Tribeca Film Institute: If/Then Shorts Winner


By Egotist / /

James Christenson has some exciting news to share with y’all.

Through my Minneapolis-based production company, Vista Pop, my collaborator Brennan Vance and I were selected as the winners of the Tribeca Film Institute’s 2020 If/Then Shorts – American Midwest – pitch competition for our short documentary TO BE RECONCILED. The motion picture follows an undocumented immigrant from the Twin Cities who, while fighting a zero-tolerance immigration system and the relentless threat of deportation, reflects upon faith, recovery, redemption, and the possibility of being indefinitely separated from his family.

Jurors included Sheila Nevins, former long-time head of HBO Documentary Films. The selection committee had this to say: “Aside from delivering a near-perfect pitch, the story … belongs to director James Christenson. The story is in his heart … We’re confident that this team will make the right decisions for this film.”

This pitch was previously supposed to take place at the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF), but given the circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, TFI and CIFF took taking the show online. As this crisis continues to impact our film community, TFI showed their dedication to supporting artists through grants and development opportunities.

TFI and CIFF jointly selected six finalists to present their projects before a panel of industry judges. The winner will receive $25,000 to be used towards the completion of their films, year-round mentorship through TFI, as well as a festival finishing package from Bruton/Stroube Studios. The MacArthur Foundation is providing the funds.

We plan to wrap the final cut in mid-September and release the film widely by the end of 2020. Part of our agreement with TFI is to help major New York City film institutions and makers better connect with our hometown and the broader American Midwest.

We take our responsibility to build an equitable and sustainable documentary production industry in our arts community very seriously—which we believe is well-positioned to help bring the non-fiction stories the world wants to see—if we can better connect the local production ecosystem with itself, regional funders, and world-class coastal institutions like Tribeca.




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