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Industry Outsider: Where to Connect at Tribeca Film Festival

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Industry Outsider: Where to Connect at Tribeca Film Festival

Tribeca Film Festival caters to those who have a passion for ingenuity and eccentricity. When the dust clears and festival goers head back to their respected home states, the max exodus leaves a plethora of film lovers with the memorable scenes and people they encountered throughout the exhilarating two-week-long event. A festival founded on the likeness of selectivity and remaining unorthodox, Tribeca Film Festival showcases artists who aim to evoke an uncomfortability in precise moments that remain universally relatable to watchers from around the world. 

In a world where we're connecting online, festivals keep human fellowship alive. The post pandemic awkwardness of meeting writers, directors, producers, curators, distributors, virtual-reality artists and more in the same space fosters a perennial trend of artistic freedom. Films are a narrative device with infinite potential, however, they are activated by their sense of relatability - or in the case of many films featured in Tribeca, their unrelatability. The character-driven and masterful picks will, without question, spark a conversation with a like minded fellow creative. So where are these career-launching and inventive partnerships forming? Here were three events that took place at Tribeca this year that you should be sure to look out for. 

'The Good Half', directed by Robert Schwartzman.
Indeed Presents Rising Voices: “Talent is Universal, Opportunity is Not."

After two successful seasons, Indeed’s Rising Voices, taking place inside Tribeca’s Indeed Theater on the sixth floor of Spring Studios, brought to view ten emerging filmmakers, selected from over 500 adept applicants to write, direct, and produce a short film centered around a singular logline “the future of work.” Rising Voices is centered around finding new talent with undeniably original stories that are often not being showcased in mainstream cinema. With the guidance of renowned artist’s and Emmy® Award-winning writer, creator and actor Lena Waithe, in partnership with her company Hillman Grad Productions and 271 Films, the unique program fosters BIPOC artists with indisputable talent and culturally authentic stories. With mentorship and funding, these selected artists work from start to finish to complete their personal stories and premiere the final ten films at Spring Studios. Season three participants include: María Alvarez, Hannah Bang, Miguel Angel Caballero, Candace Ho, Larry Owens, James Rogers III, Ana Verde, Justin Kim WooSŏk, Joey Zhao, and Jackie Zhou. The participants received up to a $100k budget and following the culmination of the films, Indeed will invest in marketing and distribution support for the finished films, along with a debut at Tribeca Festival.

'Laroy', directed by Shane Atkinson.
Level Forward Cocktails With Gersh: “Gersh has a reputation for fostering a collaborative and supportive environment, with a team of experienced agents who are well-connected and knowledgeable about industry trends. They have played a role in guiding and advancing the careers of numerous talented individuals in the entertainment world."

In the middle of the festival after a full day of screenings, the festival attendees headed to the Spring Studios rooftop terrace to enjoy an open bar and some mingling, hosted by the infamous Gersh Agency. The multifaceted entertainment agency, a lead force in talent representation, film distributions, global branding, and endorsements, teamed up with Level Forward, a story-driven, impact-minded entertainment company focusing on a layered approach to effect change in the media system. The immersive three hour event is packed with notable industry professionals in attendance, including actors, directors, and producers. This provides an excellent opportunity for networking, establishing connections, and potentially sparking collaborations with influential individuals in the film industry. BAC (Broadway Advocacy Coalition) is focused on building the capacity of individuals, organizations, and communities to dismantle the systems that perpetuate racism through the power of storytelling and the leadership of people directly affected. 

'Fresh Kills', directed by Jennifer Esposito.
Film Fatales Cocktail Hour: “Independent Filmmaking Can Be Incredibly Daunting."

Towards the end of the festival, Film Fatales hosted a wonderful cocktail hour centered around meeting fellow female identifying filmmakers. The nonprofit supports an inclusive community of women, featuring film and television directors who meet regularly to share resources, collaborate on projects, and build environments in which to produce their films. Film Fatales founder Leah Meyerhoff expanded on the idea of gathering like-minded female filmmakers into an operation that centers around gender equality within the film industry, by hosting panel discussions, educational workshops, networking events and screening series to promote the work of women filmmakers to a wider audience.

The room was filled with dozens of female writers and directors, discussing what brought them to the festival, and where they are going next with their individual work. The collaborative event felt like a big hug, with everyone having one thing in mind. “How do we, as women in a male dominated industry, build a support system for one another?” The daily cocktail mixers and after parties at Tribeca, usually taking place overlooking the spectacular sunsets of Manhattan, are often intimidating. However this not-so-star-studded cocktail hour had a familiar warmth and excitement that sparked conversations on how to get films made and distributed. Conversations with feature directors, curators of various film festivals, and women leading the pack in the film industry felt less like a networking event and more like a community. In this chaotic industry, it’s easy to forget most of us are in the same boat, and everyone started somewhere. With one idea, one project, and firstly one conversation. 


Learn more about Tribeca Film Festival news here.

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Xulani Akel is a writer, director, and producer based in both New York City and Los Angeles. After finding her love for filmmaking at a young age, she began creating short films throughout high school and college. She graduated from New York University's Tisch film and television production program last May and is now working in the story/edit department at Dreamworks Animation. Look out for her upcoming short ‘Sometimes You’, releasing in September.