gentles; Amy O'Hara of FilmFour, and screenwriter Charlotte Bogard Macleod.
Judges' feedback on the winners:
“Denise had the perfect combination of a great story, funny and emotional, very succinct and beautifully told. We were looking for a strong vision to portray the emotion of the story. It made us laugh, it had heart and it had a message.” Amy O’Hara, FilmFour
“Denise’s pitch just got to my heart. Sometimes you can have great ideas and dialogue, but when it really gets to you – that is a key to storytelling. I was hooked right from the beginning.” Gbemisola Ikumelo, BAFTA winning writer, actor, comedian
“Finding a different angle into a story is incredibly refreshing. Silva was able to paint a story, deliver that and articulate it.” Amy O’Hara
“I loved the way Stump evoked visual storytelling juice – it had an ethereal fable-likeness that was really exciting.” Gbemisola Ikumelo
Due to a tie in voting with three entrants on the same score the Shortlist for Comedy has been expanded to 11.