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Tribeca Film Institute Announces Fourth Annual TFI New Media Fund Recipients

Tribeca Film Institute Announces Fourth Annual TFI New Media Fund Recipients

Tribeca Film Institute (TFI), in partnership with the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms Initiative, has announced grant recipients of the 2014 TFI New Media Fund. The diverse assortment of interactive, non-fiction, transmedia projects were selected from a pool of 208 submissions and explore a range of complex social issues, from online tracking to the story of Peru’s unconsented sterilization policy to gender-based sexual violence in India.

Of most interest to this blog, given its stated mission, is a project titled “Single Rwandan Seeks Serious Relationship,” from Jacqueline Kalimunda and Kivu Ruhorahoza, whose first film, “Grey Matter” (aka “Matière Grise”), made its debut at the 2011 installment of the Tribeca Film Festival here in New York City, and was later selected for the touring Global Lens 2012 series. Kivu has also long begun work on his second feature, “Jomo,” which was selected for the Rotterdam CineMart last year, out of 465 entries, where it was presented to 850 potential co-financiers during the event.

This new project – “Single Rwandan Seeks Serious Relationship” – is new to us, and, therefore, one to watch for. His partner on the project – Jacqueline Kalimunda – should also be somewhat familiar to S&A readers (especially long-time readers). She was part of the very first class of the Focus Features Africa First Program (2008), selected alongside other names that have been mentioned on this blog, like Dyana Gaye (from Senegal), Wanuri Kahiu (from Kenya), Rungano Nyoni (from Zambia) and others.

I’m certainly looking forward to learning more about what she and Kivu are cooking up with “Single Rwandan Seeks Serious Relationship,” which the press release describes as “an interactive journey into the quest for love and resilience in Rwanda.” enabling the user to “move from a series of interactive romantic short films on to an immersive website to explore the geography of love in Rwanda.”

The TFI New Media Fund was established through a long-term partnership with the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms Initiative to support nonfiction film projects that go beyond traditional screens, exploring storytelling that is interactive, cross-platform and participatory. Since the Fund’s inception in 2011, $1,550,000 in funding has been awarded to interactive projects. This year, for the first time, two additional projects will receive development funding.  All projects will activate audiences around issues of contemporary social justice and equality. 

The five developed docu-projects from around the world have been awarded between $50,000 and $100,000 apiece, with funding effective immediately. In addition to receiving financial support, grantees will also take part in regular peer-to-peer meetings and a lab focused on interactive storytelling to help them develop their projects and build engagement with audiences.

The jury awarding the grants was comprised of notable figures whose accomplishments span the worlds of technology, film, media and the arts. The jurors were: Jake Barton (Principal and Founder of Local Projects), Sheila Leddy (Executive Director, Fledgling), Charles Melcher (Founder and CEO, Melcher Media and Founder and Director, Future of Storytelling), Dawn Porter (Founder, Trilogy Films), Hank Willis Thomas (Photographer) and Deanna Zandt (Co-Founder/Partner, Lux Digital).

The recipients of grants totaling $400,000 are:

Key participants: Brett Gaylor, Sébastien Brothier 
An interactive, evolutive and participative documentary program investigating online tracking and how data mining and the personalization of the Internet affect us and our worldview.
Key participants: Wendy Levy, Chris Johnson, Eric Doversberger
A large-scale interactive photography exhibit and website designed to unite and activate Oakland; each image comes to life through an augmented reality app that triggers video stories, music and embedded data, enabling real and virtual audiences anywhere to create, volunteer, buy, learn and connect.

Key participants: Ram Devineni, Lina Srivastava
A mortal woman and the Goddess Parvati fight against gender-based sexual violence in India and around the world in this layered storytelling project and augmented reality comic book, supporting the movement against patriarchy, misogyny, and indifference through love, creativity, and solidarity.
Key participants: Rosemarie Lerner, Maria Court
Inspired by the Quipu, the knotted thread communication system of the Inca Empire, this interactive documentary bridges the digital divide, connecting phones to the web to collect and share first-hand accounts of people affected by Peru’s unconsented sterilization policy, which targeted more than 300,000 people.
Key participants: Katie McKenna, Avi Lewis, Michael Premo, Alex Kelly
Forget everything you think you know about climate change. The truth is that it’s not just about carbon—it’s about capitalism. Inspired by the new book by Naomi Klein, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING offers a transformative vision of what climate change can do for us: provide the galvanizing urgency to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.  The project’s interactive platform will invite and facilitate real-world participation, reflecting how the ideas behind THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING are being brought to life around the world: on the front lines of social movements, through an emerging ‘next economy’ built on environmental and economic justice principles, and in classrooms, media and art.

The two projects receiving development funding are:

Key participants: Karim Ben Khelifa, Chloe Jarry
THE ENEMY challenges two combatants from opposite sides to observe each other. This project, at the crossroad between neurosciences, artificial Intelligence and storytelling, takes us on an extraordinary odyssey through some of the most contested conflicts of the world to acknowledge people’s humanity.

Key participants: Jacqueline Kalimunda, Kivu Ruhorahoza
An interactive journey into the quest for love and resilience in Rwanda. This project enables the user to move from a series of interactive romantic short films on to an immersive website to explore the geography of love in Rwanda.

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