Floodlight Summit Shines a Light on Investigative Journalism



The first Floodlight Summit will take place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 in Cartagena, Colombia. The event, curated and organized by Philippa Kowarsky and Alesia Weston, is a one-of-a-kind pilot for a long-term alliance that seeks to connect investigative journalists and their reporting with the film and television industry.

The event has been established by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Gabo Foundation as part of both institutions’ public interest focus. It will attempt “to nurture a symbiotic relationship between investigative journalism and fiction filmmaking that will result in storytelling that entertains, educates, and inspires,” according to a press statement. “Investigative journalists can help adapt their extensive reporting about organized crime and corruption into new formats to reach more audiences while filmmakers can pull from a wealth of content and expertise across subjects to inform their projects.”

Writer-director Rodrigo García, Gabo Foundation board member and son of author Gabriel García Marquez, has been closely involved in the Floodlight pilot, consulting with the curators. “This is the kind of thing that would make my father crazy with excitement: the marriage of cinema and journalism, two of the great loves of his life,” said García. “And he would be equally thrilled to be on the pitching side and the listening side. This would be a dream come true for him.”

The Floodlight Summit is bringing together leading investigative journalists who will pitch selected stories to filmmakers. Floodlight’s aim is to promote adaptation of stories to the screen with a level of detail only found in real life. Creating cross-industry synergies by connecting professionals from different areas of media and entertainment, the Floodlight Summit aims to initiate collaborations that will deliver great stories rooted in truth. Floodlight hopes to amplify stories deserving of attention and expand their impact beyond the reach of more traditional journalistic outlets.

“Investigative journalism is about revealing the truth and Floodlight will work with creative filmmakers to carve out more space to inform audiences,” said OCCRP co-founder and investigative journalist Paul Radu. “Together we will turn published and unpublished reporting into fiction films and television series that decipher, expose, and diminish the criminal world around us. Floodlight is fiction in the public interest that will help fight the darkness.”

Earlier this year, a call for submissions through the OCCRP and Gabo Foundation networks of investigative journalists resulted in more than 270 pitch proposals, out of which 14 investigations were selected. During the three days of the Floodlight Summit, 16 journalists from 11 countries across the globe will network with a select group of outstanding international producers and writers with a wide range of backgrounds from the small screen to Hollywood features.

Industry participants were invited based on their proven track record as exceptional storytellers whose work exemplifies impactful stories for global audiences. Confirmed participants to date include (full list of participants below): Susannah Grant (“Erin Brockovich,” “Unbelievable”); Graham Yost (“Band of Brothers,” “The Americans”); Charles Randolph (“The Big Short,” “Bombshell”); Diana Bustamante (“La Tierra y la Sombra,” “Memoria”); Nicolas Celis (“Roma”); Matias Mosteirín (“The Revenant,” “Wild Tales”); Janine Jakowski (“Toni Erdmann”); and Danis Tanovic (“No Man’s Land”).

Some of the world’s top investigative journalists will be pitching their investigations and providing behind-the-scenes details that don’t make it into print. To protect their safety, their names will be announced during the event. OCCRP co-founders Drew Sullivan and Radu will help lead the Summit and investigative journalists Martha Mendoza and Walter Robinson (“Spotlight”) will be keynote speakers and share their experiences throughout the event.

In a joint statement, Kowarsky and Weston said: “It was important for us to foster this dialogue and discourse between creative storytellers and journalists. As the world is shaken by wars and natural, political, and humanitarian disasters, creating this exchange of ideas is more urgent than ever.

Two legal experts will be in attendance and offering assistance: Alex Papachristou, executive director of the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice in New York, and legendary Los Angeles-based lawyer Craig Emanuel.

“All of Gabriel García Márquez‘s literary work is rooted in reality and reporting about the universe in which he grew up and lived: the Caribbean and Latin America,” said Gabo Foundation director and co-founder Jaime Abello Banfi. “Despite being more famous as a magical realism author with millions of readers around the world, Gabo worked many years as a journalist. Floodlight is inspired by the idea that audiovisual storytelling empowers journalistic investigations of public interest, globally expanding the impact of these stories through cinema, another of the great passions of our founder.”


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