American Midwest 2019

This call for submissions closed on January 21, 2019. 

Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) is thrilled to announce a new partnership with Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) to support the art of short-form documentary storytelling. 

TFI and CIFF are inviting all stories and storytellers from the American Midwest to apply for a new pitch opportunity during the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival on April 7, 2019.

The Pitch calls for original stand-alone commissions of short documentaries (running 10-20 minutes) that explore a range of socially, politically and culturally relevant topics about the American Midwest.  With an intentional focus on place-based, community-inspired, short-form storytelling, we are looking for compelling character-based stories focused on contemporary subjects that are relevant globally.

TFI and CIFF will jointly select up to 6 finalists to present their projects at a live pitch event before a panel of industry judges on April 7, 2019 at CIFF. Each pitch team will have 7 minutes to present their project, which will be followed by a short, moderated discussion with a tailored jury.

One project, selected by the jury, will receive up to USD $25,000 in project funding and will have the opportunity to participate in TFI’s IF/Then Shorts program, which provides year-round mentorship and career development opportunities.

Key Dates:

  • Online registration opens: November 13, 2018
  • Project application deadline: January 21, 2019
  • Notification of project selection: late February, 2019
  • IF/Then pitch competition in Cleveland: April 7, 2019 


All stories and storytellers coming from the American Midwest. These 12 states include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. (Note: It is NOT a requirement that the filmmaker resides in one of these states. We are primarily seeking stories about the American Midwest.)

Projects must be completed within 6 months of receiving funding, be factually accurate, follow best practices in documentary ethics, and be presented in English or subtitled in English.

Please make sure your project fits our general eligibility requirements presented on our Pitches & Eligibility page.