Tribeca Film Institute Announces Fourth Annual TFI New Media Fund Recipients

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$350,000 Awarded to Five Interactive, Multi-Platform Projects Which Aim to Promote Social Change through Transmedia Storytelling; Inaugural Development Funding Given To Two Additional Projects

[New York, NY – July 31, 2014] –Tribeca Film Institute (TFI), in partnership with the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms Initiative, today announced grant recipients of the 2014 TFI New Media Fund. The diverse assortment of interactive, non-fiction, transmedia projects were selected from a pool of 208 submissions and explore a range of complex social issues, from online tracking to the story of Peru’s unconsented sterilization policy to gender-based sexual violence in India. Additionally the Fund will now begin accepting submissions biannually, allowing applicants’ projects to focus on timely events and social issues.
The TFI New Media Fund was established through a long-term partnership with the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms Initiative to support nonfiction film projects that go beyond traditional screens, exploring storytelling that is interactive, cross-platform and participatory. Since the Fund’s inception in 2011, $1,550,000 in funding has been awarded to interactive projects. This year, for the first time, two additional projects will receive development funding.  All projects will activate audiences around issues of contemporary social justice and equality. 

The five developed docu-projects from around the world have been awarded between $50,000 and $100,000 apiece, with funding effective immediately. In addition to receiving financial support, grantees will also take part in regular peer-to-peer meetings and a lab focused on interactive storytelling to help them develop their projects and build engagement with audiences.

The jury awarding the grants was comprised of notable figures whose accomplishments span the worlds of technology, film, media and the arts. The jurors were: Jake Barton (Principal and Founder of Local Projects), Sheila Leddy (Executive Director, Fledgling), Charles Melcher (Founder and CEO, Melcher Media and Founder and Director, Future of Storytelling), Dawn Porter (Founder, Trilogy Films), Hank Willis Thomas (Photographer) and Deanna Zandt (Co-Founder/Partner, Lux Digital).

“It has been truly remarkable to see the sophistication and creativity of TFI New Media Fund’s projects continue to grow and expand year after year,” said Ingrid Kopp, Director of Digital Initiatives.  “As storytelling and technology continue to intersect in new ways, these projects are changing our concept of how stories are told and how audiences are involved. By opening up our submission process to twice a year, we will be able to respond to projects and current events more quickly, which is also very exciting.”

“The projects selected for funding address some of the most challenging socio-political issues in our societies, but this work represents something more,” said juror Dawn Porter.  “The stunning creativity and use of innovative media tools to illuminate, educate and create social change is a testament to the power of art to encourage change. This is what the Tribeca Film Institute does so well.  Empowering creative minds around the world also empowers all of us as we are inspired not only to think about the world’s problems, but about the possible solutions.  We have great faith that this work will  inspire the next generation of change-makers.”

“It's an honor to be part of such an innovative, collaborative decision-making process, one that balances and weighs the very nuanced needs of transmedia projects,” said Jury member Deanna Zandt. “The jury brought a diversity of experiences, and the equity of understanding each story from a unique perspective. Thrilling and enlightening.”

“TFI is charting new creative terrain where experimental digital storytelling is increasingly a global practice, reflecting the voices, experiences and accomplishments of communities most affected by inequality, injustice and lack of opportunity,” said Cara Mertes, director of JustFilms at the Ford Foundation. “These projects are showing us the enormous potential of a new kind of participatory storytelling.”

The recipients of grants totaling $400,000 are:

Key participants: Brett Gaylor, Sébastien Brothier 
An interactive, evolutive and participative documentary program investigating online tracking and how data mining and the personalization of the Internet affect us and our worldview.
Key participants: Wendy Levy, Chris Johnson, Eric Doversberger
A large-scale interactive photography exhibit and website designed to unite and activate Oakland; each image comes to life through an augmented reality app that triggers video stories, music and embedded data, enabling real and virtual audiences anywhere to create, volunteer, buy, learn and connect.

Key participants: Ram Devineni, Lina Srivastava
A mortal woman and the Goddess Parvati fight against gender-based sexual violence in India and around the world in this layered storytelling project and augmented reality comic book, supporting the movement against patriarchy, misogyny, and indifference through love, creativity, and solidarity.
Key participants: Rosemarie Lerner, Maria Court
Inspired by the Quipu, the knotted thread communication system of the Inca Empire, this interactive documentary bridges the digital divide, connecting phones to the web to collect and share first-hand accounts of people affected by Peru’s unconsented sterilization policy, which targeted more than 300,000 people.
Key participants: Katie McKenna, Avi Lewis, Michael Premo, Alex Kelly
Forget everything you think you know about climate change. The truth is that it’s not just about carbon—it’s about capitalism. Inspired by the new book by Naomi Klein, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING offers a transformative vision of what climate change can do for us: provide the galvanizing urgency to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.  The project’s interactive platform will invite and facilitate real-world participation, reflecting how the ideas behind THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING are being brought to life around the world: on the front lines of social movements, through an emerging ‘next economy’ built on environmental and economic justice principles, and in classrooms, media and art.

The two projects receiving development funding are:

Key participants: Karim Ben Khelifa, Chloe Jarry
THE ENEMY challenges two combatants from opposite sides to observe each other. This project, at the crossroad between neurosciences, artificial Intelligence and storytelling, takes us on an extraordinary odyssey through some of the most contested conflicts of the world to acknowledge people's humanity.

Key participants: Jacqueline Kalimunda, Kivu Ruhorahoza
An interactive journey into the quest for love and resilience in Rwanda. This project enables the user to move from a series of interactive romantic short films on to an immersive website to explore the geography of love in Rwanda.

*A full list of the project participants' names can be found on Tribeca Film Institute’s website

The TFI New Media Fund is part of a range of programs and initiatives from Tribeca Film Institute that bridge filmmaking and technology and contribute to the emerging field of interactive storytelling, including:

• TFI Sandbox: An online tool launched by TFI and the Ford Foundation that shares key learnings from their experience managing the TFI New Media Fund, highlights past grant recipients, and bundles resources for creators working in digital, interactive storytelling.

• TFI Interactive (#TFIi): A day-long forum that takes place during the Tribeca Film Festival® and brings together the brightest thinkers and innovators from the works of film, media, gaming, design and education to explore this rapidly changing landscape and discover how different industries and disciplines can learn from each other. Creators from the five projects noted above will present their work during the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival’s TFI Interactive forum.

• Tribeca Hacks: Supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and made possible through leadership support from the Ford Foundation, this nationwide series of intensive workshops brings together content creators and technology specialists to increase understanding and broaden participation in the field of interactive storytelling.

EDITOR NOTE: Images for the projects can be accessed at:

About Tribeca Film Institute (  
Tribeca Film Institute champions storytellers to be catalysts for change in their communities and around the world.  Through grants and professional development programs, TFI supports a diverse, exceptional group of filmmakers and media artists, providing them resources needed to fully realize their stories and connect with audiences.  The Institute’s educational programming leverages an extensive film community network to help underserved New York City students learn filmmaking and gain the media skills necessary to be productive citizens and creative individuals in the 21st century.  Featuring hands-on training and exposure to socially relevant films, the Institute administers programs to more than 25,000 students annually.  TFI was founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in the wake of September 11, 2001 and is a 501(c)(3) year-round nonprofit arts organization.

For more information and a list of all TFI programs visit

About Ford Foundation’s JustFilms
JustFilms’ goal is to lift voices from outside the mainstream, build audiences for social justice stories, enlarge conversation on critical issues, and encourage new modes of social justice storytelling through funding independent film and digital projects and the organizations that support them. JustFilms has supported over 70 films since the launch in 2011, including the critically acclaimed films How to Survive a Plague and Gideon’s Army, as well as supporting award-winning web-based storytelling like Hollowthedocumentary, through TFI. Partners in collaboration have included: Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, Independent Television Service and Britdoc | Good Pitch.
Learn more about JustFilms at

1 Aug 2014

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