Grantees to receive $100,000 in fellowships and fundsFor Creating Engaging, Character-driven Stories


Winners to be Honored at Reception and Panel Hosted by HBO at 2011 Tribeca Film Festival


[New York, NY – April 6, 2011] – The Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) today announced the HBO Fellowships of the inaugural TFI Documentary Fund. The new fund was created to further the development of character-driven documentaries. The honored films include stories centering on characters ranging from New Yorker cartoonists to a filmmaker’s gradual loss of a parent through Alzheimer’s disease, to an investigation sparked by a YouTube video.

Three fellowships were awarded today, supported by HBO, and will receive a total of $100,000 in fellowships and grants toward their documentary projects, which emphasize the role of character in film. The grantees will also participate in one-on-one meetings with industry figures held during the 10th annual Tribeca Film Festival (April 20-May 1, 2011).

 “We are very pleased to be partnering with HBO to support what we both feel is an important and under-funded film genre,” says Beth Janson, Executive Director of Tribeca Film Institute. “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.”


Through the support of HBO, three fellowships will be awarded to films in advanced stages of development, production or post-production:


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 Wolchock, 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 WhiteThe 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.


As part of TFI’s year-round support of filmmakers, all TFI Documentary Fund fellowships and grantees will receive guidance and consultation from TFI on the film’s production. Benefits include: 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 2011 Tribeca Film Festival held at Helen Mills on April 26 & 27. Recipients will then be recognized at the annual TFI Awards Luncheon on April 28. 


 “We are thrilled with the project selections in our first year and hope to maintain this great momentum for many years to come,” says 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.”


During the Festival, HBO will also host a Cocktail Reception and Panel hosted by Sheila Nevins, President of HBO Documentary Films, on April 28th, 2011. The event will be an opportunity for TFI Documentary Fund grantees to mix and mingle with HBO Documentary programmers.


About the Tribeca Film Institute:

The Tribeca Film Institute is a 501(c)3 year round nonprofit arts organization founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in the wake of September 11, 2001. TFI empowers filmmakers through grants and professional development, and is a resource and advocate for individual artists in the field. The Institute’s educational programming leverages an extensive film community network to help underserved New York City students learn filmmaking and gain the media skills necessary to be productive citizens and creative individuals in the 21st century. Administering a dozen major programs annually, TFI is a critical contributor to the fabric of filmmaking and aids in protecting the livelihood of filmmakers and media artists.
 For more information and a list of all TFI programs visit


About Tribeca Film Festival:


The Tribeca Film Festival helps filmmakers reach the broadest possible audience, enable the international film community and general public to experience the power of cinema and promote New York City as a major filmmaking center. It is well known for being a diverse international film festival that supports emerging and established directors.


Founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in 2001 following the attacks on the World Trade Center, to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of the lower Manhattan district through an annual celebration of film, music and culture, the Festival brings the industry and community together around storytelling.

The Tribeca Film Festival has screened more than 1,100 films from more than 80 countries since its first edition in 2002. Since inception, it has attracted an international audience of more than 3 million attendees and has generated an estimated $600 million in economic activity for New York City.


About HBO:


Home Box Office, Inc. is the premium television programming subsidiary of Time Warner Inc., providing two 24-hour pay television services – HBO® and Cinemax® – to approximately 40 million U.S. subscribers.  The services offer the most popular subscription video-on-demand products, HBO On Demand® and Cinemax On Demand® as well as HBO GO® and MAX GO®, HD feeds and multiplex channels. Internationally, HBO branded television networks, along with the subscription video-on- demand products HBO On Demand and HBO Mobile®, bring HBO services to over 60 countries.  HBO programming is sold into over 150 countries worldwide.




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