IF/Then American West 2020

This call for submissions closed on January 5, 2020. 

Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) in partnership with the ESPN Films chose six projects focusing on stories exploring issues around health through the lens of athleticism, sports, and competition in the American West to present at the IF/Then Shorts pitch competition at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival on February 20, 2020. 

The winner was selected by a professional jury consisting of: 

  • Amy Hobby, Executive Director, TFI
  • Adam Neuhaus, Director of Development, ESPN Films
  • Jacob Bloomfield-Misrach, Composer and Supervising Sound Editor, Berkeley Sound Artists
  • Gita Saedi Kiely, Director of Development, University of Montana School of Journalism
  • Doug Hawes Davis, Founder, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
  • Suzan Beraza, Festival Director, Mountainfilm
  • Ben-Alex Dupris, Concordia Studio Artist-in-Residence

The jury chose LIFE IN THE SLOW LANE directed by Kelly Bouma 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. 

Additional Awards:

Berkeley Sound Artists is a proud partner of Tribeca Film Institute and will provide a post-production audio package for this year's IF/Then Shorts American West with ESPN pitch competition winner. 



    Director: Kelly Bouma
    Location: Montana
    Lois is 83. Gettin' old sucks, but she's rolling with it. When age slows her down, what does she do in her spare time? She bowls. Satisfying Lois' competitive spirit, bowling keeps her active and out of the social isolation many older Montanans are facing at a rapid rate. 
    Co-Director/Producer: Dania N. Cabello
    Co-Director: Yvan Iturriaga
    Location: California
    Two freestyle soccer players, one of the most expensive cities in the US, and physical expression of freedom intertwined in the pursuit of health and reclamation of public space through play. 
    Director: Dina Burlis
    Producer: Melissa Azizi
    Location: California
    Nastasya, 19, is poised to become the first woman of color to ever compete in rhythmic gymnastics at the 2020 Olympic Games. Our film follows the physical, financial, and emotional challenges she faces on her unprecedented journey against all odds. 
    Director/Co-Producer: Nicole Teeny
    Co-Producer: Mariel Sarkis
    Location: Washington
    After recovering from a neurological disorder, I set out on a lfielong goal: to race a marathon against a horse. This whimsical and poetic documentary explains how humans evolved to be runners while exploring the competing relationship between body versus the mind and girl versus horse. 
    Director/PRoducer: Natasha Deganello Giraudie
    Director: Micahel Pom Preston
    Location: California
    The son of the Winnemem Wintu tribal chief receives guidance from the spirits to organize a 300-mile athletic and prayerful journey by foot, bike, kayak, and horseback to help California recognize the wisdom in native worldview and the clues it offers for untangling ourselves from the climate crisis. 
  • THE LAST 500
    Director/Producer: Nico Sandi
    Location: California
    Ellen Tomek and Meghan O'Leary have more than 30 years of combined rowing experience. They've been rowing together in the double, a famously unforgiving boat, for more than 6 years. After falling short of a medal in the Rio Olympics, after years of training and sacrifice, they only have one more chance: Tokyo 2020. They know what they need to do to get there, but what comes next may be just as difficult. 


  • Online registration opens: November 5, 2019
  • Project application deadline: January 5, 2020 at 11:59PM ET
  • Notification of project selection: Mid-January, 2020
  • IF/Then pitch competition at Big Sky: February 20, 2020

    9 AM - 11 AM at the Zootown Arts Community Center 


Stories from and storytellers living/working in the American West. This includes 13 states: Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and Hawaii, as well as the U.S. occupied American Samoa, Guam, and Northern Mariana Islands. 

Your project tells a story about athleticism, sports and competition and addresses issues around the topic of health.

These 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.