TFI Announces Grantees Of 2017 TFI New Media Fund & Tribeca All Access® Interactive Prototype Funds

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Total of Eight Grants Awarded to New Media Storytellers

[New York, NY – April 11, 2017] – Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) today announced the grant recipients for the TFI New Media Fund and the TAA Interactive Prototype Funds. This new slate of interactive projects highlights the importance TFI continues to place on supporting and celebrating the great breadth of new media storytelling ranging from virtual reality to installations and mobile games.

The TFI New Media Fund provides funds and support to nonfiction, social issue-driven media projects that go beyond traditional screens — integrating film with a wide range of content across media platforms. The fund is supported by Ford Foundation’s JustFilms Initiative, with the ultimate goal of exploring storytelling that is interactive, cross-platform and participatory. The recipients of the TFI New Media Fund grants will receive $50,000 in funding, as well as peer-to-peer support to help them develop their projects and build engagement with audiences.

TFI’s premiere scripted and documentary filmmaker program, Tribeca All Access (TAA), expanded in 2015 to include grants and resources for interactive storytellers who are underrepresented in the media maker community. The TAA Interactive Prototype Fund aims to build new bridges between technology and filmmaking and encourage the development of novel ideas, rather than work that is already in development. The fiction portion of the TAA Interactive Prototype Fund is supported by the Time Warner Foundation, and the nonfiction portion is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Recipients will receive between $10,000 and $20,000.

“Our interactive programs inspire the use of new technologies among diverse and emerging storytellers,” said Amy Hobby, Executive Director of TFI. “This is an urgent agenda for TFI in an era in which inclusion remains in crisis and some of our best storytellers are without the tools to rise to the surface.”

“We believe interactivity is a cornerstone for meaningful engagement, especially in these increasingly turbulent times,” said Opeyemi Olukemi, Senior Director of Interactive Programs at TFI. “Each of these projects, both in topic and form, encapsulates a powerful message and will, without a doubt, breathe new life into the media landscape.”

Jury members for the 2017 TFI New Media Fund were: ALISON ABREU-GARCIA (Senior Manager of Digital Technologies at the Whitney Museum of American Art), DEANGELA L. DUFF (Co-Director of Integrated Digital Media & Industry Associate Professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering in Brooklyn) and MARINA ZURKOW (Media Artist). Jury members for the 2017 TAA Interactive Prototype Fund were: ADI MAROM (Experience Design Lead at Second Story NYC and Adjunct Professor at Parsons, The New School for Design), ERROL KING (Manager of Google’s Code Next) and GABRIEL BARCIA-COLOMBO (Mixed Media Artist and Teacher at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts).

Both grant programs exemplify TFI’s emphasis on pushing the boundaries of form and function in storytelling, as well as its dedication to cultivating the voices of non-traditional filmmakers. A recent example of TFI’s successful support in this space is that of Pearl, a VR short, supported last year by TFI, that went on to be nominated for a 2017 Academy Award®.

“On behalf of Ford’s work in Creativity and Free Expression, we are very proud to continue to support emerging media practices, and applaud the role Tribeca Film Institute has played in breaking ground in this new storytelling field in the US,” said Cara Mertes, Director of JustFilms at Ford Foundation. “The artists supported in the most recent round are setting the stage for new advances with digital story technologies, and reflect our emphasis on inclusive talent making innovative work about contemporary realities that impact all of us.”

“We continue to be inspired by the work of Tribeca and the Tribeca All Access program,” said Diahann Billings-Burford, Executive Director, Cultural Investments, Time Warner Inc.  . “We are proud to support an initiative that gives diverse storytellers an opportunity to share their gifts. At the Time Warner Foundation we believe in creating a body of work that fully reflects the rich diversity of our nation, and of our world. TAA is helping us get there!”

The recipients of the 2017 TFI New Media Fund grants are:

Blackout: Co-Created and Directed by Alexander Porter; Co-Directed by Yasmin Elayat. Blackout is a virtual reality documentary inviting New Yorkers to share stories in their own voice. Blackout illuminates the moments when our lives intersect in a space where differences are most visible – the subway. It is an ongoing, participatory project dealing with contemporary political issues through the lens of lived-experiences in the city of New York.

MICRO: Co-Directed by Charles Philipp and Amanda Schochet. MICRO is a distributed museum. Its fleet of six-foot-tall science museums is installed in unexpected places, from hospital waiting rooms to the DMV. MICRO brings designers, scientists, storytellers and artists together to squeeze the best parts of museums down into boxes that can go anywhere. TFI is helping MICRO develop their second science museum, The Perpetual Motion Museum, which uses kinetic sculptures, video and audio to tell the story of humanity’s age-old struggle to harness and understand energy.

The fiction recipients of the TAA Interactive Prototype Fund are:

Bright and Gifted: Directed and Written by Lilian Mehrel. What if you were stuck in the worst high school in Miami? A short dark-comedy VR series about the characters at Bright and Gifted, a Miami high school that falsely promises advanced courses. When they don’t deliver, the smart kids take their education into their own hands, and out on the streets.

Cousins of War: Written, Directed and Produced by Fereshta Kazemi; Co-Created by Hadji-Gul Asser. An episodic, web-narrative-doc, livestreamed on Twitter for an audience that interacts with the story via Twitter, about an Afghan-American writer who returns to Kabul, Afghanistan, for first time in 30 years, to discover a country deeply changed from its recent, progressive history by extremism and war, but people still living life like anyone else, even in the face of it.

Rearview Mirror: Co-Created and Written by Anisha Sridhar; Co-Created and Directed by Shaheen Nazerali. Rearview Mirror is an interactive web series about an unsuspecting cab driver who helps a woman in distress only to get caught up in a tale of an unwanted pregnancy and possibly murder. Driven by branching dialogue, this interactive narrative puts you in the driver’s seat where you face moral quandaries and ethical dilemmas. You’ll have a chance to make decisions that alter the course of the story and change the characters’ lives. What will you choose?

You Are Forever, You Are Everyone: Created by Aleem Hossain. You Are Forever, You Are Everyone is a sci-fi virtual reality experience that allows you to time travel through a lifetime…your lifetime. You are Ahsan, a mixed-race American, struggling to find your place in the world. One fateful day, you are given the ability to interact with all the moments of your life – past, present, and future – and you try to solve the mystery of this power and your connection to humanity.  

The nonfiction recipients of the TAA Interactive Prototype Fund are:

Earn a Living: Written and Produced by Margaux Missika; Directed by Malika Zouhali-Worrall. Earn a Living observes the concrete effects of basic income through life-size studies (USA, Finland, Kenya), while our multiplayer digital board game offers a playful and interactive simulation of basic income in a fictional setting.

Queerskins: A Love Story: Written and Directed by Illya Szilak; Cyril Tsiboulski (Cloudred Studio) - Artistic Director, Interactive Designer and Developer. A diary found in a box of belongings offers a devoutly Catholic mother in rural Missouri a chance to know the estranged son she has lost to AIDS. Wracked by grief and guilt, she seeks to reconstruct him through memory and imagination. Celebrating love in its many varied forms, the project includes a multimedia website http://www.queerskins.com (40,000 words of diaristic text, two hours of audio monologues from five characters, videos by Iris-nominated filmmaker Jarrah Gurrie, archival and crowdsourced videos and photos), a haptic experience for virtual reality, and an interactive installation in which visitors are encouraged to explore a historically accurate (circa 1980) recreation of the son’s childhood attic bedroom. 

The Family Reunions Project: Directed and Produced by Alvaro Morales and Frisly Soberanis. The Family Reunions Project reunites undocumented immigrants to their families, hometowns and home cultures using VR technology. Acting where politics have failed millions, The Family Reunions Project explores how new technologies will challenge physical borders.

About Tribeca Film Institute: 

Tribeca Film Institute champions storytellers to be catalysts for change in their communities and around the world. Each year, we identify a diverse group of exceptional filmmakers and media artists then empower them with funding and resources to fully realize their stories and connect with audiences. Our education programs empower students through hands-on training and exposure to socially relevant films, offering young people the media skills necessary to be creative and productive global citizens. We are a year-round nonprofit arts organization founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in the wake of September 11, 2001.

About Ford Foundation:

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. As part of the Ford Foundation’s Creativity and Free Expression program, JustFilms funds artist-driven documentary and emerging media projects that explore timely social justice issues, with a focus on inequality. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

About Time Warner Foundation:

The Time Warner Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation wholly supported by Time Warner Inc. and its subsidiary companies HBO, Turner and Warner Bros. Entertainment. Its mission is to seek innovative and powerful ways to discover, nurture and celebrate the next generation of storytellers with best-in-class nonprofit organizations that push the boundaries of artist development. The Foundation's ultimate goal is the cultivation of an artistic community that is vibrant and relevant to diverse global audiences of today and tomorrow.

About John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation:

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including over-incarceration, global climate change, nuclear risk, and significantly increasing financial capital for the social sector. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsible and responsive democracy, as well as to the strength and vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago. www.macfound.org

10 Apr 2017