Tribeca Film Institute and Pond5 Announce Fall 2019 Filmmaking Grantees

« Back to Press Releases

New York, NY - November 14, 2019 - Pond5 and Tribeca Film Institute have announced the fall 2019 round of grantees for the TFI Pond5 Program. Launched in 2018, this alumni-focused program supports indie filmmakers from systematically-excluded communities. With funding amounts as high as $7,500 per round, the program ensures that a diverse collection of filmmakers have access to financial support and mentorships for their creative projects. Past winners have included Elegance Bratton and Chester Algernal for their documentary feature PIER KIDS (premiered at Outfest 2019) and Rosie Westhoff and Fiona Hardingham for their scripted short OUR SISTER (premiered at BFI London Film Festival 2019). 


“These filmmakers are telling timely stories through their unique perspectives using both documentary, scripted, and interactive formats,” said Amy Hobby, Executive Director of Tribeca Film Institute. “The TFI Pond5 Program allows us to continue to support filmmakers that we believe so strongly in. We're excited to fund this group of emerging creators.”  


“Congratulations to all the recipients,” said Jason Teichman, CEO of Pond5. “Pond5’s mission is to support filmmakers and content creators. We're proud to partner with Tribeca Film Institute to provide greater opportunity for these recipients to tell their stories.


“The support of Tribeca Film Institute and Pond5 gives me the opportunity to delve deeper into my idea and enables me to create the project teaser that will help raise financing for the film,” said Jorge Thielen-Armand, Director, Screenwriter and Producer of LA CERCANÍA.


“We have been in an Artist Residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts where we have been building miniature sets for the last two months. These funds will allow us to move forward with shooting with our miniature sets for our latest story re-creation ‘The Death of Fortunato,’” said Anna Fitch, Director & Producer of HEAVEN THROUGH THE BACKDOOR.


“Thanks to the support from TFI Pond5 Program I will be able to explore my characters in a deeper way. Directing actors is an art and I want to be totally prepared to be able to improvise and respond to my actors during my shooting. Being Tribeca alum is truly an honor and I am really looking forward to taking this Directing Actors workshop, and without this grant, that would not be possible,” said Lorena Padilla, Writer & Director of MARTÍNEZ.


Eight applicants were selected out of approximately 200 to receive funding and mentorships, including the following final winners:


Writer/Director/Producer: Jorge Thielen-Armand

TFI Pond5 Program Impact: Due to the nature of the production (hybrid/non-actors), the funding will double as both a proof of concept for financing and workshop for actors in the narrative feature LA CERCANÍA. 

Logline: Seeing no future amid Venezuela’s economic meltdown, 25-year-old Sofia leaves her ageing father at their family farm in the mountains to join her ex-husband Kevin in Paris. But as Kevin has a new family, Sofia must navigate the dynamics of their control over her, and ultimately decide if she should return home to protect her family farm and see her father one last time.


Director/Producer: Patricia Antelles 

Producer: Melinda Hess

TFI Pond5 Program Impact: A mentorship for the artists to learn Depth Kit technology.

Logline: CONSTRUCTED MEMORIES  is an immersive episodic narrative experienced through transformative conversations between father and daughter across barriers of time and space.


Writer/Director/Producer: Ekwa Msangi

Producer: Huriyyah Muhammad

TFI Pond5 Program Impact: The grant will be for music licensing for the narrative feature FAREWELL AMOR.

Logline: After 17 years in exile, Walter’s wife and daughter are reunited with him in the U.S., now absolute strangers. They struggle to overcome the personal and political hurdles between them, sacrificing the lives they built while separated and need to rely on the muscle memory of Angolan dance to rediscover each other.


Director/Producer: Anna Fitch

Co-Director/Producer: Banker White

Producer: Sara Dosa

TFI Pond5 Program Impact: Funding will go to hire crew to design, build, and shoot the sets for this unconventional portrait doc.

Logline: HEAVEN THROUGH THE BACKDOOR is a multi-platform documentary that tells the story of Yo (Yolanda Shae), a fiercely independent 88-year Swiss emigre whose unique brand of individualist feminism culminates in how she chooses to live in old age and ultimately, how she prepares for her next great adventure: death. The project juxtaposes intimate documentary footage with cinematic interpretations of Yo’s stories using intricately built miniature sets and other creations.


Writer/Director: Lorena Padilla

Producer: Georgina Gonzalez

TFI Pond5 Program Impact: This Directing Actors workshop will help to support the narrative feature MARTÍNEZ.

Logline: Martínez, a cranky and lonely bureaucrat resisting retirement, receives a surprise gift from a deceased neighbor. He finally begins to enjoy life through a love affair with her through her old belongings.


Writer/Director: Milton Liu

Writer/Producer: Steven Sakai

TFI Pond5 Program Impact: Funding will cover a large portion of the budget for the first phase of the production

Logline: A Japanese American high-school student left alone at home for the first time in her life, uses her phone to document strange and bizarre happenings after her deceased grandfather begins contacting her – and directing her to a dark website known only as The Red Room.


Director/Producer: Jasmin Mara López

Producer: Bron Moyi

TFI Pond5 Program Impact: Support from the Program will go toward an editor to complete a rough cut.

Logline: SILENT BEAUTY is an autobiographical exploration of one woman’s family history with child sexual abuse and a culture of silence.


Filmmaker: Deepak Rauniyar

TFI Pond5 Program Impact: THE SKY IS MINE will use this grant towards shooting a demo reel. 

Logline: Pooja breaks centuries-old barriers to become the first female Superintendent, but nothing has prepared her for her first case: two boys are kidnapped with no clues and only 24 hours to save in a town in the midst of racial unrest.



For more information and photos of the winners, visit:


About Tribeca Film Institute

Tribeca Film Institute is a New York-based nonprofit organization founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff after 9/11 as a means to bring a community together through the power of film. Today, TFI works across the U.S. and globally to ensure that filmmakers and creators have the tools and resources they need to tell their stories, connect with audiences, and build thriving careers. We do all of this in service of the storyteller in order to break barriers to access, exposure, and sustainability that result from imbalances in representation and power. Working in documentary, scripted, and immersive media, TFI supports more than 225 storytellers each year through grants, mentorships, labs, and workshops valued at more than $2.25 million. For more information about TFI, please visit ;


About Pond5

Pond5 is the world’s largest, most vibrant video-first content marketplace, providing filmmakers, creators, and producers of all kinds with the content, inspiration, and tools they need to improve their projects. As the only content marketplace that meaningfully shares licensing revenue with its contributing artists, Pond5 is driven by a commitment to its passionate and growing global community of more than 60,000 professional visual and audio creators, providing a platform where their creative work can flourish, and helping them to make a sustainable living. With groundbreaking features like visual search for video and integrations into all major video-editing software, Pond5 is innovating daily, making it easier to find and use the content that creatives need to bring their vision to life. Pond5 is a venture-backed company funded by Accel Partners and Stripes Group with offices in New York, Dublin, Prague, London, and LA. For more information, please visit



13 Nov 2019