What can be considered compelling documentary cinema in this brave new world of social media, do-it-yourself fundraising, and affordable production methods that reduce barriers to entry? For an answer, we turn to the Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) and the Ford Foundation's JustFilms Initiative, which recently announced the winners of its 2014 TFI New Media Fund.
The fund's mission is to support "nonfiction film projects that go beyond traditional screens, exploring storytelling that is interactive, cross-platform, and participatory." All projects should engage audiences around issues of contemporary social justice and equality.
Since the fund's inception in 2011, it has allocated over $1.5 million to winning projects. Individual projects receive between $50,000 and $100,000 apiece. In addition, grant recipients participate in peer-to-peer meetings and an interactive storytelling lab to help further develop their projects.
The fund received 208 submissions and awarded grants totaling $400,000 to five projects, which in our humble opinion, speak effectively to the zeitgeist of independent docu-cinema. Here are the five projects:
Do Not Track — An interactive, evolutive and participatory documentary program investigating online tracking and how data mining and the personalization of the internet affect us and our worldview.
The Oakland Fence Project — A large-scale interactive photography exhibit and website designed to unite and activate Oakland. Each image comes to life through an augmented reality app that triggers video stories, music and embedded data, enabling real and virtual audiences anywhere to create, volunteer, buy, learn and connect.
Priya's Shakti — A mortal woman and the Goddess Parvati fight against gender-based sexual violence in India and around the world in this layered storytelling project and augmented-reality comic book
Quipu — This interactive documentary bridges the digital divide, connecting phones to the web to collect and share first-hand accounts of people affected by Peru’s compulsory sterilization policy
This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. the Climate — Inspired by the new book by Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything offers a transformative vision of what climate change can do for us: provide the galvanizing urgency to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.
TFI also provided development funding to two projects: The Enemy, which examines neuroscience and artificial intelligence, and Single Rwandan Seeks Serious Relationship, an "interactive journey into the quest for love and resilience in Rwanda."
For more information on TFI grants for film, check out our guide on this topic here