In a crowded cinema marketplace, getting your project off the ground can feel like a Herculean task. Thankfully, film festivals have long been set their sights not just on showcasing great new talent but nurturing it. With that in mind, Tribeca has partnered with AT&T for a program that hopes to support the work of underrepresented filmmakers. AT&T Presents: Untold Stories kicks off at the 16th edition of the New York City festival with a live pitch session where 5 directors will present their story ideas, budgets and film scripts to a Greenlight committee which includes actors Jeffrey Wright and Anthony Mackie, producers Lee Daniels and Frida Torresblanco, among others.
Tribeca will livestream the pitch event on its Facebook page for fans to follow along on April 18. One lucky project chosen by the committee will get a $1 million grant and a slot in next year’s Tribeca Film Festival. In addition to the $1 million, AT&T and Tribeca will help with awards submissions, qualifying screenings, advertisements and promotion of the film. And in the spirit of wanting to give everyone a leg up, AT&T will provide to the other 4 participating filmmakers a grant of $10,000 each to help achieve their respective film goals.
Much to our delight, there are several Latinos repping four of the five projects that hope to nab that $1 million grant. Mexican writer-director Andres Perez-Duarte is hoping to get funding for his feature Forever Even Longer about an elderly, small-town Mexican man who travels to the U.S. after the death of his estranged gay son where he meets his heartbroken granddaughter and his resentful son-in-law. A SCAD Film grad, Perez-Duarte has previously directed the kidnapping short film Galeana No. 8 and produced the video game 1979 Revolution.
Then there’s Lissette Feliciano, who takes inspiration from the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende for her work. Her project, The Hand of God, follows the greatest footballer in the world who, upon receiving a lifetime achievement award recounts the miracles that took him from Nigeria all the way to Europe. The San Francisco native, who also starred in her previous shorts With Children and Better Off Alone, also directed the Brazil-set Se nada der certo.
A. Sayeeda Moreno, who has often talked about the importance of putting her Afro-Boricua roots at the heart of her filmmaking, is pitching I’m Not Down. The film is about what happens when a middle-aged, black punk rock single dad is served an eviction notice by the greedy new landlord of his New York City tenement building. A proud native New Yorker, I’m Not Down follows her strong work on shorts like Sin salida, White, and Bina. Also in the running is Mexican-American Oscar Hernandez-Topete, who’s listed as a producer on Faraday Okoro’s Nigerian Prince.
Regardless of who gets awarded the $1 million prize on April 18, it’s undeniable that these wildly talented Latino creators are getting the exposure they deserve.