Re-Introducing Parisa Barani, Jessica Oreck, Shawn Snyder, & Jim Young

A core part our mission is to partner with our alumni to launch and sustain their careers. Whether it is securing early funding or supporting the theatrical release, we acknowledge the challenges of both getting a project off the ground and seeing it through to completion.

The TFI Sloan Discretionary Fund supports its TFI/Sloan alumni by offering microgrants of up to $5,000 for support in various capacities. Any key team member (writer, director, or producer) of a TFI Sloan Filmmaker or Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize supported project may apply for any type of support.

“It’s exciting for TFI to witness the breadth of creative content being produced - the opportunities being seized - by so many of our alumni” says Bryce Norbitz, TFI’s Director of Scripted Programs. “Our partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has allowed for new ways to support everything from early stage development of new stories through creative methods of engaging audiences.”

We're thrilled to be supporting the following alumni filmmakers through the TFI/Sloan Discretionary Fund:


Director, Co-screenwriter: Shawn Snyder and Co-screenwriter: Jason Begue of TO DUST
Shmuel, a Hasidic cantor in Upstate New York, distraught by the untimely death of his wife, struggles to find religious solace, while secretly obsessing over how her body will decay. As a clandestine partnership develops with Albert, a local community college biology professor, the two embark on a darkly comic and increasingly literal undertaking into the underworld.

TO DUST will receive support for their filmmaker team during their festival run and theatrical distribution of the feature, which won the narrative Audience Award at 2018’s Tribeca Film Festival.


Director, Producer: Parisa Barani and screenwriter: Jennifer Blackmer of HUMAN TERRAIN (pictured above)
An American anthropologist working in Iraq for The Human Terrain System, a military initiative that embeds social scientists in combat units, is accused of treason for befriending an Iraqi Muslim woman and helping her survive.

HUMAN TERRAIN will receive support for the post-production of the upcoming short film version of HUMAN TERRAIN, starring Maggie Siff and Sarita Choudhury.


Director, Screenwriter: Jessica Oreck of ONE MAN DIES A MILLION TIMES
A true story, set in the future. About seeds and genetic diversity, about growth and decay, about love and war, about hunger of all kinds.  About what it means to be human, even when all your humanity is stripped away.

ONE MAN DIES A MILLION TIMES will receive support for in-person promotion of the film in artistic, scientific and academic venues and communities after a festival premiere at 2019’s SXSW in March.


Producer: Jim Young of THE DAY MY BRAIN EXPLODED
After a full-throttle brain bleed at the age of twenty-five, Ashok Rajamani, a first-generation Indian American, had to re-learn everything: how to eat, how to walk and to speak. With humor and insight, he describes the events of that day (his brain exploded an hour before his brother’s wedding), as well as the long, difficult recovery period.

THE DAY MY BRAIN EXPLODED will receive support to continue the development of an acclaimed book into a screenplay.