The grants, which go as high as $7,500, are intended to help storytellers during “in-between” phases of their projects, such as research, festival travel or community screenings. They’re the kind of unexpected costs that can lead to financial heartache for artists who are already tight on cash.
“These filmmakers shouldn’t be putting stuff on their personal credit cards and in many cases they simply can’t,” said Amy Hobby, executive director of Tribeca Film Institute. “We want to help with the things that don’t often make it into an independent film budget.”
Seven projects were selected for the awards from a pool of more than 200 applicants. Artists being honored are Erika Cohn and Angela Tucker (“Belly of the Beast”); Zoe Miranda (“Blue Hour”); Matt Fifer, Kieran Mulcare, Ramfis Myrthil and Jeremy Truong (“Cicada”); Michéle Stephenson (“For Moraime”); Rosie Westhoff (“Our Sister”); Elegance Bratton and Terence Nance (“Pier Kids”); and Rita Baghdadi (“Siren”).
TFI and Pond5 launched this alumni-focused program in late 2018, with a focus on filmmakers from systemically excluded communities. The goal was to make sure that a diverse collection of filmmakers and content creators have access to a continuum of financial support and mentorship as their careers progress.
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“We saw that there aren’t many outlets for people to get funding for works in progress,” said Monika Navarro, senior director of programs at TFI. “Maybe you need to do some script rewriting or re-shooting. That’s where these grants come in.”
Here’s more information on the winners:
Director, Producer: Erika Cohn (TFI Alumna – Camden/TFI Filmmaker Retreat 2017, TFI Network 2017, Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund 2015)
Producer: Angela Tucker (TFI Alumna – Tribeca All Access® 2012)
TFI Pond5 Program Impact: Funding will support mentorship on impact campaign strategy for their current documentary feature BELLY OF THE BEAST.
Logline: BELLY OF THE BEAST intimately chronicles the journey of women fighting reproductive injustice in their communities.
Director: Zoe Miranda (TFI Alumna – TFI Latin America Fund 2014)
Producers: Ozren Milharčič, Lila Falcón
TFI Pond5 Program Impact: The grant will provide for additional editing time for a narrative short film, BLUE HOUR, which was shot earlier this year Cuba.
Logline: At a neighborhood hospital Mariano, who is receiving a prostate exam, meets China, who is waiting for the body of her dead husband. They spend the afternoon together, and as the night falls, Mariano makes a proposal that lets them imagine a different life.
Director/Screenwriter/Actor: Matt Fifer (TFI Alumnus – TFI Network 2019)
Co-Director: Kieran Mulcare (TFI Alumnus – TFI Network 2019)
Co-Writer: Sheldon D. Brown (TFI Alumnus – TFI Network 2019)
Producer: Ramfis Myrthil (TFI Alumnus – TFI Network 2019)
Producer: Jeremy Truong (TFI Alumnus – TFI Network 2019)
TFI Pond5 Program Impact: This grant provides funding for pick-up shoots for their feature CICADA, which screened as a part of TFI’s Works-In-Progress program during the Tribeca Film Festival.
Logline: New York City, 2013. A young bisexual man enters an interracial relationship. In the midst of the Sandusky trial, against the backdrop of a cicada summer, he comes to terms with his own childhood trauma.
Director/Producer: Michéle Stephenson (TFI Alumna – TFI New Media Fund 2013, Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund 2011, Tribeca All Access 2009)
TFI Pond5 Program Impact: Support will help Michéle with additional editing for her documentary feature FOR MORAIME (FKA HISPANIOLA).
Logline: Interweaving magical realist storytelling with observational cinema, FOR MORAIME follows Rosa Iris, a Dominican woman who seeks to change her country’s anti-black attitudes by fighting against an antagonistic bureaucracy and the cyclical forces of history.
Director: Rosie Westhoff (Pond5 User)
Producer: Fiona Hardingham
TFI Pond5 Program Impact: The grant will provide disability access and training for the crew of their film OUR SISTER.
Logline: Teenagers Zoe and her sister Tasha, who is autistic, help each other grieve after the death of their younger sister.
Writer/Director: Elegance Bratton (TFI Alumnus – Tribeca All Access 2019)
Executive Producers: Sabaah Folayan, Terence Nance (TFI Alumnus – Tribeca All Access 2017, 2015 and 2013)
TFI Pond5 Program Impact: The grant provided for finishing funds for final sound design for documentary feature PIER KIDS.
Logline: PIER KIDS follows Desean, Casper and Krystal, three homeless queer youth who use the Piers at the end of Christopher Street to build new family as they navigate prostitution, the welfare system, and their biological families in order to find stable housing.
Director/Producer/Cinematographer: Rita Baghdadi (TFI Alumna – Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund 2016, TFI A+E IndieFilms StoryLab 2016, Camden/TFI Retreat 2018)
TFI Pond5 Program Impact: The grant provides travel support for additional filming in Beirut for their documentary SIRENS.
Logline: On the outskirts of Beirut, five young women navigate friendship, identity and the pressure to conform in their pursuit of becoming thrash metal rock stars.