24 Projects Set for Tribeca All Access, Highlighting Filmmakers of Color
by Eugene Hernandez
The Tribeca Film Institute has selected 24 projects, from 330 submitted, for the inaugural Tribeca All Access program that is aimed at fostering relationships between filmmakers of color and members of the film industry. As part of the program, running during the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival, organizers will host four days of events — including a series of half-hour face-to-face meetings — with some 100 members of the industry representing more than 75 companies. Projects are from a mix of groups: 35 percent African-American, 27 percent Asian-American, 26 percent Latino, 5 percent Native American, 1 percent Pacific Islander, and 6 percent multi-racial.
Selected for the Tribeca All Access program are 15 narrative projects, nine Documentaries, and three projects that are part of the new TAA Signature Series, which is welcoming established directors of color: Bill Duke, Chris Eyre, and Stanley Nelson.
To be eligible, all projects must have a director of color attached, with narrative works judged on the screenplay submitted, and docs judged on work-in-progress footage, among other factors, including a proposed budget and samples of previous work.
“This program is an essential component of all we’re doing to rejuvenate downtown,” explained Tribeca Film Institute President & CEO Madelyn Wils in a prepared statement. “The projects we’ve selected are superior artistically, and it’s great to know that Tribeca is the place where the conversations are happening that can potentially move these projects to production.”
Doc and narrative selection committees chose the final participants and juries have been named to award $10,000 to one project in each category. Tribeca All Access will kick-off with a lunch on May 3, followed by an orientation workshop hosted by Positive Impact. A panel discussion, dubbed “Diversifying American Cinema,” will be presented mid-week, featuring directors Wayne Wang, Chris Eyre, and Lisa Gay Hamilton, and film executive Peter Kang from Fox.
[EDITORS NOTE: indieWIRE Editor-in-Chief Eugene Hernandez will moderate the “Diversifying American Cinema” seminar at the Tribeca Film Festival.]
A complete list of Tribeca All Access projects follows (information provided by the Tribeca Film Festival):
Phil Bertelsen, “Rock The Paint”
A sports action drama about a widower, his two sons and their attempts to fit into a new world transplanted from the Indiana cornfields to the streets of Newark, New Jersey. Bertelsen works in fiction and non-fiction. His first film, “Around The Time,” won several awards as Best Dramatic Film at NYU. He recently produced the documentary “Chisholm ’72: Unbought and Unbossed.” Produced by Dallas Brennan.
Ernest Boyd, “BxEd”
The American Dream comes to a boiling point in this tale of neighborhood characters that follow a path of twisted fate. Kerry Washington (“Our Song,” “Save The Last Dance”) and David Moscow (“Honey”) are set to star. Boyd, born and raised in the Bronx, has worked extensively in the film industry. Currently, he is working on the editorial team of Jonathan Demme‘s remake of “The Manchurian Candidate.”
Tanuj Chopra, “Punching at the Sun”
An urban fairy tale of loss and redemption as through the eyes of a Queens bred South Asian teenager. Chopra’s short films have been featured in various film festivals worldwide. His most recent work is Butterfly, which has played at 18 international film festivals and has won 3 best short film awards. Chopra is currently working toward his MFA in film at Columbia University.
Rene Simon Cruz, “The Salted Earth”
A Magical Realist drama that answers the question: What will happen in Cuba after Castro? It follows the redemptive journey of a powerful Miami lawyer who is tormented by visions of his childhood. When he returns to the island to recover his family’s nationalized property, he discovers a terrible family secret buried deep in the past. Cruz has been working as a documentary filmmaker, producer and writer for over a decade. He recently produced and shot “22 Days in Acapulco,” a documentary about director John Sayles. Edward James Olmos will star.
Alfredo De Villa, “1/9”
An aging aesthete goes blind, a doctor takes stock of her childless marriage, and a young photographer runs from his past in three intersecting stories set along the 1/9 subway line in New York. De Villa’s first feature film, “Washington Heights,” was released theatrically by MAC Releasing. It won a special mention for acting and directing at the 2002 Tribeca Film Festival and has played at over 50 film festivals worldwide. Produced by Tom Donahue and Anura Idupuganti.
Chris Lee, “Undoing”
After a mysterious absence, a man returns to L.A. one year after his best friend’s murder, to revisit a former life in an attempt to reunite with the woman he loves. Lee wrote and directed his first feature length film, “Yellow,” in 1997. It played in numerous film festivals worldwide and was released theatrically by Phaedra Cinema. Pam Grier to star. Produced by Catherine Park.
Ellie Lee, “The Road Home”
The story of a strained relationship between a Chinese American daughter and her immigrant father who is struggling with the early signs of Alzheimers. Lee is a director of documentary, fiction and animated films that have screened in over 100 festivals worldwide. She has received 25 international awards, and is a 2004 Rockefeller/Ford Foundation Media Arts Fellow. Her current short films, “Repetition Compulsion” and “Dog Days” can be seen on the Independent Film Channel. Produced by Diana Williams.
Mora Mi-Ok Stephens, “Georgia Heat”
A Korean G.I. wife living in Georgia in 1968 finds herself caught between her American family and her distant past when she learns that the son she left behind in Korea thirteen years earlier is coming to visit her. Stephens, an alumni of the NYU Tisch Graduate Film Program, has directed numerous short films and plays including “Breaking Bread” which aired on Showtime in September 2003. Produced by Paul Yi and Joel Viertel.
Jono Oliver, “Simple Things”
A tough young man trying to start over after being released from jail is forced to take a job working with people he wants nothing to do with: a wonderfully funny and entertaining group of senior citizens. Oliver is an award winning short film director. His short film “The Window” won numerous awards and played at film festivals worldwide.
Marco Orsini, “American Way”
A Puerto Rican Family in search of their American dream in the de-segregating south of the 1970s. Orsini has directed and produced over 80 hours of network and cable TV for both North and South American markets. He recently wrote, produced and directed a mockumentary, “Mari Conita De Jesus” that was featured in film festivals worldwide. Produced by Effie T. Brown.
Greg Pak, “The Dead Boy”
Fatally hit by a car on the same day that he asks his high school crush to the Halloween dance, Wilson is determined not to let death stand between him and the date of a lifetime. Pak is an award-winning writer and director whose first feature film, “Robot Stories,” is currently in domestic theatrical release and has won 29 prizes at film festivals worldwide. Pak was recently named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 Independent Filmmakers to Watch. Produced by Karen Chien and Diana Williams.
Phil Roc, “Manteca”
“Sex, Drugs and Latin Jazz” – The tragic true story of Afro-Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo, who played alongside Dizzy Gillespie and helped innovate Latin Jazz. Roc has extensive experience as a music video and promotional director for television. His latest short film, “Avenue X,” will be featured in the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival. Produced by Annemarie Curry and Anthony Naples.
Cauleen Smith, “I Am Furious Black”
A loner detective investigates the homicide of a media-shy graphic novelist who sabotages her own career to the detriment of her family, friends and business partner. Smith has worked as a filmmaker and videographer for over a decade. Her feature film “Drylongso” received Honorable Mention at the 2000 Hamptons Film Festival. Produced by Chantal Van Riet.
Natalia Almada, “Al Otro Lado/To the Other Side”
A lyrical take on the issues of immigration and drug trafficking as told through Mexico’s 200-year-old tradition of corrido music. Almada’s short Film, “All Water Has a Perfect Memory,” was the winner of the Best Short Documentary at the 2002 Tribeca Film Festival.
Carol Bash, “Soul on Soul: The Story of Mary Lou Williams”
An inspiring docudrama focusing on the life of this remarkable jazz musician, composer and arranger. Produced by Stanley Nelson (A Place of Our Own; The Murder of Emmett Till, Winner Special Jury Prize, 2003 Sundance Film Festival)
Vee Bravo, “Estilo Hip Hop”
Chronicles the lives of a number of charismatic working class teenagers in Mexico, Brazil, Cuba, and Chile who use hip hop culture to respond to their political realities. Bravo conceived the idea for this documentary while on assignment for The Source Magazine to cover Cuba’s first ever hip hop festival. Produced by Loira Limbal.
Mridu Chandra, “Ram Kali Taxi”
A verité documentary film that weaves together the story of a New York City taxi driver named Om Dutta Sharma, with those of two girls in a school that he founded in his home village in India. This will be Chandra’s directorial debut. She produced “Let the Church Say Amen”; and was co-producer on “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin.”
Sergio Goes, “Eddie Would Go: The Story of Eddie Aikau, Hawaiian Hero”
The compelling story of Hawaiian surfing legend Eddie Aika’s life and legacy, and an important chronicle of the Hawaiian Renaissance movement. Goes’ feature-length documentary “Black Picket Fence” was the winner of the HBO Feature Documentary Award and the Charles Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award at the Full Frame Film Festival.
Stacy L. Holmon, “Dressed Like Kings”
An exciting examination of the male “oswenka” pageant in South Africa on the ten-year anniversary of the abolishment of apartheid. Produced by Kisha Imani Cameron, Executive Produced by Sam Pollard, Academy Award™ nominated (“Four Little Girls”), Peabody™ and Emmy™ Award winning editor and producer.
J. Carlos Peinado, “In the Wake of the Flood”
An examination of the devastation caused to the reservation and ancestral homeland of the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota after the building of the Garrison Dam on the Missouri River. Produced by Daphne Ross.
Dawn D. Valadez & Kristi Guevara-Flanagan, “A Girl’s Life”
A documentary that follows the transformation of four urban girls of color as they face the challenges of puberty and middle school. Guevara-Flanagan produced the documentary short “El Corrido de Cecilia Rios.”
Bill Duke, “The Engagement Party”
An African American version of “Meet the Parents” with a twist! Duke has worked over twenty years in the commercial television and film industry as a director, actor, writer and producer and is focusing on smaller, independent projects. He has directed a number of hit feature films including “The Cemetery Club” and “Sister Act 2: Back In the Habit.” He is currently directing for television and was featured in a recurring role in the TV series, Karen Sisco. Produced by Romelle Foster-Owens and Azhar Al-Uqdah. Executive Produced by Danny Glover.
Chris Eyre, “Up the River”
A comedy set circa 1752, Native slacker brothers pursue prized Cheyenne “hotties” while keeping one step ahead of their rivals, the Huron and the entire British army. Eyre steps into the comedic arena for his latest project, paved a road for Native American filmmakers with the notable independent feature films, “Smoke Signals” and “Skins.” His current feature film, “Edge of America,” will be screened in the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival.
Stanley Nelson, “Jonestown”
This documentary will explore the rise and devastating fall of the Peoples Temple and complex character of it’s leader, Jim Jones. Multiple award-winning filmmaker Nelson garnered an Emmy™ for best nonfiction direction and a nomination for screenwriting for “The Murder of Emmett Till.” His latest documentary, “A Place of Our Own” recently premiered on PBS.