New York, NY – March 5, 2020 – Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) and the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) have selected six finalists from the American Midwest to pitch their short documentaries, which all have cultural and political relevance to the region, at the CIFF on April 5, 2020. Each team will have seven minutes to present their project to a jury of award-winning filmmakers, industry leaders, and programmers. One winning project will receive a production grant of USD $25,000 and year-round mentorship and career development through TFI’s IF/Then Shorts program, as well as a festival finishing package from Bruton/Stroube Studios, a St. Louis-based post production facility.
This is the second year that TFI and the CIFF have partnered up for this pitch competition. Cleveland natives Chris Webb and Conrad Miles won last year’s pitch, and this year they return to the CIFF for the world premiere of their film THE SESSION.
“This group of filmmakers, along with the topical and stylistic range of the selected projects, is reflective of the diversity of the American Midwest,” said Amy Hobby, Executive Director at Tribeca Film Institute. "We’re excited to hear pitches from these teams, each of which comes from a different state in the region.”
“We are thrilled to once again welcome talented teams of filmmakers to our Midwest film festival to share their poignant stories of the American Midwest,” said Marcie Goodman, Executive Director at Cleveland International Film Festival.
The pitch is open to the public and will take place in the English Oak Room at Tower City Center at
11:00 AM on April 5, 2020 during the Cleveland International Film Festival.
Here are the finalists for the 2020 IF/Then American Midwest pitch:
A PEACEFUL PLACE
Director & Producer: Paul Szynol
Producer: Risé Sanders-Weir
Location of Production: Michigan
A Marine Corps veteran struggles with PTSD and the American judicial system.
COMRADES OF THE MIDWEST
Director: Hao Zhou
Producer: Tyler Hill
Location of Production: Iowa
The American Midwest is home to more than 30,000 Chinese international students, among them hundreds of LGBTQ+ individuals. Coming from a society that suppresses their true identities, they are challenged, but optimistic, as they adapt to a new environment that celebrates who they are.
THE HOUSE ON THE HILL
Directors: Naeema Torres and Amber Love
Location of Production: Illinois
Oral histories are woven together to examine the legacy and unresolved future of the decaying Crenshaw House - also known as The Old Slave House - in Equality, Illinois, a place of haunting and mystery surrounding its role in the slave trade.
Director: Suzanne Jurva
Producer: Daniela Cortes
Location of Production: Wisconsin
Memory Camp is a cinema verite short film that follows the story of families attending America’s first overnight wilderness camp for people with memory loss and dementia. By “inspiring awe” through nature, creativity and spirituality, Memory Camp is the story of how people overcome the limits of their diagnosis to thrive with the help of a supportive, caring community.
RIGHT TO FLOURISH
Director: Elizabeth Scheltens
Producer: Anita Kwan
Location of Production: Ohio
When a group of Toledo, Ohio residents gets fed up with their polluted drinking water, they get a crash course in political organizing and learn just how difficult it can be to change the status quo in a state where industrial agriculture is king. This film brings together activists, scientists, farmers, and politicians to ask a fundamental question: In an age of global climate change and economic uncertainty, who has the right to flourish?
TO BE RECONCILED
Director: James Christenson
Producer: Brennan Vance
Location of Production: Minnesota
As Carlos fights a zero-tolerance immigration system and the relentless threat of deportation, he reflects upon faith, recovery, redemption and the possibility of being indefinitely separated from his family.