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Press Release - Gucci Documentary Finishing Fund Short List



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A survey of documentaries from Tribeca Film Festival alumni on the 2008 feature documentary Academy Award® shortlist

[December 9, 2008 – New York, NY ]  The Tribeca Film Institute and Gucci announce a two day series “Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund presents: Docs on the Shortlist”. Presented by the Fund which offers finishing funds to documentaries of social significance, the new series offers filmgoers the opportunity to see a selection of the documentary contenders shortlisted for the nomination for Best Feature Documentary for the 81st Academy Awards®. This series is also supported by media sponsor indieWIRE, the start page for independent and specialty films.


Launching on Thursday, January 8 and continuing on Saturday, January 10, the two day series brings together filmmakers who have been part of past Tribeca Film Festivals to screen their new documentary films, which are currently being recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Six of the 15 documentaries under consideration for nomination will be screened; the films in the series are: At the Death House Door, The Garden, I.O.U.S.A., Man on Wire, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, and They Killed Sister Dorothy.

The series will be hosted by three Oscar® nominated documentary filmmakers and Tribeca alumni Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp) and Marshall Curry (Street Fight) and last year’s Oscar® winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side), also a Tribeca alumnus. All of the screenings will feature special appearances by the filmmakers and will be followed by Q & A’s moderated by Curry, Ewing, Gibney, or Grady.


“This series emphasizes our commitment to supporting filmmakers in every stage of the filmmaking process,” said Brian Newman, CEO of Tribeca Film Institute. “We are happy to provide this opportunity for audiences who are interested in quality documentary films, as well as for those that may have missed these movies the first time around or can’t wait to see them again.”

"Tribeca has been a great booster for documentaries, showcasing them at the festival, supporting them with the Gucci fund, and now with this series," says Marshall Curry, whose documentary, Street Fight, won the Audience Award at Tribeca, and went on to be nominated for an Oscar®.  "Like a lot of documentary filmmakers, I appreciate everything Tribeca has done for me and the filmmaking community.”

Two of the selections received an award and/or critical praise at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival: James Marsh’s Man on Wire had its New York premiere at TFF and Gini Reticker’s Pray the Devil Back to Hell world premiered at 2008 Tribeca Film Festival and took home the Best Documentary Award.

Two of the selections received an award and/or critical praise at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival: James Marsh’s Man on Wire had its New York premiere at TFF and Gini Reticker’s Pray the Devil Back to Hell world premiered at 2008 Tribeca Film Festival and took home the Best Documentary Award.

Submissions for the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund offering finishing funds of $100,000 for 2009 are currently open.


Public Information:

Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick Street (corner of Laight), New York, NY 10013
The public may call 212/941.2001 for further information. Visit us on the Web at
Subway: 1, A, C, E – Canal Street

Admission: Admission for each film screening is $8 regular tickets; $5 for members of the Guilds, members of BAFTA East Coast, DocuClub, IDA, IFP, and/or Shooting People, and full-time students with current I.D.; free for Academy Members.


Thursday, January 8th:


Man on Wire

directed by James Marsh
Running time: 94 minutes

On August 7th 1974, a young Frenchman named Philippe Petit stepped out on a wire illegally rigged between New York's twin towers, then the world’s tallest buildings. After nearly an hour dancing on the wire, he was arrested, taken for psychological evaluation, and brought to jail before he was finally released.


Following six and a half years of dreaming of the towers, Petit spent eight months in New York City planning the execution of the coup. Aided by a team of friends and accomplices, Petit was faced with numerous extraordinary challenges: he had to find a way to bypass the WTC’s security; smuggle the heavy steel cable and rigging equipment into the towers; pass the wire between the two rooftops; anchor the wire and tension it to withstand the winds and the swaying of the buildings. The rigging was done by night in complete secrecy. At 7:15 AM, Philippe took his first step on the high wire 1,350 feet above the sidewalks of Manhattan…


James Marsh’s documentary brings Petit’s extraordinary adventure to life through the testimony of Philippe himself, and some of the co-conspirators who helped him create the unique and magnificent spectacle that became known as “the artistic crime of the century.”


World Premiered at Sundance, New York Premiered at Tribeca Film Festival.


Pray the Devil Back to Hell

directed by Gini Reticker
Running time: 72 minutes

Pray the Devil Back to Hell tells the remarkable but little-known story of a small band of unarmed women who risked their lives to bring change to Liberia, reconstructing the moment through interviews, archival footage and striking images of contemporary Liberia. This incredible story has earned awards at the Tribeca Film Festival (Best Documentary Feature), Silverdocs (Witness Award), Jackson Hole Film Festival (Audience Choice: Documentary), Traverse City Film Festival (Special Jury Prize: Non-fiction Filmmaking), and Heartland Film Festival (Best Documentary).


Armed only with white T-shirts and the courage of their convictions, a coalition of Christian and Muslim women confronted cruelty and corruption, taking on Charles Taylor and the warlords and bringing peace to their country after decades of war.  Their demonstrations brought about the exile of Charles Taylor and the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first female head of state – and mark the vanguard of a new wave of people taking control of their political destiny around the world.


World Premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and won Best Documentary award.

Saturday, January 10th:


At the Death House Door

directed by Peter Gilbert and Steve James
Running time: 72 minutes

At The Death House Door follows the remarkable career journey of Carroll Pickett, who served as the first death house chaplain at the infamous “Walls” prison unit in Huntsville, Texas.  From 1982 until 1995, Pickett ministered to 95 men who were executed, including the very first lethal injection done anywhere in the world. “Your job,” the warden told Pickett before the first execution, “is to talk to the inmate, comfort him, and win his trust and seduce his emotions so he won’t fight on the gurney at midnight.” After each of the 95 executions, Pickett recorded an audiotape account of that fateful day.


No inmate’s execution would haunt Pickett more than that of Carlos De Luna, a young man who claimed to be innocent of the murder of a convenience store clerk.  In 1989, during the final hours of his life, 27 year-old De Luna came to trust Pickett so much he called him “daddy.” 17 years later, two Chicago Tribune reporters turn up evidence that strongly suggests De Luna was innocent.  The film tracks their investigation and the impact Carlos continues to have not just on Pickett, but on Carlos’ sister and a television reporter who had befriended the young man on death row.


At The Death House Door is a film about the failures of the criminal justice system; about one man’s spiritual and moral journey; and how this very final act of punishment does not bring closure.  As often as not, it just brings more suffering.


From award-winning directors Steve James ("Hoop Dreams") and Peter Gilbert ("Vietnam: Long Time Coming").


World Premiered at SXSW. Peter Gilbert’s with All Deliberate Speed played in the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival. Steve James participated in the 2006 with War Tapes.


They Killed Sister Dorothy

directed by Daniel Junge
Running time: 94 minutes

On February 12th, 2005, A 73-year old nun from Ohio was shot 6 times and left to die on a muddy road deep in the Amazon.


Her murder shocked the world and revealed a sordid battle in the Brazilian rainforest. Who was she? What are the complex factors that led to her murder? And what will be done about it? The answers may hold the key to the future of the rainforest itself.


They Killed Sister Dorothy follows the powerful real-life courtroom drama at the trials of her accused killers and explores the conflicts in the Amazon that led to that fateful day.


World Premiered at SXSW. Premieres on HBO in March 2009. Daniel Junge’s Chiefs screened at the 2002 Tribeca Film Festival.


The Garden

directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy
Running time: 80 minutes

The fourteen-acre community garden at 41st and Alameda in South Central Los Angeles is the largest of its kind in the United States. Started as a form of healing after the devastating L.A. riots in 1992, the South Central Farmers have since created a miracle in one of the country’s most blighted neighborhoods. Growing their own food. Feeding their families. Creating a community. But now, bulldozers are poised to level their 14-acre oasis.


The Garden follows the plight of the farmers, from the tilled soil of this urban farm to the
polished marble of City Hall. Mostly immigrants from Latin America, from countries where they feared for their lives if they were to speak out, we watch them organize, fight back, and demand answers: Why was the land sold to a wealthy developer for millions less than fair-market value? Why was the transaction done in a closed-door session of the LA City Council? Why has it never been made public?


And the powers-that-be have the same response: “The garden is wonderful, but there is nothing more we can do.” If everyone told you nothing more could be done, would you give up?

World Premiered at Silverdocs. Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s OT: Our Town screened in the 2002 Tribeca Film Festival.



directed by Patrick Creadon
Running time: 85 minutes

Wake up, America! We're on the brink of a financial meltdown. I.O.U.S.A. boldly examines the rapidly growing national debt and its consequences for the United States and its citizens. Burdened with an ever-expanding government and military, increased international competition, overextended entitlement programs, and debts to foreign countries that are becoming impossible to honor, America must mend its spendthrift ways or face an economic disaster of epic proportions.


Throughout history, the American government has found it nearly impossible to spend only what has been raised through taxes. Wielding candid interviews with both average American taxpayers and government officials, Sundance veteran Patrick Creadon (Wordplay) helps demystify the nation's financial practices and policies. The film follows former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker as he crisscrosses the country explaining America's unsustainable fiscal policies to its citizens.


With surgical precision, Creadon interweaves archival footage and economic data to paint a vivid and alarming profile of America's current economic situation. The ultimate power of I.O.U.S.A. is that the film moves beyond doomsday rhetoric to proffer potential financial scenarios and propose solutions about how we can recreate a fiscally sound nation for future generations.


Creadon uses candid interviews and his featured subjects include Warren Buffett, Alan Greenspan, Paul O'Neill, Robert Rubin, and Paul Volcker, along with David Walker and Bob Bixby of the Concord Coalition.


Pointedly topical and consummately nonpartisan, I.O.U.S.A. drives home the message that the only time for America's financial future is now.


World Premiered at Sundance Film Festival. Patrick Creadon’s Wordplay played in the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival.

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