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A Cinematic Exploration of the Unheard .

Aesthetica Film Festival teams up with Audible, offering £20,000 to fund a new documentary.

What is the
Listening Pitch?

The Listening Pitch is a documentary Film Grant of £20,000 delivered in partnership between Aesthetica and Audible. We are committed to telling stories with impact that all having listening at the forefront. Since 2021, we have funded and produced six films. In 2023 this included Banana, directed by Matthew Herbert and Old Lesbians by Meghan McDonough, which has since been acquired by Guardian Documentaries. Other projects include Birdsong by Sparsh Ahuja, Omi Gupta (Short of the Week, SXSW, Sundance London), Speed of Sound by Jade Ang Jackman, Echo by Ross McClean and Blind as a Beat by BIFA-nominated Jessi Gutch and Liz Jackson. Our filmmakers have gone on to screen at SXSW, San Francisco International Film Festival, BFI Flare and Sundance. It is free to submit your pitch.

What Can We Hear
If We Listen Right Now?

In a world that's never been louder, this year’s Listening Pitch challenges filmmakers to find extraordinary narratives that reflect the world around us. They can be personal or universal, and this year’s theme takes notice of global stories and human connection. We are looking for films that bring life to unheard voices, which resonate with audiences on a deep, emotional level. If you're driven by the desire to tell powerful, evocative stories, this is your chance. We encourage filmmakers from all walks of life to share their unique perspective on the theme. Challenge the conventional, experiment with your craft and redefine what it means to truly listen.

2023 Winners .

Two outstanding films were produced in 2023. Meghan McDonough’s Old Lesbians, since picked up by Guardian Documentaries, asks: How do we communicate a history of a population that is rapidly disappearing? Her moving project continues the work of activist Arden Eversmeyer, who travelled the USA to record stories from a fading community. Matthew Herbert’s film looks at the environmental cost of growing and exporting bananas, 250 million of which are eaten daily. Banana invites us to hear what the fruit hears, following the pickers, packers, machines and fridges involved in bringing us a food that is now part of our everyday.

2022 Winners .

2022's awards were given to three films: Birdsong (Sparsh Ahuja, Omi Gupta), Speed of Sound (Jade Ang Jackman) and Echo (Ross McClean). The selected films approach the subject of sound from different angles – from the dying whistling traditions of the Hmong people of northern Laos to a portrait of self-professed adrenaline junkie, Carina Edlinger, and the story of a man who communicates via an intricate system of radios. The winning films premiered at Aesthetica Film Festival 2022, with one being picked up by Guardian Documentaries.

2021 Winners .

2021's recipients are Jessi Gutch and Liz Jackson, with Blind as Beat. Jackson was an in-house documentary director at the BBC for 10 years. The film portrays her journey: from ex-documentary filmmaker who used sight as a primary sense, to someone who is visually impaired and using hearing predominately. “There is a growing movement for film to become more accessible. People are starting to see that the disabled audience is a big one – they should be thought of in the production process. In this script, we’ve tried to take the idea of audio description but elevate it to something visually evocative.'

The Films .

Watch all the fantastic projects made possible through The Listening Pitch.

Submission Information .

  • Five filmmakers will be selected to present their idea at a live virtual pitch in May 2024.
  • A panel will review the pitches and a grant of £20k will be awarded to the filmmaker with the strongest idea.
  • The final film will be original and offer a new perspective on the theme.
  • It will premiere at the ASFF in November 2024 and also be shared on Audible and Aesthetica social channels.
  • Filmmakers from across the world are invited to apply for this grant.
  • We will also require the film to have subtitles available to meet accessibility requirements. Please supply two versions: one burnt on and one without.
  • We welcome submissions from first-time filmmakers and those underrepresented in the industry.
  • This is a documentary film grant only.
  • 21 February – 21 April 2024: Call for Entries
  • 21 April 2024: Deadline
  • April-May 2024: Judging
  • 1 May: Shortlist Announcement
  • 9 May 2024: Live Pitch
  • Summer 2024: Winner Announced
  • ASFF Premiere and Live Q&A: Between 6-10 November 2024