TFI, ESPN FILMS, AND BIG SKY DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCE FINALISTS FOR SHORT DOC PITCH

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New York, NY - February 5, 2020 - Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) and ESPN Films have selected six finalists from the American West to pitch their short documentaries, which all focus on health through the lens of athleticism, sports and competition, at the 2020 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. 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. 

"We’re thrilled to return to Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana with an IF/Then Shorts pitch for stories from the American West,” said Amy Hobby, Executive Director at Tribeca Film Institute. “Big Sky continues to be a great collaborator in our mission to uplift place-based storytelling by filmmakers who have been traditionally underrepresented in the industry.”   

“The Big Sky Documentary Festival always draws an incredible range of filmmakers and projects,” said Adam Neuhaus, Director of Development at ESPN Films and Original Content. “We are eager to collaborate with our partner, Tribeca Film Institute, through their IF/Then Shorts program to find important stories that need to be told.” 

“It’s very exciting to host the IF/Then opportunity for American West filmmakers and stories at Big Sky, connecting great documentary projects with industry influencers and resources through Tribeca and ESPN,” said Rachel Gregg, Executive Director at Big Sky Film Institute. “Beyond the opportunity for funding, pitch participants receive mentorship, training and connect with a large network of documentary filmmakers, opening doors to explore meaningful careers in nonfiction storytelling.” 

The pitch is open to the public and will take place on February 20, 2020 during the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.  

Here are the finalists for the 2020 IF/Then American West pitch: 

 

BREAKING BOUNDARIES 
Director: Dina Burlis 
Producer: Melissa Azizi 
Logline: 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. 

  

LIFE IN THE SLOW LANE 
Director: Kelly Bouma 
Logline: 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 social isolation many older Montanans are facing at a rapid rate.  

  

HEALTHY STRUGGLE 
Co-Director/Producer: Dania N. Cabello 
Co-Director: Yvan Iturriaga 
Logline: Two freestyle soccer players, one of the most expensive cities in the US, and physical expressions of freedom intertwine in the pursuit of health and reclamation of public space through play.  

  

GIRL V. HORSE 
Director/Co-Producer: Nicole Teeny 
Co-Producer: Mariel Sarkis 
Logline: After recovering from a neurological disorder, Director Nicole Teeny set out on a lifelong 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. 

  

ONE WORD SAWALMEM 
Director/Producer: Natasha Deganello Giraudie 
Director: Michael “Pom” Preston 
Logline: The son of the Winnemem Wintu tribal chief receives guidance from the spirits to organize a 300-mile  journey by foot, bike, kayak, 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 
Logline: 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, 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. 

7 Feb 2020