Cinema and television arts majors win RiverRun’s Pitch Fest

A film by School of Communications students Sophia Ortiz ’21 and Riley Bradford ’21 captured first place in the 2019 RiverRun International Film Festival’s Documentary Pitch Fest, a student competition judged by industry experts.

A passionate pitch about a defiant love story scored Sophia Ortiz ’21 and Riley Bradford ’21, two cinema and television arts majors, first place in the 2019 RiverRun International Film Festival’s Documentary Pitch Fest April 12. Held in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, RiverRun is billed as one of the premier film festivals in the southeastern United States.

Riley Bradford (left) and Sophia Ortiz gather for a photograph after capturing the first-place prize in RiverRun International Film Festival's Pitch Fest. Photos courtesy of Nicole Triche.
Bradford (director) and Ortiz (director of photography and editor) co-produced a short documentary, titled “A Space for Me,” that explores the journey of a gay couple who met at Liberty University, a conservative, evangelical institution, and their struggle to find their individual identities with each other and in the Christian faith. The project was part of Associate Professor Nicole Triche’s Directing the Documentary class. Triche also serves as the faculty director of elondocs, the School of Communications’ documentary production program.

Bradford and Ortiz presented the project to a panel of industry experts during a five-minute pitch session, where they screened a trailer created by Ortiz. For their first-place finish, the trio received a $500 prize to assist in the production and completion of their film.

With Ortiz looking on, Bradford speaks with other student filmmakers at the RiverRun International Film Festival held April 4-14 in Winston-Salem.
​Student filmmakers from the Wake Forest University, University of North Carolina School of the Arts and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington also participated in the student pitch session.

​“It’s such an amazing experience to have prestigious people in our field validate our work,” Bradford said. “This funding means that we will be able to travel and research so much more, and we are hoping to use it to look into additional funding options to make the best piece possible.”

Elon students have a strong track record in RiverRun’s Pitch Fest competition. In 2015, Kathryn Jeffords ’15 and Kayla Hammer ’16 captured first place, and the following year Amory Parks ’16, Lauren Duncan ’17 and Jacky Shacknow ’16 took second place.