The Launch
Documentary Development and Pitch Contest

A $10,000 prize package including cash and in-kind filmmaking services will be awarded to the winning participant to support the making of a short documentary.

In addition to professional development workshops, the selected filmmaker will receive one-on-one mentorship from an acclaimed Canadian documentarian for the duration of the development of their short documentary. The completed film will premiere at the eleventh edition of Lunenburg Doc Fest in 2024.

“We are excited that the professional development, mentorship, industry visibility, and generous prize offered through The Launch program is helping to break down barriers and bring more stories from underrepresented voices to the screen,” said Pamela Segger, Executive Director of Lunenburg Doc Fest.

The initiative, funded by CBC and Bell Fund, offers underrepresented Nova Scotian media artists a chance to win mentorship and a prize package to make a short documentary over the next year. Five selected participants will pitch their documentary project live at the 2023 Lunenburg Doc Fest in competition for a $10,000 prize package including cash and in-kind filmmaking services.

Participants will receive key introductions to industry decision-makers, free all-access passes to the tenth Lunenburg Doc Fest and The Dock Market industry conference, plus networking events with peers and industry stakeholders.

The application deadline has now closed.

PRESS RELEASE: A Decade of Documentary Excellence — 10th Lunenburg Doc Fest Wraps Up with Honours (09/29/2023)

PRESS RELEASE: Lunenburg Doc Fest Presents $10,000 Live Pitch Contest for Rising Filmmakers in Nova Scotia (08/14/2023)

PRESS RELEASE: Lunenburg Doc Fest Relaunches $10,000 Pitch Contest For Underrepresented Filmmakers (07/13/2023)



Leona Burkey, an folk musician born in Cape Breton performing in multiple areas of Nova Scotia. Exploring the life of Leona with her experiences as part of the Neurodivergent community and seeing the events where she performs in front of small and large live crowds showcasing her incredible talent.

“In Wave Theory I am hoping to work and mentor with many new faces in the local filmmaking industry. To my fellow contest finalists, I encourage them to continue to make their films. Their voices need to be heard. I can hardly wait to share Leona’s story with everyone when the film premieres at Lunenburg Doc Fest 2024″
-Brandon Boyd, 2023 The Launch Winner

2023 Mentors


Rachel has been writing and directing documentaries for almost 20 years. She is dedicated to creating thought-provoking documentaries, with a focus on the passion and vibrancy of the human spirit. She has directed a range of films around the globe including Ukraine, Romania, Israel and North America. Rachel has directed documentaries for the NFB, CBC, AMI and Bravo Factual. Prior to directing, she worked as a camera operator and editor for CTV, CBC and the Outdoor Life Network. 

Her most recent works are creating, developing, writing and directing an hour-long documentary, Across and Down for CBC’s Passionate Eye, and directing and producing The Noodle Group, a short documentary for CBC Short Docs. She is currently producing Disrupt, a series for AMI, on Canadian content creators who identify with a disability.


Christine McLean is a documentarian, broadcaster and academic based in Halifax. She is known for her interest in nature, art and community. Christine was the head writer and a director on the Science Channel series Mega Marine Machines and If We Built it Today. She directed seven wildlife documentaries for CBC’s Land and Sea. Most recently she has written and directed two episodes for CBC’s The Nature of Things. She has guest hosted several CBC current affairs programs and created columns on book culture and language. Christine has also taught language, writing and TV broadcasting at the University of Kings College, l’Universite de Moncton and St. Thomas University. In 2017 she received a Wave Award from Women in Film and Television for her dedication and mentorship in the documentary world.




Wave Theory

My name is Brandon Boyd, born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I am an autistic independent filmmaker with a goal of telling neurodiverse stories in the film industry and have a vision for a new wave of neurodivergent / disability content. I believe representation matters and in the industry there are not a lot of stories being told about us, I want to become one of the many to voice advocacy in their projects.




Cockeyed Hammer

Saif Chowdhury, an emerging filmmaker from Bangladesh, embarked on a transformative journey when he moved to Halifax as an international student nine years ago. His academic background in Psychology and Global Development Studies, combined with training in TV Broadcasting, has equipped him with a diverse skill set. Passionate about storytelling, Saif brings a well-rounded approach to crafting socio-cultural documentaries that foster a deeper understanding of the human experience and inspire meaningful conversations.






I, Caregiver

Israel Ekanem is a Nigerian-born award-winning storyteller. At a young age, his grandmother introduced him to the art of storytelling, and it quickly became his passion. His writing, directing and producing credits, include the award-winning, Drown the Lovers, Kill Your Masters, Good Earth: The Pots And Passions Of Walter Ostrom and A Walk In The Sun. He believes that a story properly told can change the world, one person at a time.




dancefloors gonna hold you close

Alek Green is an interdisciplinary artist and filmmaker currently based in Atlantic Canada. He is most influenced by nature and community and love.




Penis Video

Brody Weaver is a white-settler media artist, researcher and educator living and learning in Kjipuktuk. She has a BA in Art History and Contemporary Culture from NSCAD U and was a Media Art Scholar at the Centre for Art Tapes from 2022-23 in collaboration with Elliot Ciz, where she made a feature length documentary on trans* people, relationship(s) to health care, and the depth of knowledge that this community holds.



The Launch is presented with the generous support of CBC and Bell Fund.                   

Lunenburg Doc Fest acknowledges in-kind support from William F. White, the Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative (AFCOOP), 902 Post Inc., and the Centre for Art Tapes.