The Long View on Shorts

8. 2. 2018

Author: Mridu Chandra, Director, IF/Then, Tribeca Film Institute

Short documentaries are seeing a global revival. Newer, wider audiences of all ages and across all strata are watching shorts in staggering numbers. They are watching across all platforms – online and on their phones, across social media, on YouTube, Netflix, Facebook, Vimeo, you name it. Theatres are increasingly seeking shorts to place in front of feature presentations. Traditional newspaper publishers and TV stations can no longer survive without them.

Also, shorts are THE place where filmmakers can swiftly create content, spread diverse ideas, and reach global audiences on the move. Shorts provide an accessible platform for emerging storytellers to train (or experiment with) their craft and test their marketability.

So what’s the catch? Funding (short term) and career sustainability (long term). The short form is not easily monetized for both the platforms that publish them and the individual filmmakers that pour their hearts and souls into creating them.

This is exactly why Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) inaugurated a thriving new program called IF/Then, which addresses these issues. Launched in 2017 with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, IF/Then has been traipsing the globe with a league of extraordinary partners to scout new regional voices and community-driven stories.

IF/Then is a fund and also a distribution initiative - the first of its kind to support independent short form storytelling. In addition to providing a completion grant of up to USD $20,000, TFI offers one year of distribution support as our filmmakers navigate the increasingly complex and exciting journey to land their films on multiple platforms globally. This support spans a broad range of what our filmmakers need to develop their practice into a sustainable career: festival strategy and application support, EPK and educational curriculum development, legal support to navigate and negotiate contracts, and perhaps even a theatrical launch.

We begin 2018 with two exciting pitch competitions - the first at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana for filmmakers living and working in the American West, and the second at East Doc Platform (in partnership with One World IHRFF) in Prague for stories and storytellers coming from Central and Eastern Europe. 

As East Doc Platform Manager Tereza Šimíková has so deftly stated, “This region boasts great cultural and creative wealth and produces very specific films that reflect on the life and society in post-communist countries. The East Doc Platform exists to help these films find viewers across the world, regardless of the format.” 

“TFI is proud to partner with East Doc Platform and One World IHRFF to spotlight stories from this culturally and historically vital region,” says Amy Hobby, Executive Director of Tribeca Film Institute. “By amplifying new voices and paving the way for creative distribution, IF/Then aims to reach global audiences and cultivate more sustainable careers.”

It all starts with shorts – and it all starts here. Come see our IF/Then pitch competition in Prague on March 7th!

The event is organized in collaboration with Tribeca Film Institute’s IF/Then Short Documentary Fund and Distribution Initiative and One World IHRFF.
Additional F.A.Q. and eligibility information for Tribeca Film Institute’s IF/Then program can be found at this link.

IF/Then Short Doc Pitch Participants for 2018:

Blackandwhite, d. Zoe Eluned Aiano, Anna Benner, p. Linda Dedkova, Martin Hulovec (CZ, DE, UK)
Blackandwhite uses a local urban legend of a nurse from the Second World War to deal with our perception of the female role in war time, heroism and revenge, on the background of Czech-German relations.

Dan, d. Katarzyna Hertz, Jan Szewczyk, p. Jan Szewczyk (PL)
Dan, an 18-year-old boy on the autism spectrum, lives in a small part of the last primeval forest in Europe. He secretly dreams of owning a camera to shoot films just like his dad. He is taught how to see the world through the camera lens and how to tell a story of his unique bond with nature filtered through his perception.

The Death of Mister X, d. Artem Ryzhykov, p. Ram Devineni (UA, USA, LV)
This story is about Ukrainian opera singer Igor Martak. His neighbour first shot and killed his pregnant wife Victoria and later wounded Igor. But, this is the only the beginning of the opera! The battle for Igor’s body between the feuding families and the influence of black magic are the backdrop for the director´s journey to discover the truth about a friend’s death.

George and George on the Lake, d. and p. Piotr Malecki (PL)
They share the same name - George - and are both 84. Enough to feel a bit old, but not enough to stay at home in slippers in front of the television set. They both sail each summer. Together for over 20 years. One of the friends gets weaker, his hands tremble, his eyes don’t see well enough, his body has trouble keeping the balance. The other one is stronger and gently takes care of him. How can he give up the greatest passion of his life?

The Heavenly Eye, d. Nadia Parfan, p. Illia Gladshtein (UA)
The film revisits the ongoing war conflict in Ukraine. As a volunteer, Maria Berlinska finds herself on the front line, capturing events around her using a drone. Should a camera be considered a weapon? Is it possible to stop a war by changing our point of view?

No Body, d. Mihnea - Rareș Hanțiu, Bahar Shoghi, p. Dan Nuțu, Cristina Hoffman (RO)
The film challenges the calm and harmony evoked by a flowing river. A young man has drowned in the river, but no body was found. His father seeks the body, day after day, on the shores of the river. The river flows on, but the mood it evokes and the surrounding environment change dramatically.

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