By Sahil Patel
Late last week, the Tribeca Film Institute unveiled the six grant recipients of the annual TFI New Media Fund.
In partnership with the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms Initiative, the TFI New Media Fund looks to award non-fiction storytelling projects that not only explore social issues, but do so in a way that is “interactive, cross-platform, and participatory.”
Selected from a pool of 284 submissions, the six grant recipients of the 2013 Fund altogether received $400,000 (between $50,000 and $100,000 each). In addition to the funding, grant recipients will have access to regular peer-to-peer meetings and an interactive storytelling lab as they learn to build engagement with audiences and complete their projects.
The judging panel featured Jeremy Boxer (creative director at Vimeo), Michelle Byrd (co-president, Games for Change); Marisa Jahn (executive director, REV); Tom Jennings (producer, 2over10 Media for PBS “Frontline”); Julia Kaganskiy (global editor at The Creators Project); and Sarah Wolozin (director of the MIT Open Documentary Lab).
Here are the six winners:
“Chasing the Sun”
Key participants: Paul Shoebridge, Michael Simons (The Goggles)
Description: Suppose we found a lost continent — impossible, but just imagine an opportunity to do things differently, to do anything besides business as usual. Chasing the Sun is an immersive online story about the Arctic.
Location: Canada: Vancouver, BC
“The Yes Men are Revolting”
Key participants: Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno, Laura Nix, Mary Notari, The Public Society, Glocal
Description: The Yes Men Are Revolting ends with an urgent call to action — and with a tool, the Action Switchboard, that will help viewers answer that call. This human-moderated digital platform helps a global audience initiate and join direct actions that serve specific activist goals; it also provides training and other resources for carrying out media actions. Effectively, the Action Switchboard invites the film’s audience to join in the story the film and extend it in new and powerful ways.
Location: New York, Los Angeles
“Who is Dayani Cristal?”
Key participants: Gael Garcia Bernal, Marc Silver, Lina Srivastava
Description: Deep in the scorching Sonoran desert beneath a cicada tree border patrol discovers a decomposing body. Lifting a t-shirt, they expose a tattoo that reads ‘Dayani Cristal.’ An anonymous body in the Arizona desert sparks the beginning of a search across a continent to seek out the people left behind and the meaning of a mysterious tattoo. “Who Is Dayani Cristal?” is a film and cross-platform exploration of stories underlying poverty, immigration, and the human rights of migrants who make journey across the US-Mexico border.
Location: Mexico: Mexico City, UK: London, United States: New York
“This is My Backyard (Logs of War)”
Key participants: Anjali Nayar, Jude Mwenda, Andrew Hill, Daniel Burwen, Leonardo Bonanni
Description: Silas Siakor, winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, risked everything to cut off warlord Charles Taylor from the illegal timber trade that was helping fund Liberia’s 14-year civil war. Now, Siakor tries to kick-start his country’s struggling economy through a sustainable logging industry. “This is My Backyard” is a multi-platform project that crowd sources and disseminates information about land and resources in West Africa.
Locations: Kenya: Nairobi; Liberia: Monrovia; United States: New York, Boston, San Francisco
Key participants: Michèle Stephenson & Joe Brewster
Description: American Promise follows two African American boys and their families for 12 years as they navigate the terrain of race, privilege and opportunity at a rigorous New York City private school. To further the work of the film, the team are creating a web series and a goal-setting mobile app called “Promise Tracker”.
Location: New York
“Use of Force Protocol”
Key participants: Nonny de la Peña
Description: Use of Force Protocol, an immersive journalism documentary, puts the audience on scene when migrant Anastasio Hernandez Rojas is killed by border patrol. Using virtual reality technologies, participants stand alongside the witnesses trying to stop the brutality, offering a profound and visceral experience.
Location: Los Angeles