TFI & ESPN Films Announce the TFI/ESPN Future Filmmaker Prize

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Prize Recognizes Short-Form Documentaries Highlighting Sports that Help Solve Social Issues

[New York, NY – January 27, 2015] – Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) today announced a two-year partnership with ESPN Films, which will expand their existing relationship with the creation of the TFI/ESPN Future Filmmaker Prize for short-form documentaries from student recipients at film and journalism institutions across the United States.

The TFI/ESPN Future Filmmaker Prize will annually award $25,000 each to three up-and-coming media makers who create short-form documentaries that highlight the exceptionally creative work of an athletic community or organization working towards solving social issues in the United States or globally. The TFI/ESPN Future Filmmaker Prize marks the first time Tribeca Film Institute’s documentary department will recognize student works.
“Sports is an entry point to tackle important societal issues and push forward social change,” said Dan Silver, ESPN Film’s Senior Director of Development. “ESPN is proud to shine a light on thoughtful new talent by sparking creativity, because we believe that if given the right voice, great stories have the power to change the world.”  

Each grantee will be paired with a current or former Tribeca Film Fellow. Tribeca Film Fellows® is a year-round, hands-on filmmaking and mentorship program of TFI for young filmmakers (ages 16-18) attending NYC public schools. Fellows and their Future Filmmaker Mentors will work closely together throughout all aspects of the filmmaking process from production to editing.  Through the partnership, TFI hopes to strengthen the filmmaking community and give a younger generation of media makers an in-depth experience in the creative process of filmmaking.

Along with the monetary grant, the three filmmaking teams will participate in a two-day workshop in the fall with activities tailored to their needs and culminating with an industry showcase to both celebrate their work and introduce them to the filmmaking community at large. The workshop will include pitch training, story structure lectures, footage critiques, master classes led by industry leaders and one-on-one meetings with industry professionals and nonprofit athletic institutions.  

Submissions for the grant will open in May and TFI will work with a select group of graduate schools including, but not limited to, Northwestern, Columbia, Oberlin, UC Berkeley and Syracuse to cultivate participation. Selections will be made by a screening of documentary industry professionals, as well as TFI and ESPN staff. Winners will be announced in in the fall.

The TFI/ESPN Future Filmmaker Prize continues TFI’s already successful relationship with ESPN, which for the past two years has awarded a grant to a deserving sports-focused documentary from a professional filmmaker. The TFI/ESPN Prize of $30,000 goes to a feature-length work-in-progress documentary that presents sports, competition and athleticism as a backdrop within a character-driven story, and highlights issues of social importance through the lens of sports, athletics and/or competition.

This year’s TFI/ESPN Prize was awarded to the film GREYWATER, directed by Jeff Unay and produced by Ariel Sultan. The movie features Joe, a long-time amateur MMA fighter, who sets his sights on Clayton, a young title-holder. Joe's pursuit comes to a head as life outside the cage forces a reevaluation of his priorities.

“We are thrilled to announce the expansion of our partnership with ESPN to now include the TFI/ESPN Future Filmmaker Prize,” said Ryan Harrington, VP, Artist Programs at Tribeca Film Institute. “We are devoted to fostering the next generation of young filmmakers and want to give them the opportunity to create exceptional short documentaries that change the way that people perceive sport."

For more information, please visit Tribeca Film Institute’s website,

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

27 Jan 2015