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by Brian Brooks
April 6, 2011 4:05 AM
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3 Projects to Receive $100K in Inaugural HBO/TFI Documentary Fund Fellowship

Leah Wolchok, Vladi Alpin and Banker White.

Three projects were named recipients of the HBO Fellowships of the inaugural TFI Documentary Fund Wednesday. The three will receive a total of $100,000 in fellowships and grants, supported by HBO, toward their documentary projects, which emphasize "the role of character in film."

This year's honorees include stories centering on characters ranging from New Yorker cartoonists to a filmmaker's gradual loss of a parent through Alzheimer's disease and an investigation sparked by a YouTube video. The grantees will also participate in one-on-one meetings with industry figures held during the 10th annual Tribeca Film Festival, taking place April 20 - May 1, 2011.

In addition to grants, TFI will support the projects through guidance and consultation including festival and distribution planning and strategizing sessions; fundraising; and industry and/or crew match-making and introductions. TFI Documentary Fund filmmakers will also be included in one-on-one industry meetings with film executives during the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival.

"We are very pleased to be partnering with HBO to support what we both feel is an important and under-funded film genre," commented Beth Janson, Executive Director of Tribeca Film Institute in a statement. "What we found is that while social issue documentary films continue to be funded more and more, character-driven documentaries often go unnoticed. Our hope is that the support provided through the TFI Documentary Fund is recognized in the industry and helps open up even more opportunities for this critical funding."

"We are thrilled with the project selections in our first year and hope to maintain this great momentum for many years to come," added Ryan Harrington, newly appointed Director of Documentary Programming at TFI. "Our goal of creating this fund was to bring heightened awareness to character driven documentaries and with the support from HBO, we are confident that these films will grow as an important and acknowledged artistic form."

The inaugural TFI Documentary Fund recipients with descriptions and credits provided by Tribeca Film Institute:

TFI/HBO "Documentary Screen Test" Fellowship: awards $50,000 to emerging filmmakers in production of their first feature-length documentary along with a yearlong mentorship with an established filmmaker and a meeting with HBO Documentary Films. The recipient of the 2011 TFI/HBO "Documentary Screen Test" Fellowship is:

"Very Semi-Serious," directed by Leah Wolchok, Produced by Davina Pardo - Very Semi-Serious takes an inside look at the colorful personalities behind the celebrated New Yorker cartoons. A stylized blend of documentary and animation, the film transforms the iconic black-and-white images into a vibrant comic world. Along the way, the film explores the evolution of the cartoonists' humor and how it reflects the changing social and political landscape of urban life.

TFI/HBO "House I Live In" Fellowship provides $25,000 as well as professional guidance and a meeting with HBO Documentary Films towards the completion of a documentary which is focused on the filmmaker's own personal story. The recipient of the 2011 TFI/HBO "House I Live In" Fellowship is:

"The Genius of Marian," directed by Banker White - The Genius of Marian follows Pam White in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease as her filmmaker son documents her struggles to hang on to a sense of self. The film deals with the gradual loss of a parent - both a tragedy and gift--and explores the ways our memories shape our personal identities and our legacies.

TFI/HBO "Outside Looking In" Fellowship awards $25,000 in support of an extraordinary character-driven story which aims to take audiences into someone else's world, and will include professional guidance from TFI staff and a meeting with HBO Documentary Films. The recipient of the 2011 TFI/HBO "Outside Looking In" Fellowship is:

"A Contemplation of a Very Serious Matter," directed by Vladi Alpin -- A Contemplation of a Very Serious Matter is a docu-adventure film that focuses on two friends that discover the tumultuous secrets behind a strange video clip that was posted on YouTube. As more and more details are revealed, the immediate consequences of this investigation start to endanger their own friendship.

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