Over the past month, TFI has sent members of our programming team around the globe to work with some of our partner organizations, help lead workshops and identify promising film projects to invite to the 2019 TFI Network.
First stop, Cuba!
The Nuevas Miradas filmmaker retreat has been a longstanding partner of TFI since 2014. Nuevas Miradas takes place at the renowned film school in Cuba (Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV - EICTV) in San Antonio de los Banos – about 40 minutes away from Havana. Over the past few months, the Nuevas Miradas staff received submissions from feature documentary and fiction storytellers throughout the entire Latin American & Caribbean region – and a total of 16 projects were selected. The sixteen feature projects in development were also accompanied by four additional transmedia projects. This Transmedia component was a new aspect of Nuevas Miradas this year, and it further expanded the scope and storytelling reach of the retreat’s objectives.
Now entering our fifth year with Nuevas Miradas, Jose Rodriguez, TFI's Director of Documentary Programs & Zeina Abi Assy, Director of Interactive Programs, mentored the participating projects throughout three days: leading group sessions and giving feedback on the storytellers’ pitches, and meeting one-on-one with each participant to discuss fundraising strategies and prospective support from TFI.
The last day was devoted entirely to the Pitching Forum in Havana’s Fabrica de Arte Cubano (FAC), where all twenty projects pitched to an audience of filmmakers and invited industry professionals (including representatives from HotDocs and TIFF, La Fabrique and IDFA). By the end of the day, the winner of the TFI Award went to the Uruguayan feature documentary project KARINA, which profiles a middle-aged Uruguayan sex worker who is fighting for her rights and aiming to change the sex worker laws in her country, as she struggles to retire with dignity. Producer Flor Abbondanza accepted the award on behalf of the co-directors.
Flor and her team will participate in the 2019 TFI NETWORK co-production market during the Tribeca Film Festival, where they will pitch their project KARINA to U.S. and international film industry professionals.
Next up, we sent TFI's Bryce Norbitz and Michelle Hamada to Laos!
2018 marks TFI’s third year hosting a Talent Lab for Southeast Asian filmmakers at the Luang Prabang Film Festival and Press PAUSE conference. Bryce and Michelle led this three-day workshop focusing on project pitching, grant writing and industry access. Eleven rich, inventive and dynamic projects spanning the region were represented, including character-driven documentaries, genre-bending fiction films and a 3D animation feature.
After pitch practice roundtables filmamkers met a series of industry experts, including representatives from Locarno’s Open Doors Program and the American Film Showcase. The lab culminated in a public pitch forum and celebration sunset cruise on the Mekong River. The pitch jury was comprised of filmmaking professionals from around the world, including Jeremy Sim (Aurora Media Holdings), Nicholas Simon (CEO of Indochina Productions) and Bree Fitzgerald (Chair of the board for LPFF).
After a moving and creative pitch, the jury selected Jordan Dela Cruz to attend 2019 TFI Network. THE PERILOUS ODYSSEY TO MOUNT GULSUK, tells the story of reluctant teenage father-to-be, Joseph. When the life of his pregnant girlfriend is threatened by a mysterious illness, Joseph embarks on a spirit-breaking quest to save his beloved and their unborn child. His surreal odyssey starts in the idyllic landscapes of the Philippines, transitions to the dingy labor camps of the Middle East, and ends at the mythical, eldritch Mount Gulsuk.
Singapore-based media investment firm Aurora Media Holdings selected Lim Ying Xian’s Siri as the recipient of their Aurora Producing Award. Ying Xian will receive a minimum $10,000 USD to support production of her film. Jury member Nicholas Simon, created a brand new Rising Star Award to support Hien Anh’s QUAY. Hien Anh, who attended the Lab with her producer Nguyen Diep Thuy Anh, will receive $1,500 for the production of the film and mentorship from Simon.
Stay tuned for more announcements in the new year of other co-production projects selected to attend the 2019 TFI Network!
Photos courtesy of Zeina Abi Assy, LPFF and Jeff D. Rogers.