Leone Stars Wins TIFF’s Pitch This! and $10,000

Leone Stars Player Bono

Leone Stars' Player Bono - Photo by Johnny Vong

The film Leone Stars has been chosen over five dramatic films at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Pitch This! event. Co-directors Ngardy Conteh and Allan Tong presented their film idea to a packed Bell Lightbox theatre and walked away with the $10,000 development prize.

Leone Stars was chosen the winner by a jury of 15 film professionals after a six-minute pitch and two minutes of questions and answers. This marks a historic year for documentaries at TIFF. From the Sky Down opened the festival and was the first-ever documentary to receive that honor. Leone Stars is the first document to win in the 12-year history of Pitch This!

“We worked on our pitch for weeks leading up to the event,” says Conteh, “and it paid off. We are happiest for the subjects of the film, who deserve to have their story told.”

Allan Tong added: “This is a victory for documentarians across Canada who have faced fewer and fewer sources of funding in Canada in recent years. And thanks to Telefilm and TIFF we can now go back to Africa to film the team as they compete at the All-African cup in Ghana.”

Leone Stars follows members of the Sierra Leone Single Leg Amputee Sports Club who were chosen for the national amputee soccer team. They were young boys when rebel soldiers hacked off their arms and legs during Sierra Leone’s ruthless civil war. Surviving poverty, war, and prejudice, the Sierra Leone amputee soccer team members dream of victory at the 2012 world championships. Leone Stars asks: Can victims become champions?

Leone Stars was the first documentary in English Canada to successfully raise over $20,000 in funding on the popular crowdfunding site, Kickstarter.com. The funds allowed the production team to travel to Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, and the southern province of Bo earlier this year. Additional funding is needed to follow the team to the world championships in 2012.

Leone Stars is being written and co-directed by Allan Tong and co-directed and edited by Ngardy Conteh. The film is produced by Walter Forsyth (Gorgeous Mistake Productions) and executive produced by Jerry McIntosh.


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