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Tribeca Film Institute® Announces 2015/2016 TFI New Media Fund Grant Recipients

Written by: Alyssa | December 15th, 2015

Grants Awarded to Three Interactive, Multi-Platform Projects Which Aim to Promote Social Change through Transmedia Storytelling

[New York, NY – December 8, 2015] – Tribeca Film Institute (TFI), in partnership with Ford Foundation’s JustFilms initiative, today announced the grant recipients of the 2015/2016 TFI New Media Fund. The fund provides monetary grants and support to nonfiction, social issue media projects which go beyond traditional screens, integrating film with content across media platforms, from virtual reality to video games, social networks, and interactive websites.

Through a long-term partnership with Ford Foundation’s JustFilms initiative, TFI New Media Fund was built with the goal to support nonfiction film projects that go beyond traditional screens, exploring storytelling that is interactive, cross-platform, and participatory.

The three grantees with projects currently in development were selected out of submissions from across the country to participate in the 2015/2016 program. Each of the three projects will receive $50,000 in funding, effective immediately, as well as peer-to-peer support and expert mentorship for producers to help them develop their projects and build engagement with audiences.

This year’s TFI New Media Fund grantees cover a wide variety of topics from psychological damage caused by sensory deprivation to body armor created to protect those targeted by police brutality.

The grantees were selected by an advisory board comprised of: filmmaker JULIA BACHA (Media Director, Just Vision), SANDI DUBOWSKI (Director/Producer,TREMBLING BEFORE G-D; Producer, A JIHAD FOR LOVE), LISA STEIMAN(Executive Producer, Google), JENNI WOLFSON (Executive Director, Chicken & Egg Pictures), and filmmaker MALIKA ZOUHALI-WORRALL (CALL ME KUCHUTHANK YOU FOR PLAYING).

“The creativity of our TFI New Media Fund applicants each year is beyond inspiring and this year was no different,” says Opeyemi Olukemi, Senior Director of Interactive Programs at TFI. “The three selected projects tackle vital social issues while encapsulating the power of transmedia storytelling.”

“We see the power of moving image storytelling as an important component to disrupt dominant cultural narratives that drive inequality around the world,” said Cara Mertes, director of JustFilms at the Ford Foundation. “Each of the projects selected for the TFI Media Grant are challenging our assumptions, pushing us to think differently, and charting new and provocative terrain for digital storytelling.”

Since the fund’s inception in 2011, it has awarded $1.9 million in funding to a diverse range of 30 interactive projects. In 2015, the TFI New Media Fund supported THE ENEMY, a virtual reality project by photojournalist Karim Ben Khelifa, which was previewed at Storyscapes at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival®, as well as NOTES ON BLINDNESS, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and won the Documentary Award at Encounters Short Film Festival, and THE WHITENESS PROJECT, a multi-platform investigation into the role that whiteness and privilege play in American society.

TFI and the Ford Foundation will celebrate their five-year partnership and the remarkable achievements in immersive storytelling it has produced at an event on December 10th. Ford Foundation PresidentDarren Walker and TFI Co-Founder Jane Rosenthal will attend along with special guests including Jigar Mehta, Nonny de la Peña, Elaine Sheldon, and Hank Willis Thomas, visionary artists who will demonstrate their latest new media projects and discuss how emerging technologies can be used to create powerful social justice narratives that move beyond the screen into the real world.

The recipients of the 2015/2016 TFI New Media Fund grants are:


Key participants: The Guardian; Francesca Panetta & Lindsay Poulton

Right now, more than 80,000 people are locked in a 6 by 9 foot concrete box. They have no human contact, every element of their environment is controlled. The sensory deprivation causes severe psychological damage. It changes them, they become invisible. We will invite participants into their world.



Key participants: Gan Golan, Raquel de Anda, Julien Terrell, Ligaiya Romero

The Argus Project is a suit of tactical counter-surveillance body armor – embedded with 20 cameras – designed to protect those targeted by police brutality. It asks the question: If police wear body armor to protect themselves in public, what does the public need to wear to protect themselves from the police?



Key participants: Nancy Schwartzman and Jessica Devaney

An augmented live-action role playing game based on the documentary Roll Red Roll that explores the aftermath of a sexual assault in small town America.



About Tribeca Film Institute (

Tribeca Film Institute champions storytellers to be catalysts for change in their communities and around the world. Each year, we identify a diverse group of exceptional filmmakers and media artists and empower them with funding and resources to fully realize their stories and connect with audiences. Further, our education programs empower students through hands-on training and exposure to socially relevant films, offering young people the media skills necessary to be creative and productive global citizens. We are a year-round nonprofit organization founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in the wake of September 11, 2001.


About Ford Foundation’s JustFilms (

JustFilms’ goal is to lift voices from outside the mainstream, build audiences for social justice stories, enlarge conversation on critical issues, and encourage new modes of social justice storytelling through funding independent film and digital projects and the organizations that support them. JustFilms has supported over 70 films since the launch in 2011, including the critically acclaimed films CITIZENFOUR; 3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets; This Changes Everything, How to Survive a Plague and Gideon’s Army, as well as supporting award-winning web-based storytelling like Hollowthedocumentary, through TFI. Partners in collaboration have included: Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, Independent Television Service and Britdoc | Good Pitch.



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