The Tribeca Film Institute has awarded “Human Terrain” and “The Burning Season” with grants totaling $150,000 from the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund.
The grants are made in a partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The awards are aimed at providing filmmakers with funding and professional guidance to support innovative and compelling films that offer a fresh take on science, mathematics and technology.
“The Burning Season” is directed by Claire McCarthy; written and produced by Jenny Halper; and produced by Kate Sharp. The story centers on primatologist who brings her daughter to a remote region of Madagascar, where her determination to save endangered lemurs puts their relationship — and safety — at risk.
The film is based on Laura Van Den Berg’s short story “What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us.”
“Human Terrain” is directed and produced by Parisa Barani, and written by Jennifer Blackmer. It focuses on an American anthropologist working in Iraq for the Human Terrain System, a military initiative that embeds social scientists in combat units. The American is accused of treason for befriending an Iraqi woman and helping her survive.
The awards jury included producer Caroline Baron (“Mozart in the Jungle”), Dr. Heather Berlin, Jeanne Garbarino of the Rockefeller University, director and producer Alex Gibney (“Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison Of Belief”), producer Lawrence Mattis (“Vanishing on 7th Street”), actress Rose McGowan (“Charmed”) and Laura Snyder, author of “The Philosophical Breakfast Club.”
Past grantees of the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund include “Picking Cotton,” “Experimenter,” “Computer Chess,” “A Birder’s Guide to Everything” and “The Imitation Game,” which won an Academy Award for adapted screenplay.
This year’s two winners will be honored at a “Sloan Works-in-Progress Readings and Cocktail” event on April 22 at which actors will read excerpts from the TFI/Sloan-funded films currently in development. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will also host a screening on Friday of 2015 TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund grantee “The Man Who Knew Infinity” at the Regal Cinemas Battery Park.
“The story of ‘The Human Terrain’ and the friendship at the heart of it will open minds to the complexities of our problematic role in the Middle East and the so-called War on Terror,” said Blackmer. “I wrote the script to encourage us to think of the Other as human, too, on their own inexplicable journey through their own personal terrain.”
“Our film explores collisions between East and West, the academic world and the military, and the contentious issue of a woman’s choice to veil as an expression of her faith,” said Barani.