Tribeca Film Institute names 2012 Doc Fund grantees

TFI awards $150,000 to 10 directors making character-driven documentary features.
December 20, 2011

The Tribeca Film Institute’s (TFI) Documentary Fund will distribute $150,000 in grants to 10 filmmakers with documentaries in various stages of development, including new works from directors Alma Ha’rel, Jeff Malmberg, and Doug Block.

An announcement posted on the TFI’s blog on Monday explained the 2012 recipients were chosen from a pool of 630 applicants and will receive guidance and consultation in areas such as distribution and marketing.

All 10 films share a focus on character-driven, human interest stories but cover a wide spectrum of topics, from weight-loss surgery and long-term marriage to a Kim Jong-il-ordered abduction, the scandal-plagued men’s 100m final at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and Richard Nixon’s presidency.

The full list of grantees, with descriptions provided by the TFI, follows:


I Wuv You (Director Alma Har’el)

Director Alma Har’el (Bombay Beach) will continue to push the documentary genre into new realms. Her new film will follow real people alongside their imaginary young and older selves (portrayed by actors), in the midst of a love story that shapes their lives. The result is an exploration of our past and future through re-enactments of our inner dialogues. The actors that will portray the young or older selves of the documentary’s protagonists, will come in and out of scenes and slowly blur the line between fiction and non-fiction.

The Lovers and the Despot (Directors Ross Adam and Robert Cannan)

Following the collapse of their glamorous, movie-world romance, a celebrity director and actress are kidnapped by loony dictator Kim Jong-il. Forced to make films in the world’s weirdest state, they get a second chance at love, but only one chance at escape. (Pictured above)

Teatro (Director Jeff Malmberg)

Teatro is the story of an Italian farming town that turns their lives into a play in order to solve their problems and save their way of life. Told through intertwining portraits of the town’s characters, the film examines the power of art to heal and transform.


112 Weddings (Director Doug Block)

For the past two decades, documentary filmmaker Doug Block (51 Birch Street, The Kids Grow Up) has supported his work by videotaping weddings. Approaching his own 25th anniversary, Block revisits some of his most memorable couples to see how their marriages are faring. Juxtaposing intimate wedding moments with revealing current-day interviews, 112 Weddings is a fascinating look at love and long-term marriage.

The Manor (Director Shawney Cohen)

After years apart, filmmaker Shawney Cohen returns home to find his once “normal” family gone, replaced by a strip-club-owner father, anorexic mother, and sociopathic brother.

The Race (Director Daniel Gordon)

The 100m final at the 1988 Seoul Olympics was the fastest — and most thrilling — ever run. But within 48 hours, gold medalist Ben Johnson had tested positive for anabolic steroids and scandal reigned.This one race still haunts the eight men who took part.


All of Me (Director Alexandra Lescaze)

The “girls” have been friends, and morbidly obese, for years. Now they are choosing to have weight-loss surgery in an effort to lose hundreds of pounds. The experience presents a host of issues and consequences — some they knew they were in for, some they feared, and some they never could have imagined. Their health, marriages and friendships are all at stake.

Cutie and the Boxer (Director Zachary Heinzerling)

Cutie and The Boxer is a love story that explores the bond between two New York-based, Japanese artists, Ushio and Noriko Shinohara. Set over the course of their chaotic forty-year marriage, this candid look at two headstrong, yet ultimately complimentary personalities forms a graceful rumination on companionship, sacrifice, and the creative spirit.

Homecomings (Director Christine Turner)

Homegoings explores the African American way of death through the story of an undertaker in Harlem and the families he serves.

Our Nixon (Directors Penny Lane and Brian Frye)

Forty years after Watergate, the forgotten Super 8 home movies of Richard Nixon’s closest aides — and convicted Watergate conspirators — offer an intimate and surprising new glimpse into his presidency.

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.