Tribeca continued its tradition of opening submissions to independently produced TV pilots in 2020. The following group of filmmakers participating in the virtual N.O.W. Creators Market were to debut their pilots as part of the 2020 Tribeca TV Pilot Season program:
Shelby Bartelstein (Pretty People)
Che Grayson (Magic Hour)
Emily Kron and Kate Hopkins (Deceased Ones)
Scott Turner Schofield (Becoming a Man in 127 EASY Steps: But What About The Children)
For filmmakers like writer and director Dimitris Tsilifonis, whose VR film A Safe Guide to Dying is set to premiere at Tribeca the Oculus release will help stand out for the general public. “This is a tremendous opportunity amidst this very difficult situation,” Tsilifonis told Observer. Tsilifonis said that although he and his team are blessed to be included in the online release, they are dismayed they won’t get to network with other filmmakers and get direct feedback from the audience—a concern echoed by Los Angeles filmmaker Andrea James, the director of the series Becoming a Man in 127 Easy Steps which is part of Tribeca’s TV Pilot Program this season.
“You never know which interaction is going to be the one that leads to an amazing opportunity,” James told Observer. “I’m still holding out hope that it can figure out some sort of in-person thing later in the year…everybody is doing their best in this unprecedented situation to try to find a way to continue supporting filmmakers. it’s so remarkable the situation that we find ourselves in. I feel like everybody’s trying to get innovative and trying to be creative.”
Transgender rights activist Andrea James is building an interactive data visualisation platform mapping people and media outlets that publish biased content about gender identity and expression.
The Transphobia Project will examine articles covering this topic across all English language publications and assign them a ‘t-index’ which works as a bias score – the higher the t-index, the more biased the content, the author or the platform is.
The interactive chart then allows users to see connections between publications and journalists who create this content.
This year’s 28 prizes were awarded to 25 films from filmmakers representing a wide range of nationalities and backgrounds. Twelve (48%) of the winning films were directed by at least one woman, ten (40%) were directed by one or more people of color, and two (8%) were directed by a filmmaker identifying as LGTBQ+.
Sundance Institute / Amazon Studios Producers Awards
Documentary Features: Diane Becker and Melanie Miller of Fishbowl Films, “Whirlybird” (U.S.A.)
Matt Yoka was at a professional camera store when he heard the news that his documentary, Whirlybird had also been accepted. “I remember the sales guys couldn’t be bothered with my questions — and then I got a call from my executive producer, telling me we got into Sundance. I started fist-pumping and pointing to the sales guys, giving them a big thumbs-up,” he said.
Whirlybird is informative and thrilling. It’s also profound and sad. And maybe it’s got threads of inspiration and uplift as well. That’s a wide range of responses, and it’s as much as you could have hoped for if you watched those Los Angeles-set documentaries and knew Zoey had a great story of her own.
Even through its glimpses into the dark underbelly of LA and the Turs’ marriage, Yoka still manages to craft propulsive moments of lurid news stories, and occasionally takes the time to dig into the quirkiness of their news agency in its heyday (complete with family members doing the books and hiring gimmicky helicopter pilots to grab headlines on their own). But at its center is a time capsule of a very specific and important time in both LA and news media history, and the heartbreak it left in its wake on both sides of the camera lens.
The footage we get in Whirlybird is astonishing. We see the raw footage, including outtakes before and after the live segments on the news. With this, we see a picture of Tur’s demanding perfectionism and how that eventually turned abusive. The documentary has interviews with Tur, Gerrard, their children Katy (now an NBC correspondent) and Jamie, and pilot Larry Welk. It’s an insular look at what was going on, but this is in no way sugar coated. The footage alone paints the picture of someone seething with rage, terrified of failure, and fighting the inner battle of who they really are.