American West 2019

Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) was thrilled to continue, for the third year, a partnership with Big Sky Documentary Film Festival (BSDFF) to support the art of short-form documentary storytelling. 

Six projects focusing on the American West were selected to enter the IF/Then Shorts pitch competition at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival on February 21, 2019 from 3:00 - 5:00 PM at the University of Montana UC Theater.

The winner was selected by a professional jury consisting of:

Monika Navarro, Senior Director of Programs, Tribeca Film Institute
Drew Xanthopoulos, Independent Filmmaker
Poh Si Teng, Senior Producer for Al Jazeera English
Andrew Blackwell, Supervising Editor for The New York Times Op-Docs 
Pam Torno, Series Producer for Indie Lens Story Cast

The jury chose "Untitled Immigration Lawyer Project" by Priscilla González Sainz as the competition winner, to receive $25,000 in project funding and the opportunity to participate in TFI’s IF/Then Shorts Program, which provides year-round mentorship and career development opportunities. 

"Untitled Immigration Lawyer Project" was selected from the following six projects:


    Director, DP: Joseph Van Eeckhout
    Location: Wyoming
    A young woman in Wyoming embarks on a journey to impact the narrative around conservation and hunting through her work in politics, the environment, and women in the outdoors.


    Director: Priscilla González Sainz
    Location: California
    A chronicle of the professional and personal lives of six first-generation immigration lawyers who call themselves “The Tribe” and who strive to help immigrants obtain safety and status in the United States. They keep each other supported and sane as their work is increasingly under attack by the current administration. (Formerly known as Untitled Immigration Lawyer Project.)


    Director/Producer: Dylan Howell
    Producer/DP: Carlo Di Blasi
    Location: Colorado
    Ouray, Colorado (population 1,000, elevation 8,000 ft) used to be a mining town, but its economy now relies on a surge of summer tourism. Tom is known for making the best burgers in town, and for hiring the folks that no one else does. But will his renegade restaurant be ready for the Fourth of July, the busiest day of the year?


    Director: Quyên Nguyen-Le
    Producer: Anh Phan
    Location: California
    Weaving through the rigid boys club culture of skateboarding, a group of queer Asian American skateboarders traverse across California, carving out spaces of belonging and cultivating tender networks of kinship, love, and support.


    Director: Jessica Bernstein-Wax
    Location: California; Arizona; Indiana
    A team of doctors in San Francisco, an Amish father in Indiana, and a 5 year old Navajo girl in Arizona all pursue a cure for a genetic illness that causes infants to be born without an immune system.


    Director, DP: Gabriel Gaurano
    Producers: Jason Phillips, Julia Elihu
    Location: California
    Four years after suffering a seizure that left her with no motor skills and complete memory loss, the nation’s second best twelve-year old female boxer, Meryland Gonzales, fights to become number one with the support of her family and community of Watts, South Central Los Angeles.



Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) is thrilled to continue, for the third year, a partnership with Big Sky Documentary Film Festival (BSDFF) to support the art of short-form documentary storytelling. 

Online registration opens: November 13, 2018
Project application deadline: December 31, 2018
Notification of project selection: late January 2019
IF/Then pitch competition in Missoula, MT: February 21, 2019 


All stories and storytellers coming from the American West. These 13 states include: Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and Hawaii. (Note: It is NOT a requirement that the filmmaker resides in one of these states. We are primarily seeking stories about the American West.)

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.