TIFF 2011: Leone Stars wins Pitch This!

The doc tops five other films to take the competition's $10,000 prize, marking the first time a documentary has done so in the event's 12 years.

Allan Tong and Ngardy Conteh’s Leone Stars, a documentary following the Sierra Leone Single-Leg Amputee Sports Club’s pursuit of a world championship, has won the Toronto International Film Festival’s Pitch This! competition and with it, $10,000 in development funding.

The duo took the prize at the industry competition Tuesday, with Leone Stars topping five other films vying for the title. Each team was allowed six minutes to pitch their idea and two minutes to answer questions about it from the audience of more than 200 after which each film was evaluated by a six-person jury.

Leone Stars chronicles the Sports Club’s pursuit of a place in the 2012 World Amputee Football world championships.  Tong was inspired to make the film after seeing photos of the team members, many of whom lost limbs in Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war.

“This is amazing,” Tong said in a statement. “Thanks to Telefilm and TIFF we now can go back to Africa to film the team as they compete at the All-African cup in Ghana.”

Work on the doc was partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign, which helped the team raise over $20,000 for filming and production. The film was produced by Walter Forsyth of Gorgeous Mistake Productions and executive produced by Jerry McIntosh.

Leone Stars was up against Breaking the Band, The Lost Woods, Pinweight, The Multiple Selves of Hannah Maynard and The Marksman.